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Do Portable Freezers Use a Lot of Electricity?

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Portable freezers are a convenient solution for keeping items cool on camping trips, road trips, boats, or anywhere electricity access is limited. Unlike traditional household freezers, portable freezers run off of 12V DC power and do not require a constant electricity source to maintain their interior temperature. This allows them to be easily transported and used in a variety of locations.

Portable freezers work by using an electric-powered compressor and refrigerant to absorb heat and lower the internal temperature. Most portable freezers can cool items down to 0°F and lower, with temperature controls that allow you to customize the environment. The fridge is insulated with foam or vacuum-insulated panels to retain cold air when the compressor is off. This allows the freezer to stay cold for many hours, even when disconnected from power.

Portable Freezers

Recreational users like campers, tailgaters, and boat owners often rely on portable freezers to keep food and drinks chilled. Truck drivers may use them in their cabins as well. Hunters and fisherman find portable freezers very useful for storing game and fish. They offer more capacity than a regular cooler, with the advantage of freezing items solid. Overall, portable freezers provide flexible refrigeration for anyone without access to household power.

How Do Portable Freezers Work?

Portable freezers use a compressor and refrigerant to cool their interior in the same way as a full-size household freezer. The main components are:

  • Compressor - This is the heart of the freezing system. It pressurizes refrigerant gas which circulates through the coils. When the compressor is powered on, it creates the cooling effect inside the freezer.

  • Refrigerant - This is the gas or liquid that circulates through the coils to absorb and release heat. It starts as a low-pressure gas that is compressed into a high-pressure, high-temperature gas by the compressor.

  • Condenser coils - These coils allow the hot, pressurized refrigerant gas to dissipate heat into the outside air, causing it to condense into a liquid.

  • Expansion valve - The high-pressure liquid refrigerant passes through the expansion valve, causing it to turn into a cold, low-pressure liquid.

  • Evaporator coils - The cold liquid refrigerant circulates through these coils inside the freezer, absorbing heat from the interior air and causing it to evaporate into a gas. This gas circulates back to the compressor, repeating the cycle.

The constant cycling of refrigerant through evaporation and condensation creates the cooling effect that keeps the freezer's interior at the desired temperature. Portable freezers run on electricity to power the compressor and refrigeration system.

Energy Efficiency: Portable freezers vs Household Freezers

Portable freezers are generally more energy efficient than older household freezers, but less efficient than newer Energy Star certified models. This is because portable freezers utilize compressor technology similar to modern refrigerator-freezers, while many old household units still rely on outdated and inefficient compressors.

The key difference lies in insulation. Household freezers have thicker insulation built into the walls to minimize heat transfer and cold air loss when the door is opened. Portable freezers compensate by using high-density foam insulation, but this is not quite as effective for retaining temperature.

As a result, portable freezer units consume around 1.5-2 kWh of electricity per day. This compares favorably to older household freezers at 2.5-4 kWh daily, but modern Energy Star models only use 0.5-1 kWh per day. The compromise is that portable freezers offer more flexibility and can be powered in various locations, while household freezers have large capacity and maximize energy efficiency.

When shopping, look at the kWh/day or kWh/year electricity usage listed for the portable freezer model. Lower energy use equates to lower operating costs. Also consider the freezer's size, as larger units will consume more energy to maintain temperature than smaller units.

Portable Freezers vs Coolers

Portable freezers differ from traditional coolers in a few important ways when it comes to cooling performance. The key differences to consider are:

  • Lower temperatures - Portable freezers can maintain freezing temperatures around 0°F or below. Standard coolers typically only get down to around 40°F at the lowest, which is not cold enough to keep food frozen over an extended period of time.

  • Precise temperature control - Portable freezers allow you to precisely control the temperature settings, just like a full-size freezer. Coolers have no temperature control other than adding more ice.

  • Electricity - Portable freezers require an electrical power source like an outlet, generator, or solar panels. Coolers rely only on ice to provide cooling.

The ability to precisely control temperatures below freezing gives portable freezers a clear advantage for keeping foods frozen. You can store items like frozen meats for camping trips without worrying about them thawing out after a day or two. Having electricity allows the freezing coils to stay at a constant cold temperature.

Overall, the freezing capability and temperature control of portable freezers makes them far superior to coolers for keeping foods frozen. But coolers still excel when you just need short-term chilling, not sub-zero freezing. Consider your specific cooling needs when deciding between a portable freezer and a cooler.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Portable Freezer

When shopping for a portable freezer, there are several key factors to take into account:

Storage Capacity

  • Consider how much frozen food or other items you need to store. Portable freezers range widely in capacity from 1 cubic ft models to large 9+ cubic ft capacities.

  • Think about your expected usage - will you need short term storage like for a camping trip or long term storage of frozen goods. This will impact what size capacity you need.

  • Look at organizational features like baskets, dividers, or shelves that can help maximize storage space.

Size and Weight

  • Portable freezer size and weight are important if you plan to move it often. Look for compact sizes you can easily lift and transport.

  • Wheels and handles can make it easier to move a portable freezer around. Though the most compact upright models may not have wheels.

  • Make sure to check dimensions to ensure the freezer will fit in your intended space. Measure doorways and entry points.

Energy Efficiency Rating

  • Look for a portable freezer with a good energy efficiency rating to help reduce electricity costs.

  • Energy Star certified models have met energy efficiency guidelines though not all portable freezers have Energy Star ratings.

  • Check the kWh/year electricity usage listed on the portable freezer specs for an estimate of running costs.


  • Choose an impact resistant and durable portable freezer that can handle being moved and transported.

  • Look for solid construction with sturdy door hinges, latches, handles, and corners.

  • Opt for portable freezers with exterior materials that resist scratches, dents, rust, and weathering.

Do Portable Freezers Use a Lot of Electricity?

The amount of electricity a portable freezer uses depends on its size, insulation, and ambient temperature, but on average a portable freezer will use 1-2 kWh per day. This translates to 30-60 kWh per month.


  • Small 1-2 cubic ft portable freezers use approximately 1 kWh per day or 30 kWh per month. This is similar to a mini refrigerator.

  • Medium 2-4 cubic ft portable freezers use around 1.5 kWh per day or 45 kWh per month.

  • Large 4+ cubic ft portable freezers can use up to 2 kWh per day or 60 kWh per month.

The freezer will use more electricity in hot weather when the compressor runs more to maintain the set temperature. Opening the lid frequently also leads to electricity waste as cold air escapes.

Proper insulation is key - a poorly insulated freezer will require significantly more electricity to keep contents frozen. Top-rated Energy Star certified portable freezers maximize insulation and compressor efficiency.

In general, expect a standard portable freezer to add 30-60 kWh to your monthly electricity usage depending on size and usage habits. This is roughly $5-10 per month based on the national average electricity rate. Using an efficient model and following electricity saving tips can reduce costs further.

Using a Power Station for Your Portable Freezer

Portable power stations like those from Growatt provide an efficient, cost-effective way to power a portable freezer. Growatt's power stations come equipped with large capacity lithium batteries, advanced inverters for AC outlets, and solar charging capabilities.

Using a Power Station for Your Portable Freezer

The Growatt INFINITY 1500 model offers a 2000W AC inverter with 4 AC outlets, along with a massive 1512Wh capacity from its lithium battery. With solar panels, the INFINITY 1500 can be charged for free using the power of the sun. Just a few hours of solar charging can provide enough electricity to run a portable freezer for days.

Other larger capacity Growatt model like the INFINITY 2000 provide even more power for larger appliances. The modular nature of Growatt power stations allows you to connect external batteries to increase capacity as needed.

Using a Growatt power station eliminates the need for a gasoline generator which is loud, requires fuel, and needs maintenance. The silent operation and clean energy makes a Growatt power station ideal for portable freezer use in RVs, at campsites, or in emergencies when the power goes out.

By harnessing solar energy, a Growatt power station with solar panels can eliminate electricity costs for running a portable freezer. The savings add up over time, paying for the power station investment. With strategic solar charging and smart use of the freezer, a Growatt power station provides an efficient, money-saving solution for off-grid freezer electricity needs.

Tips to Save Electricity

Choosing an energy-efficient portable freezer and using it properly can help minimize electricity usage. Here are some tips:

  • Size - Opt for the smallest size freezer that meets your needs. The larger the unit, the more energy required to run it. Only freeze as much as you'll use within a few weeks.

  • Energy rating - Look at the Energy Star rating and annual kilowatt hours when comparing models. Generally, chest freezers are more efficient than uprights. Choose an inverter-powered freezer for optimum efficiency.

  • Ambient temperature - Place the freezer in the coolest spot available, away from heat sources like direct sunlight or appliances. The closer to the ideal interior temperature, the less energy required.

  • Maintenance - Regularly defrost manual-defrost models and clean condenser coils on self-defrosting units. Keep the door sealed and minimize openings. Ensure the door gasket is in good condition.

Following energy-saving tips like these can help minimize the electricity usage of your portable freezer. An efficient unit, proper use and care will keep running costs as low as possible.

Pros and Cons of Portable Freezers


  • Portability: Portable freezers are designed to be easily moved from place to place, unlike heavy stationary freezers. Their compact size and built-in handles allow you to transport them in cars, trucks, or RVs for camping trips, tailgating, hunting, fishing, and other activities.

  • Precise temperature control: Portable freezers allow you to precisely control the internal temperature, unlike using regular ice chests. This ensures optimal freezing and storage conditions for perishable foods.

  • Durability: Portable freezers are constructed of durable materials that protect the contents from outside elements during transport. Many include solid lid latches, reinforced corners, and tough exterior shells.


  • Electricity usage: Unlike old-fashioned coolers, portable freezers require a constant power source to run the refrigeration system. This means added electricity costs, whether powered by shore power, a generator, or battery.

  • Size limitations: The compact size of portable freezers limits storage capacity compared to full-size home freezers. You'll have to be selective regarding items to freeze and cool.


In summary, portable freezers provide efficient and convenient freezing capabilities in a compact, transportable unit. While they use more electricity than a full-size freezer, their electricity consumption can be reduced in various ways.

When shopping for a portable freezer, be sure to consider the storage capacity, dimensions, energy rating, and special features you need. Models with chest-style opening tend to be more efficient than upright versions. Going for a highly efficient model will save you more on electricity costs in the long run.

Using a portable power station like those offered by Growatt is recommended for powering a portable freezer off-grid or during outages. This allows you to store frozen foods and drinks without relying solely on grid power. Their backup power capabilities also make them ideal for camping trips, tailgates, and other outdoor events where access to electricity is limited.

With proper placement away from direct sunlight and regular maintenance like defrosting, a portable freezer can serve you well for years. The convenience of having compact, portable frozen storage opens up many possibilities. Just be sure to follow energy-saving tips to keep electricity costs in check.

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