Dometic CFX3 45 Portable Compressor Cool Box | Deep Dive - Outdoors Magic

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Dometic CFX3 45 Portable Compressor Cool Box | Deep Dive

We took this portable cool box from Dometic across the U.K to put its powerful compressor system to the test

Finding a portable, tough and efficient cooler or fridge can be a tricky task. You’re often left with the choice between budget offerings that, due to their poor efficiency, provide very little in terms of chilling. This is where the Dometic CFX3 45 comes in: it’s a powerful compressor fridge that can run from your vehicle’s 12v socket and that’s more than capable of keeping all your food and drinks nice and cool over multi-day trips in your van or even from the boot of your car, if that’s your thing.

Also sporting the capability to drop down to an impressive minus 22 degrees, the cool box can keep food frozen, making it an extremely versatile cooler. We’ve been taking this powered cool box on van road trips around Ireland and also a few overnight trips down on the south coast of England. We’ve now got a pretty good idea of what it’s good at and – most importantly – if it’s worth a whopping £790. Let’s get into it.

What’s a Compressor Fridge?

Compressor fridges, as the name suggests, come with a little compressor unit that generates all the cooling power the fridge needs. The Dometic CFX3 range can be powered by either 110 – 240 volts (such as mains) or a more efficient 12 / 24v volt setup, so it’ll work pretty much anywhere.

Benefits of a Compressor System

The main benefit of compressor systems is that they aren’t affected by the outside temperature, so they can work efficiently in high temperatures. They are extremely efficient, so they can operate for a long time without flattening your battery and they have a freezing capability even on the 12/24v power. The Dometic CFX3 is also really quick to get down to temperature due to the excellent insulation that makes it a pretty efficient setup.

Dometic CFX3 45 Power

We’ve been using the Jackery Explorer 1,000 battery alongside the CFX3, which keeps the fridge comfortably powered over a week of travelling. When it’s plugged into the battery pack, the battery display reads that the fridge is pulling around 2 – 4 amps of power when the compressor is running, which is pretty damn impressive for a compressor style cool box. Once at the desired temperature, the compressor will turn on and off to maintain the temperature just like your fridge at home.

One final note on all the battery stuff is that you can set three different levels of battery protection, for when you’ve got the 12 volt charger plugged into your car. This battery protection ensures you won’t flatten your car battery when running it for long periods.

The fridge can easily be switched on through a simple, clear display and button setup that sits at the front of the cooler. You can also change the temperature settings by pressing up or down on this button. Once you turn the cooler on you’ll notice that it’s surprisingly quiet, which is largely thanks to the efficiency of the compressor system.

Dometic CFX3 45 Build

Access to the actual chilled compartment is pretty simple. Just lift a handle that’s found at the front of the top lid and you’re in there. The whole lid can be totally removed if you need to clean it before a trip. There’s also a rubber seal around the whole lid, to help provide a seal and retain all the cool air.

You’ve then got a large 36-litre compartment which we found to be more than enough for even a week’s worth of supplies when we were away from any shops to get fresh produce. The compartment is split up by two separate baskets, both of which can be removed, allowing you to load and unload supplies from the van without putting your back out trying to lift the whole thing at once.

Other neat features that are found on the inside of the cooler are a handy drain plug for easy cleaning up of any spills and a LED light to help you see all your goodies at night.

The aluminium spring loaded handles and toughened construction were really handy when we wanted to bring the fridge with us on foot – taking it down to the beach for instance. You can essentially chuck this thing around without too much worry. And the same goes for the display on the front which is water and dust proof.

One final note is on the controls. You’ve got bluetooth and wifi connection which work with the Dometic app so you can see the temperature of the fridge and turn it up or down if you need. This might seem like quite a trivial feature, but we’ve found it to be particularly useful if you’re looking to access the fridge when it’s tucked out the way, which is so often the case in campervans.


The Dometic CF3 45 offers best-in-class performance for portable cool boxes. Yes, it might come with a steep price tag, but the toughened construction, bluetooth connectivity and ability to go from +20 °C to  –22 °C make this an extremely versatile cool box that you can rely on when your van has taken you deep into the wilderness.



OM x Dometic
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