Cooluli Mini Fridge Review
Cons: Can't control temperature, not the best seal, USB can't be used in computer, plastic hinges, unknown longevity
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Cooluli is a thermoelectric model that we tested in the 4L size. It also comes in 10L, 15L, and 20L models and several colors. It claims to reach temperatures up to 149ºF and down to 40ºF below ambient. This model comes with AC and DC cords as well as a USB cord.
Though it has just two settings ('cold' or 'hot'), this tiny cooler does a pretty good job at both those things. During our testing, it reached as low as 42.8ºF, which was about 30ºF below ambient. This isn't as good of a performance as promised, but it's better than most the other thermoelectric coolers we tested. On the heat setting, it reached 136ºF, though Cooluli claims it should max out at 149º. Again, not as impressive as promised, but still more impressive than most of the other thermoelectric units. It took 20.5 hours to reach the lowest temperature and 9.5 to reach the highest, both of which are much longer than claimed by the manufacturer but about on par with the other thermoelectric models. It does pretty well, though without any real temperature control it shouldn't be used for temperature-sensitive items like raw meat, certain medications, or breast milk.
Over 36 hours unplugged, the Cooluli rose 26.6ºF. That's not terrible, considering how small it is. However, if you were to open it even once, you'd likely lose all your cold air in one go. Made mostly of plastic, this "mini-fridge" isn't the most inspirational unit when it comes to durability. Even the hinges are made of plastic, though with an aluminum pin. Considering its relatively tame intended usage, you probably don't need the sturdiest tiny cooler, but if your toddler likes to get ahold of things or you tend to drop stuff, this may not make the journey.
We're pretty impressed with the energy draw of this little box. While cooling, it pulls 33.9 Watts, and when heating, it uses just 29.7 Watts. That's pretty impressive stacked up to the competition, though with its tiny size, we're glad it doesn't pull gobs of energy for barely any contents. It also runs in Eco mode when using the USB for power, which is a neat feature. However, you can't plug the USB into a computer, as most computers don't output enough energy from their USB ports. You can, however, plug it into a power bank, as long as you double-check that it meets the power requirements of your unit. The Cooluli is also impressively quiet, which makes having it sit on your desk at work or your bedroom counter a pretty non-disruptive experience.
Ease of Use
The Cooluli opens and functions just like a miniature fridge. It has a magnetic closure that's easy to open with one hand. Unfortunately, it's not a very strong magnet, and so easily comes open while you're carrying your cooler from place to place. A single removable shelf and a very narrow removable door basket help you stay organized. However, one thing we did discover is that many sandwich boxes and other fairly standard-sized Tupperwares are too large to fit inside the 5.75" x 5.25" x 8" interior, which could put a damper on your ability to use it to keep your lunch cool at work. This unit is rated to be running 24/7, which is more than we can say for the majority of thermoelectric coolers, increasing its usability. It also comes with both AC and DC power cords and a very short USB cord for use with a power bank.
Clearly, this 4L model is much lighter than most of the much larger coolers we tested, tipping the scales at just 3lb 11oz. It has an indented top handle that makes it even easier to pick up and move around. The AC cord is 5'8" long and the DC cord is 6'3" — not incredibly long, but with decent room to maneuver. The USB cord is much shorter though, at just over 3 feet. Really, the only hindrance to toting this tiny box around is the weak magnetic seal. More than once we had it filled with 6 cans that toppled out while we were carrying it.
The Cooluli is a very small unit, and so lacks many of the frills of larger powered coolers. Honestly, we think that the features it does have are pretty solid for such a little model. Three different power cords (AC, DC, and USB), a single shelf, a small basket, a handle on top and the ability to heat as well as cool — we think the Cooluli is just right.
In a category of extremely expensive options, the Cooluli is a breath of fresh air with a double-digit price tag. Clearly it's not about to perform at the same level as the four-digit models out there, but for what it is, this simple little cooler isn't overpriced. Its size has some limitations, but if 4L is the right capacity for you, we think you'll appreciate what the Cooluli has to offer.
This adorably small, 4L thermoelectric cooler/heater does pretty well for what it is. It's not about to be your long term food storage solution or method of bringing a casserole to the potluck, but for a personal option you can keep close at hand, it's solid. Don't expect miracles in temperature control, but if you want something to stay mildly chilled or warmed, the Cooluli can help with that.
— Maggie Brandenburg