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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Cooluli Mini Fridge
$49.99 at Amazon
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|Pros||Super portable, very quiet, can be cold or hot, pretty low energy usage||Excellent low energy mode, long cord, good temperature range and control, useful baskets, less expensive||Very energy efficient, relatively inexpensive, impressive minimum temperature, surprisingly lightweight, long cord||Largest temperature range, good insulation, lightweight, few moving parts, can be used as a chest or standing up||Easy to use, has wheels, cool cord storage, energy efficient, relatively inexpensive|
|Cons||Can't control temperature, not the best seal, USB can't be used in computer, plastic hinges, unknown longevity||Heavy, small capacity, control panel on back||Not durable, takes a long time to cool, insulation not great, fairly loud||No AC cord included, not the most durable, energy hog||Short cords, doesn’t reach very cold/hot temperatures, still need to use ice|
|Bottom Line||Quiet and tiny, this is a decent personal cooler, though with several limitations||Performance where it matters for a lower cost||If you're on a tighter budget but still want mid-level performance, we recommend this model||Impressive temperature range in a lightweight, no-frills thermoelectric cooler||Handy to use, but it doesn’t eliminate your dependency on ice|
|Rating Categories||Cooluli Mini Fridge||Whynter FM-45G||Costway 54||Koolatron Portable 45||Knox Gear 48 Quart|
|Temperature Control (25%)|
|Energy Consumption (20%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Cooluli Mini Fridge||Whynter FM-45G||Costway 54||Koolatron Portable 45||Knox Gear 48 Quart|
|Minimum Temperature Achieved (F)||42.8ºF with contents||-5.8ºF||-8.9ºF||52.7ºF with contents
|52.7ºF with contents
|Temperature Increase in 36 Hours Unplugged (F)||26.6ºF||21.6ºF||27.9ºF||9.9ºF||11.5ºF|
|Power Draw in Watts (cooling)||33.9 W||65.5 W
38.9 W (eco)
|62.3 W||46.1 W|
|Power Draw in Watts (steady)||N/A||0.8 W||1.0 W||N/A||N/A|
|Power Draw in Watts (heating)||29.7 W||N/A||N/A||48.1 W||39.0 W|
|Voltage Use (cooling)||13.84 V||13.39 V||13.47 V||13.29 V||11.90 V|
|Amperage Use (cooling)||2.45 A||4.91 A||3.72 A||4.69 A||3.88 A|
|Minutes to Cool (according to display)||N/A||145 min||80 min||N/A||N/A|
|Hours to Cool (measured)||20.5 hrs||8 hrs||9.5 hrs||>12 hrs||>12 hrs|
|Maximum Temperature Achieved (F)||136.0ºF||N/A||N/A||130.8ºF||103.1ºF|
|Temperature Accuracy (diff btwn display and actual)||N/A||+/- 1.6ºF||+/- 3.8ºF||N/A||N/A|
|Weight||3.7 lb||54.6 lb||34 lb||14.2 lb||14.4 lb|
|Claimed Capacity (volume)||4 L
|Measured Capacity (volume)||4 L
|Capacity (cans)||6 cans||58 cans||72 cans||63 cans||57 cans|
|Method of Cooling||Thermoelectric||12V compressor||12V compressor||Thermoelectric||Thermoelectric|
|Advertised Achievable Temperature Range (F)||40ºF below ambient to 149ºF||-8ºF to 50ºF||-4ºF to 50ºF||40ºF below ambient and up to 135ºF||40ºF to 130ºF|
|Acceptable Ambient Temperature Range (F)||Not specified||41ºF to 90ºF
(max setting if >90ºF)
|50ºF to 109ºF||Not specified||Not specified|
|Exterior Dimensions (D x W x H)||10" x 7.25" x 10.5”||17.25" x 25" x 20"||21" x 27.5" x 14"||16" x 21" x 17.25"||15" x 22" x 16"|
|Interior Dimensions (D x W x H)||5.75" x 5.25" x 8"||11.25" x 11"/7.25" x 15"/7.25"||10.4" x 12.75"/6.4" x 17.25"/10.6"||12.25" x 15.5" x 14.5"||12" x 17.75" x 12"|
|DC Cord Length (feet)||6' 3.5"||9' 6"||7' 9.75"||8' 10"||4' 10"|
|AC Cord Length (feet)||5' 8"||6' 2"||6' 4.25" (AC adapter only)
14' 7" (DC and AC adapter)
|6' 11" (AC adapter only)
15' 11" (DC and AC adapter)
|Comes With||AC cord, DC cord, USB cord (3' 1")||AC cord, DC cord||DC cord, DC to AC adapter and cord||DC cord||AC cord, DC cord (both permanently attached inside lid)|
|Features||Top handle, heating ability, USB power cord||Displays battery level, drain/plug||Eco power-saving function, internal light||Heating ability||Cord storage, drain/plug, wheels and pull handle, heating ability|
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
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