The Dometic CFX 50W is just about everything we could want from a powered cooler and easily beat the competition a second time to take home our Editors' Choice award yet again. It displays impressive temperature control, is almost ridiculously sturdy, consistently energy efficient, easy to use, and more portable than we expected. We love using this powered cooler that gives us peace of mind with its battery protection modes and easy monitoring app. It's also the quietest cooler we tested by far. Our only real complaints are that the cords are a bit short and it's rather expensive — but for the incredible performance and durability it offers, we think the Dometic is a worthwhile investment.
Dometic CFX 50W Review
Cons: Expensive, relatively short cords, no energy-saving mode
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dometic CFX is a compressor model with a claimed capacity of 46L. Its advertised temperature range is -8º to 50ºF and it comes with both AC and DC power cords.
The Dometic performs the best of any model we tested in this metric. It cools quickly, even with room temperature contents. In our tests, it went from room temperature to an impressive -8.9º F in just 5.5 hours. The Costway was the only other model to reach that low of a temperature, and it took an extra 4 hours to get there! The Dometic's display temperature is one of the more accurate to the actual temperature and was on average 3.0º F different from actual. The Dometic is also rated for ambient temperatures up to 109º F and can freeze contents, not just keep them frozen. We accidentally left some soda cans in our unit when we turned the temperature as cold as it would go, and several exploded! Cans forgotten in other units did not get cold enough to explode.
This model really impresses us with its ability to control the temperature so well. Our only half-complaint is that when in Fahrenheit mode, the temperature is set in increments of 2º. But really, it made no functional difference to the incredible performance we saw from the Dometic.
Another metric in which the Dometic performs admirably. Though none of the powered coolers give quite the impressive insulation performance of a traditional hard cooler, some are definitely better than others. The Dometic proves to have decent insulating power for a unit of its size. While we wouldn't recommend leaving it unplugged in a hot environment for longer than you have to, it performed quite well at keeping contents cool when electricity wasn't available.
The Dometic is also built like a tank. With reinforced corners, thick sturdy handles, and a big beefy hinge, we had no hesitation using this chest as a table, seat or even step ladder (though it's really not made for those last two). It gives the impression it will last for years and years to come and we had no reason to doubt that during our testing. Even our scouring of the internet for other users' claims didn't turn up anything that gave us serious doubts about the durability of the Dometic. It also has a 2 pole auxiliary socket hidden under the head of the DC cord that can be used to more securely thread the plug into power and stop the motion of the ocean (or boat, or trailer, or truck, or…) from wiggling it loose. The Dometic is hands down the most durable-feeling model we tested.
For being such a large cooler and achieving such cold temperatures, we expected the Dometic to gobble up energy. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that it does not! It uses just slightly more energy than some of the more energy-efficient models - 51.8 watts vs. 50.0 watts - which is still on the low end of all the coolers we tested, thermoelectric and compressor models both. The Dometic also has battery protection settings on the more conservative end of the units in this review, which is important if you plan to connect your unit to a primary battery like the one that powers your car.
While it belongs to the A++ (A+++ is best) energy efficiency class, the Dometic doesn't have an additional energy-saving mode like some others we tested do. It's important to note that if you use the app to control your Dometic, expect to draw an extra 2-5 watts of power to keep the WiFi connection on. Overall, we are quite impressed with the energy efficiency of a relatively large unit running at such cold temperatures.
Ease of Use
The first thing we like about using the Dometic is its shape. Unlike the other compressor coolers that are all tall, skinny, and deep, this one has a low, squatty shape. This makes the contents more spread out rather than stacked on top of one another, which makes it a heck of a lot easier to find what you're looking for without letting all the cold air out. The internal basket is also easy to lift out even when it's full, thanks to convenient protruding handles. There is also an interior light and an easily accessible and easily replaceable fuse.
Though it's advertised as having a 46-liter capacity, we measured the total internal capacity as just over 54 liters! We think this difference is due to the small internal compartment on one side that might not be included in the Dometic's advertised capacity. This is our suspicion because Dometic claims you can fit 72 cans inside the CFX 50W model, and we did — in the main compartment, plus 14 more in the small compartment, for a total of 86 cans! This makes the Dometic the largest model we tested, despite our efforts to test mostly similar-sized coolers.
Another feature we really enjoy about the Dometic is that you can reverse the direction the lid opens. This makes placing the unit exactly where you need it to be that much easier because if you need to reverse the lid to make it work where you want it, you can! The Dometic also has a drain and plug, and though you're not supposed to fill it with ice and liquid, this drain can really come in handy if you have a spill or just need to clean out your chest. And though we know most people tend to not really read an instruction manual, powered coolers is one area in which we highly recommend doing just that, as each contains very specific and important information which you absolutely need to know to get the best from your unit. The giant book that comes with the Dometic is intimidating, but it's actually only so large because it's printed in several languages. The manual is extremely helpful and easy to use and even includes many troubleshooting and maintenance instructions, making it easy to help your Dometic last a long, long time.
Okay, it's big — like a giant trunk. It's heavy — over 46 lb. It doesn't have wheels. It's never going to be your favorite piece of gear to load into the trailer or boat on those factors alone. You'll want to load it empty and then put your food inside, for sure. That being said, there are several factors that make the Dometic not totally terrible to carry compared to the other compressor models. This is another arena in which the troll-like shape of the Dometic works to its advantage. This shorter shape makes it easier to carry, and bashes against your legs less than taller coolers do. Additionally, the Dometic has extremely rounded edges all over, so when it is smashing its full 46.4 lb of rugged cooling power against you, it's not digging in as hard with corners. This is the only model we tested to have so many rounded corners, and we think it makes a BIG difference when it comes time to carry your cooler around. And if you're ready to hold your cooler in place, the handles on the Dometic can be used as tie-downs.
Aside from the obvious beastly size of this cooler, we don't have too many other complaints about its portability. It does have quite short DC and AC cords, each measuring just over 6'. This is on par with many other similar coolers, though several are slightly longer. At the end of the day, we are pleasantly surprised at the portability of the largest powered cooler in this review.
Dometic does not skimp when it comes to sticking useful features on their coolers. In addition to little things we've already mentioned (like the drain, the 2 pole auxiliary plug, and the WiFi controller app), the Dometic is ready to please. It has handy features you don't need but will wonder how you ever lived without, like a USB charging port on the back and the ability to change the display brightness to see better in midday or avoid feeling blinded at night.
Not just silly frills, the Dometic also has some dead-useful features. There's an emergency switch on the back that, when flipped, will run your unit even if the display has malfunctioned and won't work. This can save you hundreds of dollars in groceries in case of a potential breakdown out in the middle of nowhere. The Dometic is also shockingly quiet — we actually had to bend down and put our ears close to the unit to make sure it was actually running sometimes! It's easily the quietest cooler we tested. And, importantly, Dometic offers a 2-year manufacturer's warranty, which we think is an important feature of anything you're going to spend that much money on.
Dometic sells this particular model for four figures — that's a good chunk of change for a fancy box! However, in this particular case, we think that what you get is so worth what you pay. Dometic offers superb performance, impressive durability, and all the right features to make your user experience excellent. If you want what works best, you want the Dometic and we think the money will be well-spent.
The Dometic impressed us at every turn and has easily become our Editors' Choice. Its efficiency, control and durability are unmatched by any other powered cooler we have tested. We found very few things we didn't like about the Dometic, and love all the functionality and useful features it has to offer. Though it is one of the most expensive coolers in this review, we think that in this case, it's really worth it to be the proud owner of such a solid piece of gear.
— Maggie Brandenburg