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Dometic CFX 50W Review

Precision performance and everything you want in a cooler made to last through years of adventures.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $1,000 List | $999.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent temperature control, energy efficient, large capacity, extremely sturdy, full of useful features
Cons:  Expensive, relatively short cords, no energy-saving mode
Manufacturer:   Dometic
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 14, 2019
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 9
  • Temperature Control - 25% 9
  • Insulation - 25% 8
  • Energy Consumption - 20% 7
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Portability - 10% 6
  • Features - 5% 8

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Dometic CFX 50W
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $999.99 at Amazon$999.97 at Amazon$375.43 at Amazon$379.99 at Amazon$889.99 at Amazon
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Pros Excellent temperature control, energy efficient, large capacity, extremely sturdy, full of useful featuresEnergy efficient, good features, super durable, long DC cordExcellent low energy mode, long cord, good temperature range and control, useful baskets, less expensiveVery energy efficient, relatively inexpensive, impressive minimum temperature, surprisingly lightweight, long cordCools relatively quickly, helpful/thorough manual, long warranty, large capacity
Cons Expensive, relatively short cords, no energy-saving modeUnimpressive minimum temperature, heavy for its size, relatively loudHeavy, small capacity, control panel on backNot durable, takes a long time to cool, insulation not great, fairly loudTemperature performance not very good, expensive, power-hungry, awkward basket
Bottom Line Precision performance and everything you want in a cooler made to last through years of adventures.Energy efficient and tank-like, though not the coldest or the quietest.Performance where it matters for a lower cost.An impressive performer for a lot less than the competition.Doesn't keep up with the competition, but surpasses them all with the highest price.
Rating Categories Dometic CFX 50W Engel Platinum MT35 Whynter FM-45G Costway 54 ARB Fridge Freezer 50
Temperature Control (25%)
10
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9
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Insulation (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
7
Energy Consumption (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
5
Portability (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
3
10
0
7
10
0
5
Features (5%)
10
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8
10
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6
10
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7
Specs Dometic CFX 50W Engel Platinum MT35 Whynter FM-45G Costway 54 ARB Fridge Freezer...
Minimum Temperature Achieved (F) -8.9ºF 5.5ºF -5.8ºF -8.9ºF 1.4ºF
Temperature Increase in 36 Hours Unplugged (F) 20.7ºF 18.9ºF 21.6ºF 27.9ºF 15.8ºF
Power Draw in Watts (cooling) 51.8 W 31.7 W 65.5 W
35.5 (low)
50.0 W
38.9 W (eco)
64.3 W
Power Draw in Watts (steady) 0.8 W 1.1 W 0.8 W 1.0 W 0.7 W
Power Draw in Watts (heating) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Voltage Use (cooling) 13.26 V 13.85 V 13.39 V 13.47 V 11.98 V
Amperage Use (cooling) 3.89 A 2.30 A 4.91 A 3.72 A 5.37 A
Minutes to Cool (according to display) 16 min 52 min 145 min 80 min 158 min
Hours to Cool (measured) 5.5 hrs 16 hrs 8 hrs 9.5 hrs 4.7 hrs
Maximum Temperature Achieved (F) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Temperature Accuracy (diff btwn display and actual) +/- 3.0ºF +/- 2.5ºF +/- 1.6ºF +/- 3.8ºF +/- 5.8ºF
Weight 46.4 lb 47.8 lb 54.6 lb 34 lb 49.8 lb
Claimed Capacity (volume) 46 L
48.6 quarts
32 L
34 quarts
42.5 L
45 quarts
51.1 L
54 quarts
47.3 L
50 quarts
Measured Capacity (volume) 54.2 L
51.3 quarts
27.5 L
29 quarts
42.4 L
40.1 quarts
49.1 L
51.8 quarts
50.2 L
47.5 quarts
Capacity (cans) 86 cans 38 cans 58 cans 72 cans 72 cans
Method of Cooling 12V compressor 12V compressor 12V compressor 12V compressor 12V compressor
Advertised Achievable Temperature Range (F) -8ºF to 50ºF 0ºF to 50ºF -8ºF to 50ºF -4ºF to 50ºF 0ºF to 50ºF
Acceptable Ambient Temperature Range (F) 61ºF to 109ºF
(min temp cannot be reached is >90ºF)
Not specified 41ºF to 90ºF
(max setting if >90ºF)
50ºF to 109ºF 61ºF to 109ºF
(min temp cannot be reached if >90ºF)
Exterior Dimensions (D x W x H) 17.9" x 28.5" x 18.5" 14.25" x 28" x 15.7" 17.25" x 25" x 20" 21" x 27.5" x 14" 15" x 28" x 17"
Interior Dimensions (D x W x H) 13.2" x 13.5"/7.25" x 14.2"/6.25" 15.25" x 10.75" x 10.25" 11.25" x 11"/7.25" x 15"/7.25" 10.4" x 12.75"/6.4" x 17.25"/10.6" 11.2" x 13.3"/6" x 15.8"/8.1"
DC Cord Length (feet) 6' 3" 9' 6.5" 9' 6" 7' 9.75" 6'
AC Cord Length (feet) 6' 3" 5' 8" 6' 2" 6' 4.25" (AC adapter only)
14' 7" (DC and AC adapter)
6' 3" (AC cord)
8' 9" (AC adapter only)
15' 3" (DC and AC adapter)
Comes With AC cord, DC cord AC cord, DC cord, extra fuse AC cord, DC cord DC cord, DC to AC adapter and cord AC cord, DC cord, DC to AC adapter and cord
Features WiFi app, internal light, C/F display, USB port, adjust display brightness, drain/plug, removable adapter collar on DC cord, emergency switch for control panel failure Removable lid, internal light, C/F display Displays battery level, drain/plug Eco power-saving function, internal light Optional mounting, internal light, removable adapter collar on DC cord, secure cord attachment on back, C/F display, drain/plug

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.

Performance Comparison


The Dometic blew its competition out of the water in just about every metric.
The Dometic blew its competition out of the water in just about every metric.

Temperature Control


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.

An easy to use latch on the lid helps seal in cold temperatures without keeping you from your refreshments.
An easy to use latch on the lid helps seal in cold temperatures without keeping you from your refreshments.

Insulation


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.

Thick insulation  a sealed lid  and rounded corners make the Dometic a rugged and durable cooler.
Thick insulation, a sealed lid, and rounded corners make the Dometic a rugged and durable cooler.

Energy Consumption


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.

The Dometic pairs with a free app that you can use to control the temperature  change settings  and set parameter alerts easily from your smartphone.
The Dometic pairs with a free app that you can use to control the temperature, change settings, and set parameter alerts easily from your smartphone.

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.

A full load of 86 cans - 14 more than Dometic advertises  thanks to the little side compartment!
A full load of 86 cans - 14 more than Dometic advertises, thanks to the little side compartment!

Portability


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.

Some of the compressor models we tested  from left to right: Dometic  ARB  Costway  and Whynter.
Some of the compressor models we tested, from left to right: Dometic, ARB, Costway, and Whynter.

Features


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.

These indents make it possible to still remove a fully loaded basket from the Dometic  and the drain in the bottom makes cleaning a breeze.
These indents make it possible to still remove a fully loaded basket from the Dometic, and the drain in the bottom makes cleaning a breeze.

Value


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.

Non-melted ice cream on a road trip?? Yes please!!
Non-melted ice cream on a road trip?? Yes please!!

Conclusion


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.

If you're after the best  no matter the occasion  you're after the Dometic.
If you're after the best, no matter the occasion, you're after the Dometic.


Maggie Brandenburg