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Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer Review

A small cooler that heats and cools, with a handy shape to be an armrest and convenient strap to tote it around
Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer
Credit: Wagan
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Price:  $100 List | $99.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Decent temperature control, easily portable, ergonomic shape, convenient size
Cons:  Small interior, not great insulation, oddly shaped inside
Manufacturer:   Wagan
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 16, 2021
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47
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 11
  • Temperature Control - 25% 6.0
  • Insulation - 25% 2.0
  • Energy Consumption - 20% 4.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 4.0
  • Portability - 10% 9.0
  • Features - 5% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Wagan 12V 14 Liter is one of the smallest models we tested, but that isn't the only reason it's one of the most portable. This little cooler has a wide shoulder strap attached to it and is a rounded shape that makes it a great armrest in the backseat of your car. It does a pretty good job of cooling the interior — relative to the surrounding air temperature — and reaches some of the hottest temperatures of any unit we tested. Its thick walls don't offer as much insulation as we'd hoped though, while also making the interior too small for larger items like a bottle of wine. Though it's not replacing our fridge anytime soon, the Wagan's convenient shape and features make it a solid road tripping buddy.

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Price $100 List
$99.95 at Amazon
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Pros Decent temperature control, easily portable, ergonomic shape, convenient sizeVery energy efficient, relatively inexpensive, impressive minimum temperature, surprisingly lightweight, long cordGood energy options, solid insulation, relatively lightweight, inexpensiveEasy to use, has wheels, cool cord storage, energy efficient, relatively inexpensiveSuper portable, very quiet, can be cold or hot, pretty low energy usage
Cons Small interior, not great insulation, oddly shaped insideNot durable, takes a long time to cool, insulation not great, fairly loudNot great temperature control, baskets aren't great, internal shape is challengingShort cords, doesn’t reach very cold/hot temperatures, still need to use iceCan't control temperature, not the best seal, USB can't be used in computer, plastic hinges, unknown longevity
Bottom Line A small cooler that heats and cools, with a handy shape to be an armrest and convenient strap to tote it aroundIf you're on a tighter budget but still want mid-level performance, we recommend this modelAn inexpensive option that's tall and slender with good insulation but unimpressive minimum temperaturesHandy to use, but it doesn’t eliminate your dependency on iceQuiet and tiny, this is a decent personal cooler, though with several limitations
Rating Categories Wagan 12V 14 Liter... Costway 54 Alpicool CF45 Knox Gear 48 Quart Cooluli Mini Fridge
Temperature Control (25%)
6.0
8.0
5.0
4.0
5.0
Insulation (25%)
2.0
5.0
8.0
3.0
2.0
Energy Consumption (20%)
4.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Ease of Use (15%)
4.0
5.0
5.0
6.0
5.0
Portability (10%)
9.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
Features (5%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Wagan 12V 14 Liter... Costway 54 Alpicool CF45 Knox Gear 48 Quart Cooluli Mini Fridge
Minimum Temperature Achieved (F) 36.45ºF below ambient -8.9ºF 6.4ºF 27.2ºF below ambient 32.4ºF below ambient
Temperature Increase in 36 Hours Unplugged (F) 30.6ºF 27.9ºF 14.9ºF 11.5ºF 26.6ºF
Power Draw in Watts (cooling) 56.8 W 50.0 W
38.9 W (eco)
52.9 W
38.6 W (eco)
46.1 W 33.9 W
Power Draw in Watts (steady) N/A 1.0 W 0.8 W N/A N/A
Power Draw in Watts (heating) 45.6 W N/A N/A 39.0 W 29.7 W
Voltage Use (cooling) 13.26 V 13.47 V 13.25 V 11.90 V 13.84 V
Amperage Use (cooling) 4.34 A 3.72 A 4.01 A 3.88 A 2.45 A
Hours to Cool (measured) 28.5 hrs 9.5 hrs 23 hrs >12 hrs 20.5 hrs
Maximum Temperature Achieved (F) 137.3ºF N/A N/A 103.1ºF 136.0ºF
Temperature Accuracy (diff btwn display and actual) N/A +/- 3.8ºF +/- 3.4ºF N/A N/A
Weight 8.4 lb 34 lb 30.0 lb 14.4 lb 3.7 lb
Claimed Capacity (volume) 14 L
14.8 quarts
51.1 L
54 quarts
45L
48 quarts
45.4 L
48 quarts
4 L
4.2 quarts
Measured Capacity (volume) 14 L
14.8 quarts
49.1 L
51.8 quarts
45L
48 quarts
41.9 L
44.3 quarts
4 L
4.2 quarts
Capacity (cans) 16 cans 72 cans 62 cans 57 cans 6 cans
Method of Cooling Thermoelectric 12V compressor 12V compressor Thermoelectric Thermoelectric
Advertised Achievable Temperature Range (F) 32ºF to 36ºF below ambient and up to 140ºF -4ºF to 50ºF -4ºF to 50ºF 40ºF to 130ºF 40ºF below ambient to 149ºF
Acceptable Ambient Temperature Range (F) Not specified 50ºF to 109ºF Not specified Not specified Not specified
Exterior Dimensions (D x W x H) 19" x 10.5" x 11.6" 21" x 27.5" x 14" 27.5" x 13.5" x 17.8" 15" x 22" x 16" 10" x 7.25" x 10.5”
Interior Dimensions (D x W x H) 12" x 8.5" x 6.6" 10.4" x 12.75"/6.4" x 17.25"/10.6" 10.25" x 14.5"/8" x 12.5"/6.25" 12" x 17.75" x 12" 5.75" x 5.25" x 8"
DC Cord Length (feet) 8' 11" 7' 9.75" 7' 10" 4' 10" 6' 3.5"
AC Cord Length (feet) (none included) 6' 4.25" (AC adapter only)
14' 7" (DC and AC adapter)
6' 8" 3' 11" 5' 8"
Comes With DC cord, extra fuse DC cord, DC to AC adapter and cord AC cord, DC cord AC cord, DC cord (both permanently attached inside lid) AC cord, DC cord, USB cord (3' 1")
Features Cord storage, heating ability, cup holders Eco power-saving function, internal light Internal light, removable baskets, C/F display Cord storage, drain/plug, wheels and pull handle, heating ability Top handle, heating ability, USB power cord

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Wagan 12V 14 Liter is a thermoelectric cooler with a capacity of 14L. Its advertised temperature range is 32° - 36°F below ambient and up to 140°F. It comes with just a DC plug and a replacement fuse.

Performance Comparison


Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer powered cooler - this compact little cooler is a convenient shape and size for many...
This compact little cooler is a convenient shape and size for many uses.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Temperature Control


Though any thermoelectric model can only cool a certain amount compared to the ambient temperature (as opposed to compressor-powered coolers that can be set to a specific temperature just like your fridge at home), among the many we tested, the Wagan stands out as an effective model. Filled with cans, it maintained temperatures just over 36°F below ambient. When the temperature control switch is reversed, and the Wagan becomes a small heater, it reached nearly 140°F — one of the warmest actual temperatures we've recorded throughout all our testing.

Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer powered cooler - a simple switch on the front reverses the flow of air to change the...
A simple switch on the front reverses the flow of air to change the Wagan from a cooler to a heater and vice versa.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Insulation


Though the walls appear thick, the Wagan didn't perform very well in our insulation testing. In a room temperature setting, the contents inside gained over 30°F during the course of 36 hours — nearly matching the ambient temperature. We also consider construction materials and durability as they pertain to the insulation and overall effectiveness of the cooler. We couldn't find any specifics about the composition of the Wagan, but it appears to be entirely lightweight plastic. It's not nearly as substantial and rugged-feeling as many of the larger models we tested, and numerous components are a bit worrying. In particular, the hinges are rather narrow and the cord sticks out of the front of the cooler in a way that seems to be just begging to be knocked out of place.

Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer powered cooler - this cooler isn't a particularly great insulator.
This cooler isn't a particularly great insulator.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Energy Consumption


Despite being a small cooler, the Wagan does take a fair bit of energy. When cooling, it draws around 56.8 Watts and takes roughly 45.6 Watts while heating. Compared to the rest of the models we tested, these figures are slightly above average, but not by too much. The manufacturer claims that this unit's maximum power draw is just 48 Watts, though based on our testing we think that seems a little low. We also noticed that in either setting, cooling or warming, the unit runs at significantly higher levels (closer to 66 Watts cooling and 58 Watts warming) for several minutes before "calming down" to run at the lower levels we measured.

Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer powered cooler - the opening to the wagan is an odd shape that we don't love.
The opening to the Wagan is an odd shape that we don't love.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Use


The Wagan has several features that we love to use, like the shoulder strap and two cup holders on the front, yet it falls short in this metric because of the details it lacks. While the lid opens very wide for loading, the opening is smaller than the body of the cooler. A good-sized chunk of the back of the cooler is covered completely by the plastic of the body. You can slide a normal-sized soda can underneath, but it stops you from being able to fill it with taller cans or oddly shaped items. The bottom of the lid is very indented, to fit taller objects, but not being able to slide them all the way to the back because of that inconvenient ledge means that they're just in the way of getting to whatever is in the back of your cooler. It's also not a quiet cooler. It sounds like a small fan that's constantly on — which isn't a dealbreaker if you're used to tuning out consistent noises like that.

Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer powered cooler - it's handy to be able to store the cord on the back of the cooler...
It's handy to be able to store the cord on the back of the cooler when you're on the go.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


Even beyond its small size, the Wagan is quite portable. It weighs just 8.4 pounds when empty. A shoulder strap is semi-permanently affixed to the front and back of the body of this unit, making it simple to carry it pretty much anywhere. It doesn't have an exaggerated handle on the back of the unit, but even fully loaded, we never found ourselves missing it.

Features


The Wagan has no internal organization, but the two cupholders and single rectangular "cubby" on the front are rather handy. The whole thing is shaped rather conveniently to fit between two back seats and even be used as an armrest. Though it doesn't come with an AC cord (or an AC adapter, like most other thermoelectric coolers), it does include a replacement fuse.

Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer powered cooler - the wide shoulder strap makes carrying this lightweight cooler that...
The wide shoulder strap makes carrying this lightweight cooler that much easier.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


This portable model is one of the least expensive options we tested. It's not about to make the cut for a weekend of camping, but for certain uses, it may just be worth it — like keeping drinks cool for the whole family on a long road trip.

Conclusion


The Wagan 12V 14 Liter is a uniquely shaped thermoelectric cooler/heater that's built to be portable. It's not our favorite shape inside for things other than 12 ounce cans, but it's the perfect shape on the outside to become a staple in your car to keep beverages cooler all summer long.

Wagan 12V 14 Liter Personal Fridge/Warmer powered cooler - though it's not our favorite thermoelectric cooler, it is very...
Though it's not our favorite thermoelectric cooler, it IS very convenient as a backseat armrest!
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Nichols
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