Disclaimer: The BougeRV CR45 Portable Fridge Freezer was sent to us to be reviewed and tested. This is our honest review and opinion of this camping product after testing and using it while camping.
BougeRV Portable Fridge Freezer Overview
BougeRV’s main focus is on sustainable energy and products that can be powered by sustainable energy. They make solar panels, portable fridges, and more for campers and travelers.
They are about to release a battery for the CR portable fridge/freezers so you can use them without having to connect to AC or DC power and recharge using solar power.
The CR line of AC/DC powered fridges are built for more than just cars and vans. They are made for travel and camping with a durable design that includes wheels and handles that make them easy to tote around a campground.
We live full time in a small motorhome. One thing about RVs and campers is the fridge and freezer are often small and don’t have enough space for long term campers or families.
We’ve actually met a lot of RVers who use portable fridge freezers as extra food storage space. We plan on using it for the same purpose.
We’ve always had a cooler on hand for when people come to visit and we need to keep extra food and drinks cold. Now we finally don’t have to worry about ice.
And since we have solar panels and portable power stations to power our RV we can keep the portable fridge/freezer running even when we’re boondocking.
In this review, I’ll outline the main features and specs of the BougeRV CR45 portable fridge freezer. I’ll also talk about the power usage from all the tests we’ve done as well as give my review.
Use the coupon code CAMNERD12 to get 12% off your purchase.
Since we’re going to be using it all winter I’ll keep this post updated with different power usage data we collect over time.
BougeRV CR45 Portable Fridge Freezer Measurements
If you want to get a portable fridge freezer for your car, van, or RV the most important thing next to power usage is going to be measurements.
Will it fit between the seats or under a counter? Can I slide it into the under storage of my RV?
The CR45 has a 48 quart or 45 liter capacity. That’s how big the two inner compartments are. But since there’s a motor in there as well it’s not going to be as small as a standard 48 quart cooler.
The total outside measurements are 20 inches tall, 18 inches wide (from wheel to wheel), and 28 inches long (from the outer edge of the handle to the back wheel).
You could potentially make it a little smaller by removing the wheels and handle. No matter what it’s going to be 20 inches tall but with the other stuff gone the CR45 could be only 16 inches wide and 24 inches long.
The wheels and handle can be removed using a basic Phillips head screwdriver.
If you’re planning on storing it in a compartment you will need a little space on the side and the back for the vents. The main vents seem to be on the back though so you can get away with just minimal space on the sides.
The CR45 has two inner compartments. The large one is considered the left and the small one the right compartment. This distinction is important when setting the temperatures.
The largest is around 15 1/2 inches tall, 10 1/4 inches wide, and 12 inches deep.
The smallest is around 8 1/2 inches tall, 7 3/4 inches wide, and 12 inches deep.
The split compartments make it so you can have a fridge and a freezer at the same time but you can change the settings so both compartments are at fridge temperatures or freezer temperatures.
Also, the small compartment can be the fridge and the large the freezer but since fridge products normally take up more space most people use the larger compartment as the fridge and the small as the freezer.
The largest compartment was able to fit 2 liter soda bottles and a gallon milk jug easily.
Eggs are a big thing to bring camping and oddly enough the smallest compartment was able to fit an 18 egg carton perfectly.
When empty the BougeRV CR45 weighs 44.1 lbs.
There are two other size options. The smaller CR35 weighs 39.7 lbs and the larger CR55 weighs 50.8 lbs.
The weight doesn’t feel like too much when carrying it around and it’s really not bad if you fully extend the handle and use the wheels.
It will be much heavier when full of food though.
BougeRV CR45 Features
The lowest temperature setting is -4F. Safe freezer temperatures according to the FDA are 0F. So the freezer part should be able to keep your frozen food at a safe temperature in normal ambient temperatures.
I say normal ambient temperatures because any fridge or freezer has a hard time keeping low temperatures when sitting in direct sunlight or in extreme heat. But I’ll talk more about that later in this review.
The highest temperature the BougeRV CR45 (click to view on bougerv.com) can be is 68F.
This might seem like an unnecessary thing to talk about but there are certain foods and drinks that benefit from being stored at above fridge-safe temperatures (40F).
Wine, for instance, is said to be best served when chilled to 55F. The same goes for dark beers like stouts and ales.
If you are planning on having a party you could use this portable fridge freezer as a temporary wine and beer fridge to get those perfect temperatures that are just a bit warmer than regular fridge temperatures.
I mentioned this a bit before but one of the cool temperature features with the CR portable fridge/freezers is both compartments can be the same or different temperatures depending on your needs.
Just be aware that if both are set to freezer temperatures more electricity will be used.
Low Battery Protection
If you are going to be using a car fridge for travel or camping the low battery protection is a must have.
Not every kind of portable fridge/freezer has a battery protection system and it’s something to look for when comparing models and brands.
The BougeRV CR models all have 3 levels of low battery voltage protection.
For 12V batteries, the different levels will turn off the fridge/freezer at different voltages. Low is 9 volts, medium is 10.1 volts, and high is 11.1 volts.
BougeRV recommends having the voltage protection set on high if you plan on keeping it connected after turning off the engine to your vehicle. If your vehicle’s battery is in poor condition it may not be able to run the CR45 for very long.
For 24V batteries, low is 21.3 volts, medium is 22.3 volts, and high protection is 24.3 volts.
Max & ECO Mode
There are two cooling modes, max, and eco.
The max cooling mode will use up to 60 watts. The eco mode will use up to 45 watts.
If you have your portable fridge freezer plugged into AC power or a power station the cooling modes aren’t going to make that big of a difference.
You could possibly save a little power if you have it on ECO mode in cooler weather and max in hotter weather but the difference won’t be that much.
Even when in max mode the CR45 didn’t use more than 45 watts at a time in ambient temperatures that were around 70 degrees.
With that being said the ECO mode will be useful if you have it plugged into your vehicle, especially a car.
The 12V outlets in vehicles aren’t all made equally. They can range from 5 to 20 amps. 5 amp being the most common and 20 amp being the least.
We had one 20 amp 12V outlet in our Dodge 2500 heavy duty truck but our motorhome only has a 15 amp.
The reason I’m telling you all of this is the most useful thing about the ECO mode is it will only draw up to 45 watts of power.
If you have it plugged into the 12V outlet in any vehicle I recommend using the ECO mode to reduce the risk of blowing a fuse in your car.
Yes, even a 5 amp outlet can technically output up to 60 watts but it’s safer to not go anywhere near the maximum output.
If the fuse is old or the wiring is a little funny 60 watts may blow the fuse anyway and it’s better to just eliminate that risk altogether by using the ECO mode.
LCD Touch Screen & App
All of the temperature, modes, and battery protection settings can be controlled using the LCD touch screen on the front of the unit or using the available app that connects with Bluetooth.
Note you do not need to use the app to access all of the features. Everything can be controlled with the touch screen as well.
The touch screen is located on the front side of the unit near the top. It’s pretty hard to miss.
When it’s not getting power the screen is just black but when there’s power the screen will be lit up and display the temperatures of both compartments at all times. It’s a good way to quickly check if it’s getting power.
Since the touch screen controls both compartment temperatures, Max/ECO modes, and battery protection things can get a little complicated.
BougeRV has included an instruction sticker below the touch screen to help you out and there are also instructions in the manual as well.
There is also a USB port you can use to charge your phone.
The app is called “Car Fridge Freezer” by Alpicool.
The app connects to the BougeRV fridge freezer with Bluetooth and so far it’s worked very well for us.
You can control everything directly from your phone including the different compartment temperatures, ECO mode, lock the touch screen, and even the battery protection modes.
If you get the optional battery you can also see what percentage it’s at via the app.
You can even turn it off and then back on again with your phone which I think is pretty useful.
You can also see the current temperatures which can be different from the set temperatures. I had a thermometer inside each compartment and I found the current temperatures to be accurate.
Note: the BougeRV portable fridge freezer can only connect to one phone at a time. If you are trying to connect and the app cannot find the fridge it may be connected to another nearby device.
Wheels & Handles
You can move the portable fridge freezer two ways. You can carry it or pull it around by the wheels.
For carrying you can use the large handle in the front and the small plastic handle in the back that folds out.
The large metal handle in the front is as solid as they come but I wasn’t a huge fan of the plastic back handle. It does bend slightly when you pull on it but I don’t think it’s breaking, just bending.
The large handle can be used for carrying when in the storage position but it can also be extended for pulling or pushing the fridge freezer by the wheels.
To extend you push in two latches with your fingers. They also lock the handle in place when fully extended.
When pushed in the handle sticks out about 3 inches from the unit but when extended it sticks out 15 1/2 inches.
This is very helpful when the fridge/freezer is filled with food and drinks because it displaces a lot of the weight onto the wheels, just like a wheelbarrow.
The wheels are about 5 3/4 inches in diameter and made of plastic.
I would have liked to see some rubber wheels but you aren’t going to want to drag this fridge around too much anyways.
The plastic seems good enough to withstand rolling around gravel and dirt campsites and it’s definitely durable enough for sidewalks and pavement.
We tested the handle and wheels when the CR45 was fully loaded with food around our gravel campsite and the wheels did get stuck on a few rocks but for the most part, they worked well and it was absolutely easier than carrying it around.
Wire Compartement Baskets
Probably the most underrated feature of this portable fridge freezer is the wire baskets inside each compartment.
One thing I’ve always hated about having food in coolers when camping is having to spend long amounts of time bent over trying to dig around and find what I’m looking for.
Ice always made it more difficult as well and portable fridge freezers don’t use ice but it’s still something low to the ground you have to bend over to get food out of.
Both compartments of the CR fridge freezers have removable wire baskets.
They’re there to help with airflow inside the compartments but I’ve found that they are very useful for packing food and finding what you need.
If you are moving food from your RV or home fridge to the portable fridge freezer you can simply pull out the baskets and fill them with food and take those out to wherever you have the portable fridge.
You don’t need to bring the entire thing inside to fill it up.
If you need to find something specific you can pull out the basket quickly and close the lid to keep in all the cold air. You can then easily find what you’re looking for, then quickly put the basket back in.
It saves energy, time, and you don’t have to lean over as long.
Additional CR45 Features
There are a few more small features of the BougeRV CR45 portable fridge freezer (click to view on bougerv.com) I’d like to mention.
First, the lid can change the side it opens from. This is extremely useful since you don’t always know what side is going to be against a wall.
In the time that we’ve had it, I’ve swapped the lid at least 3 times as we’ve placed it in different spots around and inside our RV.
All you have to do is open the lid to a 90 degree angle and pull it straight up. You then flip it around and pop it into the similar hinge structure on the other side. It’s fast and super easy to do.
As a fun little addition BougeRV has included a small plastic cutting board with every CR model. The board is stored inside the lid and it’s held in place with a little tab you turn up to release the board.
On the CR45 model the cutting board is 10 3/8 inches long and 7 3/8 inches wide.
The top of the lid has 4 built in cup holders and a rectangle indent in the center that is the exact size of the cutting board.
The center indent holds the cutting board in place really well and I think it’s a nice thing to add since a clean cutting surface is always needed when camping.
The lid is also strong enough to hold the weight of a person. It doesn’t sag at all and makes for a nice extra seat.
Inside there are also two LED light strips that automatically turn on when the lid is up. This is a fantastic feature for grabbing drinks late at night.
There’s also a drain plug at the bottom of the large compartment for cleaning and letting in air when you’re not using it.
Since this portable fridge freezer can be powered with both AC and DC power there are two power cables included.
Both are plugged into the same power port on the back near the bottom of the unit.
The DC cable is 11 1/2 feet long and the AC cable is around 7 feet long.
You’ll also notice a small port next to the power port labeled “solar power.” This is a feature made for the optional battery pack that I’ll talk about next.
Optional Battery Pack
There’s a small covered compartment in the back of the CR models near the power port that is made to hold the optional battery pack.
The battery pack wasn’t released yet when we got our BougeRV fridge but I hope to be able to review it soon.
BougeRV CR45 Portable Fridge Freezer Power Usage & Power Options
For boondockers, power usage is everything, especially if you are using solar power and a portable power station (click to see the best ones) to run your portable fridge.
We’ve been running the CR45 with a Jackery Explorer 1500 (click to see review). The Jackery is charged via solar panels and we’ve tested powering the CR45 with both the 12V power and AC power on the Jackery.
The first test we did was to see how much power the CR45 would use in 24 hours with the large compartment set at fridge temperature (40F) and the small compartment at freezer temperature (-4F).
The ambient temperature ranged from 60F to 80F throughout the day.
We started measuring from the time the fridge/freezer was turned on which means the energy usage was also what was needed to get the fridge and freezer to the set temperatures.
Over 24 hours the CR45 used 600 watt hours when totally empty.
The power usage was the same for the AC power test and the DC power test. Both compartments were also totally empty which means the BougeRV CR45 was using more power than it normally would use when full of food.
It was also connected to a phone the whole time using Bluetooth.
The next test we did was to see if putting food in the fridge and freezer compartments would help save any power. Each compartment was filled about 3/4 of the way with food.
The ambient temperatures were similar to the first test (60F-80F).
Over 24 hours the CR45 used 410 watt hours when about 3/4 filled with food.
When there’s food in the compartments both the fridge and the freezer use significantly less power. And the fridge side wasn’t even filled up all the way.
I think if you pack it right you can make the BougeRV portable fridge freezer use even less power. It also held the temperatures the entire time.
The fridge stayed around 40F and while the freezer never made it all the way to -4F but it was able to keep 0F and the ice cream we put in it stayed frozen.
My next test will be using both compartments as freezers but I’ll need to go get some more frozen food first. More updates on that later.
If you use the CR45 for drinks it would take even less power and be way less work than a traditional cooler you have to fill with ice. You can also adjust the temperatures for the kind of drinks you have which is really cool.
My Review Of The BougeRV CR45 Fridge Freezer
Use the coupon code CAMNERD12 to get 12% off your purchase.
So far we’ve been very impressed with the BougeRV portable fridge freezer.
The construction is nice and it feels very durable. We store it in the very back of our motorhome in the rear under storage so it deals with a lot of bumps from the road and so far its been working great.
From an RVer’s point of view, it’s a fantastic way to add some more freezer space which means we can eat better when we’re far away from stores.
We have a lot of solar panels and a couple of portable power stations and we’ve been able to keep it running with solar power.
I’ll keep measuring the power usage and updating the power usage part of this review as I use it in different ways to help other campers figure out if this is the right option for them.
I recommend this to other campers looking for a fridge/freezer option for their camping setup or RVers who need a little extra fridge or freezer space.
If you have it inside your camper just be aware that it does make a little noise when the compressor and fan kick on and there is a funny water noise that happens every now and again.
It’s not anything too bad though and we were able to sleep through the small amount of noise just fine when we had it inside our motorhome.
Now that we have it set up in the under storage area we don’t hear it at all.
What I like
Being able to use this as both a fridge and a freezer is really awesome. And being able to make both compartments either a fridge or a freezer gives you a lot of options depending on what you want to use it for.
The two compartments also make it more efficient since it’s not just a giant open container with a lot of empty space that needs freezing or refrigerating.
Gets To Set Temperature Quickly
I have been super impressed with how fast the CR45 can get down to the set temperature. When we first plugged it in it was ready to go within an hour.
It took less than 30 minutes for the large compartment to go from 40F to 0F.
Bluetooth & App
The app is awesome. It’s very easy to understand and it connects to the fridge Bluetooth really quickly. I’ve been able to control everything via my phone and I’ve even found the current temperatures to be accurate.
I like being able to monitor what’s going on from a distance and I think this is a huge selling point for the BougeRV portable fridge freezers.
Optional Battery & Solar
Even though I haven’t been able to test the battery I think the concept is amazing.
If you are able to run this portable fridge with just a small inner battery and a solar panel that is going to be a game changer for all campers who boondock.
Especially van dwellers who often don’t have space for generators and extra batteries.
The wheels are small but they do work well with the telescopic handle. The CR45 is already pretty heavy when empty and it’s even harder to carry around when fully stocked.
The moving parts on the handle work really well and it’s a great feature that’s more necessary than you think.
Removable Wire Baskets
I can’t get enough of these wire baskets. They make stocking the fridge and freezer way easier and if there’s something small at the bottom of one of the compartments it’s super quick to just pull up the basket and take it out of the side.
Lid Can Change Sides
I’m normally not a fan of features like this because they are often so hard to make work they aren’t worth the trouble.
That isn’t the case with the BougeRV. It’s really easy to pull the lid up and off and then slide it into place on the other side.
It’s also an extremely useful feature since you often never know where things are going to end up when you get all your camping gear packed.
The outside is built very well and the CR models aren’t going to have any trouble in the bed of a pickup truck or the under storage of an RV.
They aren’t waterproof so that’s something to watch out for but overall the design and build seems very durable and up to most of what camping will throw at them.
What I Don’t Like
Can Only Connect To One Phone At A Time
My husband and I both like to be the ones who are in charge, but because only one phone can connect at a time we had to decide who was going to be the leader of the BougeRV portable fridge freezer.
Since I’m the one writing this review, I won, but it would be nice if both of our phones could be connected at the same time so we could each monitor the temperatures inside from our phones.
Complicated Display Screen
The touch screen looks really nice and it’s a more durable and easier to clean design than buttons but it can be a little complicated to understand.
The instructions below are definitely a must-have. Without them, I would have no idea how to program the CR45.
So far I’ve been mostly using the app on my phone because that is actually easier to use than the touch screen.
Wheels Could Be Better
The wheels are a fantastic addition but I do wish BougeRV had gone all the way and made them just a bit bigger and had used a rubber layer on them.
The current plastic wheels work great on smooth surfaces but gravel and small rocks do stop them pretty easily.
I still think the wheels are awesome and a must have for transporting but I just wish they were slightly better.
Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Fridge Freezers
Can I run my portable fridge freezer with a small power station?
You can run a portable fridge freezer like the BougeRV CR45 with a small power station like the Jackery Explorer 500 (click to see review) and a solar panel (click to see review) but it’s going to help a lot if the fridge and freezer are fully stocked and cloudy days are going to be worrisome.
For weekend campers a small 500 watt power station and a 100 watt solar panel are going to be plenty but for a full timer who depends on their portable fridge freezer.
I recommend having a couple of solar panels and a larger power station like the Jackery Explorer 1500 (click to see review) just in case.
What temperatures should I set my portable fridge freezer at?
Safe fridge temperature is 40F but going a little lower than that is ok. If your fridge food starts to freeze you’ve gone too low.
On an especially hot day you may need to set the fridge temperatures a little lower to help keep your food safe.
Safe freezer temperature is 0F but many people like to have their freezers set at around -10F. Many portable fridge freezers like the BougeRV CR45 have -4F as the lowest setting.
I recommend using the lowest possible temperature for the freezer.
How do I clean a portable fridge freezer?
Since there is an electrical part to portable fridge freezers they should never be left out in rain or sprayed with water.
Before cleaning, make sure you turn it off and disconnect from power so you don’t get shocked.
Then wipe down the outside with a wet cloth.
To clean the inside undo the plug in the bottom and wipe down the compartments with a wet cloth. Do not use any abrasive cleaning products like steel wool as it may damage the insulation.
Ice may have built up on the inside if you’ve been using it as a freezer. To defrost, turn off the power, unplug it, and let it thaw with the lid open. You can then wipe it out.
How do I store a portable fridge freezer when it’s not in use?
Like any fridge, a portable fridge freezer can start to smell and even grow mold if there isn’t any airflow inside the inner compartments when it’s turned off.
Before storing make sure you clean everything out of the inner compartments and let it dry completely.
You can leave the inside drain plug undone to allow airflow or leave the lid cracked to be sure both compartments are getting some ventilation.
Store in a cool dry area away from direct sunlight.
Can I put ice in a portable fridge freezer?
Portable freezers can be used to make ice and keep ice packs frozen. You don’t need to use ice to keep things cold like you do with a cooler because the compressor and cooler are keeping things cold.
If your power source has failed and you are in a pinch you can put ice in your portable fridge freezer since the inside is waterproof.
Have any more questions about the BougeRV CR45 portable fridge freezer? Leave a comment below.