Tired of dealing with ice, eskies and finding your food and drink floating in water after a couple of days? Perhaps it’s time to upgrade to a 12V fridge that can reliably and safely keep your food cold and your drinks chilled.
In this Dometic CFX3 review, I will run through its main pros and cons, the key features that set it apart from the competition, as well as the general consensus on the quality of these fridges in the Australian camping and outdoors community.
Finally, I’ll let you know whether I think it’s a good buy or not! Let’s dive in!
Pros & Cons
Put simply, the Dometic CFX3 fridges look great. They are some of the best looking units I have come across. The sleek black and white design looks great and will suit pretty much any car or caravan setup.
There are sturdy, spring-loaded aluminium handles located on either side of the fridge which make it easy to carry.
Temperature readout and controls, the USB port (5V/2A) and the battery protection settings are all located on one end of the fridge.
The 12/24V and 100-240V connections are located on the opposite side and near the base.
The lid is well designed and feels like it does a decent job of keeping the contents insulated from ambient heat. It can be easily removed by snapping it back past the open position. The fridge/freezers are fitted with 50mm thick insulation all the way around which does a great job of keeping the contents cool and reducing the overall power consumption.
All units have internal baskets to help with organisation, along with removable dividers which are useful for keeping food and drink separate. There’s also a drain plug in the bottom for removing water. This is a welcome addition that isn’t present in the CFF45.
The 35, 45 and 55 models are all single compartment units that can be run as either a fridge or a freezer, not both simultaneously.
The 55IM model comes with a built-in icemaker which will produce ice no matter the temperature setting in the main compartment. When switched on, it rapidly produces ice, then goes into a ‘maintenance mode’ where it maintains the ice at sub zero temps, but goes into an energy saving mode. It works surprisingly well.
Finally, the 75DZ and 95DZ units are both dual zone, meaning that they have separate compartments with independent temperature controls. This allows them to be run as both a fridge and freezer simultaneously.
All of this can be controlled directly on the fridge, or via the Dometic smartphone app (free) using either Bluetooth or WiFi.
In their manuals, Dometic recommends keeping 50mm of clearance around the sides of the fridge/freezer while it is in use, to prevent overheating. Don’t throw it in your boot and then bury it in a ton of gear!
All in all, the Dometic CFX3 fridge freezers seem to be stylish yet robust and fit for purpose. It would be nice if some of the other models (particularly the 55) also had dual zone capability, but I can accept that it can be difficult to engineer in 2 compartments and separate cooling in a 55L fridge.
The CFX fridge freezers can be set to cooler temperatures than their competitors. Whereas most brands have a lower limit of -18 or -20°C, these units can be set as low as -22°C!
Mind you, I can’t imagine that you would want to set it that cold too often, but it is nice to have the option.
The general consensus from CFX3 users is that these fridges have no problem reaching the set temperature, unlike some cheaper brands. Even on hot, humid days, you can still get down to nice, frosty temps.
All of the units in this range can be powered off 100-240V AC or 12/24V DC power. They come with separate cables for AC and DC power.
Unlike cheaper brands, these fridges can genuinely run off 240V AC without transforming it down to 12V first, which is great.
Unfortunately, the included 12V cable is only 1.5m long, which might be a touch short depending on your particular setup. You may need to get an extra cable if you plan on running the refrigerator away from your 12V power source.
The table below has some specs on the estimated power consumption for each of the units.
Scroll to the right or rotate your device to see the full table ⮧
Rated Input Power (W)
Current Draw @ 12V (A)
Power Consump. @ 12V (Ah/h)*
*For the 35-55IM models, this is based on a 4°C internal temperature and a 32°C ambient temperature (Bluetooth on, WiFi off).
For the 75DZ and 95DZ models, this is based on the large compartment being set at 4°C and the small compartment being set at -15°C, with an ambient temperature of 32°C (Bluetooth on, WiFi off).
These numbers are pretty standard for efficient, compressor driven, portable refrigerators.
Of course, the real figures that you see with your own setup will vary based on a number of factors, such as your set temperature and ambient temperature, how often you open the fridge, whether you have good ventilation around the unit, whether you use an insulating cover etc.
There is a single 5V/2A USB port located next to the temperature controls on the top of the fridge. This is great if you are out fishing or by the campfire and want to keep your mobile devices charged.
As is standard in 12V fridges these days, the Dometic CFX3 range all come with 3 stage low-voltage battery protection. This is a useful way to protect your car battery, making sure that you don’t flatten it.
You can find the relevant on/off voltages for each of the 3 stages in the table below. If you are running it off your car battery, be sure to use Medium or High mode to prevent flattening it.
If you want to make your CFX3 even better than it already is, consider getting some of these addons. They certainly aren't necessary, but they can make your life a lot easier, especially if you plan on using your fridge a lot.
An insulating cover serves two purposes: it protects your fridge from physical damage, bumps and scrapes, plus it reduces how much heat gets in, which reduces power consumption and extends the life of your portable fridge and batteries.
Dometic sell specific insulating covers for each of their models.
If you are sick of climbing into your boot each time you want to access your food and drink, consider using a fridge slide. It will allow you to mount the fridge in the back of your vehicle and slide it out when you need to access it. The slides are rated to hold the fridges even when they are fully loaded.
Dometic sell a variety of fridge slides to match specific units.
Need a 12V battery that can run your fridge/freezer yet is rugged enough to handle Australian conditions? Dometic sells a 44Ah battery known as the CoolPower RAPS which is a very reliable unit that is also nice and portable.
You can use this battery with a wide range of 12V gear, not just your Dometic fridge.
If you’ll be off the grid for a while without mains power, some solar panels might be a worthwhile investment. They will power your fridge as well as charge your battery, which can then run your 12V appliances overnight.
Dometic sells both 120W and 180W solar panel varieties.
Build Quality & Warranty
Dometic (formerly Waeco) are considered to manufacture some of the highest quality fridges on the market. Their quality is probably only second to Engel, although the CFX3 units tend to be cheaper than the equivalent Engel units.
They use only high quality materials and parts in their units, such as Secop (formerly Danfoss) compressors instead of a cheap compressor and aluminium/steel carry handles instead of plastic ones.
Overall, the Dometic CFX3 fridges are very high quality and you can expect to get many years of life out of them.
A few people have commented that they struggle to connect their smartphone with the fridge over Bluetooth. There may be some kind of pairing issue with either the app of the built-in Bluetooth.
They come with 3 year warranties, plus additional 2 year warranties on parts. This is pretty good, and definitely towards the upper end of the kind of warranty that you can expect from most portable fridges.
These fridges have a pretty tough duty after all, baking in the sun in the back of the car, bouncing around on rough, gravel tracks all while keeping your food and drink at sub zero temperatures.
Feel free to read more about the Dometic warranty.
Unfortunately, from what I hear from people who have attempted to do a warranty replacement with Dometic, their customer service is not great. They tend to leave your emails unanswered for a long time and are generally quite slow when it comes to inspecting your fridge and ultimately fixing/replacing it.
They are also very strict with the warranty periods, refusing to accept your fridge even if it is a few days past the end of the warranty.
This is a shame, especially considering how much you are paying for these fridges. Ultimately, they seem like very good units as long as they are working (which the vast majority of the time, they do just fine). However, if you do have a problem with your fridge, you can expect a fair lengthy warranty returns process.
Conclusion - Dometic CFX3 Review
The Dometic CFX3 fridge/freezers are outstanding units, genuinely some of the best portable 12V fridges on the market. They are built well using high quality materials and can reach temperatures as low as -22°C, even in warm weather.
Despite this, their power consumption is low, thanks to the efficient Secop compressor and 50mm thick insulation. They also come with a few nice-to-have features such as a water drain plug, Bluetooth/WiFi app control and a USB charging port. All of this backed by their 3+2 year warranty.
The main drawbacks are the relatively high price and the subpar customer service. You also can’t get dual zone capability unless you upgrade to the 75DZ or 95DZ units, which are quite large.
Overall, these are a very solid choice when it comes to a portable 12V fridge for your car, caravan or camper trailer. They are a premium quality item that is best suited to those who go camping regularly and need something reliable that can stand the test of time.
Can’t quite afford the CFX3 range? Check out my Dometic CFF45 review, which is a more affordable fridge from Dometic.
Otherwise, the Brass Monkey fridge/freezer range is also a decent choice. They are far cheaper than Dometic but still decent quality units.
To get your head around all of the options out there, take a look at this list of the best 12V fridge/freezers in Australia!
In any case, I hope that you have enjoyed this Dometic CFX3 review! Still have some questions? Did you end up getting one? Let me know in the comments below!
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Note that while every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this page, there may sometimes be errors. Check all specifications with the manufacturer before purchasing any product.