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Dometic CFX3 review – The ultimate portable fridge freezer for explorers

In this Dometic CFX3 review, we’ll cover the best and worst attributes of this popular campervan fridge. We’ll assess build quality, usability and energy consumption, and we’ll also talk about some of its limitations.

Overall impression

Our overall impression of the Dometic CFX3 has been really positive. We have been using the Dometic CFX3 45 in our own campervan for a couple of years now and we’re super impressed with it. The powerful compressor technology makes this fridge much more functional than any coolbox we’ve used before, and the option to use 230V AC or 12V DC power makes it super versatile. 

With chunky handles and a robust exterior, we really rate these fridges for rugged, outdoor van-life. They’ll be perfect when you’re hooked up to mains power but can also be powered from your leisure battery when you venture off-grid.

We do have some reservations about the 12V energy consumption of some of the larger models which incorporate a freezer. However, we can offer some advice on the design of your electrical system to make sure these campervan fridges don’t drain your leisure battery.

The CFX3 comes in a range of sizes, from just 25L, up to 100L. Every model can be configured as either a fridge or a freezer with the easy-to-use temperature control. Additionally, some of the larger models have two separate compartments so you can use both at once. Because they’re all so similar, we’ve reviewed the whole CFX3 range together as one, then broken it down by size to help you choose the right model for you.

Our Dometic CFX3 45 is an integral part of our van build, allowing us to spend more time off-grid

General overview

The Dometic CFX3 fridge is a top-loading fridge which can be powered from either a 12V DC or 230V AC source. The coolbox-style design makes it really space efficient. Because the food and drink can be stacked up inside, you can cram a lot into a small space. 

Although the CFX3 might look like a coolbox, it’s actually far more powerful than any fridge you may have used before. This is because the CFX3 uses a compressor to keep the space cold, which works efficiently and effectively. In contrast, conventional coolboxes are thermoelectric, which means they have limited cooling power and use a lot of energy to run.

Designed for either inside or outside use, the CFX3 can be neatly integrated into your campervan build, or just slotted into any spare boot space. Some DIY converters store the fridge under a seat with a lifting lid while others have built a sliding drawer to keep it neatly stashed away.

The Dometic CFX3 can be stored in your spare campervan boot space (left), or even on a sliding platform in an intricate storage system in an overlander (right)

Most CFX3 models have one main compartment which can be programmed to work as a fridge or a freezer. However, the Dual Zone models have two separate spaces which can operate at different temperatures. For many people, that extra freezer space is a must-have in the summer, when beers need to be chilled ASAP and ice creams are a necessity. 

If you’re thinking about buying a CFX3, you’ll have plenty of sizes to choose from because there are 8 different models. In this Dometic CFX3 review, we’ll evaluate the range as a whole, then we’ll talk about each model individually.


We were pretty impressed with how easy this fridge is to use. Just plug it in, set your required temperature, and stock it up with food. The internal baskets keep things organised. Additionally, the internal light makes food easy to find, even in a dimly-lit van.

The Dometic CFX3 55 keeping all the important stuff cold!

The chunky design of the Dometic CFX3 gives us the impression that it will last for years and can take its fair share of abuse. With reinforced edges and chunky carry handles, this fridge can handle the pressures of van life.

The CFX3 comes with two power cables: one for AC mains power and the other for DC power. Each cable is 2m long, so you can set your fridge up outside, saving space inside the van. We’re maybe nit-picking here, but a little extra cable length would have been useful for setting up a cooking space further away from the van.

However, if 2m isn’t enough for you either, Dometic has designed a portable power station specifically to power the CFX3 range. So, this would allow you to set-up your cooking space anywhere you like, without needing a campervan or electric hook-up point close by.

With the Dometic PLB40 power station, you could power the CFX3 45 fridge for 24-48 hours. In fact, with a portable solar panel, you could power your fridge indefinitely with free electricity from the sun.

The Dometic PLB40 will power your CFX3 fridge wherever you take it

Display and settings

The bright LCD display on the Dometic CFX3 shows the temperature of the fridge, the Bluetooth and WiFi status, and the current state of the compressor.

You can access settings using the fridge’s control buttons. From here you can set the temperature, the brightness of the display, and use the Bluetooth or WiFi to pair with your phone.

Once you’ve paired your phone, you can use the Dometic CFX3 app to control and monitor the fridge. From the app, you can monitor and adjust all the same settings as you can in the display. We thought an app for your fridge was a little pointless at first, but there is one feature we were impressed by. If the fridge door hasn’t closed properly, you’ll receive a notification on your phone, saving any chance of melted butter and warm beer! 

Another useful feature of the CFX3 control panel is the ability to lock the buttons. This may come in handy if you have an inquisitive toddler who loves to press buttons! All you need to do is press and hold both arrow keys at the same time, and the buttons can’t be used until it’s unlocked again.

Finally, the CFX3 has a battery protection setting which can be used when you’re running the fridge from 12V power. To protect the battery, the fridge will automatically shut itself off when a low supply voltage is detected. Therefore, your battery won’t be fully drained and damaged as a result. 

Power input

The Dometic CFX3 fridges can be run from either DC battery power or from AC mains power. This means you can plug it into shore power, or you can run it off your campervan’s leisure battery. 

The CFX3 comes with two power cables: a 12V cigarette lighter style plug, and a mains power 3-pin plug.

When you’re parked up at a campsite, with access to electric hook-up, you can plug your CFX3 into your campervan’s 230V plug points. When you’re off the campsite and exploring off-grid, you can easily switch the power source and plug into a cigarette lighter port which is wired into your leisure battery. 

If you’re only travelling for a short time between campsites, you can also plug into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket to power the CFX3, but only when you’re driving. If you try to powering the fridge when the engine’s off, your starter battery will drain pretty quickly and you’ll be stuck with a dead van and a warm fridge.

Finally, the CFX3 voltage input range is as follows:

  • DC: 12-24V
  • AC: 100-240V

Consequently, the CFX3 can accommodate 24V leisure batteries, and European or US mains power.

Powering the CFX3 75 using the Dometic PLB40 via the cigarette lighter socket

Energy consumption

In comparison to other products on the market right now, the energy consumption of the CFX3 is really good. However, if you want to use this fridge when you’re off-grid, you’ll need to make sure your campervan electrical system can handle the extra Amp-hours. 

To help you compare the CFX3 models, we’ve calculated how many Amp-hours each fridge will draw per day. You can compare this to the Ah capacity of your leisure battery and estimate how many days you’ll last off-grid. 

Here’s a comparison of all the models. We’ve calculated the Amp hours which will be drawn from a 12V leisure battery when the fridge is set to 5oC, with an outside temp of 25oC. (Note – this number will be halved if you have a 24V battery).

   CFX 25   CFX 35 CFX 45 CFX 55
Ah used per day 28Ah 29Ah 31Ah 33Ah

   CFX 55IM   CFX 75DZCFX 95DZ CFX 100
Ah used per day 37Ah105Ah123Ah57Ah

Although the consumption of these models is really good in comparison to their competitors, the dual zone (DZ) models with a fridge freezer still draw a lot of energy. If you’re planning to use your campervan off-grid, you’ll need a decent-sized leisure battery to power these fridges for more than a couple days. In addition to this, a solar panel would make a big difference in covering the energy expenditure of the CFX3 fridge. 

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Real world power usage

For many, a campervan fridge will be their most power-hungry item, and subsequently one of the biggest drivers of the electrical system cost. Therefore, buying an efficient fridge is a must. But just how much power does an efficient campervan fridge use?

We had a suspicion that our Dometic CFX3 45 was actually more efficient than it claimed. So, we decided to test how much power it actually uses, and set up a real-world 24 hour test.

We used the purpose-built Dometic PLB40 12V lithium powerbank to power our 45L CFX3. This allowed us to power the fridge independently so no other loads would impact the power used. We also ran the test with the fridge full of food and drink, to ensure it was representative of real-world use.

The test was set to run in our ‘garage’ (our van boot) for a 24 hour period. We used two Ruuvi tags and our Cerbo GX to monitor both the temperature inside the van, and the temperature inside the fridge throughout our test. You can read more about how you can monitor your own van’s temperature and many other parameters with a Cerbo GX in this article.

We placed a RuuviTag Pro inside the fridge, and a RuuviTag on top of the fridge, allowing us to monitor both internal and external temperature

At midday in the middle of UK summer, somewhere in the North of England, we turned the Dometic CFX3 45 on, monitoring the internal and external temperature via the Victron VRM portal. After 24 hours we stopped the test and grabbed a few beers from the fridge… just to check they were cold.

If you trawl through the Dometic CFX3 45 datasheet, the fridge’s power usage is advertised as 31Ah (372Wh) over a 24 hour period, based on the ambient temperature being 25°C and the internal fridge temperature set to 5°C.

As you can see from the results below, our Dometic CFX3 only used 278Wh over 24 hours, compared to 372Wh claimed by the manufacturer. The only difference between our test and the official test was a subtle 2.3°C temperature difference in external temperature. This 2.3°C will impact the power usage of the fridge, but is highly unlikely to use 25% more power which is the difference between the two power usage figures.

Additionally, whilst monitoring the temperature in the boot space in our van where we keep our CFX3, we found that it rarely climbed above 23°C, even when the temperature outdoors was in the high 20’s.

We took photos before and after the test, documenting the power used. The Dometic PLB40 discharged by 42% over the course of the test, equating to 202Wh of power used.

The test also highlighted the speed at which the fridge got down to temperature. The Dometic CFX3 cooled down from 22.5°C to 5°C in just 50 minutes. Additionally, it maintained this temperature within +/-0.3°C for the duration of the test. The CFX3 achieves this by using high-performance thick insulation and intermittent use of its efficient compressor.

The CFX3 isn’t the only winner here. The PLB40 provided the power needed for the 24 hour test and with enough left over for a further 33 hours of use, making the combination perfect for long weekend use.

So, what did the test teach us? The CFX3 45 performed 25% better than claimed, but at a slightly cooler external temperature than the official power usage figure. However, the test also had to cool an entire fridge full of food and drink from ambient temperature which isn’t part of the normal fridge testing procedure and will use more power to achieve this. Whilst it’s hard to give a definitive answer here it feels reasonable to use these results for your own power usage requirements if you’ll be using your CFX3 in the UK during summer.

CFX3 energy consumption 

Dometic CFX3 25

The CFX3 25 has a rated energy consumption of 330Wh per 24hrs. In other words, 28Ah will be drawn every day from a 12V leisure battery. (Based on a fridge temperature of 5oC and an ambient temperature of 25oC)

Dometic CFX3 35

The CFX3 35 has a rated energy consumption of 352Wh per 24hrs. In other words, 29Ah will be drawn every day from a 12V leisure battery. (Based on a fridge temperature of 5oC and an ambient temperature of 25oC)

Dometic CFX3 45

The CFX3 45 has a rated energy consumption of 368Wh per 24hrs. In other words, 31Ah will be drawn every day from a 12V leisure battery. (Based on a fridge temperature of 5oC and an ambient temperature of 25oC)

Dometic CFX3 55

The CFX3 55 has a rated energy consumption of 390Wh per 24hrs. In other words, 33Ah will be drawn every day from a 12V leisure battery. (Based on a fridge temperature of 5oC and an ambient temperature of 25oC)

Dometic CFX3 55IM

The CFX3 55IM has a rated energy consumption of 443Wh per 24hrs. In other words, 37Ah will be drawn every day from a 12V leisure battery.  This is based on a fridge temperature of 5oC and an ambient temperature of 25oC.

We can also give you an idea of the maximum energy the 55IM might use. In 32oC ambient temperature, with the ice maker on and the fridge set to 4oC, the CFX3 55IM will use 900Wh per 24hrs. This is equivalent to 75Ah every day from a 12V leisure battery.

Dometic CFX3 75DZ 

With both compartments set to 5oC, the CFX3 75DZ has a rated energy consumption of 1260Wh per 24hrs. This is equivalent to 105Ah every day from a 12V leisure battery.

This is a lot of energy to be drawn every day, so we’d only recommend this model for off-grid use if you have a large leisure battery and a solar panel. 

We can also give you an idea of the maximum energy the 75DZ might use. In 32oC ambient temperature, with the freezer compartment set to -15oC, and the fridge set to 4oC, the CFX3 75DZ will use 2280Wh per 24hrs. This is equivalent to 190Ah every day from a 12V leisure battery.

Dometic CFX3 95DZ 

With both compartments set to 5oC, the CFX3 95DZ has a rated energy consumption of 1478Wh per 24hrs. This is equivalent to 123Ah every day from a 12V leisure battery.

Again, this is a lot of Amp-hours, so we’d only recommend this model for off-grid use if you have a large leisure battery and a solar array. 

We can also give you an idea of the maximum energy the 95DZ might use. In 32oC ambient temperature, with the freezer compartment set to -15oC, and the fridge set to 4oC, the CFX3 95DZ will use 2468Wh per 24hrs. This is equivalent to 205Ah every day from a 12V leisure battery.

Dometic CFX3 100

The CFX3 100 has a rated energy consumption of 682Wh per 24hrs. In other words, 57Ah will be drawn every day from a 12V leisure battery. (Based on a fridge temperature of 5oC and an ambient temperature of 25oC.)

Because the Dometic CFX3 comes in a whole range of sizes, it can be used in so many different ways. The two separate power options make the CFX3 especially versatile. As a result, this portable fridge can be used on the campsite or when you’re exploring further afield. 

The smallest models, such as the CFX3 25 and the CFX3 35, will be great for long weekends with just one or two people to feed. They’re smaller size makes them easy to carry around and their low energy consumption gives you the flexibility to use them off-grid.

The CFX3 45 or 55 will be perfect for week-long, couples camping holidays. You can pack in everything you need for the trip and they’re still (just) small enough to move around. 

The larger models, such as the CFX3 100, are made for feeding a family. You can store fresh milk, snacks, and several meals for the trip ahead. They’ll be easy to power from 240V hook-up, but you might need some extra help from solar if you want to use these models off-grid. The CFX3 100 would also be a good option for a couple who want to avoid the hassle of topping up at the supermarket mid-holiday.

A Dual-Zone model will be great for hot summer trips where frozen ice creams and ice cubes are essential, but again, you’ll need solar power to keep you going off-grid.

Finally, when you’re not exploring further afield, the CFX3 fridge can be used at home. For instance, a communal drinks cooler makes the perfect centrepiece for sociable summer evenings.


One person’s food for a long weekend


One person’s food for one week

Two peoples food for a long weekend


Two peoples food for one week


Four peoples food for a long weekend


Four peoples food for one week

Dometic CFX3 limitations

Throughout this Dometic CFX3 review, we’ve definitely been impressed with these super-durable, top-loading fridges, but that’s not to say we haven’t found any drawbacks. 

The first thing we noticed is the amount of energy these fridges take to run. They’re still a lot better than similar fridges on the market, but they do draw a lot of power. For this reason, we think the Dometic CRX fridge would be a better suit for you if you’re planning to spend a lot of time off-grid.

The CRX fridges are free-standing and designed to be permanently built into your campervan kitchen. Since they use considerably less power than the CFX, you’ll be able to last for longer in between charges.

We’ve also noticed that the larger models are pretty massive! Once packed full of food for the week, it might be a two-person job to carry it around! In this instance, we think you’ll benefit from choosing a specific spot for your fridge inside your camper. This way, you won’t have to keep moving it around to make room in the van. 

Finally, as we were testing out these fridges, we definitely missed the convenience of a fridge with organised shelves. Although the top-loading fridges are great for stacking lots of food into a small space, the shelves in a ‘swing-door’ fridge definitely make the space feel more organised. The CFX3 is super versatile, but if you want the feel of a conventional kitchen, the CRX fridge might suit you better.

Where to buy the Dometic CFX3? 

You can find the whole range of Dometic CFX3 fridges in our webshop. We have every size available, from 25L up to 100L, including the Ice Maker and Dual Zone models. 

If you buy your CFX3 fridge through us, you’ll get a 5 year warranty and free delivery.

As well as the Dometic CFX3 range, we also sell the Dometic CRX50 – another popular choice for van converters. If you want a built-in fridge with minimal energy consumption, the CRX fridge might be the better choice for you.

Which size Dometic CFX3 do I need?

Now that we’ve completed this Dometic CFX3 review, we’re going to do a quick appraisal of each model in turn. This should give you a better idea of which size might suit you best. 

Dometic CFX3 25 review

Although the CFX3 25 is the smallest in the range, it’s just as functional as the larger models. In fact, the powerful compressor can keep food as cold as -22oC in freezer mode. 

This small 12V fridge is light-weight and small enough for easy loading in and out of your camper. It will be great for long weekends where you want to pack light but eat well. 

However, the CFX3 25 is definitely limited in terms of storage space. You’ll be able to fit in the essentials, but if you want to store food for more than a few days, you’ll need a bigger model.

When you’re using 12V power, the CFX3 25 will draw around 28Ah per day from your leisure battery. This small energy consumption should be easy to sustain when you’re off-grid, especially with a large leisure battery and a solar panel.

Dometic CFX3 35 review

Just like the CFX3 25, the 35 is compact and portable, without compromising on cooling power. Consequently, the CFX3 35 is another great option for long weekends and shorter camping trips, but with an extra 10L of storage space over the CFX3 25. 

The CFX3 35 will draw 29Ah per day from a 12V battery, which is manageable even when you’re off-grid. Alongside a good-quality solar panel, you can keep this fridge running when you’re exploring further afield. 

Alternatively, you could use a portable power station together with a portable solar panel to run the CFX3 35. Since everything has been designed for easy carrying, this is the ultimate set-up for portability.

Dometic CFX3 45 review

The CFX3 45 is a really popular size option for committed campervaners. With a decent amount of storage space, you can pack several meals and all the essentials with you for the trip ahead. 

Although it is a little larger, the chunky handles of the CFX3 45 make it easy to lift in and out of your van. At 41Ah per day, the energy usage is still relatively low, so you should still be able to power this campervan fridge when you’re off-grid.

If you want something with a reasonable capacity, for regular van excursions, the CFX3 45 or CFX3 55 are a really great size to go for.

Dometic CFX3 55 review

This CFX3 55 is a good middle ground between the smaller models with limited storage space and the larger models which become difficult to carry when they’re full. With enough space to pack a week’s worth of food for two people, the CFX3 55 is a really popular size option. 

The energy consumption of the CFX3 55 is low enough to accommodate when you’re off-grid. With the temperature set to 5oC, this fridge will draw around 44Ah from your leisure battery every day. With a large leisure battery and solar panel, this power usage should be easily sustainable, especially in the summer months.

Dometic CFX3 55IM review

The Dometic CFX3 55IM is a great option if you don’t need a full freezer compartment, but still want ice cubes to top up cold drinks. It’s the same size as the CFX3 55, but with an extra compartment inside which has two silicone ice trays. You just need to fill these ice trays with water, and you’ll have ice cubes ready to go in a few hours. 

The only drawback with this fridge is the energy consumption – it does draw a little bit more than the 55 model. If you’re planning to run it off 12V power, you’ll need to take that into account. Saying that, you do have the option to turn the ice maker off whenever you like, so you can conserve energy when you’re low on battery power. 

If you’re planning to use the CFX3 55IM off-grid for more than a few days, you’ll need a large leisure battery and a solar panel to supplement the extra power usage.

Dometic CFX3 75DZ review

The Dometic CFX3 75DZ has two separate zones which can be set to different temperatures. This means you can have a fridge and a freezer space with you wherever you go. And on the occasions when you don’t need the freezer, you can set both compartments too fridge mode.

The CFX3 75DZ is a great option if you spend a lot of time hooked up to mains power, however, a lot of battery power will be used up when you’re off-grid. Even when both compartments are in fridge mode, the 75DZ will draw 140Ah from your leisure battery every day. 

This amount of energy is a lot to keep up with, even for a large leisure battery. For this reason, we would only recommend these Dual Zone fridges for off-grid use if you have plenty of solar power.

This fridge has lots of storage space, but that also means it’s pretty big! When it’s full, it will be too heavy to carry on your own. Luckily, there’s a handle on each side, so it should be easy enough to carry with two people.

Dometic CFX3 95DZ review

The Dometic CFX3 95DZ is the larger of the two fridge-freezer models and with two independent cooling zones and 93L of storage capacity, this fridge could feed a family of four for up to a week. 

At almost 1m in length, and 50cm wide, this fridge is definitely a bit of a whopper to carry around! We’d recommend finding a designated spot for this fridge inside your campervan, to save lugging it around too much when it’s full. 

If you’ll be spending most of your time hooked up to mains power, this fridge will serve you well without any hassle. However, the CRX3 95DZ will use up quite a lot of energy if you’re using 12V power. Make sure you’ve calculated your daily power usage and chosen a leisure battery and solar panel which can handle the extra demand.

Dometic CFX3 100 review

The Dometic CFX3 100 is definitely the best choice if you want a big top-loading fridge which you can power when you’re off-grid. 

Although it’s technically a little larger than the CFX3 95DZ, the CFX3 100 uses much less power. For instance, when both fridges are set to 5oC, the CFX3 100 will use just 76Ah per day, whereas the 95DZ will use around 164Ah. For this reason, if you’re planning to spend time off-grid, the CFX3 100 might be the better choice for you. You might just have to forgo the flexibility of a combined fridge-freezer. 

Again, this fridge is pretty large, so you’ll need two people to lift it in and out of your camper. However, once it’s out, you can spend the evening cooking outside with access to plenty of fresh ingredients.

Dometic CFX3 FAQs

The WiFi connection should, in theory, be stronger than the bluetooth connection. However, if your phone’s connected to the CFX via WiFi, it won’t be able to connect to your WiFi router at the same time. For this reason, we’d recommend using the Bluetooth option if you need to connect to WiFi for internet access. 

When the compressor is running, the Dometic CFX3 fridges draw between 6.5A-11A, depending on the model. For the amp draw of a particular model, check the specification on our product pages

Dometic cooler fridges, such as the CFX3, use a compressor to keep the cooler cold. Most coolboxes use a thermoelectric method of cooling, but a compressor is much more effective. A CFX3 compressor can reach freezing temperatures and still works effectively when it’s hot outside.

The Dometic CFX fridge is a top-loading, coolbox style portable fridge. The Dometic CRX is a free-standing fridge with a swinging door. The CFX can be moved around, whereas the CRX is designed to be permanently fitted into your campervan.

A Dometic cooler can be powered by 12V or 230V electricity. The CFX3 fridge has a 230V plug so you can connect it directly to a mains plug socket. Alternatively, it has a 12V cigarette lighter plug. This means you can power it from a port in your campervan, or from the Dometic PLB40 power bank.

You can plug the Dometic CFX fridge into a 12V cigarette lighter port, which can be powered from your campervan’s leisure battery. Because the CFX fridges are portable, you don’t need to wire them up permanently to a battery.


  1. Any idea why the CFX3 dual-zone dometic is much less power efficient in relation to its size vs the single zone CFX3 even if they are all set to the same fridge temperature?

    1. Hi Steve,

      The reason for the CFX3 dual-zone dometic being less efficient is because it has a freezer, so for all of the dual-zones even though they’re set to the same fridge temperature half of the consumption will be for the freezer. Hope this helps!

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