Koolatron P20 12V Compact Cooler

Beat the summer heat by keeping your drinks nice and chilly with a P20 12-volt cigarette lighter powered compact cooler from Koolatron. I recently took this cool cat on a 3,000-mile road trip, which included Northern Idaho, the San Juan Islands, the Oregon Coast, and Yosemite National Park. I kept all kinds of stuff in the P20: bottled water, soda, sliced meats, cheeses, milk, and even those blue ice packs. I was easily able to fit it on or between the seats of several different cars in which I tested it. Its total capacity is 18 quarts, which is enough space to fit 23 12oz. soft drink cans.

The lid of the P20 doesn’t have a latch, but this can both be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it makes it extremely easy to open with just one hand (much pun intended). On the other hand, it means that you can’t put a lock on it to keep those crafty kids, critters, or Cretans out of your goodies.

In my testing, I found Koolatron’s claim of the P20 being able to keep its contents up to 40° cooler than the external ambient temperature was very accurate if you kept the P20 out of direct sunlight. I also found that when exposed to direct sunlight and/or in temperatures near or above 90° Fahrenheit, the P20 kept its contents at an average of 30° below the outside ambient temperature.

Oddly enough, the P20 is also capable of keeping your food warm as well. This, of course, applies to the entire container inside so unfortunately you must choose between keeping the entire contents either warm or cold. To keep the contents warm, reverse the power cables plugged in at the base of the P20. One thing I would have liked to have seen built-in or sold as an add-on would be some kind of dual internal and external thermometers so users could see first hand the temperature difference and make sure their food is being kept cool or warm enough.

As far as power consumption goes, the Koolatron P20 draws 12 volts at 4 amps, which equates to 48 watts. That’s quite a bit of power to run this thing. However, it’s not any more power than is expected. All electrical refrigeration devices use lots of power. That’s just how things are going to be until some new fancy technology hits the streets. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen anytime soon.

I attached the P20 to a small emergency jump-start car battery along with a 30W 12V & 18W 12V solar panel wired in parallel and in direct sunlight. This only allowed the P20 to run for a few hours before the battery gave out. If you plan on powering this cooler from a solar panel, I recommend you utilize a large capacity car battery in conjunction with at least a 75W solar panel, preferably a 100W solar panel. This should allow you to keep your chilled treats cool all day and night.

There are two extremely useful accessories that are available for the P20 that I highly recommend you purchase with it. First is the AC/DC wall adapter power supply. It allows you to power your Koolatron P20 from any 110 AC wall outlets. I found this device very useful for pre-cooling/heating the P20 and its contents before embarking on a trip. The second must-have accessory is something that I think should come standard with every Koolatron product. It is a battery saver device that gets plugged in between your P20 and your car power outlet. The battery saver does exactly what its name describes. It monitors your car battery voltage and if it drops too low it will shut off whatever device that is plugged into it, the P20 for example. This way, you can leave your Koolatron plugged and not have to worry about it draining your car battery down so low that you can’t start your car. There is also an integrated place to wrap the power cable for storage as well as a hole to store the car power plug tip while not in use.

To sum things up, if you want to be able to bring more then just dry or canned foods with you on your next adventure and want to avoid the hassles of melting ice making all your food soggy or water leaking all over your car, then the P20 12V Compact Cooler might just be the solution you have been looking for.


Temperature Test Results:

66°F at start (room temperature, indoors, no direct sunlight)

40°F at 1.5 hour, 30°F at 4 hours, 28°F at 5 hours, 23°F at 6 hours, 18°F at 7 hours



  • Keeps your food up to 40 degrees colder then ambient temperature
  • Fairly sturdy build design
  • 18 quart storage capacity
  • Lid can be opened easily with one hand
  • Built-in carrying handle
  • Fits on the floor between most car seats
  • Power cord storage built-in
  • Optional battery saver device protects your car battery from going dead



  • Uses lots of power
  • No built-in drain
  • Lid cant be locked
  • No built-in thermometer
  • Heat/Cold indicator colors on cable scratch off easily
  • No replaceable fuse
  • No power indicator light indicating cold or heat setting



Height : 413 mm (16.25″) 419 mm (16.5″)

Width : 445 mm (17.5″) 451 mm (17.75″)

Depth : 216 mm (8.5″) 229 mm (9″)

Weight : 4 kg (9 lbs) 4.5 kg (10 lbs)


Made in: Canada


Cooler Price: $129.95

AC/DC PowerAdapter Price: $49.95

Battery Saver Price: $26.99


For more information, please visit the following web-link: koolatron.com

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