Nothing beats a perfect sip of your favorite beverage, whether it’s at the end of a long workday or at the beginning of a great night with friends! At the same time, there’s nothing more disappointing than cracking a can of your favorite drink only to find that it’s too warm or cold for you.
Having a beverage cooler in your kitchen, office, or home bar gives you access to a supply of your preferred beverages whenever you need them. And with precise temperature control, you can get them just how you like them!
However, many beverage coolers have unreliable cooling systems, or cool unevenly. They can leave some cans room temperature, while others are close to freezing.
Worst of all, some units are so unreliable that they’ll break within months of purchase! The best beverage coolers give you precise, even climate control and reliable function. They also provide efficient storage systems, to help you get the most beverage capacity out of your space!
With so many options on the market, it can be hard to know which models are the real winners, and which aren’t worth your money. That’s where this guide comes in! We’ve combed the market for the most reliable, effective beverage coolers available today. We’ve put together our own in-depth reviews to show you all the features that make these models better than the competition, with incisive commentary to help you figure out which is your ideal cooler.
In this Guide
Here is the Best Drink Cooler Reviews [UPDATED 2018]
This Danby model is Amazon’s #1 best-selling beverage cooler on the market today. It’s compact, effective, and affordable. We like the removable, adjustable shelves, as well as the very budget-friendly price tag.
It’s compact. In just 3.3 cubic feet, you can store 120 cans! That’s some serious storage efficiency. It’s perfect for people who buy their sodas, seltzers, or other canned beverages by the case, and don’t like refilling on a regular basis. Plus, there are no external parts. The handle is recessed, and there aren’t any awkward protrusions to take up more of your space.
It’s perfect for people who want their drinks cool, but not chilly. The mechanical thermostat cools from 43-57 degrees F. That’s ideal for storing darker beers or ales, or soda like root or ginger beer.
It’s inexpensive. This one is available for around a few hundred dollars. That’s at the low end of what you can spend for a reliable beverage cooler, and with such an impressive storage capacity, we think it’s a bargain.
It looks good. The Danby is all clean lines and smooth trim, with a stainless steel and glass face and black sides. The mix of black and stainless will match pretty much any appliances or decor scheme, aside from bold white fixtures.
The wire racks provide plenty of storage options. Plus, they hold up well over time–much better than plastic shelves. You can remove them as needed to suit bigger cans, or adjust the height using the grooved slots. We like the option of storing beverages either horizontally or vertically.
The interior light turns on automatically when you open the door, and shuts itself off again when the compartment is closed. It’s very convenient, and stops you having to remember to turn the light off. We also like the LED bulb, which lasts much longer than incandescent or even fluorescent lights.
The tempered glass door is very resilient, and it’s bordered with stainless steel to help stand up to daily use. We like that you can reverse its hinges, to suit both right and left-handed people. The reversible hinges are also handy for suiting your space, especially if you’re installing this in an apartment or office where space is at a premium.
It locks up, so you can keep your drinks secure. That’s handy for keeping drinks in an office or shared space, especially if you’ve got kids or opportunistic roommates.
It has some reliability issues. Some previous buyers had issues with the compressor system over time, while others were unimpressed by the finishings, like the hinges or lock. Most buyers didn’t have any issues, so we’re going to assume that the issues are more a question of shabby quality control rather than a bad design. One thing you can try to make sure your compressor lasts longer is to let the cooler stand upright for a few hours before plugging it in. That allows all the cooling fluids to find their proper pressure before you get the system going. We also found that previous buyers weren’t thrilled with the help they received from Danby customer service.
With a low end of 43 degrees, it doesn’t get quite as cool as some other models. If you like your drinks just above freezing, you’ll probably want to look at one of our other recommendations.
The Whynter provides a bit of a boost over the Danby in terms of both power and reliability. It cools your beverages down into the 30s F, and has a special fan system to keep the whole case at the same temperature. We like the white finish for matching more traditional kitchen appliances. This one’s a great option for people who like their beverages nice and crisp, well below room temp.
It cools more powerfully than the Danby. While that model will only take your drinks down to the low 40s, this Whynter can keep them in the 30s! That’s ideal for people who like their drinks a bit chillier.
It uses an internal fan system in addition to the compressor to maintain even temperatures throughout the unit. That solves one of the major problems with some beverage coolers, where some cans get too cold, and others don’t get cold at all. The fan system makes sure all your cans are the perfect temperature.
Just like the Danby, it has adjustable and removable shelves. You get 5 to move around, and even with them all at their tightest configuration, you get an extra-big space on the bottom for your larger cans or bottles. We like the extra room, so you don’t have to sacrifice two shelves of small cans just to have a few larger drinks.
It’s more reliable than the Danby. We didn’t find any issues with the Whynter, aside from the occasional dent or imperfection from the shipping process.
There’s a manual lightswitch. That means you can keep the light on if you prefer, or leave it off if you don’t need it. In any case, we like the added control. The lightbulb is an LED for better longevity, just like with the Danby.
The all-over white finish helps this unit blend in with more traditional appliances. We also like that there’s stainless steel trim on the door, which gives it a bit more versatility in terms of decor.
It locks, and comes with two keys.
Some people didn’t like the manual lightswitch. That’s mainly a matter of preference, as we also found a fair number of reviewers who didn’t like the Danby’s automatic light.
As with the Danby, the thermostat is located inside the unit, above the top shelf. That means it’s a bit hard to reach when the cooler is full.
Some previous buyers said they weren’t impressed by the noise level. The internal fan system produces a constant hum, even when the compressor isn’t cycling.
We also found some reviews from previous buyers who found that the unit didn’t cool down quite as far as they expected. However, they lived in particularly warm areas, and also noted that the cooler was in direct sunlight for much of the day. We’d caution any buyers to take local climate into consideration, and avoid putting a cooler in direct sunlight if possible. Hot afternoon sun in particular will make any cooler work harder than it needs to.
Our top quality recommendation for a beverage cooler can work as either a standalone or built-in unit. It’s a powerful system with precise digital temperature controls and a sleek, modern exterior. We love the touch-panel controls for getting exactly your favorite temperature for all your beverages. This one’s our top recommendation for people who want to install a beverage cooler as a permanent fixture in their kitchen or home bar!
It’s the only one of our recommendations that can be built-in to your house. While most beverage coolers (including the Danby and Whynter) require clearance at the back and on the sides, the Kalamera has a front-facing vent system. That allows you to fit it flush against your walls and cabinetry.
At just 15”, the 96-can unit is easy to fit into spaces in your cabinetry. It’s perfect for replacing old garbage disposals, drawers, or lazy susans.
It looks fantastic. Even the vents on this model look good! It has stainless steel trim, vent covers, and an external handle on the front. The door is clear, double-pane glass. The back and sides are plain black, which look good on their own for people who won’t be building this unit into their homes.
The double-glass door helps keep the cold air in, and make the whole unit more efficient than single-layer models.
It provides precise, digital temperature control. There’s a digital control panel inside the unit, above the top storage shelf. While some other models have thermostats located in hard to reach areas, this one is easy to adjust even when the cooler is completely stocked. It provides a digital readout of the internal temperature, with a few easy buttons for changing the settings and turning the light on and off.
We prefer the digital thermostat because it gives you precise control over the internal temperature, right down to the degree. Models like the Danby and Whynter use dials which aren’t good for doing much more than approximating a precise temperature. You don’t have to worry about knocking the dial out of place, or trying to inch it around to find the sweet spot. Push-button controls and a digital readout take all the guesswork out of the equation.
The Kalamera features a modified compressor system which uses longer cycles for a steadier cooling effect. It has fewer stops and starts, which allows it to operate at a lower speed. That makes the whole thing quieter. Plus, you won’t hear as many stops and starts as you would with a typical compressor system.
It’s available in two different storage capacities (96 or 175 cans), so you can choose the size that’s best for you. Both units use wire metal shelves. They’re removable and adjustable, to help you customize your cooler space.
It has an excellent reputation for reliability.
It’s expensive. Even the smaller model is twice the price of the Danby or Whynter.
The front-facing cooling system adds some height to the design, so it’s not quite as compact as our other recommendations.
If you’re looking for the ultimate cooling solution for all your beverages, have a look at this dual-compartment model from NewAir. It features two separate compartments, meant for cooling wine on one side, and beer or sodas on the other.
You can set different temperatures for each compartment, so all your beverages keep at their proper conditions. Each compartment also gets its own digital control panel, so you can make adjustments easily. We also love that the doors lock independently, so your kids can grab a soda without having access to wine.
Between the two compartments, this unit stores up to 18 bottles and 60 standard cans. It works free-standing or built-in, so it’ll fit in just about any home. While it’s fairly expensive, this is one purchase to cover all your drinking needs!
For those buyers who are short on space, we’ve also decided to include a compact model here. While compact models are notoriously unreliable, we’ve found a real exception to the rule! This NewAir is a sturdy, dependable option for people who want a countertop cooler that will store lots of drinks in a small space.
It’s ideal for shared spaces like apartments, offices, or lounges. Even though it’s small, it has a very wide range of temperatures, from 34-64 degrees F.
Plus, it has some smart features built in, like automatic defrost, and LED lighting. You can adjust the shelves just like the full size models, and even at less than 2 feet across, it’s got room for 84 cans. We recommend this one to people who need the most compact model possible!
Which is the Best Beverage Cooler for You?
The Danby is the best choice for people who are looking for a cooling solution on a budget.
It’s the cheapest of our three recommendations, and it provides good value for your money. However, the cooling system won’t go below 43 degrees, so some people might not get quite the frosty effect they were hoping for. It’s also a bit more unreliable than our other two recommendations. We’d recommend it to the most cash-strapped buyers, but encourage those who can to spend a bit more for one of our other (more reliable) recommendations.
The Whynter is a more powerful unit for people who like their drinks a little chillier.
It’ll cool your beverages down into the 30s F, for only a little more money than the Danby. Even if you don’t like the coldest setting, the Whynter is also a more reliable product overall than the Danby. We especially like this even temperature inside this model, thanks to the internal fan. On the downside, the white finish might not match every buyer’s decor.
The Kalamera is the best choice for people for people who want to build their beverage cooler into their house.
It’s the only one of our recommendations with front-facing vents, so it doesn’t need any clearance space around the back or sides. Even though it’s more expensive than the other two models, it’s more powerful and more reliable than either of them. It also makes a great standalone unit for people who aren’t looking to build in a cooler, since it looks good on its own or next to other appliances. The Kalamera is our overall top quality recommendation!
How to Choose the Top Cooler
Decide on your budget:
Beverage coolers are available from about $100 for a compact mini-fridge style unit, to over $1,000 for a commercial-grade, full-size unit with several compartments and multiple cooling systems. Your cheapest options are countertop and compact models. They’re available from about $100 to $250. We’ve found that models under $200 are pretty unreliable, so we’d avoid them if you can. Remember that saving $50 isn’t a good deal if you’re going to have to spend another $150 again in a few months when your cheap-o unit dies an early death! We’d recommend spending at least $200 on a new beverage cooler. As a general rule, the more you pay, the better reliability you can expect.
The most expensive beverage coolers have precise, digital temperature controls. They use double-layered glass doors and other insulations to keep all the cool air inside the cooler, and make the machine more efficient. They’ll have the greatest range of temperatures to choose from, and give you the most storage space.
Top-shelf models also use more metal parts and have nicer fit and finish. You’ll pay the most for models that have two or three independent storage zones, each with its own temperature control.
Think about size:
Beverage coolers are available in a whole range of shapes and sizes. When you start making decisions about the size of beverage cooler you’ll be buying, think about two things: the amount of drinks you’re hoping to store, and the space you’re working with.
The smallest options are countertop units which tend to store about 75-100 standard cans. They’re the easiest to fit in shared spaces like apartments and offices. While they don’t store the most cans, these units will probably suit a single person very well, and provide a reasonable range of options for roommates or officemates.
You can also find any number of units which will either fit on countertops or on their own as smaller standalone models. The average beverage cooler in this class will store about 120 cans or so. These units are probably the best size to choose for the average office space where a number of people will be coming to the cooler for a drink, or for the typical family.
If you’re storing beverages for others, whether it’s at your office or for a big family, you might want to think about a larger unit. These units are also the best choice for people who keep a variety of beverages on hand, like wine and beer, or soda and hard cider, which need to be kept at different temperatures.
Think about your drinks and preferences:
Make sure you take some time to think about your exact preferences as far as temperature. You want to make sure your new unit will cool your cans and bottles to your ideal temperature, so you’re happy with every drink.
Think about whether you like your drinks just below room temperature, or just above the freezing point. If you have a thermometer around the house, pop one in a perfect can to see what your ideal temperature is.
You’ll also want to think about the appropriate temperatures for the drinks you’ll be storing. For instance, darker beers like ales like warmer temperatures, while lagers are best chilled right down.
Most sodas are pretty hard to mess up, so you’ll want to think about exactly how you like it as opposed to what’s best for the drink. If you’re planning to throw in some alcohol, you’ll want to think about how it should be stored as well as how you like to drink it.
On the whole, beverage coolers aren’t exactly the most reliable of appliances. They’re a bit hit or miss, and quality control isn’t very good for a lot of brands. That’s why it’s super important to buy a durable machine up front.
We’ve gone out of our way to find reliable appliances to recommend for this guide, and we’re confident we’ve found the best options out there. These models have the most dependable compressor systems and the most consistent cooling results.
Those are the two big points you’ll want to cover on your beverage cooler. You can also look for more metal parts, like shelves, hinges, and handles, to make sure your unit will stand up to daily use. Look for LED lights, which last much longer than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs.
One other tip: the compressor system is the most important part on your beverage cooler. It’s also where most problems occur. To lessen your chances of running into issues, we recommend letting your new cooler stand upright for a few hours before you plug it in.
That allows all the cooling fluids to return to their proper pressure after being jostled around in the shipping process. Believe us, this can make a big difference in the working life and smoothness of your compressor!
Since even the best beverage refrigerators can have slightly iffy reliability, we’d recommend purchasing some additional warranty coverage when you buy. While these extended warranties can be unnecessary for some other appliances, beverage coolers are one case where it really makes sense to have some extra insurance.
Most models have 1-year warranties from the manufacturer, which isn’t very long. We also like the Square-Trade style warranties because they give you some extra bargaining power against what can be a pretty frustrating customer support system with some companies.