Budget Friendly Offroad and Overland Refridgerator: The Massimo CX30 E-Kooler – Overall Impressions & Review
Car refrigerators are nothing new in the camping and overlanding scene. With popular brands like Dometic CFX45 being used in so many setups, you might be tempted to “buy once, cry once”, and pull the trigger on one. While I agree these top-tier options have earned their place in the market, I can’t justify spending North of $900 for casual use.
I’m not able to pack up the family just yet and go on multi-day adventures off-grid. Rather, we are only taking extended day trips with a meal or two packed away. For this purpose, the Massimo E-Kooler CX30 seemed like the perfect option for our use. At $329 retail and the occasional sale bringing that price down, it doesn’t break the bank and leaves money left over to actually fill it with food. As an added bonus, this is sold at Costco; so if it ever fails prematurely, we have their return policy for peace of mind.
Find It Online:
- Massimo Direct: Check Price
Why Get A Car Refrigerator Over A Cooler?
I get it; for the occasional day trip, most people may just opt to fill a cooler with ice. We were those people prior to having a baby, but then our needs changed. Now, we want to make sure our perishables are stored at properly maintained temperatures. This is something that a cooler just can’t do; whether it’s a cheap Rubbermaid one or a top-of-the-line Yeti.
With a car refrigerator, you won’t need ice, which also means you won’t need to worry about draining all melted ice when you’re done.
The one downside to a refrigerator over a cooler is obvious – if you plan on taking your food to a beach or away from a power source, a cooler is still the way to go.
Why We Chose The Massimo CX30 E-Kooler
Before getting the Massimo E-Kooler, we were actually using a 65L Pelican Elite. This thing is a beast, both in its ice retention and size. While it’s great to have 10 days of ice retention, that is irrelevant to our needs. The 4runner trunk isn’t small by any means, but this thing engulfed half of it, not to mention its 56lb weight empty. Once I loaded it up with 20lbs of ice and food on top of that, it easily weighed over 100lbs. This made taking the cooler out of the trunk solo nearly impossible. Not to mention, it didn’t have any wheels.
The Massimo E-Kooler starts at 30lbs empty with its smallest model, the CX30. Factoring in the 2 bags of ice that I won’t need anymore, that’s already over 45lbs in weight savings! Plus, we retain a similar net storage capacity for food and drinks.
With options to power the E-Kooler via AC or DC plugs, we have no problem keeping it running with either the 4runner’s outlets or our EcoFlow power supply.
Cost-wise, the Massimo is actually at a similar price point to high-end roto-molded coolers of similar capacity.
We are taking a look at Massimo’s basic line of CX-series E-Koolers. These are single-zone refrigerators with not a lot of bells and whistles, but an affordable price tag.
The cooling range goes from 60 degrees Fahrenheit all the way down to -4 degrees. This means that it can function not only as a refrigerator but also as a freezer; just not both at the same time.
The controls are fairly simple on the Massimo E-Kooler. There’s a power, setting, and temperature adjustment buttons. For the setting button, quick presses will cycle between “Max” and “Eco” modes and a longer press will let you select “S”, “M”, or “H”. From what I’ve read, this correlates to the size of the power source being used to run the refrigerator, so as to not deplete it (i.e. car battery). I just leave this on the default “M” setting.
The battery gauge on the display does not indicate that there’s a built-in battery. Rather, it is supposed to show the health of its power source.
There is a small space directly under the compressor; this is the coldest area for items that need to be stored at a cooler temperature than the rest.
Massimo provides both AC and DC charging cables in the box, so you should be covered wherever you decide to power it.
There is a single USB outlet below the controls for charging a device. However, it is only a basic slow charging port.
The Massimo E-Kooler is offered in several sizes, with slightly varied features:
- 30 Liter CX30 (Single-Zone)
- 40 Liter CX40 (Single-Zone)
- 50 Liter CX50 (Single-Zone)
- 62 Liter ENX62 (Bluetooth Control, Battery Option)
- 75 Liter TWW75 (Bluetooth Control, Dual-Zone)
- 95 Liter TWW95 (Bluetooth Control, Dual-Zone)
All 3 sizes have the same sized footprint, with the larger models just being taller. They also feature a telescopic handle with wheels for easy transport.
The build quality is nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done. The door shuts firmly and has a foam gasket. It doesn’t feature a freezer-grade gasket for a tight seal like high-end coolers, but it doesn’t need to since it’s constantly powered.
The only downside is that there are no real tie-down points, only two recessed grab points. You’ll have to get creative with securing it to an empty cargo area.
On the “Max” power setting, our EcoFlow showed a power draw of 40 watts while the refrigerator was on. On the “Eco” setting, the power draw dropped to around 35 watts. Once the refrigerator achieved its set temperature, it shut off and drew no power.
It’s worth noting that with battery packs, AC power conversion is less efficient than DC conversion, so you’ll get more hours of use out of the ladder. With the refrigerator settings unchanged, we get an estimated 4 hours extra with DC power.
I’m a huge fan of this budget option car refrigerator. My wife gets peace of mind with proper food storage temperatures, and I save my back from having to haul around our old Pelican cooler.
Paired with the space savings in our trunk, this is definitely one of the most practical pieces of equipment that we’ve picked up in while.
What are your thoughts on the Massimo E-Kooler? Is it worthwhile for the casual explorer, or would you rather buy once, cry once and get a fully-featured Dometic? Either way, I’d love to hear from you!