While college dorm essentials checklists are perpetually stuffed with wall decals, glowing task lamps, puffy bedding collections, shower caddies, and cloth cubicle cabinets that collapse the second you set The Iliad on them, every college student knows there’s really only one necessity when it comes to college life: beer. Let’s see how a revised Top 5 Items for a College Dorm Room checklist would look:
We could continue, but we won’t. Because every smart college kid knows that one other item belongs on that checklist: beer fridge. Drinking lukewarm beer is not classy and storing 12 packs under your Twin XL bed is even more shameful. Shame on you.
If you don’t have one already, this semester is the semester to buy the best dorm room beer fridge ever and truly enjoy on-campus living. So pop a lukewarm one and grimace at the taste while you read through these beverage cooler comparisons. If you finish the whole thing (we mean the article, not your drink) you’ll magically become a smarter, classier college student who knows which beer fridge is the best, all thanks to us.
Dorm Room Beer Fridge Contender: NewAir AB-1200 126 Can Beverage Cooler
You might have already caught wind of the NewAir AB-1200 as a great beer fridge option, maybe from the cool kid down the hall who’s always sharing perfectly chilled beers with the lesser evolved folks. This cooler costs around $275, can hold up to 126 standard cans, and will literally fit right into your dorm space with a small 19.00″L x 18.25″W x 33.13″H footprint. It’s decently lightweight at 62.85 pounds, so you won’t have a lot of trouble getting it up 10 flights of stairs and back down when you say Adios at the end of the semester.
This can cooler is freestanding. While this might evoke images of bald eagles and men in tights poised regally on cliffs with the American flag waving overhead, in portable appliance speak it means no installation required. In plainer speak, you can put the beer fridge anywhere, as long as it’s on a flat surface with about a 2″ gap between the back of the cooler and the wall, or the chair, or your leg. You should also probably not put it near anything explosive, and for that matter, not have anything explosive in your dorm room in the first place.
But enough of the boring stuff. We know you’re probably most concerned about if the cooler looks cool enough, if it cools well enough, and getting another beer. We can’t help you with the last one, but as for number one, the AB-1200 beer fridge is a dime…if beverage coolers were judged on hotness, which wouldn’t make sense…Anyways, this model has stainless steel trim around the door and an elegant black cabinet. The see-through glass door lets you admire your nice collection of drafts and lagers, and an interior LED light showers your cans and bottles in a beautiful blue glow reminiscent of the moon on ocean water.
Cooling power-wise this fridge takes the cake. It uses compressor technology, which is the same thing that works to chill mom and dad’s fridge at home. A compressor looks like a little pot-bellied man waving his arms frantically. The result of the frantic little pot-bellied compressor man is that the AB-1200 can cool your beers down within a temperature range of 34–64°F. That range is perfect, since most mass market light lager beers taste best at 35–40°F, while on the other end of the spectrum, imperial stouts and Belgian strong ales are better at 55–60°F.
The temperature is controlled by a manual knob on the inner roof of the unit. The controls are a little bare-bones, but simple enough to use. Also, while electrical connections in college dorm rooms can be shoddy, this dorm beer fridge won’t shut down the whole building. The AB-1200 pulls only 85 watts, 110 volts, and 1.3 amps, and it’s ETL certified.
The NewAir AB-1200 dorm beer fridge operates at a nice 35 decibels, so you don’t have to worry about your suite-mates filing a noise complaint. Something else that’s 35 decibels is a hushed conversation in the library. Yeah, this beverage cooler is quiet. And because we like random facts, people normally breath at 10 decibels. If you’re breathing louder than your NewAir AB-1200 drink cooler, you should probably go see a doctor.
Finally, the AB-1200 doesn’t discriminate against less shapely beer and beverage bottles. The 5 metal racks inside the cabinet are removable, to accommodate containers of all sizes, and there’s a lower storage area too. And if you have some cold bologna leftovers you want to save, you can put them in this dorm room beer fridge, though that would bring you back to square one on the classiness scale.
Dorm Room Beer Fridge Contender: Vissani Beverage Cooler MCBC58DST
The next contender for the best dorm beer fridge, this Vissani beverage cooler runs for about $150 more than the NewAir AB-1200 and can hold 178 twelve ounce cans. With this larger capacity comes a larger footprint: the appliance is 24.8”L x 23.4”W x 35.4”H. It’s also a bit heftier at 99 pounds, so you might need a friend to help carry it up 19 flights of stairs to your dorm room. Why are there no elevators in this article? We don’t know either.
Like the other beer fridge we just looked at, this one can be used as a freestanding unit. The Vissani MCBC58DST can also be installed into your kitchen cabinetry, since it vents from the front. But since dorm rooms are the last place you’ll find kitchen cabinetry, and since you can’t make any permanent alterations to your on-campus housing room, the built-in option with this model is essentially null. Just pretend it doesn’t exist.
The Vissani beer fridge chills your drinks via a compressor-based cooling system that can drop it down low to 39°F and kick it up high all the way to 54°F. Okay, so not quite as high or low as the NewAir unit. The Vissani has a decent temperature range, but your lagers might end up a tad too warm, and any imperial stout fans would end up finding their faves a little too cold.
Glamour-wise the Vissani beverage cooler is all spruced up with a stainless steel and black exterior, smoked glass door, blue interior light, and removable glass shelves. The last feature is actually a bit of a nuisance since you can fit 178 cans inside, but are only given 3 shelves to work with. It would be nice to get 2 others for organization, and if you don’t need them, you can set them aside yourself. Plus, while glass shelves look swanky, it’s hard to shake the feeling that clinking a bunch of cold cans onto them will cause a massive shattering that you’ll leave for your roommate to clean up.
Finally, the Vissani dorm fridge appears to have one-up on the NewAir model with its digital temperature display. Then again, the crisp readout is book-ended by strikingly ugly push button controls that look like they were glued on — so the NewAir’s simple knob might just be better after all.
Dorm Room Beer Fridge Contender: Danby DBC120BLS Beverage Center
The last contender for the best dorm beer fridge ever is the Danby Beverage Center. This one sells for around $220, making it the cheapest on the list. It has a slightly smaller beverage can capacity than the NewAir AB-1200, at 120 cans, and weighs a few pounds more at 68.9 pounds. With dimensions of 19.8”L x 17.9”W x 33.7”H, it’s about the same size as the NewAir model, though just a smidgen taller and longer, and slightly less wide.
This beer fridge is also freestanding, so you don’t have to fret about installation, and the venting area sits on the back of the unit like on the NewAir AB-1200. Also a compressor-powered beverage cooler, the Danby model requires a relatively bigger gap (5″) between its rear and the wall, so add that into your spacing calculations.
Appearance-wise, the Danby looks similar to its predecessors, with a black exterior cabinet, stainless steel door, and glass door front. One unique feature is that the handle is recessed and side-mounted, plus this unit is lockable, with a key included. This might come in handy if you have a roommate who’s too cheap to buy their own beer and beer fridge. Another bonus is that the door has UV protection in case your dorm room is extra sunny all day every day.
Despite these nice features, the Danby beverage cooler has a strikingly ugly incandescent interior light. Think elementary school hallway dim, orange-y, yellow-y ceiling lamp. It’s especially unattractive when compared with the cool blue light on both the Vissani and NewAir dorm room beer fridges.
The Danby beer fridge has 3.5 black plastic coated racks inside, with 3 full upper racks and then a half of a rack at the bottom. All of the shelves are removable, as with the other two fridges. But like the Vissani, it would be nice if this one came with a few more for better organization and customization.
All-in-all, the Danby DBC120BLS Beverage Center is about on par with the other two units in terms of design. However, functionality-wise, it doesn’t come close to the NewAir. That’s because this compact can cooler has a mere nub of a temperature range: 43–57°F. The upper limit may not be so much of an issue, but the fact that 43° is the lower limit doesn’t bode well for having ice cold beer. The temperature can be calibrated with a manual dial, with a surrounding color streak as the only indicator of value. If you hate reading analog clocks, you’ll probably equally dislike trying to figure out the control on the Danby Beverage Center.
The Best Dorm Room Beer Fridge Ever
Overall, the NewAir AB-1200 126 Can Beverage Cooler is your best bet for the best dorm room fridge ever for the best college semester ever. Okay, so maybe the appliance won’t be life-changing, but it does offer the best cooling functionality of the three models we looked at, and the most removable racks. It also looks good, with the attractive blue lighting inside, and it has the smallest footprint, even if it’s only slightly smaller than the Danby model. You’ll be able to take it with you when head off for the summer and bring it back for another semester of keeping cold brews within reach from under your puffy Twin XL comforter.