Introduction: DIY Portable Mini Refrigerator

Picture of DIY Portable Mini Refrigerator

I always love to drink chilled Coke. But when I go for a outing, no more any chance to get the chilled Coke.So I seriously wanted to have a portable mini refrigerator, so that I can carry, wherever I go.

I have gone through few videos on YouTube and Instructables to know how to make a Refrigerator. After some research, I made one for myself.The outcome is really awesome.

In this Instructable, I will guide you, how to make a Portable Refrigerator by using the Thermoelectric Cooler Module, Acrylic sheets and Glues.

Specification :

Voltage - 12V DC

Current - 6 A

Power -72 Watts

[ Play Video ]

Step 1: Parts and Tools Required

Parts :

1. Thermoelectric Cooler Module ( Banggood )

2. 4 mm Acrylic Sheets ( Amazon )

3. Arduino Nano ( Amazon )

4. Relay Module ( Amazon )

5. LED ( Amazon )

6. LED Holder ( Amazon )

7. 1K Resistor ( Amazon )

8. Rocker Switch ( eBay )

9.DC Jack ( Amazon )

10. Perforated Board ( Amazon )

11.Hinges ( Amazon )

12. Door Handle

13. Rubber feet ( Amazon )

14. Foam Boards ( Amazon )

15. Super Glue ( Amazon )

16. Glue Sticks ( Amazon )

Tools :

1. Jigsaw ( Amazon )

2. Dremel Workstation ( Amazon )

3. Dremel Rotary Tool ( Amazon )

4. Soldering Iron ( Amazon )

5.Glue Gun ( Amazon )

Step 2: How It Works ?

Picture of How It Works ?

The heart of this Refrigerator is a Thermoelectric Cooler Module. Thermoelectric coolers operate by the Peltier effect The device has two ( Hot and Cold ) sides, and when a DC electric current flows through the module, it brings heat from one side to the other, so that one side gets cooler while the other gets hotter. The "hot" side is attached to a heat sink so that it remains at ambient temperature, while the cool side goes below room temperature.

A thermoelectric module consists of an array of p- and n-type semiconductor elements that are heavily doped with electrical carriers.The elements are arranged into array that is electrically connected in series but thermally connected in parallel. This array is then affixed to two ceramic substrates, one on each side of the elements.

To make this Refrigerator, you have two options :
1. Buying the Peltier module,Heat Sink and Fans separately

2. Buying the entire unit which have everything.

After some enquiry, I have settled down to the second option.But if you have some old SMPS fans and CPU

heat sink, then you can choose the first option.

The first and second pictures are downloaded from web for easier understanding.

Credit : and wikipedia

Step 3: Cutting the Acrylic Sheets

Picture of Cutting the Acrylic Sheets

First I took the measurement of regular Coke Can,then I finalized the Refrigerator Size.My refrigerator size is

6.5" x 11" x 10" (L x W x H ).So to make a box with this measurement, we need 6 rectangular sheets of following sizes :

1. Base 11" x 6.5 "

2. Top 11" x 6.5 "

3. Left Side Wall 11" x 10"

4. Right Side Wall 11" x 10"

5. Front Door 6.5" x 10 "

6. Back 6.5" x 10"

Note : Actually the front and back cover size is ( 6.5" - 2 x Acrylic thickness) x 10"

Apart from the above 6 sheets, we need few extra sheets for making different compartments.

I used my Rockwell Blade Runner ( Inverted Jigsaw ) to cut the above size 4mm thick acrylic Sheets.

Safety : Wear Safety Goggles during cutting.

Step 4: Cutting the Slot for Peltier Module

Picture of Cutting the Slot for Peltier Module

To fix the Thermoelectric cooler module, measure the cold side plastic radiator and mark the outlines on the acrylic sheet.

This sheet size is same as the front and back cover i.e 6.5 " - ( 2 x thickness of acrylic ) x 10 ".

Drill a hole inside the marked area.

Insert the jigsaw blade and follow the marked lines to cut out the slot.

Step 5: Paint the Acrylic Sheets

Picture of Paint the Acrylic Sheets

First, peel up the protective cover from the acrylic.I have transparent acrylic sheets in my stock, but I wanted to make it white.So I spray painted the sheets to make white except the front door and compartments.

This step is optional as the choice of the color is depends on you. If you want to make similar to mine, you can buy the white acrylic sheets.

Safety Warning :

Prefer to paint the sheets outside or in a well ventilated space.Never forget to wear the nose mask.

Step 6: Making Holes for Air Flow

Picture of Making Holes for Air Flow

To dissipate the heat from the hot side heat sink of the cooler unit have two 12V fans. As the entire unit will be kept inside the enclosure, we have to make provision for air flow.

Marked the fans size on the two side walls.The outline is square shape,use a drafter compass to make a inscribed circle.Then make holes at all around.

Note : First I tried to make the holes by using my drill with a 8mm bit, but its really difficult and time taking to make bigger holes in acrylic. So I used my Dremel work station to make the holes inside the circle.

Step 7: Glue the Cooler Unit

Picture of Glue the Cooler Unit

Take the slotted sheet and glue the Cooler plastic radiator.

Apply sufficient glue all around to make perfect sealing.This is really important, otherwise the hot air ingress through the side joints.

Step 8: Mounting the Separator

Picture of Mounting the Separator

Keep any of the side wall on the table as shown in the picture.

Then place the cooling unit, measure its entire length. Mark a line for separation between hot and cold side.

Apply hot glue along the line and place the separator sheet.

To hold the sheet perpendicular,take support of a solid rectangular object.I used a 12V lead acid battery.

Step 9: Join the Two Side Walls

Picture of Join the Two Side Walls

Now place the base sheet and glue the earlier made structure.

Then glue the another side wall to the separator plate.

For clear understanding, see the above picture.

Step 10: Add Supports to the Cooling Module

Picture of Add Supports to the Cooling Module

The heatsink along with the two fans are really heavy.As the entire unit is glued to the surface, there is chance of breaking of the bonding.So we need some support structures to hold the entire unit.

Cut small size foam or thermocol sheet to make the support.

Then insert it just below the two fans.

Step 11: Prepare the Back Panel

Picture of Prepare the Back Panel

In the back panel we have to install the DC input Jack, one switch and a LED for indication.

To fix the LED nicely, you can use a LED holder as I have used.

Measure the sizes of the parts and make slots for them.I used drill for making circular slot and jigsaw for rectangular slot.Insert the components and glue them with the acrylic sheet.

1. Solder two wires to the DC jack, red to the positive and black to the negative terminal.

2. Solder a 1K resistor to the long leg of the LED ( + ) then solder a red wire to the other end of the resistor.Solder a black wire to the short leg of the LED (- ). Use heat shrink tube to avoid shorting between the wires.

3. Cut two long wires (red and black ) for power supply to peltier module.

4. Then follow the picture to make the circuit.

Step 12: Making Arrangement for Sliding Tray

Picture of Making Arrangement for Sliding Tray

My idea is to make two cold compartments in my refrigerator, one for coke cans and other for chocolates.But I make the compartment in such a way that in the top compartment, I can keep chocolates or one can in horizontal position.

The lower compartment height is slightly higher than the regular coke can height ( 5.3 ") .

To make a sliding tray arrangement as in your home refrigerator,you need some supports to hold the tray.

Follow the steps below :

1. Cut small strips of acrylic as shown in figure. I have used the excess sheet left out during the earlier steps.

2. Glue two strips to make it thicker.If you have thicker sheet, then no need to do it.

3. Then glue the strips to the side wall.

4. Leave some space ( tray thickness + some margin ) and glue similar strip to the wall.

5. Repeat the same process for another side wall.

6. Insert the tray ( 3mm sheets ). The size is depends on your compartment size.

Note : Make sure both side strips are at equal height from the base, otherwise your tray will not stay horizontal.

Step 13: Make Compartment for Electronics Circuits

Picture of Make Compartment for Electronics Circuits

I have divided the hot side compartment in to two parts.In the lower part, the heat sink and fans are there, and in top part electronics circuit for controlling the refrigerator temperature.

Follow the same procedure as for the cold side compartment.

Step 14: Insulate the Interior

Picture of Insulate the Interior

To improve the cooling effect, we have to insulate the cold chamber properly. I used 5mm foam board for insulation.

1. Measure the sizes of the all the wall of the cold compartment.Then cut the desired sizes foam board.

2. Use hot glue to stick to the acrylic surface.

3. Apply hot glue sufficiently at the all joints for perfect sealing.

Step 15: Making the Front the Door

Picture of Making the Front the Door

I wanted to make the front door transparent, so that I can see the inside.But remember if you will insulate the door also, the cooling will be more effective.

Mark 1cm side border on the front door acrylic protective cover.Then peel up the protective paper.

Paint on the border area.Leave it a hour to dry it out.

Peel up the unpainted portion protective cover.

Mount the hinge and handle by using Super Glue . I have used Gorilla Super Glue.

Step 16: Front Door Sealing

Picture of Front Door Sealing

Cut few of the 1.5cm wide foam board sheets.

Glue the foam board strips to the door border area ( painted portion )

Then close the door and check for proper fitting and sealing.

Step 17: Controlling the Temperature

Picture of Controlling the Temperature

To control the temperature, I will use an Arduino to measure the temperature of the cold compartment with the help of a DS18B20 waterproof temperature sensor.If the temperature falls below 3 degC, a relay will cut out the supply to the cooler unit and when the temperature reaches 7 degC, again the cooler unit will be switched ON.This will maintain the refrigerator temperature as well as save a lot of power.Place the Arduino and other circuit on the hot side top compartment.I used a mini bread for easy connection.To connect the temperature sensor to the bread board,solder 3 male headers pin. For better understanding, refer the above picture. To insulate the joint, apply some electrical tape.

Then glue the top cover.

Arduino Code is attached below.

Step 18: Attach the Rubber Feet

Picture of Attach the Rubber Feet

As the acrylic sheets are slippery, I attached 4 anti skid rubber feet at the base.

Now the fridge sits firmly on any surface.

Step 19: Enjoy the Chilled Cokes

Picture of Enjoy the Chilled Cokes

Now it is time to powering up the refrigerator.

Connect the refrigerator to a 12V, 10A or more power supply.Then switched it ON, the LED should be lit up and you will hear the fan sound.Leave it for 10 to 15 mins.Now the cokes and chocolates are really chilled.

Enjoy !!!

Thanks for reading this Instructables. If you liked it,don't forget to share it.

Follow me for more DIY projects.


architjakhmola (author)2017-12-09

Can I use 20A in place of 6A module. And if yes how much should my SMPS rating be (ex 36A)??????

architjakhmola (author)2017-12-09

What is the device called from which you measure temperature in the video.

KarolinaK19 (author)2017-11-23

Hi, what is the resistor you used in the Nano Arduino circuit? And how did you ground the whole circuit?

sampat devi (author)2017-09-20

Is it necessary to use arduino nano and relay module ?

JonahM40 (author)2017-05-16

Where are the wires coming from that go into the relay module?

kimichii (author)2017-04-06

if i use arduino uno can ? and we must turn on arduino on laptop then that arduino can on right ?

AaronJP (author)2017-02-17

May I ask how heavy the thermoelectric cooler module is? Couldn't find what I needed on the site that sells it.

Please and thank you!

deba168 (author)AaronJP2017-04-04

Its not at all heavy.The weight is around 250 to 300gm

JonahM40 (author)2017-04-04

Instead of using a battery as a power source can I modify it to plug into the wall or would that ruin it?

deba168 (author)JonahM402017-04-04

Yes you can use a 12v 6A power adapter instead of battery

LolbroekV (author)2017-02-05


MadScienceHacks (author)2016-12-19

This could not have come at a better time. I have been working on a mini-fridge build for a few weeks now for my YouTube channel. This instructable is both inspiring and insightful. I am still awaiting for some parts to arrive but I will definitely be making an instructable showing how I made my version. Well done. I voted for you!

deba168 (author)MadScienceHacks2017-01-11

Glad you like my work and voted for me.

How much current does the peltier module draw? I'm still waiting for mine to arrive so I have been unable to test this to see if it is variable or constant.

I want to run this off a 5v, 2A smartphone charger and use a boost module to get it to around 12v. The boost module is rated at 3A max. Not sure if this is the input or output current. It doesn't say?

I'm halfway done with the video. I will upload it soon and send you the link to have a look at and criticize.

I would love your input!

deba168 (author)MadScienceHacks2017-01-11

Sorry for the late reply.
Obviously you idea and planning is nice.But the rating you have selected is quite underrated.The module require 60w power, means if you supply is 5V, the current rating is minimum 12A.
So it's better to use a SMPS.
I hope it will be helpful for you.

zposner (author)2016-12-12

It could also be used for biology experiments

deba168 (author)zposner2017-01-11

Yeah :)

Asket11 (author)2017-01-03

I am planing to build one soon. A small sug. to keep the door firmly shut one can use megnatic latch !!

YoramG (author)2016-12-21

Very nice! Any ideas on how to build a constant temparture peltier based incubator (inc. both heating and cooling)?


Mistablik (author)2016-11-30

How long will the battery power the fridge?

deba168 (author)Mistablik2016-11-30

30 mins.

frarugi87 (author)2016-11-30

Just a question: Why two fans on the main heatsink? Wasn't one enough?

deba168 (author)frarugi872016-11-30

One fan sucks and other throw the air out side.So the cooling is more efficient.But you can use one fan also.

AitorS1 (author)2016-11-30

It's a cool project, but. It is worth a 122 $ DIY project vs buy a new one? (im not counting tools ) ( im not pretend to be sarcastic, i really thinking about it, dont know.

deba168 (author)AitorS12016-11-30


The total Parts cost is around $30.The parts list given is not for single items rather they are for lots.

Mick Gibson (author)deba1682016-11-30

I just bought a little refrigerator at WalMart for 29.95. A six pack of pop go in to it. I used a Peltier module and a heat sink to cool down a Motorola 68060 but it took more energy than liquid cooling back in 1999.

AitorS1 (author)deba1682016-11-30

oh! I didnt think about it. Thank you so much! I will put my hand to work on this soon.

kvoos (author)2016-11-29

Well done. Another useful and intellectually stimulating project ;-)

deba168 (author)kvoos2016-11-30

Glad you like it.

Hutch Fix It (author)2016-11-28

Did you put any ducting between the outer wall and the fans so that the inlet is isolated from the outlet side? If not your not going to get your max cooling potential and just wast battery life.

deba168 (author)Hutch Fix It2016-11-28

Thanks for the suggestion.

ed-romes (author)deba1682016-11-29

Here is a thought for future plans as cold air sinks and hot air rises try putting the equipment on top and gain more space in side while keeping the power supply on the bottom in the back !! And it you did not think of this add a charging port to recharge the battery !!! And a srap to Cary it from one place to another such as a fishing dock or boat or even a campsite !!! I think the foil foam board used as insulation might serve better than Styrofoam !! Keep creating

deba168 (author)ed-romes2016-11-30

Good Suggestions.I will implement in future.

agis68 (author)2016-11-29

very good! any measurements of temperature??

deba168 (author)agis682016-11-30


The temperature is measured by a temperature sensor(DS18B20 ) and Arduino.

okarabacak (author)2016-11-29


Can you tell us the volt of your led and the amp of resistor you used?

Also the relay you used why you use it and what type of relay.


I have mobicool car version/smalest, they have 3A peltier and never cited on the manual that any temp control. I am using 100A daily produce of solar panels and decided to use with DC timer as 15 minutes on 15 minutes off.

You are most probably better than German based mobicool with temp control and environmental friendly.



deba168 (author)okarabacak2016-11-30

The Peltier module voltage is 12V and Current is 6A.

LED is normal 5mm Red LED ( Vf = 2.1V)

Relay :

Errol1951 (author)2016-11-29

Have used a two of these in a large box big enough to hold 2 brewer and insulated,i just use a cheap temp controler from e-bay so it can run hot or cold depending on season

ivak245 (author)2016-11-29

That's a neat little fridge! You could make the door from 2 pieces of clear acrylic with an air gap (double insulated) to help with heat gain through the door. Also, one central hinge may not last too long , 2 smaller hinges or a piece of piano (continous) hinge. Every little bit of insulation helps. Great design & explanation!

brchat (author)2016-11-29

Can you show me the Arduino Code and cabling?

deba168 (author)brchat2016-11-29

I will upload it soon.Keep in touch.

brchat (author)deba1682016-11-29


Erdem Erciyas (author)2016-11-29

amazing.. Perfect :)

deba168 (author)Erdem Erciyas2016-11-29

Thank You.

yan_asd (author)2016-11-29

Very nice project.

How much can I increase the size and it will still refrigerating?

deba168 (author)yan_asd2016-11-29

You need more Peltier Module.

Carmi (author)2016-11-29

I'm si impressed

deba168 (author)Carmi 2016-11-29


ndpani (author)2016-11-29

Wonderful attempt and congratulations for successfully completing the project and enjoying a cool coke. I feel that for better insulation & structural strength a branded hot case with plastic body and lid can avoid a lot of assembly time. Only the provision for peltier and other electrics are required. Thrill of making might be lost. Just shared a thought. Dhandapani

deba168 (author)ndpani2016-11-29

You are right,the making thrill to make a real look Refrigerator is no more there :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an Electrical Engineer.I love to harvest Solar Energy and make things by recycling old stuffs. I believe ""IF YOU TRY YOU MIGHT ... More »
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