Useful and flexible, the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer keeps drinks cool or food warm
- Useful amount of space
- Easy to move around
- Cools and heats
- Expensive to run
- UKRRP: £99.99
- CapacityThis model offers 14 litres of capacity, but there’s a smaller 4-litre version available too.
If you need a small cooler for journeys or your bedroom, office or even kitchen counter, the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer is a stylish and smart device that’s great for keeping your beer cool or even for ensuring your make-up doesn’t melt.
It doesn’t use a compressor, so this model (and others like it) isn’t suitable for storing perishable items such as milk, and it operates at its best in cool environments. Nevertheless, a decent price and plenty of room inside still make it a useful appliance.
Design and features
- There’s plenty of room inside
- Can heat or cool
- Runs off AC and DC power
- Generous capacity
A lot of mini-coolers look a bit naff, but Russell Hobbs has done a great job with this appliance. Available in white or grey, both models feature wood-effect handles on the doors. I’m reviewing the larger 14-litre model here, but this mini-cooler is also available in a smaller 4-litre unit.
Measuring 422 x 323 x 325mm, the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer is plenty small enough to fit comfortably into compact spaces. A few options for it use, provided by the manufacturer, are as a drinks cooler in a home office or for keeping make-up cool in a bedroom. It’s also a great drinks chiller, if you have a party.
Just be aware that Russell Hobbs doesn’t recommend that you use this product outside – and it shouldn’t be exposed to the rain.
Grab the lever on the front and the door swings open level with the cooler to reveal the inside. The compartment is spacious, with room for 14 330ml drinks, spread over the top and bottom shelves.
You get slightly less height at the top, making it better for tonic waters and other mixers in smaller cans (although you can fit in 330ml cans). The bottom shelf offers more height: I could fit 500ml cans in there, although there wouldn’t be room for some taller bottles of beer.
You can take out the middle shelf entirely, which will allow you to fit in full-height bottles, such as the bottle of wine. Russell Hobbs says that it will hold two 1.5-litre bottles.
There’s also a door pocket, which isn’t particularly deep, although perfect to slip in some chocolate bars or a face mask.
There’s no thermostat on this model, since there’s no compressor. Instead, the mini-cooler uses a thermoelectric cooling system, which means that it just chills the inside to between 16ºC and 20ºC below the ambient temperature, although the lowest temperature that it can achieve is around 5ºC.
At temperatures above 25ºC, then, you’ll find that the inside of the cooler won’t get as cold as a regular fridge. Keep it out of the sun and hot rooms, however, and you’ll be fine. Nevertheless, the higher temperature variance means that, aside from temporary storage, I wouldn’t recommend using this cooler for items that can spoil, such as milk.
At the rear of the unit you’ll find a switch that you can flick to turn on heating mode, which warms the appliance to 60ºC plus or minus 5ºC. This is great for keeping food warm, such as fresh Cornish pasties.
There are two power inputs on this model, one for regular AC power, using a standard power socket, and a DC power supply that runs off a 12V power supply from your car. This makes the Russell Hobbs mini-cooler a handy travel companion.
In both cases, Russell Hobbs recommends that you leave the cooler for four hours to achieve the right temperature before putting anything into it, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
- Great, in the right environment
- Cools effectively in the right conditions
- Option to warm items
- Comparatively expensive to run
To test the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer, I placed a temperature sensor inside, and left the appliance running in my garden office, which is south-facing and can become warm.
As you can see from the graph below, the cooler dropped to 5ºC quickly, but it gradually became warmer inside as the conditions outside got warmer. This shows the importance of placing the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight.
On average, the cooler’s internal temperature was 7.4ºC, although it hit a peak of 11.9ºC and a minimum of 4.4ºC. This temperature range is fine for cold drinks.
Measuring power for two weeks, the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer drew an average of 18.85Wh, which works out to around 165kWh per year. That’s quite a lot for a fridge so small – at this level it would cost around £25 a year, which isn’t much less than a full-size fridge-freezer, such as the excellent Bosch Serie 6 KGE49AICAG.
That means you’re paying around £1.86 per litre of space, whereas a regular fridge freezer would have a cost per litre of way under 10p.
There are several reasons for this. First, a regular fridge freezer draws more power when its compressor is on, but thicker insulation means that the compressor doesn’t have to be on all of the time. Here, the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer has to work quite hard to keep cool.
Second, compressors that use refrigerant are more efficient than the thermoelectric system used in the Russell Hobbs Scandi.
What I can say is that the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer is super-quiet, running at around 37dB once it’s reached temperature. In effect, that’s as quiet as background noise, so you won’t hear this cooler even if it’s in your bedroom.
Sure, it’s cheaper to run than a large fridge freezer, but the two products aren’t directly comparable. With the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer you’re getting a smaller, neater chiller that’s great for parties, general soft drink storage or even make-up, and you can take it anywhere you want.
For additional cooling space if you’re entertaining, added convenience in a home office or bedroom, the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer does a good job of keeping contents cool, provided it’s kept out of direct sunlight.
If you don’t need it all of the time, though, I recommend unplugging it when not in use and bringing it out when there’s demand.
Should you buy it?
If you need a bit of extra chilling space, in a bedroom, office or for entertaining, this mini-cooler does the job, fitting in a lot more than you might think. It can also heat, if you need to keep food warm.
Running costs are quite high compared to a regular fridge, so you may prefer to use this cooler less frequently as demand requires.
There’s no thermostat, but the Russell Hobbs Scandi Portable Mini Cooler & Warmer can keep drinks cool, although you do need to ensure it’s kept out of hot rooms or direct sunlight. Heating and DC inputs just make the appliance even more flexible. Relatively high running costs may mean that you’re better off using it when you need a bit of extra cooling room, such as for a party.
Yes, you can. Simply plug the DC input into your car’s 12V power socket.