Makita DCW180Z 18v cooler and warmer box review

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Makita cool box
(Image credit: Future/David Hilton)

A powered cooler box is usually a cooler box with a fan that blows air over a metal surface and evaporative cooling results. I tested this on a three day trip to a camping festival. We are a family of four, in a tent in a field with no electric hook up. And it was during a heat wave with temperatures hitting 38.5C in parts of the UK.

Here, we take a look at how this piece of kit could come in useful for those living on site when self building or renovating — or even those who find themselves without a fridge when remodelling. Of course, it could also come in useful in many other circumstances. 

What is the Makita DCW180Z?

The Makita DCW180Z (which you can buy here at B&Q or here with a battery operated Makita kettle too) is better described as a fridge. There is a compressor and a refrigerant circuit (using low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerant R1234. 

The cooler box can be powered with Makita 18V LXT batteries, which are also used in the vast range of Makita LXT tools. There are two slots to plug the batteries in but it only needs one to work (two batteries simply keeps the cooler box running longer), or alternatively it has a 240V mains power adapter or an adaptor for use on a car 12v power supply. 

The cooler box is truly portable as it has a shoulder strap so you can carry it hanging from your shoulder and there are also two wheels and a handle so you can drag it on its wheels a bit like a travel suitcase.

What is included with the Makita DCW180Z cooler and warmer box?

This product is comprised of:

  • Compressor type cooler and warmer box
  • 2 x 18v LXT Makita 18v batteries or plug in mains adaptor or plug in 12v car charger
  • 20 litre capacity
  • LED temperature display
  • USB charging point 
  • Built in bottle opener
  • Built in wheels
  • Side handles and shoulder strap for portability

Makita cool box

The cool box comes complete with 2 x 18v LXT Makita 18v batteries. (Image credit: Future/David Hilton)

What is the Makita DCW180Z like to use?

The Makita DCW180Z has around 75% of its total volume as usable cooling space. The rest of the volume houses the compressor and the store for the batteries. The cooling space is accessed via a top lid with a separate top lid to access the battery compartment. 

When packing things into the cooler section it is not a huge space so some careful planning is required. Twelve small bottles will fit into the box but 12 standard 500ml drinks cans will not. Shorter cans can be stacked two high. By putting the cans in first, including tall containers such as milk, and then packing thinner things like cheese and bacon in between the cans the space is better utilised. 

There is a separate compartment on the top of the box for concealed batteries and the USB charger. There is space for two Makita LXT 18v batteries to be connected. I have 12 Makita 5Ah batteries that I use for work and I made sure that all were charged up before leaving. 

On the top of the box is a digital display that tells you the temperature in the box and also the charge capacity of both batteries. The box seems to use one battery at a time. During the day the box will use around two batteries (it was over 30 degrees celcius in the tent) but at night it was a lot cooler and there was no change to the charge indicator. 

Over the three days I used six Makita 5Ah LXT batteries for the fridge. You can hear the unit running but it is not disturbingly loud. It does not run all the time as the box seems robustly built and is well insulated. The box has a handy USB charging port in the battery compartment so you can charge your phone and it also has a convenient bottle opener attached to the outside box.

Does the Makita DCW180Z keep food and drinks cold?

The temperature of the cooler was kept at 3 to 4 degrees over the whole three days and it really was that temperature. During the heat wave it was an absolute blessing. As we replenished stocks of drinks they would also be brought down to the required temperature just as they would in a normal fridge. 

Any of the other campers that saw this definitely had ‘fridge envy’ that weekend and I am not sure if I could ever go camping again without it. 

Who would benefit from buying a Makita DCW180Z?

The Makita DCW180Z is also a great thing to take with you in the car on a day out or if you are doing the shopping on a hot day. Remember that it can be powered by the 12v power socket in the car. Pop the milk and perishables in the box and you have no need to race home to stop them melting or going off. 

During your deep renovation or self build project this would especially handy to keep the milk fresh and we all know how important a cup of tea is on site.

Can the Makita DCW180Z keep food and drinks warm?

Yes, the Makita DCW180Z can also warm. If you need to keep the burgers warm straight off the bbq or keep the food warm at Christmas, then this could be just the ticket. 

It is also great additional fridge space when you have guests or want a cooler close at hand outside in the garden. Clearly it cannot be used for cooling and heating at the same time so the biggest problem with this product may be the discussion at Christmas whether it should be used to keep the turkey warm or the beverages cold.

Makita DCW180Z 18v LXT 20L Cooler Warmer Cool Box Wheeled Bare + AC Plug + Flask | £349.99

Makita DCW180Z 18v LXT 20L Cooler Warmer Cool Box Wheeled Bare + AC Plug + Flask | £349.99

The 18V 20L Cooler and Warmer is a versatile unit with plenty of space for cooling or warming your food and drink. With an efficient cooling function there are 5 preset internal temperature settings between -18C and -10C, as well as a warming function of 60C.

Makita DCW180Z 18v LXT 20L Cooler Warmer Box Wheeled + DKT360Z Kettle | £449.99

Makita DCW180Z 18v LXT 20L Cooler Warmer Box Wheeled + DKT360Z Kettle | £449.99 

Built with a highly durable design the DCW180 is IPX4 water resistant with an enclosed battery compartment for keeping your batteries protected. Powered by a single 18V LXT battery there is also 2 battery terminals for increased runtime. 

David Hilton

David is a renewables and ventilation installer, with over 35 years experience, and is a long-standing contributor to Homebuilding and Renovating magazine. He is a member of the Gas Safe Register, has a Masters degree in Sustainable Architecture, and is an authority in sustainable building and energy efficiency, with extensive knowledge in building fabrics, heat recovery ventilation, renewables, and also conventional heating systems. He is also a speaker at the Homebuilding & Renovating Show. 

Passionate about healthy, efficient homes, he is director of Heat and Energy Ltd. He works with architects, builders, self builders and renovators, and designs and project manages the installation of ventilation and heating systems to achieve the most energy efficient and cost effective outcome for every home.