Do Mini Fridges Use a Lot of Electricity?
Refrigerators are no longer the colossal energy drainers they once were, thanks to the development of more energy-efficient models. Still, their power consumption comprises a significant portion of your electric bill. If you live alone and don’t often load your refrigerator with fresh produce, you might be a good candidate for a mini fridge.
Although mini refrigerators use more electricity than other small appliances in your home, some models use considerably less power than full-size refrigerators. Moreover, aside from their lower power consumption, they offer other advantages, such as keeping your food fresh without taking up plenty of space. And, because of their size, you can fit mini fridges in any room in your home.
However, their energy consumption is still a significant factor in determining whether they’re worth getting. How much electricity does a mini fridge use anyway? Let’s find out, and while we’re at it, let’s explore how you can save on its electricity costs.
What is a Mini Fridge?
A mini fridge is similar to a regular refrigerator in that it keeps your food fresh and your drinks cold. The two models also have almost the same features and functions. However, unlike a regular refrigerator, a mini fridge is designed to fit in small spaces.
This feature makes it a popular choice for those who live in dorms or small apartments. Another reason consumers opt for this smaller model is its energy consumption. In many instances, a compact fridge consumes less electricity than a full-sized refrigerator.
Average Energy Consumption
No home is complete without a refrigerator. But some homeowners opt to add a mini fridge for convenience. Because electricity is expensive, how much electricity mini-fridges consume is often a factor in deciding whether the convenience of having a small refrigerator outweighs the money you spend on its electricity usage.
So how much electricity does a mini fridge use?
The energy consumption of mini fridges varies depending on several factors. Their size, model, age, ambient temperature of their surroundings, energy efficiency, and the like affect how many kilowatt hours they use.
Mini fridges often come in sizes ranging between 1.7 and 4.4 cubic feet. According to Energy Star, mini-fridges of this size use about 233 kWh to 310 kWh. Meanwhile, tests done by Consumer Reports indicate that the annual energy cost of an energy-efficient 4.4 cubic feet mini fridge is $27.
Mini Fridge’s Power Usage Calculation
Because of the rising price of electricity, you may want to know how much getting a mini refrigerator will add to your home’s annual electricity consumption. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to find out. To calculate how much electricity mini fridges use, you’ll have to determine the wattage or how many watts they need to operate.
If you can’t find the information on the manual or the appliance, search for the volts and amps of your small fridge on the sticker inside the refrigerator. Multiply these numbers to find out how many watts the machine uses.
When you have determined the wattage of your mini fridge, you can estimate its power consumption. Here’s how to do so
- Multiply the running wattage of the mini fridge by 24, which equates to the number of hours the appliance operates in one day.
- Divide the figure by 1,000 to convert the watts (W) into kilowatts (kW).
- Determine the per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate you pay by checking your electricity bill.
- Multiply the kW by the kWh rate to estimate how much operating your mini fridge costs per day.
- Multiply the daily costs by 30 to come up with the monthly energy expenses of your mini fridge.
- To determine the annual energy consumption, multiply the monthly costs by 12.
Here’s an example of how to estimate how much energy a mini fridge consumes.
Let’s say the mini refrigerator’s wattage is 250, and the electricity rate in your area is $0.10 per kilowatt-hour.
250 watts x 24 hours = 6,000 watts (W)
6,000 ÷ 1,000 = 6 kilowatt hours (kWh)
6 kWh x $0.10 per kWh = $0.60 per day
0.60 x 30 = $18 per month
18 x 12 = $216 a year
Electric Usage Comparison Based on Fridge Size
How much electricity mini-fridges consume depends on several factors, with their size being one of the most crucial. How energy-efficient they are will also affect how many kWhs they will drain. Models with an Energy Star rating often have lower energy consumption than conventional ones. Also, compared to a full-size fridge, they use less power; thus, they have a lower electricity cost.
The electricity consumption of average mini or compact refrigerators is about 233 kWh to 310 kWh. Meanwhile, refrigerators (18-20 cubic feet) often use between 404 and 613 kWh.
Let’s see how size affects the power usage of different types of refrigerators.
|Fridge Type||Fridge Size||Average Daily Energy Consumption|
|Mini fridge||4.4 cubic feet||600 watt-hours|
|12 Volt fridge||1.7 cubic feet||400 watt-hours|
|Full-size fridge||20 cubic feet||1500 watt-hours|
|RV fridge||10 cubic feet||1000 watt-hours|
Factors Affecting the Power Consumption of Refrigerators
Like other appliances and electrical devices, how much energy refrigerators consume varies. It typically requires less power to run a mini fridge than a full-size refrigerator. How many watts it takes to operate the appliance also affects its daily energy consumption and, in turn, its impact on your energy bill.
Let’s examine the factors that determine if your appliance will use less or more energy.
Whether you have a mini fridge or a full-size model, how you use the appliance will affect its actual energy consumption. Do you load your fridge over its maximum capacity? And do you check if the gaskets or seals are in good condition? Overfilling the refrigerator impedes the flow of cold air and makes the compressor work double time, thus decreasing the appliance’s energy efficiency.
On the other hand, an empty fridge also makes the compressor work harder because more cold air gets replaced with warm air each time the door opens.
Meanwhile, faulty seals let cold air seep out of the refrigerator, which increases the unit’s running cost as keeping the interior at the desired temperature consumes energy.
Frequency of Fridge Door Opening
Opening the refrigerator door or keeping it open for long periods will make the unit consume more power. When you open the door, the cold air inside escapes and is replaced by the warm air from the room. This causes the compressor to work harder to bring the temperature of the fridge’s cooling space to the desired level. The extra work equates to a hike of about 7 percent more in energy consumption.
Where is the freezer located in your fridge? Does it have a single door, or is it a two-door model? All these affect not just the cooling capacity of the unit but also how much power it consumes. For example, a fridge with a bottom freezer drains about 16 percent less energy than a side-by-side model. Meanwhile, a top freezer unit uses approximately 13 percent less power than a side-by-side model.
Also, manual defrost versions use about half the energy of their automatic defrost counterparts, and models with anti-sweat heaters consume 5 percent to 10 percent more power.
Generally, the bigger the fridge, the higher its electricity consumption, which translates into hikes in your energy bills. That’s because the larger capacity means there is more air to cool inside the appliance. To do the job efficiently, the compressor has to be bigger or work harder. This consumes more energy, leading to higher operating costs.
For example, it takes less energy to run a mini fridge than a standard-sized refrigerator. A mini fridge uses between 233 and 310 kWh, while a full-size fridge consumes about 404 to 613 kWh.
Where you install your unit matters. Placing the appliance in the right place can determine whether it uses less or more electricity. For maximum efficiency, locate your machine in the coolest part of the room, away from any heat sources, such as radiators, ovens, direct sunlight, and the like. Also, make sure the temperature in the area is not less than 10 degrees C.
Remember that fridges can use 2.5 percent more energy for every degree above average room temperature (70 degrees). This means that your refrigerator could consume 22 to 25 percent more energy in an 80-degree room and 45 to 50 percent more when placed in a room with a temperature of 90 degrees. Meanwhile, if the temperature falls below 40 degrees, the cooling and defrost cycles might not work correctly.
Theoretically, the weather or season shouldn’t affect a good fridge model. However, it’s hard to find a refrigerator brand that’s completely immune to the dips and spikes in the outside temperature.
Most fridges consume more energy during the summer because the ambient temperature tends to be higher. On the other hand, their power consumption usually drops during cold weather as the motor doesn’t need to work so hard to keep the unit’s interior at the correct temperature.
Checking the settings on your fridge can make a difference in the annual operating costs of the appliance. Studies show that a refrigerator’s power usage increases with higher thermostat settings. How much more energy the unit consumes depends on how high you set it. For example, fridges set 10 degrees colder could use up to 25 percent more energy.
The optimum setting should allow the fridge’s temperature to stay between 35 and 38 degrees, while the freezer temperature should be between 0 and 5 degrees.
How old the unit is will influence how much energy a full-size refrigerator or mini fridge uses, with older models consuming more power than their modern counterparts. For example, fridges built in the 70s may consume 5 times more electricity than Energy Star models that are noted for their energy efficiency.
Twenty-year-old fridge models could consume energy amounting to 1700 kWh a year. Compare that with the 450 kWh annual consumption of a new Energy Star model of the same size.
Tips in Order to Decrease your Mini Fridge’s Energy Use
It’s hard to determine exactly how much power mini refrigerators consume as different factors need to be considered. But because electricity is expensive, reducing the running cost of your unit will benefit your wallet since lower power consumption leads to fewer energy expenses. Here are some tips you can try.
Keep the Fridge Door Closed
Opening the fridge door lets cold air out and warm air in. This pushes the compressor to work harder to restore the temperature to the optimal level. So keep the door closed as much as possible. The few seconds it takes to gaze at your fridge’s contents while you decide what you want for a snack means money down the drain.
Use an Energy Star-Certified Refrigerator
An Energy Star rating means the appliance exceeds general appliance efficiency standards. In other words, it uses about 9-15 percent less energy than non-Energy Star-rated models because it runs more efficiently. If it’s time for an upgrade, head to the section that features Energy Star-certified appliances. These models may cause more than conventional ones, but you can recoup the higher cost through savings on your power expenses.
Keep Fridge Coils Clean
Condenser coils can get clogged with dirt, dust, pet hair, and other debris. Dirty coils make it hard for the motor to keep the interior cool, thus hiking its energy consumption, sometimes by as much as 83 percent. With an average electricity rate of $0.11 per kWh, that translates into about $220 more on the annual cost of your fridge. Aside from reducing the appliance’s energy consumption, cleaning the coils can help extend its lifespan.
Place the Fridge in a Cool Spot
Full-size refrigerators and mini-fridges cost more to run when they’re located in areas with high temperatures. Fridges set up near heat sources, such as ovens, radiators, or direct sunlight, need to work against the elements to keep the interior cool. This drives up its energy usage and, along with it, your power expenses.
Will a mini fridge use more energy if it lacks proper ventilation? Yes, it will because, without the air gap, the appliance won’t be able to release the heat from the compressor. This causes the refrigerator to heat up and overwork the motor, leading to higher energy usage. Provide at least 5 centimeters of space on the back, top, and side of your appliance so that air can circulate freely.
Use Timer Switches
Timer switches turn the unit on and off, depending on the settings. A refrigerator shouldn’t be turned completely off, but if it comes with a power saver mode, using that feature can help you save on energy. If there’s not much food inside your fridge, setting it in this mode will lower its power consumption.
Adjust Temperature Settings
There’s an optimum setting for fridges and freezers that keeps the food fresh without driving the appliance to consume excessive amounts of energy. Make sure you don’t turn the temperature too low, as this will drive up the equipment’s power usage. Fridges shouldn’t be set lower than 5 degrees C, while freezers should be at 18 degrees C.
The Top Mini Fridges in the Market Today
It’s not always easy to pick a mini fridge. The sheer number of choices can make the task daunting. To help with your decision, here’s our list of the best mini refrigerators in the market.
GE Double-Door Compact Refrigerator
This 3.1-cubic-foot mini fridge has two doors, one for the fridge and one for the freezer. Because the freezer is a separate compartment, it can keep the food frozen solid. That means you can use it to store meat and poultry safely. It even features a shelf on the freezer door where you can stock ice cream or bags of frozen peas.
The GE Double-Door Compact Refrigerator is Energy Star-rated, meaning it won’t impact your electricity bill.
Magic Chef 1.7-Cubic-Feet Mini Fridge
Is your mini fridge use limited to keeping drinks, fruit, and other cold snacks in the den for easy access? Then this Magic Chef mini fridge is your best bet. This little refrigerator has a wire shelf in the main compartment and shelves on the door. Its small freezer compartment is handy for storing bags of ice or keeping ice cream at a scoopable consistency.
Being an Energy Star-certified model, the Magic Chef mini fridge should cost you only about $25 a year to run.
Galanz 4.3 Cubic-Feet Compact Refrigerator
One of the roomiest small fridges around, the Galanz compact refrigerator suits those who want a bigger space than what’s usually available in mini-fridges. Bigger than most compact refrigerators, this model presents 3 glass shelves for refrigerated items.
The door has 2 small shelves, one for tall soda bottles and a dispenser for eight cans. Although the freezer doesn’t come with its own door, it’s roomier than most mini-fridges and is excellent for keeping plenty of ice or frozen treats.
Frigidaire 1.6 Cubic-Foot Dorm Fridge
This small refrigerator will easily fit in a dorm room. But that’s not all it has to offer. The main compartment has one wire shelf, while shelving on the door can accommodate a 2-liter bottle, as well as soda cans and peanut butter jars. It even provides a bottle opener conveniently located on the fridge’s side.
This is another Energy Star model that will certainly help you reduce your carbon footprint.
Whirlpool Two Door Mini Fridge with Freezer
This little beauty boasts several handy features that make it one of the top choices for mini-fridges. These include removable glass shelves, a crisper drawer, and door storage with both a can dispenser and room for taller items (wine bottles or 2-liter soda bottles).
The Whirlpool Two-door mini fridge also comes with an adjustable mechanical thermostat control and interior lighting for ease of use.
How Long Do Mini Fridges Last?
Like other appliances, the lifespan of mini fridges varies because several factors can affect their staying power. If we’re talking of estimates, you can expect your compact refrigerator to last about 12 years. However, due to technological advances, you might consider an upgrade if more energy-efficient models come out, even if your appliance still works.
How Long Does Food Last in a Mini Fridge?
The mini fridge does a good job of keeping food fresh, much like a full-size refrigerator. The freezer of some models might not have enough power to store meat and poultry safely for long periods. Still, you can keep such food items for around 4 hours without worrying about spoilage, provided the unit is set at the appropriate temperature.
Is it Safe to Have a Mini Fridge in the Bedroom?
When it comes to safety, having a mini fridge in the bedroom poses no considerable risk. The disadvantages of keeping one in the room you sleep in have more to do with the discomfort the appliance might cause. This includes the rise in temperature and the unwanted noise a loud compressor could create.
What Can I Use Instead of a Mini Fridge?
If you don’t want the extra expense of buying a small refrigerator, you can buy a cooler and stock it with ice. This will maintain food freshness but only for a limited time. Needless to say, you can’t store meat in this manner because of food safety issues.
So, how much electricity does a mini fridge use? It’s hard to gauge exactly how much electricity they consume as the level varies depending on a few factors. The model, how you use the appliance, and even the weather can drive up or decrease the power consumption of mini-refrigerators.
Still, both the purchase and running costs are likely to stay within your budget. Just make sure you employ energy-saving measures to prevent sky-high energy bills.