Mini Fridge Buying Guide
Things to Consider
There are several things that you want to consider when it comes to buying a mini fridge. One of the drawbacks that people find in mini fridges is not the fridge itself but the freezer capability. In the majority of cases, the tiny freezer compartments that are in mini fridges are not cold enough to keep food frozen. They might be able to handle making a few ice cubes but it might take awhile.
There are a couple of minis that have separate doors to the freezer and these are much better for freezing small amounts of food. Be sure to check the temperature ranges on the different models you are interested in.
Another thing to watch out for with a small compact refrigerator is the energy usage. When compared to a regular refrigerator, they can use a surprising amount of energy. Finding energy star models help, but you can expect to use a little more energy to run the small refrigerators when compared to what it takes to run a larger one. This is largely due to the fact that there is less room for insulation in a mini fridge which means they won’t hold the cold air as well as a full-sized, fully insulated model does.
You can expect to find less in the way of features with a mini fridge although they will have a few. Mechanical temperature gauges is one that you will find on most. The majority of compact refrigerators are manual defrost although you can find those with automatic defrost.
This will add to the cost to add features like frost free and humidity controlled crispers, etc. Lastly, look for a model that has a good warranty as one of the features you look for. Warranties are always a good idea for a larger ticket purchase.
Additional Factors to Consider When Mini Fridge Shopping
We’ve listed several more things that you will want to pay attention to when looking for a good quality mini fridge. These points will help you find the best compact fridge you can for the money you spend.
- If you’re purchasing a mini fridge for your college student like many parents due in July/August when their kids are getting ready to go off to school away from home, you want to check with the college to make sure that your child is allowed to have a mini fridge in their rooms. Most colleges and universities allow mini fridges but they may have some rules on the size allowed and the amount of energy consumption that is allowed as well. Knowing ahead of time will help you look at only the models that fit the school’s guidelines.
- Get the biggest compact fridge you can afford- The larger mini fridges are more energy efficient that the smaller ones and they hold more food as well. Two of the models that we have featured here even have two separate doors; one for the freezer and one for the fridge part. Make sure that you know the dimensions of the space you intend to put the fridge.
- Look for glass shelves rather than wire ones – Solid shelves are much better than wire racks because they food items and drinks can be set on a solid surface rather than balancing things just right on a wire shelf. Glass shelves are also easy to clean and can easily hold even tiny items that would normally slip through the wires of a wire shelf.
- Look for interior space that meets your specific needs – If all you need your fridge for is drinks and snacks, it is less important what kind of design the inside of the fridge has. If, however, your mini fridge is in an RV or in your apartment, you may need things like drawers for vegetables and fruits, places to hold gallons or half gallons of milk and other foods.
- Two door models are the best choice when you want to store food in the freezer of a mini fridge. The separate freezer space freezes food rather than just keeping it exceptionally cold. It may take a bit of the fridge space up but you will really enjoy having a place to store frozen foods that will actually stay frozen.
Types of Mini Fridges
There are many different kinds of mini fridges on the market. Each is capable of handling different cooling jobs. We’ve listed the different types below and provided and idea of what they are best used for.
- Cube Refrigerator – This is the most common mini fridge on the market. It is a very small unit, with cubic feet ranging from 11 ½ to 2.1 cubic feet. It is fairly lightweight, weighing only 25-30 pounds. The cube fridge looks like a little cube. It measures about 18-20” high and can be put into small spaces or even stacked on top of counters. Of all the different models, it is one of the least expensive available which makes them great for those who do not have a lot to spend.
They are not very energy efficient because insulation is not very prevalent in these small models; there simply isn’t room. Depending on the model, it may have a small inset freezer area but this will almost never actually freeze anything you put in it so it is not a reliable means of freezing food. Some models have locking capabilities. Most cube fridges have a reversible door so they can fit almost anywhere without the door opening direction being an issue at all.
- Mid-Size Mini Fridge – This size is larger than the small cube varieties. It has more shelves to work with, which are oftentimes glass rather than wire, and can hold more food and drinks. Mid-sized fridges measure about 26” tall and are really good for college dorms or RVs. They have more efficiency than cube fridges and cost a little more as well. Many of these types of mini fridges have adjustable thermostats so the temperature can be controlled. Some also have automatic defrost.
- Large Mini Fridge – Counter High – This is one of the largest types of mini fridges that you can get. They typically are as high as the counter top and have 3.5 to 4.5 cubic feet of space. Depending on the model, it may have one door with a freezer space inside or it will have two doors with a separate freezer space. This type of mini fridge will be the most expensive but it is also the most energy efficient and holds plenty of food and drink, both in the fridge and in the freezer. Interior lights, thermostats, crispers and canned drink dispensers are commonplace in this type of compact fridge.
- Drinks Fridge – There are some mini fridges that are not meant to do anything but store snacks and keep drinks cool and ready to drink. These are called drinks mini fridges. They are usually small inside and have a storage capacity of 12 bottles or cans. These are good for dorms, the living room or den when you want to have drinks close by.
- Travel Mini Fridge – This is a great way to keep drinks and food cool whenever you are traveling. Some travel fridges are able to be powered through a car lighter plug. They make traveling and getting refreshments much easier.
When you start shopping for mini fridges you will find that you have a ton of choices to sort through. There are many different factors to consider such as the size you need, what you will be putting inside it, where you will be putting it, what features you need or want and much more. There are some mini fridges that are designed for nothing but drinks and others can hold refrigerated as well as freezer foods.
You can get mini fridges that are like cubes and hold a handful of drinks and you can get them 4 feet high and ready for frozen foods, milk and everything else you would need a fridge to hold. They come in an array of finishes, most often stainless steel, white or black.
They are perfect for college dorms, ARVs and campers, efficiency apartments or single rooms, dens, offices, garages or workshops, and much more. It’s a great way to have cold drinks, good snacks and other cold things wherever you are.
- Midea – http://www.mideaappliances.com.au/
- Keystone – http://www.rwslineupcontrol.com/_CGI/FSEARCH.HTML