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Does A Mini-Fridge Use A Lot Of Electricity?

Refrigeration has allowed us to preserve our food and drinks for decades now.

We may not give it much thought, but refrigeration is an integral part of our modern world that we cannot live without.

Even with so many different refrigeration models available, sometimes we’re willing to settle for less, like obtaining a neat-looking mini fridge.

The reasons for doing so vary, but how much electricity does one use?

In this article, we’ll look at the details behind how much power mini-fridges take, how to properly maintain your cool device, and some alternative refrigeration options.  

Mini-Fridge Electricity Usage

The short answer is that, on average, mini-fridges use 55 to 85 watts per hour.

This is a stark contrast to most average-sized fridges with their range of 350 to 780 watts for the same time period!

So, in theory, if you were to buy a mini-fridge instead of the average one, you’d be shaving off a lot of money on your next energy bill.

With that being said, you can potentially reduce energy consumption even further.

This depends on several factors, such as, the model you buy, how you place it in a room, how often you use it, factory settings, and the season.

Naturally, the larger the mini-fridge, the more energy it will consume overall.

Typically, the most cost-effective models tend to be ones that aren’t all that big in size.

However, size may not matter with older devices.

To reduce the amount you have to pay per kilowatt hour (kWh), it helps to buy a newer mini-fridge that’s more energy efficient.

By selecting one that has a higher Energy Star rating, such as buying one with an A+++ grade as opposed to a B, you’ll receive more reliability for less money in the long run.

Even though it’s tempting to get a mini-fridge for under $30, you may want to consider getting a more advanced model that approaches the hundreds of dollars if you find that A+++ rating.

Remember, the real cost of owning one is how much you pay per month to run it.

Some of the best brands to check out are, Galanz, Heier, and Danby.

Calculating Mini Fridge Energy Use

Let’s give a quick example of calculating how much a mini-fridge would add to your energy bill.

To do this, we’ll need to know the wattage used per hour, how many hours a day you’ll use your fridge, and convert that into kilowatt hours (which is how energy bills are measured).

Say you buy a model that uses 60 watts, and want to use it for 4 hours per day.

Multiply 60 by 4 and you get 240 watt-hours.

To convert this to kWh, simply divide 240 by 1000 and you get 0.240 kWh per day.

Seeing as the average cost per 1 kWh in the US is 12 cents, multiply 0.12 by 0.240 and it will cost you $0.0288 to run your mini-fridge in a single day.

For yearly cost, take that number and multiply by 365 and you have $10.5 to run your device per year.

Compare this with a regular fridge that uses 670 kWh per year, which would cost $88 for that time period.

Reducing Mini Fridge Electricity Use

Now we have some of the more technical matters aside, let’s move on to some actions you can take to reduce power consumption even further.

Most mini-fridges out there are by default too cold for most refrigeration purposes.

By using a simple thermometer, you can gauge how much you can turn up your mini-fridge to help reduce the overall wattage.

You can also combine a temperature change with a timer switch.

Buying a model that has one installed, or getting an external switch can help reduce the time that your mini-fridge spends cooling.

Another tip is positioning your unit in the right place so it can ventilate properly.

Even though a mini-fridge is conveniently small, and can fit just about anywhere in your home, keep in mind that it still needs proper airflow to ensure it doesn’t work too hard.

Avoid placing the unit in tight spaces that block off or hinder its air-intake.

This means it needs a bit of distance from any walls so that the exhaust will work the way it should.

Your future self will thank you for reducing the monthly power bills.

Despite how the amount of wattage used is clearly labeled on any mini-fridge you’ll buy, that may not be the actual number.

If you’re in any way concerned about this, get yourself a power meter and measure in real time how much wattage your device is using.

To get a full diagnostic of how much electricity it uses per day, plug it in for 24 hours straight with the power meter attached.

Mini-Fridge Energy Efficient Alternatives

Before you start shopping around on Amazon for the perfect mini-fridge, ask yourself if it’s worth the time and money getting one in the first place.

Most models are known to last 5 to 10 years in terms of being useful.

Take the amount per kilowatt hour your energy provider charges you, and multiply that by how long you think you’ll actually use the device.

Regardless of how much you’ll use it per year, the more a mini-fridge is used, the more you’ll have to pay.

If you still think this kind of unit is right for your purposes, know that an advantage of owning a mini-fridge means you’ll have about 60 liters of total volume that it can store.

This is more than enough for anyone living in a single household.

Some alternatives to buying a mini-fridge include, but are not limited to, a high-quality cooler, a propane fridge, zeer pots, root cellars, and if you happen to live next to a river, making use of a spring house.

This kind of structure requires moving water to make it work, but if done right, it will allow you to preserve food without having to spend any money on electricity.

Zeer pots and root cellars involve storing things underground.

image: BrittanyJ, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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