Whether you are looking for a conventional stand–in the fridge or want to equip your kitchen with the convenience that comes with an additional fridge, there is a wide array of compact refrigerator options you can choose from.
It all depends on your needs and the amount of money you are willing to spend on one.
This ubiquitous college dormitory appliance has also been a welcome amenity in larger indoor and outdoor kitchens, bars, or even workout areas.
Start by learning more about the style of each mini refrigerator and the benefits that comes with it.
It would be prudent to go for a product that fits the space in your mobile home’s kitchen as well as your cooling needs.
Manufactured Home Mini Fridges – 7 Shopping Factors
- Exterior Color
- Performance & Energy Performance
- The Smart Factor
- Style Options
- Basic Fridge Features
- Cost V/S Budget
1. Exterior Color
Color is one of the most important things you need to consider when shopping for home appliances, including mini-fridges.
Most of the products you will find in the store come in standard black, grey, white, or stainless-steel colors. Take your time to browse through the available products and choose a mini-fridge with the color you like or one that will bring a pop of hues to the room.
Your choice of color can depend on a range of factors.
Purple, for example, is considered feminine while colors like black or sky-blue mini-fridges may be more appealing to male buyers.
White can be a great color for reflecting away the sun’s rays, as it does not easily absorb infra-red rays.
It can also turn out to be just the right color for you if you’re looking for a product that’s easier to clean – dirt is easily spotted and wiped off.
However, modern fridges sold nowadays comes with advanced cooling technologies, and a mini-fridge being white or black has no impact on the temperature of your food.
Still, it is recommended that you choose a product that rhymes with the décor and colors in your room. The appliance itself needs to be aesthetically pleasing in its own right.
2. Freezer Performance & Energy Efficiency
There is no point in having a full-size fridge chocked full of drinks and groceries if your food doesn’t stay frozen as you would want it to. It’s important to bear in mind how well the fridge will function.
Compact fridges that come with one door are famous for their underperforming freezers that don’t keep food frozen properly because internal temperatures are often too low.
Such products tend to lose their cold air to the environment whenever the door is opened.
One of the best ways of preventing this is to keep a thermometer inside the refrigerator and another separate one inside the freezer compartment.
Coefficient of Performance
If you want to land the best performing or more effective fridge then you need to look at the product’s Coefficient of Performance.
The CoP/CP of a refrigerator is a ratio of the product’s useful cooling provided to the work required. High CoP means low operating costs.
Normally, the CoP exceeds 1 because, instead of the device just chilling the contents of the compartment to heat, it also has to deliver cold air to where it is required all over the compartment.
Better yet, you can tell the performance of the mini-fridge by looking at its energy efficiency.
Mini refrigerators with freezers on either the top or bottom tend to be the most efficient.
Models with bottom freezers use about 16% less energy compared to side-by-side counterparts.
Top freezer models consume approximately about 13% less energy compared to the side-by-side options.
The main door is opened less often, which saves energy. Mini-doors give you unrestricted access to some of the most commonly used items.
This means the main door will not be opened frequently, which can save a lot of energy.
ENERGY STAR label
Go for a compact fridge with an ENERGY STAR label on it – you’d be killing three birds with one stone:
- saving energy
- saving some money
- and more importantly, helping to protect our climate.
I’d recommend a product rated 5 STARS.
After cooling, heating, and hot water, your mini-refrigerator will probably be the next largest consumer of energy at home.
Thanks to recent technologies and improvements in compressors and insulation, today’s refrigerators use less energy compared to older models.
For example, the average 15-year-old fridge uses about 33% more energy compared to newer ENERGY STAR certified models.
You stand to save something in the region of $200 and cut your household’s carbon footprint by 4,900 lbs. of CO2 in the approximately 12-15-year lifetime of the fridge.
Just because you are going for a mini-refrigerator doesn’t mean size doesn’t matter.
You want a product that can still cater to your freezing needs no matter how compact it may be.
Most of the options you will find in the store comes with capacities between 1.7 cubic feet and 4.5 cubic feet.
The typical mini-refrigerator sizes commonly used in dorm rooms and mobile homes are cube-like, with 1.5 – 1.8 ft3 (or 0.14 – 0.17 m2) of storage capacity.
The mid-size often is about 2.5 – 2.7 ft3 (or 0.2 – 0.25 m2) of storage capacity.
Most of the products you will find in the store fall neatly in these three categories of capacities:
- Small: Less than 3.0 cu. ft.
- Medium: between 3.1 and 6.0 cu. ft.
- Large: between 6.1 and 9.0 cu. ft.
4. The Smart Factor
Chances are you don’t really need a smart refrigerator, but it’s always good to consider getting one – you could actually end up needing it!
Simply put, smart mini-fridges don’t come cheap. So, whether or not the extra cost would be worth it is up to you.
For some users, smart technologies give fridges a bunch of cool features that go a long way to ease frequently performed activities or things that are straight bothersome.
In 2017, the product development team at LG even revealed their plans to add a Wi-Fi radio to their future fridges.
In other words, we are probably approaching when smart fridges will be the norm, not a choice.
Here is why you need to purchase a smart mini-fridge:
We are starting to see fridges that can link with smart grids in cities to automatically schedule their own costly defrost cycles when your local energy rates are at the lowest points.
There are smart fridges designed to make your cooking routine more efficient.
A product can let you instruct it to start warming the water remotely, from your smartphone.
Fridges are some of the devices trying to take advantage of the voice control platforms like Alexa.
Most of GE’s smart fridges are starting to me with Alexa skill, which allows the user to instruct Alexa to make adjustments on the fridge’s temperature.
Kitchen command centers
Talking of Samsung and LG, both brands envision smart fridges that serve as central command centers in kitchens, if not in the whole household.
These devices can help you set up cooking timers, stream music, update your digital calendar, follow along with menus, and many other similar tasks.
Would you like to peep in your mini-fridge from a distance, say, grocery store, to check what’s inside and what needs to be restocked?
Well, maybe you need a fridge with a built-in camera, and they are quite common nowadays.
5. Style Options
Most of the compact refrigerators out there are designed to be stand-alone units or to be installed in cabinetry, although some models work both ways.
Not all styles of these fridges are designed to serve the same purpose, therefore it helps to begin with exactly what your needs are or what you want the fridge to do— freeze, store perishable foods, freeze, or simply cool some bottles of beverages—before you even start shopping.
Your choices will be limited to just four popular style options:
- refrigerator\freezer combo
- refrigerator\microwave combo
- beverage centers
This is the conventional ‘all-refrigerator’ meant for both beverages and food but does not come with a built-in freezer.
It is almost standard for this style of refrigerators to feature three adjustable shelves, a door with beverage dispensers or extra shelving, and three adjustable shelves in the main compartment.
If you are looking for a mini-fridge that can store more than just food, but not freeze, you should choose a product with style.
Most of the products you will find average about 3 – 6 ft3 in capacity, giving you enough room for tall items like 2-liter beverage bottles.
Smaller cube-styled options, typically 1.7 ft3, are also available for smaller spaces.
Refrigerator & Freezer Combination
While this style of mini-fridges can be the same size as standard compact fridges, they also feature a freezer space—can either come with a small shelf inside the main compartment or separated with a door.
A mini-fridge complete with a freezer can be a great choice for those with no full-size fridge in their spaces.
Shelf-style freezers are ideal for users with minimal needs (frozen mean or ice cube tray), who are in need of keeping as much fridge space as possible.
Products with a separate freezer complete with a door provide more storage room as well as more even cooling, such as:
- BLACK+DECKER BCRK17B Freezer & Compact Refrigerator with Energy Star and Single Door – Cost $119: This freezer + mini-fridge combo is a space saver, measuring (17.5″ x 18.5″ x 19.7″) designed to store food, beer, soda, and other beverages. It consumes minimal energy (70-W) and without gobbling up too much of your kitchen’s space.
Refrigerator & Microwave Combination
As you can tell from the name, these mini fridge models comprise both a microwave and a fridge, which have been conveniently bracketed together to form one unit—and feature one power plug for both.
These compact refrigerators are designed to hold both drink and food, and they are usually on the smallest end of the conventional/standard size (2.5 – 3.5 ft3).
The included microwave typically averages around 700 watts. The combination is mainly tailored for homeowners who need both these two appliances, but don’t have enough outlets.
Micro fridge supplies some excellent mini products combining a fridge and a microwave, like this:
- Microfridge Safe Plug 2.3 cu. ft. Freestanding Mini Fridge with Freezer and Microwave – Cost $480: What if your combination mini appliance could help you prevent the fire alarm from going off? This compact fridge does exactly that and comes with a microwave on top.
This style of mini fridge is specifically designed to hold drinks.
As such, they don’t feature the cooling setups and power needed for preserving perishable foods, making them some of the most energy-efficient choices for this purpose.
This’s just the right style of the fridge to choose for both your outdoor or indoor kitchen, game room, home bar, or anywhere you need to store a sizable number of beverages.
It is worth mentioning that these mini-fridges are strikingly similar in size and capacity to regular compact fridges.
Also, they often list the total number of beverage cans each can hold. Coca-Cola supplies some of the best beverage centers out there, but those from EdgeStar aren’t bad either, as this model:
- EdgeStar 5.5 cu. ft. Convertible Mini Fridge – Cost: $1,124: Features two separate zones that let you cool wine and beer separately, freeing up more space in your main standard refrigerator.
6. Basic Fridge Features
There is a list of features one or two of which should be found on the product of your choice.
These features are closer to ‘must-haves’ and can go a long way to ease your cooking experience, avoid accidents, or even improve the way the fridge syncs with the décor in the kitchen.
Look for these features because chances are you need one or two of them, you just know yet:
It is pretty standard for modern mini-fridges to come with a feature that shuts them down periodically to save on power and cut your expenditure on energy.
The line between this feature and the ability of new ‘smart fridges’ to receive and respond to signals from your local grid and shut down periodically whenever energy demand is higher than usual, is getting blurred.
Several models from Keystone comes with Automatic Shut-Off, including this product:
Dial Temperature Control
The numbers displayed on the compact fridge’s temperature dial indicate refrigerant power.
Typically, the higher the number gets the colder your mini-fridge will maintain.
As such, setting it to, say, 5 will make the refrigerator to be colder. With that out of the way, please note that very low fridge temperatures do not guarantee good food storage.
Dual Evaporator Cooling System
This system consists of two evaporators to allow both the fresh food compartment and the freezer to be cooled individually.
It is basically a parallel system designed to operate each evaporator independent of each other, or both of them concurrently as needed.
The flexibility provided by this system allows precise cooling of food. Fresh food evaporators generate about 37 F of cold air.
It is near standard for fridges to feature humidity zones.
As a rule of thumb, you are only expected to use low-humidity settings for foods that rot easily, such as apples, pears, melons, stone fruits, and avocados.
The high-humidity compartment/drawer is great for foods that wilts, such as thin-skinned vegetables like asparagus or leafy plants like kale and similar greens.
The job of the crisper drawer is to extend the shelf life of your vegetables and fruits by controlling the rate of airflow around them through vents.
Most of the crisper drawers found in modern compact fridges feature adjustable humidity vents which allows you to either shut off the airflow to create a more humid environment or open up to create a low-humidity condition.
7. Cost v/s Budget
What is the cost of the product of your desire?
How much money are you willing to spend to acquire it?
The cheapest mini fridge you could find out there has a price tag somewhere between $30 and $40, such as this Frigidaire 0.3 cu. ft. product:
- Frigidaire 0.3 cu. Ft. 6-can Retro Blue Compact Fridge – Cost: $36:Great for zoom happy hours.
Most of the highly-priced compact fridges cost between $300 and $400, but it is possible to find products costing as high as $1,400.
The price range within which most products fall is $30 and $450.
Remember to prepare a budget so that you can avoid overspending or splurge on a compact fridge you didn’t even have in mind in the first place.
Shopping for a compact fridge can be hard owing to so many brands and contrasting models available in the market.
If you want to choose the best product that addresses your needs, bear in mind the 7 factors:
- exterior color
- performance & energy performance
- the smart factor
- style options
- basic fridge features
- and cost v/s budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take for a mini fridge to get cold?
Some mini fridges are powerful enough to be cold within two hours and reach full cold capacity in four hours.
That being said, most mini fridges will require up to twenty four hours to get to full cold capacity.
Q: How many amps does a mini fridge use?
Most mini fridges only require around two amps in order to function.
Q: What size power inverter do you need for a mini fridge?
There are numerous types of mini fridges.
Notwithstanding, most of them use between 50 to 100 watts per hour.
Thus, a power inverter of between 80 and 100 watts will suffice when it comes to handling a mini fridge.
Q: How much does a mini fridge weigh?
Mini fridge models typically weigh between 25 and 90 pounds.
The average weight of a mini fridge is 60 pounds, which is a lot lighter than full fridges.
Q: Can you add a lock to a mini fridge?
Yes, you can add a lock on a mini fridge to enhance your security.
Additionally, there are numerous locks that don’t require any form of drilling and still guarantee the safety that you so desire.
Q: How do you prevent ice buildup in a mini fridge?
The first thing to do is ensure that the door gasket closes properly.
This ascertains that there is no air nor moisture that is entering the mini fridge.
Keep the humidity as low as possible. Make sure that you minimize the time that the door remains open.
Q: How long does a mini fridge last?
The average life expectancy of a mini fridge is eight years. however, this can range from anywhere between four and twelve years, depending on the amount of care taken and the maintenance it is given.
Q: Does a mini fridge need its own circuit?
It is recommended that a fridge, no matter the kind, have its dedicated circuit.
Nevertheless, it is not necessary for a mini fridge to have its own circuit.
Q: Can you plug the mini fridge into a surge protector?
So long as the fridge and every other appliance in the circuit are working within the recommended raring, there is no need to have a surge protector.
Electricity can be capricious, though, so it is safe to have a surge protector.
Q: Can a mini fridge use an extension cord?
This is entirely dependent on the gauge of the cord and the draw of the mini fridge. extension cords are simply a means to the extent of the outlet.
Thus, if you are having difficulty connecting the mini fridge to the extension cord, you need an extension chord tailor suited to your needs.
Q: Can mini fridges explode?
Mini fridge explosions are an extreme rarity, though when they happen, they tend to be very dangerous. They are mainly caused by the fridge compressor.
Q: Can mini fridges be used outside?
So long as it is not exposed to the elements for a long time, you can use a mini fridge outside.
It will use a bit more energy than when it is indoors, but it can be used for the outdoors.
Q: Can mini fridges be left on all the time?
Though it will be to the detriment of your electricity bill, mini fridges can run all day, all the time.
It is important to make sure that it is running smoothly,
Q: Can mini fridges be recharged?
Yes, you can. It is way cheaper to do so than replacing the fridge. you can add the refrigerant yourself, thus saving more money.
Q: Can mini fridges get wet?
Yes, at times the mini fridge does get wet.
There are a couple of things that have occurred for this to happen, one being that the drainpipe is blocked.
If you find that the inside is frozen, then you will need to get an electrician to check it out.
Q: Can a mini fridge be transported on its side?
It is not recommended that you transport the mini fridge on its sides. This is because the coolant may move backward.
Q: Do mini fridges give off radiation?
Modern mini fridges produce a very low amount of radiation, which isn’t harmful to your health.
Q: Do mini fridges give off carbon monoxide?
No, the mini fridge does not produce carbon monoxide.
Q: Can the mini fridge be turned off at night?
Although it may seem like a prudent way to reduce the electric bill, it is not recommended to switch off the mini fridge.
This is because it has to maintain a constant temperature to be effective.
Q: Can mini fridges leak?
If you are not careful enough, the mini fridge can leak a lot of water. This is a sign that something is wrong with its functionality, so you should take appropriate action.
Q: Can a mini fridge go under a counter?
This will depend on the size of the fridge in relation to that of the counter. You may find some mini fridges that are perfect fits, while others are not.
Q: Can a mini fridge sit on a table?
The mini fridge should never be kept at the edge of a stand or table.
Q: Do mini fridges always make noise?
Yes, the mini fridge is supposed to make s humming noise regularly, indicating that the compressor is running.
Q: How much ventilation does a mini fridge need?
Yes, it needs ventilation to release heat effectively and efficiently.
Q: What are the measurements of a mini fridge?
They vary in size; form from 1.7 cubic feet to 4.5 cubic feet.
Q: Can a mini fridge stay outside in the winter?
A fridge cannot function properly if the air outside is colder than the air inside. Thus, avoid using the mini fridge outside in winter.
Q: Do mini fridges attract bugs?
Yes, bugs are attracted to fridges because of the food stored in them.
Q: Do mini fridges have a reset button?
No, they don’t. however, there are other ways you can reset the fridge.
Unplugging for about 45 minutes or resetting the compressor will do the trick.
Q: How do you know if a mini fridge is broken?
There are numerous ways you can identify if your mini fridge is not working properly.
If it doesn’t cool the food or drinks, if the motor is too loud, or if ice is building up inside the freezer are just some ways to know if it is broken.