Mini Fridge Buying Guide
A compact refrigerator, or mini fridge, is not going to hold groceries for a family of four, but does have numerous useful applications:
- Dorm room
- Studio apartment
- Office lunchroom
- Man cave
- Family entertainment room
- Home bar
Mini fridges are rarely as energy efficient as their full-size counterparts are, and most don’t offer the convenient drawers or freezer section of a larger unit. But if you are looking to keep drinks and snacks chilled for poker night, maintain freshness in your bagged lunch or hold groceries for one person, a mini fridge is more than sufficient to get the job done.
How Big Of A Fridge Do You Need?
Compact refrigerators range in size from around 1.5 cubic feet, which is just large enough to hold a few drinks, up to 6.0 cubic feet, which will hold a few day’s worth of groceries. Remember that the cubic foot capacity of a refrigerator refers only to the interior space, not the overall size of the appliance. It also does not take into account any shelves, dividers or other interior features. By contrast, full-size refrigerators offer up to 30 cubic feet of storage capacity.
Before shopping, measure the space where you will put your mini fridge and then buy the biggest unit that will fit. Obviously, the bigger the fridge, the more it holds, and larger units tend to be more energy efficient.
What About A Freezer?
Many compact refrigerators have a small freezer shelf in the upper portion of the fridge. These freezer sections tend to build up a thick coating of ice and often do not really keep frozen foods as cold as they should be. Too small to hold much beyond a single frozen dinner, they take valuable space away from the refrigerated section.
If you really want a freezer in your compact fridge, look for a two-door model that has a separate freezer section on top. These units have much better performance, keeping frozen foods truly frozen and without the frustrating buildup of ice.
Will This Be Your Only Fridge?
If you are buying a fridge for your small apartment, you want as close to a full fridge as you can get in terms of size, amenities and energy efficiency. A two-door fridge, which has a freezer on top, refrigerator on the bottom, is a good choice if this is your primary area for food storage. A separate freezer does a better job at chilling food and holds more than the tiny freezer section found in most one-door compact refrigerators. Glass shelves are preferable to wire, and if you can adjust the shelf height, even better. Though not easy to find in a compact fridge, a separate vegetable crisper drawer is very helpful, as are bins or shelves on the fridge door.
This Frigidaire compact refrigerator has 3.1 cubic feet capacity in the fridge section, 1.4 cubic feet in the freezer. That’s not going to hold all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner, but will keep the typical student or single person comfortably stocked with food for the week. There’s a humidity-controlled vegetable crisper, a can dispenser and racks on the door and glass adjustable shelves. It comes in an attractive, silver finish as an added bonus and is Energy-Star certified.
Is The Fridge Going In A Lunchroom Or Family Room?
If you need a compact fridge for holding bagged lunches, or keeping snacks and leftover pizza chilled and ready for family movie night, you don’t need a model that takes up valuable storage space with a freezer section. Plenty of shelf space and bins keep lunches or snacks organized, and features like built-in can dispensers make it easy to grab a can of soda or a cold beer. Not all mini fridges have an interior light, but if you will be using the appliance in your family or entertainment room, a light will make it easier to find that leftover slice of pie when the room lights are dimmed for a movie.
This Danby refrigerator has a roomy 4.4 cubic feet for food storage, and plenty of adjustable wire shelves so you can fit taller items. A handy can dispenser on the door, along with bins perfectly sized for 2-liter bottles of soda, make it easy to grab a drink. The interior light makes it easy to find what you want, and the fridge is Energy-Star rated for energy efficiency.
Do You Just Want To Keep A Few Drinks Cold?
Sometimes you just want a small refrigerator to keep cold drinks and a few snacks in your workshop, man cave, hunting cabin or entertainment room. If so, a small cube fridge, with just a couple of shelves and a bin or two on the door will be sufficient to keep your favorite drinks chilled and ready.
If that’s what you’re looking for, this Danby cube fridge will fit the bill. With 1.8 cubic feet of interior storage, it holds several cans on the door dispenser, as well as a 2-liter bottle of soda or jug of milk. You can adjust the wire shelves to your liking. It’s even Energy-Star rated, so it won’t be a drain on your electric bill.
Whether you need a primary refrigerator for your studio apartment or dorm or just want a handy appliance in the family room for keeping cold beverages and snacks on hand, a compact refrigerator should be large enough to hold your food, efficient enough to prevent a raise in your energy costs and well-suited to your food storage needs.