The best mini fridge
Mini fridges are good for more than just dorm use. You can put one under your desk at work, in your bedroom, in the rec room, or in the nursery to hold milk and medicine. Like full-sized refrigerators, mini fridges vary in their capacity, door style, and other features.
No matter what you store in a mini fridge, you need to rely on its ability to work smoothly and consistently so you don't end up tossing the contents. Our shopping guide helps you determine which units are reliable, quiet, and spacious, including our favorite, the Danby Compact All mini fridge, a well-designed appliance from a trusted company.
Considerations when choosing mini fridges
Mini fridges come in all cubic foot capacities, but the 1.5 to 1.7 range is ideal for dorms and offices because of their size and the fact that they don't use much electricity. This size fits more than enough cans of soda plus items on shelves. A separate freezer space is rare at this size, but not impossible to find. Check with your dorm to see what size mini fridges they accept, because you may be able to use a larger version, such as a 2.4-cubic-foot model. Many mini fridges over three cubic feet will have separate freezer space.
A deep door means that it's designed to hold many items, such as half-gallon jugs of milk or juice. Narrow doors will likely hold a few 12-ounce cans of soda. Decide what you most want to store in the fridge to choose your preferred door design.
Most models of mini fridges have reversible door options. That means you can put the fridge anywhere in a room without limitations, making access to your fridge much easier. It may be tricky to change the door, but there are directions in the manual or online on how to switch the door.
There are stainless steel, black, and vibrant-colored mini fridges to match your personality and decor. Some mini fridges come in retro colors, such as red, blue, or green. Others may combine a black body and stainless steel door.
The tiniest mini fridges of one cubic foot or less store a can or a bottle or two of soda and cost around $34 to $50. More traditional mini fridges with about 1.7-cubic-foot capacity, ideal for dorm rooms or to place under office desks, run about $84 to $120. Fridges that are 2.4 to 3.3 cubic feet run from $120 to $144, with some models that include a separate top freezer running as high as $220.
Q. How much does it cost to run a mini fridge?
A. Compact fridges are efficient in size and have improved in energy consumption. Years ago, mini fridges might have consumed nearly as much energy as full-size refrigerators. Today, 1.7 cubic foot mini fridges should cost about $25 a year in electricity. There are some highly efficient four-cubic-foot mini fridges that cost about the same to run. However, the yellow Energy Guide label on the mini fridge you are considering will help you determine exactly what it will cost to run the appliance. Be aware that many small fridges don't have interior lighting, which helps keep down the electric costs slightly.
Q. Can I remove the freezer in my mini fridge so I can have more space to store food?
A. Never tamper with the freezer compartment of a mini fridge. The freezer area helps to keep the rest of the appliance cool. The freezer may also have pressurized coolant inside the walls, which can't be removed. Take note that freezers in a compact fridge are more like chillers that will keep a small item frozen for only a short period of time.
Mini fridges we recommend
Our take: Quiet and cold, this freezer-free fridge offers plenty of room to store items.
What we like: A unique can storage area on the door adds more usable room. This fridge has adjustable wire shelves, adjustable feet, a reversible door, and a generous 18-month warranty (unless you use the fridge outdoors, which may void the warranty).
What we dislike: Reports of the appliance having poor temperature control, resulting in inconsistent temperatures.
Our take: Spacious interior for a mini fridge of this size. Relatively quiet.
What we like: Does include a mini ice-cube tray, but don't count on it for much ice. Inside real estate designed to store plenty of items thanks to adjustable wire racks and the door configuration of a small upper shelf on the door.
What we dislike: Customer service is not very responsive. Several buyers have received damaged deliveries.
Our take: A tiny, powerful mini fridge for work or dorm.
What we like: Though it chills fast and continuously, it draws little electricity so it can be placed just about anywhere in a room. The freezer, which is more of a chiller, keeps an item frozen for a short time. Door is reversible, legs are adjustable, and the whole unit is lightweight.
What we dislike: Sometimes it's quiet, sometimes it's a bit noisy.
Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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