Table of Contents
- How to Check Your Mini-Fridge Wattage
- How Many Amps Does a Mini-fridge Use?
- How Much Electricity Does a Mini-Fridge Use Per Month?
- Look for the Energy Star Symbol!
- How Does a Mini-Fridge Compare to a Regular Refrigerator?
- What Affects How Much Energy a Mini-Fridge Uses?
- Final Thoughts
Whether it’s for your gamer’s paradise or new work-from-home office space, no personal dwelling is complete without a convenient mini-fridge tying everything together. However, you may be concerned about the long-term energy costs of a high mini-fridge wattage and if it’s worth the purchase. After all, even though a mini-fridge is only a fraction of the size of a conventional refrigerator, it will still likely run for a good chunk of the day.
Generally, mini-fridges use 55 to 85 watts per hour while they are running, although these figures will vary significantly based on size, model, and age. Some extremely energy-efficient mini-fridges may run on even less than 55 watts, while larger mini-fridges with freezers can run over 100 watts. Energy consumption is also affected by external factors such as how often you open and close the fridge and the temperature of the room it is in. This article will answer readers’ questions about mini-fridge wattage and general energy consumption, as well as provide advice for keeping your mini-fridge as energy efficient as possible!
How to Check Your Mini-Fridge Wattage
Every mini-fridge should have a manufacturer’s sticker on the side or back that gives you technical information about the fridge.
Multiply the volts by the amps, and you will have the wattage.
For example, the mini-fridge in the above photo is on the larger side, and it has a freezer compartment. You can see that the voltage is 115 and the amperage is one. Amperage is labeled “rated current” on most refrigerators.
- 115V * 1A = 115 watts
Alternatively, you can Google your mini-fridge model and find the wattage that way. Many models’ online descriptions will even give you a ballpark estimate of the electrical costs of running a mini-fridge.
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How Many Amps Does a Mini-fridge Use?
Most modern mini-fridges have an amperage of one to three, meaning that they use one to three amps while running. This will vary by mini-fridge model and other external forces. The amperage on most labels reads as “current rated.”
If you happen to know your mini-fridge’s wattage but not the amperage, you can reverse the above equation and divide the watts by volts:
- 115W / 115V = 1A
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How Much Electricity Does a Mini-Fridge Use Per Month?
Electric companies charge you by kilowatt-hours (kWh). This is how many kilowatts of electricity you use in one hour (one kilowatt equals 1,000 watts). To calculate this for your mini-fridge (and any electronic appliance), multiply the wattage by the hours a day your mini-fridge runs and divide by 1,000.
Most mini-fridges only run for about eight-to-12 hours a day, but again, this can vary significantly based on the model and external factors. Mini-fridges cycle on and off throughout the day to maintain their temperature, so they are not running 24/7.
Let’s use a small, energy-efficient mini-fridge that uses 55 watts per hour in this example:
- 55 watts * 8 hours = 440 watts
- 440 watts / 1000 = .44 kWh
So, an energy-efficient 55-watt mini-fridge should use .44 kWh a day.
To calculate your costs, multiply the kWh by the cost of electricity in your state. For example, if you live in Nevada, where electricity costs 12.52 cents per kWh, your calculation would be:
- .44 kWh * $0.1252 = $0.05 per day
Multiply by 30 for the number of days in a month, and this will be your total monthly energy cost for the mini-fridge:
- $0.05 * 30 = $1.50 per month
Only $1.50 extra per month on your utility bill for the convenience of a mini-fridge seems like a pretty good deal, but keep in mind that these numbers can go up much higher if you don’t pay attention to what kind of mini-fridge you are buying! For example, let’s say you bought an older, much less energy-efficient mini-fridge that uses 85 watts per hour and runs 12 hours a day. Using the same calculation, your monthly cost for the mini-fridge suddenly more than doubles to $3.38 per month. And, if you live in a high energy-cost state such as Hawaii, where the kWh cost is 37.92 cents a day, you’re looking at $11.60 a month!
Look for the Energy Star Symbol!
Energy Star is a program run by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to promote energy efficiency. Electronic appliances that meet Energy Star’s strict standards use less than the minimum federal requirements for energy efficiency. For mini-fridges to achieve Energy Star approval, they must have 10% less measured energy use than the minimum federal efficiency standards.
Energy Star-approved mini-fridges will usually boast the logo conspicuously on the surface for consumers to see.
Along with the Energy Star logo, most mini-fridges will come with a distinctive black, and yellow sticker called an EnergyGuide label. This label will give you ballpark estimates of annual energy consumption and costs. If you plan to buy your mini-fridge in person, be sure to ask a sales associate specific questions about the mini-fridge’s energy consumption and ask any clarifying questions about the EnergyGuide sticker, such as:
- How many kWh does this use a day?
- How many hours a day does it run?
- About how much will this mini-fridge cost annually in electricity?
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How Does a Mini-Fridge Compare to a Regular Refrigerator?
The obvious upsides to a mini-fridge are the cost efficiency and space. While mini-fridges only use 55 to 85 watts per hour while running, regular refrigerators use 350 to 750! And while the standard refrigerator size ranges from 20 to 25 cubic feet, with family-sized refrigerators being over 25, most mini-fridges range from 1.5 to 4.5 cubic feet (although Energy Star defines any “compact fridge” as being under 7.5 cubic feet).
The biggest downside to a mini-fridge is that it cannot store as many items, and it’s not a good idea to force everything in there.
It is important to remember that because mini-fridges use so much less energy than a conventional refrigerator, and because there is less space inside for the cold air to circulate, you must not overpack it. By overstuffing your mini-fridge, you risk perishables going bad faster.
Overstuffing a mini-fridge can be especially dangerous if your model has a freezer compartment in which you store frozen perishables. And, because of their size, temperatures within the mini-fridge fluctuate easier and are more affected by the external climate.
If you find that you’re constantly playing Tetris with your necessary food and drink items, it may be time to upgrade to a larger mini-fridge or even a full-sized refrigerator.
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What Affects How Much Energy a Mini-Fridge Uses?
In order to keep your mini-fridge running optimally, you must ensure that it is up to standard and not facing any unnecessary external pressures. Here are some of the biggest things that will affect how much energy your mini-fridge consumes.
Newer mini-fridge models are typically more energy-efficient than older ones. When looking for a mini-fridge, you should choose one with the highest standards on the current market. Refrigerators also tend to become less energy efficient as they age, so if you’ve been using the same mini-fridge for several years, you may notice that it has to use more energy to keep the inside cool.
Most mini-fridges will last around 10 years, but this will depend on what brand and model you buy and how you care for it. It’s impossible to tell how long a mini-fridge will last just by looking at it, so you should do diligent research online before buying one. Mini-fridges that use cheaper compressors may last for much less than 10 years. An otherwise sturdy mini-fridge may go bad faster if you improperly store it and mishandle it.
The size of your mini-fridge will, in most cases, also factor into its energy use, although this will mostly depend on the age and model. A smaller but older mini-fridge may end up using more energy than a larger, more modern one.
Opening Your Mini-Fridge too Often
Regardless of what fridge you own, mini or otherwise, opening it too often or leaving it open for long periods can significantly affect its energy consumption. When you open a fridge, cold air escapes and is replaced by the warmer air in your room. This will cause the fridge’s compressor to run harder to expel the warm air. It should be noted, however, that due to their smaller size, mini-fridges lose less cold air when opened than a traditional refrigerator.
The Climate Around the Mini-Fridge
External factors also greatly affect how much energy a mini-fridge uses. You should avoid storing your mini-fridge in warm areas as the compressor will have to work harder to maintain the internal temperature. If you keep your mini-fridge right next to your high-end, custom PC setup, you may want to move it to another part of your room with less running heat. You certainly would not want to keep one in the garage during the summertime, either.
Spacing Between the Wall
Another way to avoid making your fridge work harder than it has to is to keep it from touching the wall. By having your mini-fridge pushed directly against the wall, air will have less space to circulate, and it will use more energy to keep cool. Give the mini-fridge about 1 to 3 inches of clearance from the wall.
Overpacking your mini-fridge will constrict air circulation and overwork the compressor. You also run the risk of your food spoiling faster.
If you opt to go for a mini-fridge that also has a freezer compartment, this will use more energy than one without a freezer, although the cost difference is negligible for most consumers, and it will depend on your personal refrigeration needs.
As you can see, the answer to the question “how many watts does a mini-fridge use?” isn’t as straightforward as you may have initially thought, but with a bit of research and vigilance, you can find the perfect, energy-efficient mini-fridge that suits your needs! Just remember these key points:
- Mini-fridges usually run 55 to 85 watts, but that can be well under or over depending on the model, size, and age
- Wattage translates to kilowatt-hours (kWh) on your utility bill, and this is what you should look at when estimating the monthly cost of your mini-fridge
- Your mini-fridge should be properly stored in a room that is not too warm so that it doesn’t run harder than it has too
- Your mini-fridge should have at least one to three inches of clearance from the wall
- Look for the Energy Star logo and EnergyGuide tags on mini-fridges. Ask a sales associate clarifying questions if you are purchasing your mini-fridge in person.
- Don’t overstuff your mini-fridge.
- Don’t open your mini-fridge too often, and don’t leave it open for long periods