Refrigerators are a staple of homes worldwide and are essential home items. They help preserve food for a long time and work by lowering and maintaining the temperature of food stored in them. It’s commonplace to wonder about the peculiarities of fridges, particularly about how long it takes for them to get cold.

It takes 2 to 24 hours for a fridge to get cold after being off. However, this time depends on a lot of factors, including the size and brand of the refrigerator. According to FDA storage standards, a fridge is considered cold enough to store food when it reaches a temperature of 40oF.

This article examines these factors in detail and highlights their effect on cooling time. Read on to discover answers to some commonly asked questions about cooling in refrigerators.

How to Tell if Your Fridge Is Cold Enough

A refrigerator works by absorbing the heat in its compartment using a coolant. The coolant is a fluid that removes the heat through pipes, insulation, and plastic in the fridge. After that, the heat is dissipated by pumping the coolant outside the cabinets.

You can tell if a fridge is cold enough at 40oF (4.44oC). This temperature is FDA-approved and is a generally accepted standard. This temperature will maintain freshness and control the growth of harmful microorganisms in stored food to avoid wastage and prevent food poisoning.

How to Check the Temperature in Your Fridge

Some fridges come with built-in thermometers that can give an accurate value of the temperature of your appliance. These refrigerators come with digital or analog screens, and you can check the temperature by simply reading the values on the display. However, many fridges don’t come with thermometers, and you’ll need to manually determine your fridge’s temperature.

You can check the temperature in your fridge using a thermometer. Place a thermometer in a glass of water and put it on the middle shelf for 12 hours or overnight to acquire an accurate reading of the temperature inside the fridge.

You can also use an appliance thermometer to measure the temperature in your fridge constantly. Appliance thermometers such as the Rubbermaid Fridge Thermometer provide real-time refrigerator temperatures but must be kept in the refrigerator at all times.

What if Your Fridge Is Not Cold Enough?

Like many appliances and pieces of equipment, fridges may not work as well as they should sometimes. This inefficiency is primarily a result of a lack of electricity or a fault with specific components in the refrigerator.

A fridge may not be cold enough for the following reasons:

  • Unprofessional set-up of the appliance
  • A problem with the thermostat
  • Improper storage or operating conditions
  • You keep opening the door of the fridge
  • A malfunction of or damage to condenser coils in the refrigerator
  • A fault in the seal of the fridge’s door
  • A malfunction of the condenser fan motor
  • Inefficient air circulation
  • Damage to the evaporator fan motor

See also: Why Is My Fridge Not Cold but the Freezer Is?

Refrigerator getting cold enough after being off.

Factors Affecting the Coldness of a Fridge

Although most refrigerators become cold enough to store food between 2-24 hours, certain conditions may cause this time to vary. Furthermore, these factors may result in the fridge getting cold more quickly or further extend the cooling time.

The following are significant factors that affect the coldness of a fridge:

The Size of the Fridge

The cooling time of a fridge mainly depends on its size. Generally, bigger fridges take longer to cool than smaller fridges because more space requires cooling. Although the brand may even play a role when considering the size of fridges, this rule holds across the board.

Related: Counter-Depth vs. Standard-Depth Refrigerators

The Brand of the Refrigerator

The model or brand of a fridge can also directly affect the period it takes to get cold. Some brands are famous for fast cooling times, and others may reach cooling temperatures in as long as 24 hours.

For example, fridges from Samsung generally have a cooling time of 2 hours, regardless of size. However, fridges from GE require a full day to reach temperatures safe enough to store food.

How Full the Fridge Is

A full fridge works more efficiently and quickly reaches a cold temperature. The refrigerator gets cold more quickly this way because it’s easier for the cold food to cool adjacent foods. That said, your freezer should not be too full or too empty; otherwise, airflow is blocked. However, if it’s too empty, the freezer has to do a lot of extra work because of the space between the food.

As a result, the rule of thumb here is to keep your fridge at about three-quarters(or 75%) of its capacity.

Room Temperature

Fridges take longer to get cold in hot environments. So if you’re using your appliance in a warm room or the path of direct sunlight, it’ll cause the refrigerator to take longer to get cold. Using your refrigerator in a cool place and away from direct sunlight will enable it to reach the required coldness quickly.

How Often You Open the Door of the Fridge

Refrigerators were designed to keep a small space at a low temperature for a long time. Opening the fridge will disrupt this process and extend the cooling time by several minutes. The more you open the refrigerator, the more hot air you let in (and cold air you let out), which will affect the fridge’s efficiency and slow down the cooling process.

The Age and Condition of the Fridge

A new refrigerator will, without a doubt, be more efficient than an older one. Older refrigerators take longer to get cold. A likely reason for this is that their coils are dusty and filthy. Also, modern fridges are more efficient than their ancient counterparts.

A refrigerator made within the last decade will get colder faster thanks to newer technologies and innovation in the refrigeration industry.

The Type of Items in the Fridge

The characteristics and packaging of the products stored in the fridge also strongly affect how quickly a refrigerator will get colder.

Generally, most solids will cool down faster than liquids when stored in the refrigerator. This difference in cooling times is because the molecules contained in a solid are closer than the molecules in a liquid. So, there is less energy required to remove the heat in solids, causing the fridge to cool faster.

Products stored in cans and airtight containers also cool faster, affecting the cooling time and intensity of the refrigerator. Metal containers can quickly transfer heat and will cause whatever material is stored in them to cool faster.

Due to the lack of air in airtight containers, there are fewer materials to cool, and this causes the refrigerator and its contents to cool faster.

How to Get Fridges to Cool Faster

Although fridges might take a few hours to reach temperatures sufficient to preserve and store food, there are a few tips to speed up the cooling process. Speeding up the cooling process is especially useful if you have food you need to refrigerate as soon as possible.

You can get fridges to cool faster by applying the following tips:

  • Maintain a sufficient distance between the refrigerator and the wall. Maintaining a few inches between the wall and a working fridge will ensure good airflow around the appliance and help disperse the emitted heat more effectively.
  • Put some ice in the fridge. Putting some ice in the refrigerator will help it get cold faster. You can substitute ice blocks for frozen meat or fish to achieve the same results. However, be sure to check in on the ice, so it doesn’t fully melt.
  • Keep the doors of the fridge closed as often as possible. The warm air that comes in when you open the door raises the temperature inside. The best way to make sure your fridge gets cool faster is to keep the doors closed.
  • Cool down the room. A hot room will extend the cooling time by many hours. You can speed up the cooling process by using an air conditioner in the room the refrigerator is operating. (Read more)
  • Allow food to cool down before putting it in the fridge. Never put hot or warm food in the refrigerator. Hot food will raise the fridge’s temperature and extend the time required for the appliance to cool..
  • Always keep the coils of your fridge clean. Dirty coils will reduce the efficiency of your refrigerator. They can also cause annoying noises. Although it’s normal for fridge coils to get clogged with age, take care to clean them often.
  • Make sure your fridge is plugged in properly. The refrigerator should always have an electrical outlet. The voltage rating should also match the fridge’s rating plate to eliminate fire dangers.

Key Takeaways

Fridges are essential household appliances. However, it may take some time for them to reach 40℉, the temperature cool enough to store food. According to FDA food storage guidelines, this temperature is essential to keeping food from rotting.

Some fridges come with thermometers and a screen to display operating conditions. However, you can manually determine the temperature of your fridge using a thermometer. Finally, although the cooling time of fridges may vary based on several factors, they can reach the required temperature in 2 to 24 hours.

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