A mini-fridge is one of the most convenient appliances you could ever own. It’s compact, so it will take up less space and is easier to move around. If you’re considering getting one of these units, one of the most important factors to consider is how much power it requires to run.

A mini-fridge uses between 50 and 100 watts per operating hour on average. Some compact fridge models may fall below this range, while others can go up to 250 watts. Determining wattage use isn’t as straightforward since several other factors have to be considered.

If you’re trying to figure out your mini fridge’s energy consumption, this article answers some of your questions. It helps you understand everything about energy consumption, shows you how to calculate energy consumption, and offers helpful tips to improve efficiency. Let’s dive right into it!

Unraveling Mini Fridge Energy Consumption

It’s essential to understand the standard terms used before getting into the details of how much energy your mini-fridge consumes.

Watts is a unit of measurement for electricity. It is the basis of calculating wattage, which is the power requirement of an electric appliance. Wattage indicates how much power your machine uses. If you’re keen, you’ll notice that nearly all the devices in your home have a sticker indicating their wattage consumption.

To calculate the compact fridge’s energy consumption, you need to multiply the voltage by the current to give the output in watts. Usually, energy consumption is measured in kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Determining your fridge’s kilowatt-hours will require you to determine how many hours per day it runs and multiplying that by the wattage indicated on the appliance. The result will give you the watts-hour, which you can then convert to kilowatts-hour by dividing by 1000.

Mini Fridge Wattage Use

Determining the exact number of watts your fridge uses isn’t easy for several reasons. For starters, the appliance doesn’t run continuously. Instead, it turns on and off in a cycle. Besides, because several factors affect wattage use, each compact fridge is different.

However, you can still determine how many watts your appliance uses.

Start by checking the insides of your compact fridge. Like most appliances, it will likely have a sticker that includes some technical details. Multiplying the amps and volts you’ll find on the sticker will give you the watts consumption.

Also, you can go through the user’s manual. You’re bound to find all the information you need from there.

Calculating Your Electricity Costs

Once you’ve determined how many watts your mini-fridge uses, calculate how much you’re spending on electricity.

Say, for example, the wattage consumption of your compact fridge is 100 watts per operation hour. If the fridge runs for 9 hours every day, it will use up to 900 watts in a day. This translates to about 0.9 kilowatts (kW) per day and around 329 kW per year.

Suppose the average cost of electricity is 15 cents per kilowatt. Therefore, your annual average spend on electricity will be about $49.

When determining energy consumption, a common question is how many watts a mini-fridge requires when running on a generator. As is the case with electricity, determining the actual consumption isn’t so straightforward.

However, a general rule of thumb is using a generator with 1.5x the fridge’s running power. This higher energy need is because it requires some extra starting power to get the compressor running. 

Factors That Determine Wattage Use for Mini Fridges

As we’ve mentioned, the energy consumption by your mini-fridge will depend on several factors. However, it’s worth noting that these compact fridges generally consume less power than normal-sized fridges, as is expected. After all, they are smaller in size.

So, what factors determine how much energy power your appliance consumes?

Type of Mini Fridge

Compact fridges come in different types and can be categorized by size and the technology used to manufacture them as follows:

Types of Mini Refrigerators (Based on Size)Types of Mini Refrigerators (Based on Technology)
The portable mini-fridgeCompressor mini-fridge
The cubeAbsorption mini-fridge
The mid-size mini-fridgeThermoelectric mini-fridge
The under-the-counter mini-fridge 

The different sizes of refrigerators make each mini-fridge suitable for a specific purpose and place. For example, portable mini-fridges are great for offices and trucks, while the under-the-counter mini-fridge is ideal for use in bars and the home.

The various sizes of mini refrigerators also result in different wattage use by each appliance.

On the other hand, the technology behind the appliance determines how it operates. So, mini-fridges with different technologies will also differ slightly in their energy consumption.

The most common types of fridges based on the technology used are the thermoelectric, compressor, and absorption mini-fridges. Absorption refrigerators don’t come with a motor, making them the quietest hence their preferred use in hotel rooms and bedrooms. They are also low consumption appliances.

Insulation System

The quality of the insulation system of your mini-fridge determines the internal temperature. A properly insulated mini-fridge will be good at trapping in cold air, which reduces its energy consumption. On the contrary, poor insulation will allow the immediate surroundings to affect the internal temperature easily.


Different models consume different amounts of power, depending on the manufacturers. Some models will consume more, so you should do thorough research before buying one. Additionally, newer models are more efficient than older ones, which don’t come with energy-saving features as their more modern counterparts.

Mode of Defrosting

Your mini-fridge will either require manual or automatic defrosting. A compact fridge with automatic defrosting will only require that you set a timer. For a manual defrost mini-fridge, you will have to defrost the freezer yourself. Automated defrost fridges are newer models and come with energy-saving features.

However, you can save energy with a manual defrost mini-fridge by ensuring you don’t wait too long to clear the buildup.

Cooling Temperature

  • How high did you set the cooling temperature? Setting it low will require your mini-fridge to use more energy to get the internal temperature to that level.
  • How often do you open the door? The frequency with which you open your mini fridge’s door will also affect how much power it uses. Every time you open the door, warm air from the outside gets into the mini-fridge. Therefore, the system has to run more frequently to get to the optimum temperature.
  • How do you stock up the fridge? When stocking up containers in your mini-fridge, be sure not to go overboard. Overcrowding your fridge will have the motor running overtime to cool the food, which will require more power.

Are Mini Fridges Energy-Efficient?

When compared to full-sized refrigerators, mini-fridges are more efficient, primarily because of their size. Despite being smaller, they chill your foods at around the same temperature but while using less power.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, each time you open a refrigerator, cold air escapes to the outside. A full-sized fridge will lose so much cold air this way than a mini-fridge. Therefore, the full-sized appliance will require more electricity to replace the cold air that spilled out. On the other hand, a mini-fridge won’t need as much electricity to get back to the optimum temperature.

Tips to Improve Your Mini Fridge’s Energy Efficiency

Even if your fridge’s energy consumption depends on different factors, you can take some steps to improve efficiency. Here are a few tips to help you lower the power bill from your mini-fridge:

  • Keep the door closed. Remember how mad your mom would get when you kept opening the fridge? Well, she was onto something. If you’re always opening the fridge to grab something, you’ll probably end up with pretty high electricity bills. Similarly, it would be best if you didn’t leave the door open for too long. For this reason, most new models will come with a sensor feature so that the fridge beeps if it’s left open for too long.
  • Don’t overstock the fridge. Your mini-fridge requires air circulation to operate efficiently. Stacking it to the brim prevents air from circulating freely. Therefore, the motor will need to work overtime to cool the fridge items, increasing energy consumption.
  • Check the door seals. The rubber seal on your mini-fridge door is called a gasket and helps to keep warm air from getting inside. With time, the gasket loses some of its suction from the door’s consistent opening and closing. Condensation on the outside of your freezer is an indication to get the seals replaced.
  • Leave your leftovers to cool. Completely cool your leftover foods to room temperature before placing them in your mini-fridge. This way, the motor requires less energy to cool it to the optimum temperature inside the refrigerator.
  • Check for frost buildup. Defrosting your mini-refrigerator will require higher energy consumption. Regardless of whether your appliance uses manual or automatic defrosting, it would help if you were careful not to let it build up too much. As a rule of thumb, defrost your mini-fridge whenever the buildup is about 1-cm (0.4-in) thick.
  • Clean the condenser coils. Condenser coils are usually found at the fridge’s back or underside. They are responsible for removing warmth from the unit. With time, the coils accumulate dust and grime, which hinders their efficiency since they have to work twice as hard as they should. Cleaning this part of the fridge will help improve efficiency.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the fridge. If you need to take some food out of the freezer, letting it thaw in the mini-fridge can help reduce energy consumption. The frozen food helps to keep the unit cool without using more energy for it.
  • Place the mini-fridge away from a heat source. Your mini-fridge will use up more energy, trying to offset the surrounding temperatures if they are high. Therefore, placing the unit close to a heat source, such as a stove or space heater, puts a strain on the compressor, which leads to higher energy consumption.
  • Keep it in an open space. Most people opt to have their mini-fridges in a cupboard, especially if they are placing them in the bedroom. However, doing so creates a barrier around the mini-fridge, which can trap warm air around the unit. The fridge’s compressor will have to work extra hard to keep the temperatures colder than those outside.

Parting Shot

You can’t quite tell how much power your mini-fridge uses because it depends on several factors. However, you can get an estimate of the same by using the voltage and current.

A mini-fridge generally uses less power than a full-sized fridge and is an excellent choice if you’re keen on lower energy bills. So, why don’t you get yourself a unit? The tips above should help you keep the energy consumption to a minimum.

Related: Can You Plug a Mini Fridge Into an Extension Cord?

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