If you love to keep your food and drinks refrigerated but you don’t have so much space to give up for a large fridge, a good mini-fridge will make your dream come true. Mini fridges are designed to cater to the needs of students, workers, and homeowners who have space constraints
However, there are many other reasons people go for mini-fridges. Travel mini-fridges, for instance, have become necessities on long trips. For convenience and ease-of-use, these fridges can be charged with a car battery by connecting them to the cigarette lighter. In essence, if you are planning a road trip any time soon you should factor in a mini-fridge into your plans.
So, whether it is for temperature-sensitive substances like medications or beauty products or just some reliable source of refrigeration for your needs as a student, worker, or hotelier, a good mini-fridge to keep your favorite things chilled can save the day.
Keep reading this buying guide to learn how to choose the best mini-fridge for you.
But, first of all…
What is a Mini Fridge?
You probably have an idea of what a mini-fridge is by now. But to dispel any doubts about what it is, let’s add a little more to what you already know.
First of all, a mini-fridge is so-called because it has a capacity of about 6 cubic feet or even less. So, you can tell that this kind of fridge won’t be able to store food and drinks for a large family. It is only sufficient enough to cool a few items. Meaning, you can’t think of large Tupperware containers or a platter of turkey when it comes to what to store in a mini-fridge.
That said, the fact that it is ‘mini’ doesn’t mean you have to let go of all the essential features that you will normally get in a regular refrigerator. In fact, it is not uncommon to find an ice maker or a little freezer in some mini-fridges.
Some models are also able to store vegetables, meat, and a few groceries while some others are only designed for food and drinks.
Long story short, the ‘mini’ in mini-fridges only points to their space-efficiency.
Types of Mini-Fridges
Even though it goes without saying that mini-fridges are generally smaller when compared to the regular fridges, they actually come in different styles and sizes. Mini fridges also vary according to the intended purpose.
Like we said earlier, some are designed for a few drinks and some snacks while some others can accommodate fresh meat and vegetables.
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Cube refrigerators are the most popular kind of mini-fridges. Their capacity often ranges between 1.5 and 2.1 cubic feet. The weight of most cube refrigerators also falls between 25 and 30 pounds. This makes them quite portable and space-efficient.
In terms of how much space they occupy, the height of a cubic refrigerator is about 20 inches. This particular feature makes it easy to store these appliances in small spaces and corners. In fact, because of the size, you can even choose to place a cube refrigerator on another appliance or on a table and it won’t look out of place.
These refrigerators are easily the most used because they cost less when compared to other mini-fridges. So, if you have a really tight budget and you’ll love to own a mini-fridge, then think no further than a good cube refrigerator.
Also, even though they come quite small, it is not uncommon to find a freezer compartment in a cube refrigerator.
Mid-Sized Mini Fridges
A mid-sized refrigerator is relatively bigger than a cube refrigerator. You also get to enjoy the benefits of a larger freezer, more shelves, and more storage capacity for food and drinks.
The height of most mid-size refrigerators usually averages 26 inches. They also provide a storage capacity of about 2.5 cubic feet.
These refrigerators are more economical and energy-efficient compared to the cube refrigerators. And these features, for the most part, justify why they are more expensive.
In fact, the bells and whistles may also include a reliable and adjustable thermostat for temperature control, an automatic defrost feature that makes cleaning quick and hassle-free, and more storage on the refrigerator door.
Counter high fridges are so-called because they are usually as tall as most kitchen counters. They are also very compact with capacities within the range of 3.5 and 4.5 in cubic feet.
Counter high refrigerators may have single doors or double doors depending on the model.
When compared to the cube refrigerators and mid-size fridges, they are more energy-efficient. In fact, they consume the least amount of energy.
However, they are more expensive than other mini-fridge types. So, it appears that the more energy-efficient, the more expensive.
Because of their sizable capacity, these refrigerators may also function as backup refrigerators in cases where the regular household refrigerator is filled up.
Some brands also include freezer compartments in their models, while some are freezerless refrigerators.
Other features that can be found in counter high fridges include vegetable crisper, drink dispenser, and interior light.
With travel mini-fridges, you no longer have to make frequent stops to refuel your tummy while you are on a trip. If you have a travel mini-fridge with you in your vehicle, you can have your favorite food, snacks, and drinks within your reach.
That said, travel minis come in 3 different types: the thermoelectric refrigerators, the absorption refrigerators, and the compressor refrigerators.
Thermoelectric Mini-fridges are specially designed to keep already cool items cold. They are usually compact and portable with AC or DC power options.
Often times, these fridges have a 12V power option that makes it easy to have them in the car while they are connected to the cigarette lighter in the car.
Some of these thermoelectric mini-fridges may also have dual cooling/warming function. Often times, all a user needs to do is flip a switch to change the function.
Compressor Refrigerators, on the other hand, are specially designed for long travels. They work with AC power supply or 12-volt batteries. If you choose an AC power, then you’ll need an adapter as well.
Sadly, the fluctuations in the temperature outside the fridge may cause temperature instability in the fridge. Even though compressor fridges feature settings that help to control the temperature in the fridge, foods, and drinks stored may get warm or frozen if the settings are not changed immediately.
The Absorption Refrigerators don’t have motors like the compressor or thermoelectric types. They run on ammonia which acts as a coolant to keep drinks and food cool.
With this type of mini fridge, you must ensure that it is set on a stable base because of the moving liquid. This is necessary for an effective power supply.
Usually, the power source could be AC power, DC source (e.g. the car battery), or propane.
The absence of a motor in this refrigerator is the reason it runs noiselessly and is suitable in areas where AC power source is not readily available.
Mini Wine Fridges
Not everyone knows that wines should be stored and chilled differently from how foods and drinks are stored. Wine must be stored properly to preserve it. And this is only possible with wine fridges. These fridges are designed to cool the wine and store it at a precise temperature.
While most of these fridges are designed for red wines, the dual-zone models can also store red wine. But it is your call to make on what type of fridge will be best for your wines.
Red wine, for instance, requires a cooling temperature within the range of 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. White wines, on the other hand, need to be stored between 41 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Generally, mini wine fridges feature glass doors and can hold 6 to 12 bottles when they are placed horizontally.
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Factors to Consider Before You Buy a Mini Fridge?
Once you know what to look for in a mini-fridge before you buy one, your shopping task might as well be over already. It simply means you can rest assured you’ll make a good purchase eventually if you know what factors to consider.
Here are a few of the factors to consider before you buy a mini-fridge:
Size and Capacity
Already, you don’t need a seer to tell you that a mini-sized is relatively smaller when compared to regular fridges. However, the sizes still vary. So, it is important that you consider the space you plan to install the fridge. Ensure that is able to accommodate the size of the mini-fridge that you want. The last thing you want is for a refrigerator that doesn’t fit into your space.
Models available in the market are usually about 1.5 to 5.5 cubic feet. And as you keep shopping for the perfect one, you may also come across the features inside the fridge. For instance, some manufacturers may list holders for cans, ice trays, glass shelves, and trays among other features. Decide on what will be perfect for you based on the features you see.
You should look out for these features; especially if you are particular about the spaces your food, drinks, and vegetables will be calling home.
That said, the range of choices is usually between the small cube refrigerators to the counter height refrigerators.
Freezers in mini-fridges come in 2 different styles. They either come as a compartment inside the refrigerator or as a separate compartment (usually above the fridge) like a standard refrigerator.
If you are very particular about freezers and are looking to have ice cubes every now and then, then you are better off with models that have separate freezers.
Interior freezers, on the other hand, tend to be smaller in size.
Meanwhile, bear in mind that a good number of mini-fridges don’t have any freezers at all.
Some mini fridges come with compressors that require more power for them to run effectively. Yet, some others come with energy-efficient ones.
The compressor power of a mini-fridge is important because it affects the bills. So, if you go for a fridge that is not energy-efficient, you may lose some bucks on a regular basis.
You are always better off with an energy-efficient model. To be sure that you have an efficient one, ensure that you prioritize Energy Star-certified mini-fridges.
Noise can be quite disturbing. And some fridges make a lot of noise without mercy. This is something you want to be sure your preferred fridge doesn’t do.
More so, because mini-fridges are commonly used in shared apartments, kitchens and workspaces like offices and factories, we are sure you’ll rather be in everyone’s good books. You don’t want your fridge to be the reason someone doesn’t sleep well at home or focus properly at work.
So, check the noise level.
The safety and security of your food and drinks are likely not going to be an issue till you have to share an apartment, kitchen, or any space at all.
A locking door will also be very relevant if the purpose is to store medications that shouldn’t get into just anybody’s hands.
You may even find a model that comes with an effective lock that could go unnoticed. They are necessary in cases where forgetting the key at the lock may be dangerous.
- If you are in the market for something that cools perishable items, you should avoid superconductor or thermoelectric models.
- Glass shelves are easier to clean and they contain spills better when compared to wire racks.
- Go for a mini-fridge that fits into your space well.
- Ensure that the mini-fridge has features that are perfect for your storage needs.