Cooling and Refrigeration are important factors when you want to preserve food or other perishable items and more often than not, a simple icebox just doesn’t cut it. You can be away for a long time and might require refrigeration. In other cases, you might want to use a fridge, but might not want to invest as much in a larger fridge, or simply don’t have enough space to accommodate a large refrigerator. In such cases and more, a mini refrigerator is what is most useful.
Before you buy one, it is always best to know what to look for in one of these. The compact size sure sacrifices quite a lot of features of a larger fridge. However, a Mini fridge has its own advantages.
As a result, we have decided to make a guide for you to help you decide which mini fridge you would like to purchase given the advantages and drawbacks of all the types of mini fridges available in the market. You can check our list of best mini fridges which includes the models selected by refrigerator industry experts. However, if you want to select the best one yourself, continue reading this guide.
Things You Should Consider when buying a Mini Fridge
- The Size of the fridge: You wouldn’t want to waste unnecessary space.
- The Type of Fridge: Each type is suited for some purpose or the other. While this guide focuses on types of compact fridges.
- Space available. It’s always best to go for a fridge which has more space for storage inside of it.
- The purpose of the fridge. This helps you determine what you can preserve in it.
- Noise, The lesser the better.
- Brand Value, Warranty, and Customer Support
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at all the aspects of choosing a Mini Refrigerator.
Bigger isn’t always better, and certainly not in the case of Mini Fridges. In this case, smaller is much better. After all, you are looking for miniature refrigerators. You should only look for a larger fridge if you think that it doesn’t have sufficient storage space for your purposes.
Going for a larger fridge not only takes up more space, but it also makes it less portable in addition to adding more weight to it. Conversely, it will also use up much more energy and run out of battery sooner than smaller variants. It is always advisable to select a space for your mini-fridge before you go out to buy one. The following are the most common sizes available:
Cube Mini-Fridges are the smallest of the lot. They are practically cube shaped refrigerators which enable you to store sufficient amounts of food and drinks for a picnic, or for use in an office or room where you might occasionally opt for a chilled drink or a little snack. These types of fridges usually don’t have freezers and hence, cannot freeze water into ice or keep temperatures sub-zero.
They also don’t have a lot of space, making them ideal for simply cooling snacks and drinks instead of actually preserving them for longer. You will end up with a chilled drink with one of these, but it won’t be ample for anything more than that. These are meant only for storing snacks and other smaller meals and eatables. These are essentially meant purely for cooling without any focus on preservation.
Mid Size Mini-Fridges
Mid Size Mini-Fridges are exactly what they sound like. They are mid-sized fridges which are neither as small as Cube Fridges, nor as large as Under the Counter fridges. Their size is optimal, allowing you to store ample amounts of food in them. They also feature more shelves than Cube Fridges and usually have a seperate Freezer Section and might even come with a thermostat to control the temperature with. They are also better insulated than Cube Fridges, but require good internal insulation to make sure that ice doesn’t start collecting around outside of the freezer area. All of this comes at the price of a larger size, heavier weight, less portability, and greater expense.
Under the counter Mini-Fridges
Now that the sizes are out of the way, it’s time we take a look at the technologies used in fridges. This will definitely impact the way your fridge functions. Want something which is small and can be carried anywhere? You must check our post about the best 12v refrigerators.
The technology used in your mini-fridge is primarily what enables it provides cooling to whatever’s kept inside of it. How well your fridge can cool your food and beverages depends entirely upon the technology used. Furthermore, it also dictates how much energy your mini-fridge uses. More efficient fridges use less battery while cooling more. The following technologies are commonly found in mini-fridges:
Thermoelectric Fridges use a pump to suck the heat out from inside the fridge and dispense it outwards. While this helps the fridge cool the area inside it, it also heats up whatever is outside of it. These types of fridges don’t make much noise seeing how they merely have a pump and fan to vent out any heat. These types of fridges can also keep whatever is inside warm as well since their pump can be configured to work the opposite way, transferring heat from the outside to the inside of the fridge.
The problem with these fridges is that they use up a lot of energy. Furthermore, the amount of noise rises as the size of the fridge decreases. Considering how this technology is quite cheap, it is usually found in smaller fridges, usually making them noisier. They are also not useful for long-term use.
Compressor Fridges use the same technology used by full sized fridges. They are filled with a compressor liquid inside of them which is vaporised and pumped around inside with the aid of multiple pipes and vents running throughout the interior of the fridge. The gas in these vents soaks up all the heat present inside, making the content inside colder over time. These fridges are mostly silent.
While these fridges spend less energy and make less noise, this technology makes the fridges heavier. Furthermore, another drawback to this technology is the fact that the temperature fluctuates with the change in external temperature and the thermostat must be frequently changed to accommodate for the aforementioned factor. They always run the risk of freezing food or simply leaving it too warm.
Absorption Fridges use liquid Ammonia which constantly evaporates and takes all the heat away from the inside of the fridge. This type of fridge does not require any motor, making it the most silent type of fridge that is available. It also doesn’t suffer from many temperature fluctuations.
However, the problems with this fridge are that this technology is quite expensive to both use and maintain over time. Furthermore, this also renders the fridge unable to be carried around as the fridge must be kept upright and level at all times to make sure that the Ammonia can absorb heat and that the fridge works.
These were the most commonly available types of fridges. Now before you go ahead and purchase a fridge, take some time to think about what you’d like to use it for and what you’d like to store in it. You can check our guide to different types of refrigerators if you’re interested in learning about other type of fridges.
3. Purpose of it
Different mini-fridges are built for different purposes in mind. Some of them are meant to store food. Some of them are meant to provide cooling for a short duration. Some fridges are meant to store delicate beverages, while some are meant to freeze things put inside of them. Knowing what you want to do with your fridge will greatly help you purchase one. A fridge suited to one purpose but used for another can be disastrous.
If you want to merely preserve food and raw materials going for a refrigerator with a freezer section seeing how they take away from space which can otherwise accommodate more food would be a better choice. However, in case you want to store ice or frozen foods, you’ll
Also Read: Best Mini Freezers for Perfect Freezing
While they might take away from the overall space of the fridge, they provide you with a seperate section which provides greater cooling for those which need it. When buying a fridge of this sort, it is important to go for well insulated fridge so that the freezer does not end up freezing the rest of the contents of the fridge.
Furthermore, a fridge which doesn’t need to be switched off to defrost would also be recommended as the change in temperature while the ice is left to melt can result in the rest of the refrigeration area becoming a breeding grounds for bacteria and other microbes which can spoil your food for you. A double door mini-fridge comes highly recommended. We’ve made a list of mini fridges with freezer functionality check it out to find the best one for your needs.
Unlike regular mini-fridges, beverage fridges are merely meant to keep your beverages chilled. They usually have a clear glass panel in front and have greater number of racks and shelves which can be used to store more beverages. They can easily provide you with a chilled beer, but they lack a freezer section entirely, and the temperature isn’t ideal for storing food. Choose this fridge only if you wish to use a fridge only for cooling your beverages or storing food for short amounts of time at a stretch. It is important to go for a fridge which uses solid panels instead of wire meshes to make it easier to clean spillage.
Wine Fridges are like Beverage Fridges in that they have multiple shelves and are meant to hold Wine Bottles. However, they have separate sections for Red and White Wine and the temperatures are usually different for both sections in order to preserve the delicate taste of the wine. They usually also have a tinted front panel to keep sunlight from harming the wine inside the bottles. Good Wine Fridges also have automatic temperature controls which react to the temperature of the surrounding areas to preserve the taste of the wine.
Travel Fridges are like picnic baskets with cooling abilities. They generally consume a lot of power, but provide enough storage space to carry your food with you on a trip. They are not suitable for long term use, but they can easily carry a lot of food inside of them. They are also particularly noisy. However, they are extremely portable and inexpensive, making them ideal for use on short trips or long drives. Now before you go on ahead and decide to buy a fridge, take a look at some final few things to consider when buying a mini refrigerator.
Insulation is the most important part of a mini-fridge. Larger refrigerators are already well insulated and need not worry much about it. However, mini-fridges need to be lighter and hence, must sacrifice on some of the insulation to make them more portable and smaller in size.
A well insulated fridge insulates the inside from the outside, making the heat stay outside the fridge and keep the interior cooler. If a fridge is not properly insulated, heat from the outside will continue to creep back in, causing the fridge to constantly keep working to dissipate that heat. This not only consumes far more energy than necessary, but also harms the life of the motor in the fridge.
Apart from external insulation, multiple sections of the same fridge must also be insulated from one another. If a fridge has two temperature sections, they must have good insulation. Otherwise, heat will continue to bleed into the cooler side, causing difficulties in maintaining temperature. Even in the case of a fridge with a freezer section, it must be well isolated from the refrigeration section. Otherwise, things in the fridge can freeze where they are not meant to and cause problems with the longevity of the consumables inside the fridge.
5. Brand Value, Warranty, and Customer Support
The biggest overlooked factor when buying an electronic appliance is the warranty and the customer support offered by the manufacturer. Your mini-fridge can have thousands of features at extremely competitive rates and all that you could ever ask for, but none of it is any good if the manufacturer can’t put their money where their mouth is and help you out with their product in case anything goes wrong with it.
Sometimes it’s not even the fault of your manufacturer. Perhaps they just don’t provide service for the area of your residence. As a result, it is recommended that you go for the brands which are not only reputed, but also provide good warranty on their products. Furthermore, Good Customer Service is always helpful whenever you need some help with your appliance.
Mini-fridges can be manufactured by the best brands out there, but in the end, humans are the ones controlling production and human error is always a factor. Any machine can break down and have something go wrong with it. In such an instance, it’s better to have the required Warranty and customer support than to need it and not have it.
On that note, here is a list of few reputed brands that manufactures mini-fridges:
- Danby: Danby is quite a reputed brand when it comes to mini-fridges. They produce a wide variety of fridges and provide a solid 2-year warranty on most of their mini-fridges. They have prompt customer service which usually doesn’t require you to drag the fridge to the service center. They are willing to come over to your home to repair your defects for you.
- Cooluli: Cooluli is a brand which focuses primarily on more compact mini-fridges. You’ll mostly find that their products are mostly Cube fridges. They provide a 2-year warranty on their products, and their customer support is quite helpful. However, you’ll have to take your fridge over to them in case you can’t repair it on your own. It shouldn’t be a problem seeing how their fridges weigh so light.
- Black + Decker: Black + Decker generally makes under the counter or larger sized mini fridges. However, they provide a two-year warranty on all of their products and have great customer support. They provide good coverage over the USA, however, their fridges have to be carried into their service centers.
- Magic Chef: Magic Chef, much like Black + Decker makes larger sized mini-fridges. Even their customer service and support are exceptional. However, they only provide a one year warranty on their products wherein their defective machinery has to be carried into their service centers on your own. They do provide a five-year warranty on their compressors, notwithstanding.
- Midea: Midea is a Malaysian brand which makes mini-fridges. They provide a two year warranty on all of their fridges. They also have a very assistive customer service. However, unless you buy it from a licensed seller and succeed in supplying them with your warranty card within 14 days of purchase, your warranty will be void. At the same time, they offer a five-year warranty on their compressors. Labor charges and service charges must be paid for on your own. Furthermore, they only offer the replacement of one part only once during their warranty period. Thankfully, the brand is reputed enough to have a very low failure rate in the market.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand the basics of how a fridge works and what to look for in a fridge in order to suit your specific needs. Hopefully, you can now make a more informed choice about the fridge which you’re looking to purchase after reading this. While this does not cover all the features of a mini-fridge, it covers the most important and the most commonly found factors that will make a lasting impact in your investment of preserving food, beverages, and other consumables.