Homeowner’s Guide To Mini Fridges

Despite their limited capacity, mini fridges are tremendously useful and convenient. Here's what to know before you start shopping for a mini fridge.

As long as there’s an outlet nearby, mini-fridges provide convenient access to refrigerated items practically anywhere, especially where space is tight.

Although they’re most commonly associated with dorm rooms, I’ve experienced the benefits of a mini fridge in spaces like basement wet bars and attic offices. By eliminating the hassle of going up and down stairs whenever you want a drink or snack, a mini fridge significantly increases the convenience and livability of these spaces.

Plus, because they’re so small, mini fridges can sometimes fit on a countertop instead of the floor, as long as there’s enough clearance for ventilation. Mini fridges vary in capacity from about 1.7 to 4.5 cubic feet, so it’s likely you’ll find one that fits your specific needs.

How Much Is a Mini Fridge?

Because mini-fridges come in lots of sizes and types, prices vary widely. While traditional freestanding mini fridges can cost as little as $100, Brian Madson, refrigeration project manager at Perlick, says built-in under-counter refrigerators start at around $1,000, with higher-end models costing more than $3,500.

Do Mini Fridges Use a Lot of Electricity?

Compared to other appliances, no. “Even high-performance under-counter refrigeration uses about the same amount as the average flat-screen TV,” Madson says.

How Many Watts Does a Mini Fridge Use?

According to Madson, mini-fridges use about 200 to 400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year depending on size and the design of the refrigeration system. That’s impressive considering a standard desktop computer pulls about 600kWh per year.

How Much Does a Mini Fridge Cost To Operate?

On average, Madson says a mini fridge should cost “less than $3 per month if Energy Star rated, less than $5 per month if not.”

Considerations When Buying a Mini Fridge

To ensure you choose the best model for you and your space, keep these factors in mind:

  • Freezer section: Think about whether you’ll need to store frozen food or ice trays in your mini fridge. If you do, make sure the freezer is big enough for those items. If you don’t, choose a model without a freezer to maximize the available refrigeration space.
  • Capacity: Sounds obvious, but make sure the mini fridge can hold everything you plan to put in it.
  • Space: Again, obvious, but don’t purchase a model too large for your intended space. This is especially important if it’s going behind a bar, or a defined spot between cabinets.
  • Electrical cord: The cord must be long enough to reach to the nearest outlet without creating a tripping hazard.
  • Ice maker: These are generally found only in top-of-the-line mini fridges. If ice is a priority, consider a dedicated ice maker.
  • Primary use: If you have a specific purpose for your mini-fridge, like for an outdoor bar or a wine reserve where temperature control may be important, choose one that can stand up to the elements.

Five Great Mini Fridges

Here are some mini fridges to consider:

Alex Rennie
Alex Rennie is a freelance writer who specializes in the home improvement, DIY, and appliance space. Having spent more than five years as a residential and commercial carpenter in NYC–specializing in custom furniture construction and installation–Alex uses his hands-on experience and expert insight to craft product reviews, buying guides, and how-to articles. He has previously written for CNN Underscored, Business Insider, and Popular Mechanics, in addition to Family Handyman. He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, where he spends his free time hiking and relaxing on the beach with his wife and their two dogs, Louie and Iggy.