Finishing out that man cave in the basement? Or perhaps you’re helping your child furnish their dorm room at school. Whatever the case, you’re going to need a way to store and chill beverages, and finding the right mini refrigerator is the key here.However, there are lots of options on the market. How do you tell which is right for your needs? In our guide, we’ll review the 10 best mini fridges on the market and walk you through everything you need to know before buying.
What You Need to Know When Buying the Best Mini Fridges
Now that we have reviewed some of the top options on the market, you should have a better idea of what’s out there. However, you may still not be clear about what makes one mini refrigerator better for your needs than another. While your budget and specific usage requirements will play central roles, there are some considerations that can be applied across the board.
We’ll start our discussion with dimensions. Make sure that the mini fridge will fit into the space you have in mind. The three primary dimensions to consider are height, width and depth. Take measurements of your space and then make sure that the units you’re considering measure up (pun intended).
You will note from our reviews that there are quite a few different form factors out there. While that is about aesthetics to some degree, there’s more to it than just style. The primary forms include the following:
- Tall – Tall mini refrigerators are taller than they are wide and more closely resemble a traditional refrigerator. They may also be called “under the counter” models. With a taller fridge, you generally get more space in the door and have more room on the shelves. However, the tradeoff is that you need enough installation space for the height of the unit.
- Square – Square or cube shaped refrigerators are popular today. They take up less space in height, but require more in width and depth. These are good options for areas where taller refrigerators won’t fit. However, they are a bit of a tradeoff because you lose some accessibility and space. Even with the same cubic capacity, you may find that you can fit fewer items in the fridge.
- Two Door – Very few mini refrigerators are available in this style, but there are some out there (none on our list, though). They’re very reminiscent of standard refrigerators, and have a separate door for the freezer. This is where the thermostat is located, which means that the freezer usually works better than the refrigerator portion.
- Travel Fridges – We reviewed three different travel refrigerators, and they were all pretty similar. These are designed for portability, and usually come with two power cords, one to plug into a wall outlet and the other designed for an automotive outlet. All three of the units we reviewed cooled to 32 degrees, but at the flip of a switch, could be switched to warming instead.
As you can see, there is something offered by each style, but all of them have at least one or two drawbacks as well. To determine which style is right for you, take a long, hard look at your space and think about your storage needs, as well as how you’ll access the refrigerator and what you plan to store in it.
All refrigerators require energy in order to operate. However, not all models require the same amount. A mini fridge can actually draw a surprising amount of electricity, so it’s recommended that you shop for EnergyStar certified models. You’ll find this listed on the product information, in the user manual, and often in the product description for the fridge.
This certification means that the refrigerator has been tested and certified to use less energy than other models on the market, helping you save money, but also reducing your demand on the power grid.
Capacity and Interior Layout
Capacity refers to the amount of cubic feet of storage offered by the refrigerator. The largest capacity in our reviews was 4.4 cubic feet, but most mini fridges come in well under that amount. However, interior space is not the only factor that determines what and how much you can store.
The other factor here is the interior layout. For instance, a mini fridge with 3.4 cubic feet of space might seem to be more capable than one with 3.0 cubic feet of space, but if the interior layout is wrong, you may not be able to make effective use of that space. Look for a mini fridge that has the right layout, which should include factors like:
- Number of shelves
- Whether shelves can be removed
- Door shelving/storage arrangement
- Half shelves
- Vertical stacking racks for cans
- Shelf bins
- Door bins
Ideally, you’ll find a unit that offers a good amount of space but also supports your ability to use that space with a good layout and plenty of interior features.
Freezer or No Freezer?
If you were paying attention during our reviews, you may have noticed that some of the mini fridges we covered offered freezers, but others didn’t. Some had full-width freezers, while some where only half-width. There are a few things to think about here.
Do you need a freezer? If not, opt for a unit that doesn’t have one. Freezers take up interior space and limit what can be stored in your refrigerator. If you’re not going to use it, it’s better to choose one without a freezer.
Half or Full Width?
The difference between half-width and full-width freezers is right there in the name. One spans the entire width of the fridge, meaning that you have more freezer space but sacrifice room on the top shelf. The other spans only half of the fridge’s width, which means you get less freezer space but more usable room on the top shelf of the fridge.
There are two types of shelving used in mini fridges:
- Wire: Wire shelving is pretty common. It’s lightweight, affordable, and relatively durable. However, if you spill something, it will go straight through the shelf and cover everything underneath. Wire shelves are also harder to clean thoroughly and they don’t look all that classy. Plus, they are difficult to use when storing items with narrow or irregularly shaped bottoms.
- Glass: Glass shelves are heavier than wire racks, but they’re easier to clean. They also help contain at least some portion of a spill. Glass shelves also provide stable footing for anything resting on them, since they have a solid surface. With that being said, glass is easily shattered, so make sure that you buy a fridge with tempered glass shelves to help ensure better durability.
Doors are vital parts of your fridge, but they are often overlooked in the buying process. Specifically, you want to make sure that the door either opens on the correct side for your installation area, or it can be reversed. If you need to reverse it, ask yourself:
- How simple is it to remove, reverse, and reinstall the door?
- Do you need any special tools to reverse the door?
- Does reversing the door require changing the handle?
In addition to opening, you should consider the layout of the door’s interior storage. Do you have a space for larger bottles? Can the door hold two-liter bottles or are you limited to 16.9-ounce bottles? Can you only store 12-ounce cans in the door?
Mini fridges have two styles of handle – molded in and bolted on. The primary consideration here is going to be whether or not the handle can be reversed with the door, or if it even needs to be. For instance, a door with a molded handle can simply be reversed, but some models require that you not only reverse the door, but also the handle.
The exterior finish is more than just an aesthetic consideration. Sure, your fridge should look great, but understand that the finish also protects the underlying material from rust and damage. There are several different types of exterior material and finish used today, including the following:
- Painted Metal: Probably the most common finish option, painted metal is reasonably durable, and can be found in a wide range of colors. It is affordable and widely available, too.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is becoming more widely available in mini fridges, but is still not particularly common. It is an excellent choice for rust and corrosion resistance, and it looks great, too. However, it is more expensive than painted metal and other finish options.
- Plastic: Interestingly, thick, molded plastic is becoming more frequently used in the industry today. This is particularly true when it comes to travel fridges, because it’s such a lightweight material. Underlying the plastic will be a thick layer of foam insulation to help the unit maintain temperature.
All three exterior options have their benefits and drawbacks. Find the one that offers you the best mix of durability, affordability, and style.
Portability may not be a concern, but for many people, it is. We covered three different mini refrigerators designed for portability and that used both automotive power outlets and home wall outlets.
However, most mini fridges are portable to some extent, even though you may not be able to operate them while they are in transit. They are, by default, small, light, and easily moved from one place to another. Still, if you need to power your fridge while in transit, consider a travel fridge.
Top 10 Best Mini Fridges
The RCA RFR321-Black FBA Mini Refrigerator is the quintessential mini fridge. It’s compact, but manages to pack in quite a lot of storage space. It also features a space-saving, flush-back design so that it fits easily into almost any area.
Within this mini fridge, you’ll find 3.2 cubic feet of space. That includes a built-in can dispenser, so you only need to grab a soda and the next can rolls right into place. The shelves are made from tempered glass for durability and easy cleaning, and they also slide out to help customize the interior space.The refrigerator features an adjustable thermostat so you can keep it at your desired temperature. The adjustable feet ensure it’s always stable even on unlevel surfaces. Finally, the door is reversible to suit any type of installation configuration.
This mini fridge from Danby offers a nice combination of features and expanded storage space. You’ll find that it delivers 4.4 cubic feet for drink and food storage. It also provides a full width freezer section, which isn’t found with some competitors.
The refrigerator has 2.5 glass shelves that can be removed and adjusted to suit your needs. There is a section designed for tall bottle storage and the door will hold eight cans. This refrigerator is also EnergyStar certified for power savings, so you can rest easy about your electric bill. The push-button defrost helps keep the freezer free of ice buildup, and the thermostat is mechanical for added reliability.The handle is integrated directly into the door, but the door can be reversed to suit different installation needs. It’s well-suited for use in a rec room, man cave, dorm room and many other situations.
3. Midea WHS-65LSS1 Compact Refrigerator
The Midea WHS-65LSS1 Compact Refrigerator is one of the smaller options on our list. It provides 1.6 cubic feet of storage space in an ultra-compact form factor that is well-suited to just about any area. With a full one-year warranty, this mini refrigerator offers walls that are slightly tapered toward the back to help maintain temperature. The thermostat is mechanical and can be adjusted from 32 to 35.6 degrees.The adjustable legs on this unit allow it to sit level even on surfaces that are not perfectly flat. The door is also reversible to suit your specific installation needs. Note that while there is a freezer area, it will not keep foods frozen for long periods, and the unit does not make ice.
4. AstroAI Mini Fridge
Looking for an ultra-portable mini refrigerator? The AstroAI might be just what you need. It offers a four-liter capacity in a portable package – there’s enough room here to store an entire six pack of cans or the equivalent amount of food.
The AstroAI is able to cool up to 32 degrees, but it can also be used to maintain warmth up to 150 degrees, which makes it a good option for transporting chilled or heated foods. It uses two different plugs – one for standard wall outlets and one for automotive power outlets.For those worried about the environment, this mini fridge does not use any freon. Its performance is based on semiconductor refrigeration microchips, instead. It is CE, FCC, ETL, and RoHS certified, and comes with a three-year warranty, too.
5. Chefman Mini Portable Compact Personal Fridge
The Chefman Mini Portable Compact Personal Fridge is another portably fridge that shares a lot of similarities with the AstroAI. It’s compact and designed to be portable. It also works on both AC and DC thanks to the two different power connectors included with the unit.
The unit can cool your food and drinks to 32 degrees, but with the flip of a switch, you can set it to warm, as well. This makes it a good option for transporting soups and other foods that need to be kept hot. The four-liter capacity means that you have enough room for a full six pack of cans here. That translates to a great deal of space for other items, such as fruit or yogurt cups, sandwiches, and the like.Like the AstroAI mini fridge, this one is also eco-friendly. It uses no freon at all. Instead, it relies on superconducting materials and microchips to manage heating and cooling without any negative environmental impact.
6. Uber Appliance UB-CH1 Uber Chill Mini Fridge
Another personal mini refrigerator, the Uber Appliance UB-CH1 is a great choice for those who value aesthetics. The retro style here is great, and you can choose from six different colors, too.
In terms of interior capacity, this mini refrigerator provides enough room for four 16.9-ounce bottles, or six 12-ounce cans. Of course, that amount of space provides ample storage for things like fruit and vegetables, juice, snacks, and anything else you might want to carry.
Unlike other mini refrigerators, this one uses solid state components to chill food and drinks. It can also double as a warmer for food that is best served heated. Powering the fridge is simple – it can run on either AC or DC depending on your needs. It also works well in many situations, such as a bedroom or dorm room, or even in the car.
7. BLACK+DECKER BCRK17B Compact Refrigerator
There are few names with the same level of recognition and trust as BLACK+DECKER. This miniature refrigerator is completely in keeping with the brand’s reputation for quality, too. You’ll find 1.7 cubic feet of space inside, with enough room for almost anything you want to store. The glass shelves are removable and can be slid forwards and backwards to adjust to your needs. You’ll also find shelves in the door to offer even more storage.This unit features leveling legs for stability, as well as a reversible door to fit any installation needs. The mechanical thermostat can be adjusted from 33.8 degrees upward, and the freezer section is large enough to hold ice packs and even frozen dinners. Note that this unit does freeze enough to make ice, unlike some other models on our list.
8. Daewoo FR-044RCNM Retro Compact Refrigerator
Looking for something a bit different? Enter the Daewoo FR-044RCNM Retro Compact Refrigerator. One look at the exterior styling will be enough to make you fall in love with it, but crack the door and there’s so much more. Inside, you’ll find 4.4 cubic feet of space, which is just about as good as you can get. You’ll also discover adjustable glass shelves, a slide-out drawer for fresh fruit and veg, LED lighting to save power, and more.This refrigerator is EnergyStar certified, and can be used on the floor or set on a table. It is also designed to integrate with Daewoo’s other retro line appliances, including the microwave oven, coffee maker, water kettle, toaster, and more.
9. EdgeStar 1.1 Cu. Ft. Convertible Refrigerator or Freezer
On the market for a super compact unit that can be used as a fridge or as a refrigerator? EdgeStar has you covered. This unit offers just 1.1 cubic feet of space. However, you get a removable shelf, and the ability to change from fridge to freezer with the flip of a switch. The door locks to help keep prying hands out of your prized beer or ice cream, too.The stainless steel exterior not only looks great, but it also protects the unit from wear and tear, and resists rust and stains. The fridge is also backed with a one-year warranty on parts (90 days on labor).
10. Haier HC27SF22RB 2.7 Cubic Feet Refrigerator
The Haier HC27SF22RB features 2.7 cubic feet of space. While not as substantial as some models on our list, this one does provide ample storage space for food and drink. The half-width freezer is large enough for an ice tray and a small amount of food.
You’ll find two glass shelves, both removable. The door also has shelving, with enough space to accommodate three 2-liter bottles at the bottom, plus additional items on the small shelf above. The mechanical thermostat is adjustable to your preferred level (with seven options), and the legs can be adjusted to keep the unit level on almost any surface.
As you can see, there are many factors that should be considered when comparing the best mini fridges. There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Ideally, you will be able to find a fridge that fits your physical space well, that has the interior layout and capacity you need, and that offers an exterior style that you love.
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