While writing this guide, we spoke to David Moreno, a New York City-based refrigerator technician with Liberty Home Guard, and also chatted with a mechanical engineer, and a sales associate at The Home Depot. We even disassembled a few mini fridges ourselves to compare their parts, because, as Moreno said, “what I see with mini fridges is a lot of these manufacturers find a factory that produces them, and license out the name. They’re produced in bulk using really cheap components, but they do come at a great price point.” To that point, we found that the four fridges we disassembled used parts from two manufacturers, both from the same province in China.
Comparison of the main attributes we considered:
Here are the main attributes we looked for:
Based on what we learned from the experts, and our own experience as consumers (we’ve owned over a dozen models), we decided on our recommendations based on the following criteria:
Design: Because most mini fridges essentially have the same components, design is an important consideration. Simplicity is key; as with any fridge, the more complex, the more that can go wrong, according to Moreno.
Our overall pick is the most versatile mini fridge we could find, with room for everything from cans and condiments to takeout boxes, as well as a pint of ice cream or a couple of ice trays in the freezer section.
Size: Within the realm of mini fridges, there are many sizes. Consider what you’re going to store, and how much of it. Our recommendations run the gamut from 1.1 to 4.4 cubic feet, which is about as large as they get before being too bulky to fit under a counter or desk.
Configuration: It’s important to determine what your mini fridge is going to hold — and how much space those things require — before making a purchase. Removable and adjustable shelves are preferred, and we paid attention to fridges that had both.
Usage: The fewer times you open and close a fridge, the less you engage the compressor, and the longer the fridge lasts. I personally have an EdgeStar fridge that’s in its sixteenth year, but I only open it every week or so, and often not for months at a time. I also have a Magic Chef model that gets about the same amount of use. It’s over five years old, and it’s doing just fine, save for some mild clicking once in a while.
Price: While most mini fridges worth recommending fall within the $200 – $400 range, we did consider budget options, particularly for those who don’t plan on using their fridge too often. Since all mini fridges have a lifespan of about three to five years, spending a lot of money on one doesn’t make much sense, with the exception of built-in options, which require more of an investment. We’re researching built-ins for our next update, but for now, Moreno suggests a Whirlpool model.
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