I was first introduced to small or compact refrigerators, commonly called “mini fridges,” when my parents shipped me off to Michigan State University at the ripe young age of eighteen. That fridge and I had some great times together: storing food stolen from the cafeteria, keeping my acid cold and dry, and serving as an incubator for my various intentional and unintentional science experiments.
I believe that fridge ended up in some girlfriend’s dad’s workshop, or it’s still in storage at a parent’s house. Regardless, we now have a compact fridge in the guest room of our failed Airbnb enterprise (too many deaths.) What I’m getting at is that I’ve had mini refrigerators close to me throughout my life, and I have taken quite a few of them for test drives. I am here to pass my wisdom on to you.
Tips for Buying a Compact Refrigerator
Here’s what you should consider when compact refrigerator shopping:
- Go Big or Go Home – Much like smartphones, the smallest small refrigerator is not always the best. These kitchen appliances are notorious energy eaters because they don’t have as much insulation as their bigger brethren. We recommend getting the biggest fridge that will fit in your space. For extra energy conservation, keep the fridge well-stocked. This will make it so the magical cooling powers have to do less work.
- Avoid Superconductor or Thermoelectric Models – If the sole reason you want a fridge is to keep beverages and other non-perishable items cold, then you can disregard this tip. Otherwise, thermonuclear kitchen appliances will not keep your food at consistently safe temps.
- The Doors – If you need a freezer to keep your microwave burritos in a holding pattern or to have ice on hand for your margaritas, get a unit that will love you two times with separate freezer and fridge doors. This will actually keep your food frozen versus the shared-door, luck-based system.
- The Shelves – First of all, avoid wire racks. If you’re drunk and decide you can’t finish the beer you just opened and put it in the fridge for safe keeping, it will spill, and you will have beer all over everything. If you are like me, you won’t clean it up, and the fridge is ruined. Don’t be like me: choose glass shelves. Also, adjustable shelves are preferable, so you can fit 2-liters or 40s in there.
- Compressor Powered Units Are Better – Absorption power units need to be in well-ventilated rooms away from the wall. Who the heck puts their fridge in the middle of a room? It is a horrible conversation piece. Compressor powered units are more energy efficient, and you can put them just about anywhere.
- Beware Unnecessary Features – I remember my first mini refrigerator had a vegetable crisper. What the hell is a college kid going to do with that? I just filled it with more beverages. Automatic defrost is another feature most people don’t need, and it could cause the whole unit to malfunction.
My final tip is to keep your fridge upright when moving it when possible. If you absolutely must put it on its side, then have it stand upright for at least four hours before you plug it in. This gives the oil in the cooling lines time to drain back into the compressor. Trust me on this one.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, here are Brains Report’s top 10 best compact refrigerators:
- Freezer temp range from -11 degrees to 5 degrees, fridge range is 32 to 50 degrees
- 3.1 cubic feet
- Interior light, can organizer (please keep your cans in order), and leveling legs (in case your house is falling into a sinkhole)
Despite the name, this small refrigerator was not designed by an elderly black woman with a comical temper. Midea has been around for almost half a century producing all sorts of high-quality kitchen appliances. The WHD-113FSS1 hits all the right notes as far as our tips go, including the glass shelves. Plus, they use “whisper-quiet” technology to keep your food cold at the same volume a ninja would. The only downer is that some users have expressed annoyance with Midea’s customer service reps.
- Room for 2-liter bottles, canned beverages, and other drinks I’ll judge you for
- Crisper drawer and two glass shelves
- Energy Star certification
The Keystone KSTRC312CB is incredibly similar to the Midea WHD-113FSS1 down to the reversible door and adjustable legs. The KSTRC312CB is just about 20 bucks more expensive. It is the most expensive option on our list and is worth the extra price since it is energy-efficient. It also comes with a one-year parts warranty. Users report that the freezer only tends to work well when it’s on the top setting. So, crank it!
- Single, stainless steel door
- About two feet tall, so it can fit just about anywhere (in your car?)
- Wire shelves
The SPT RF-244SS is what we use in our mother-in-law room. It’s good for the planet. It’s Energy Star certified and free of HCFCs. Yes, it commits a couple cardinal sins: wire racks and a tiny (seven-inch-wide) freezer tucked into the refrigeration area. But, it does an excellent job of keeping the freezer at 0 degrees while keeping the fridge at around 40. Also, it can fit on a counter, can hold magnums of champagne, and it is absolutely quiet. However, do not buy this if the quality of the ice cube trays is your main concern.
- Comes with two leveling legs, ice cube tray, and adjustable wire shelves
- Has freezer that shares door with fridge
- Dial thermostat control
Nostalgia only produces old-timey-looking products that are made in China. What could be more American than that? Obviously, you should only buy this fridge if you are on the front lines of the Cola Wars. Personally, I think we’ve lost enough good people in this fight, but different strokes for different Cokes. In the compact refrigerator reviews, this fridge gets high marks for working great mechanically. There is only one issue: you have about a 30 percent chance of your CRF170COKE showing up dented. If you hit the defect jackpot, they will gladly replace it.
- Comes in all sorts of colors: purple, blue, green, orange, chimney red, etc.
- Uses compressor cooling
- Only twenty inches tall
Tired of having to walk all the way to the break room for your high fructose corn syrup? Get this RCA-Igloo fridge. It’ll fit like three six packs and keep them plenty cold. You can adjust the temp anywhere from 1 to 5. Plus, it keeps a low profile. You don’t want to have it showing up and trying to sit with you when you are out to dinner. On the other hand, with its somewhat-portable, 33-pound size, you might want to bring it out on the town with you!
- Incredibly sleek for how much it holds
- Wire shelves, so you’ll need to call in a hazmat crew if you ever spill anything
- Not the most energy efficient option
I’d never heard of Haier until I reviewed this fridge. They apparently have 70,000 employees around the world (mostly China). Their slogan is “Room to Invent,” which I can see what they mean with this mini refrigerator. They left a lot of room for improving inventions. On the plus side, the freezer stays frozen and doesn’t freeze the fridge. On the down side, it will probably show up dented, and your roommates are still going to steal your corn dogs out of it (unless you invest in a Computer Security Products Refrigerator Door Lock With Padlock.)
- Compressor cooling that works well in all conditions
- Can dispenser that will send your sodas rolling all over the floor
- Comes with free white noise generator
If you want an inexpensive large mini refrigerator with two doors and glass shelves, the 3.2 Cubic Foot RCA-Igloo fridge is your best choice. The only problem is that science has not figured out how to deliver even the best compact refrigerators without denting the crap out of them. I wonder what they do with all of those returned, dented kitchen appliances.
- Doesn’t have a freezer
- Small refrigerator footprint
- Energy Star certified
The WHS-65LB1 is one of the best compact refrigerators you can get for under $100. It is perfect for fat people who don’t want to walk down stairs to get their sugary dranks.
- Eight color options
- Glass shelves and adjustable thermostat
- Small freezer
There is a reason why we have three RCA-Igloo compact refrigerator reviews on this list. They make a great product. This big boy will fit fifty beers at least. That’s a great night of drinking for three people.
- Comes with freezer compartment so you can forget about and destroy your Cokes
- Features glass shelves so the Coke will be easy to clean up
- No Pepsi products are able to fit in the fridge
For those of you who want to take your brand loyalty to the next level, you could do worse than to buy the RRF300SDBCOKE.
Do you have your own best compact refrigerators reviews or stories? Well, don’t keep them to yourself! Comment below!