When it comes to storing your drinks, meal leftovers, or midnight snacks, a mini-fridge is a must-have. It’s compact enough not to take too much space and functional enough to keep your food fresh and your drinks cold.
Also known as a compact refrigerator, a mini-fridge differs from a regular refrigerator in that it can’t be used for long-term cold storage. It doesn’t have a crisper drawer, so you can’t use it to store fresh produce. Most can’t even produce a decent tray of ice cube because the freezer compartment temperature doesn’t get cold as fast as a regular fridge.
But if you need a place to store your stash of mealtime goodies or your treasure trove of cold brew, a mini-ref is the perfect appliance for you. It can be used in your bedroom, or under your table in the office. Some people even use it as a wine cooler; others use it to store their collection of cosmetic products and skincare products.
Because this type of fridge is a space saver, it’s becoming popular for use in condos and dorms. And while there are a wide variety of mini-refs to choose from, only a few are really worth it in terms of efficiency and cost.
The best mini-fridge is one that uses a compressor cooling system instead of a thermo-electric cooling system. In compressor cooling, a liquid refrigerant circulates throughout the refrigerator, producing cold air inside while expelling hot air internally. This allows the refrigerator to reach very cold temperatures.
In contrast, a thermo-electric system doesn’t produce cold air but merely removes the heat from the cooler compartment. That’s why it won’t cool below 50°F. The advantage here, however, is that a thermoelectric ref won’t emit CFCs and HSFC-s into the environment.
Fortunately, the latest mini-fridge units now use eco-friendly refrigerants in their compressor cooling systems. This means they now have lower carbon footprints so you don’t have to feel guilty about using them.
Certain features have also become standard among quality mini-fridges. For example, a reversible door hinge is a convenient feature of a mini-fridge door. It allows anyone to open the fridge to the right or the left, which makes it user-friendly.
Another common feature is the adjustable level feet. This will allow the appliance to fit any small corner or adjust the fridge's height and balance for a perfect fit in your kitchen.
In this list, I’ve selected the best ones that are for indoor use. Here are my top 5 recommendations. And, if you're living in a small space, you can also consider other small appliances, like a small kettle, blender, or electric skillet.
The Top 5 Mini-Fridges
- Midea WHS-121LW1 Refrigerator
- BLACK+DECKER BCRK25V Compact Refrigerator
- Danby Designer 1.7 cu. ft. Compact Refrigerator
- Proctor Silex 1.7 Cu Ft Compact Refrigerator
- RCA RFR320-B-Black-COM RFR321 Mini Refrigerator
1. Midea WHS-121LW1 Refrigerator
This mini fridge is excellent for storing beverages, healthy snacks, and produce. It has a separate freezer compartment which is best used for storing frozen fruits or veggies for your smoothies. But if you wish to store soda in that section, it can accommodate about three cans.
According to customers, its large storage area can accommodate about 40 beer bottles and 12 cans.There’s a storage rack on the fridge door that can fit around 8 cans or bottles up to 2L.
Its temperature can be adjusted manually from -2º to 2º Celsius (32º to 35.6º Fahrenheit). While the fridge is not recommended for making ice, some users have noted that it takes about 4 hours on medium temperate setting and 2 hours on the coldest setting to freeze an ice tray. There’s also a manual defrost setting that allows you to clean the fridge when you want to.
This product features a reversible door which makes it easy to store it in a tiny corner or a cramped nook. It also has adjustable legs so that you can change its height and balance to fit your requirements.
It’s Energy Star Rated and comes with a full 1-year warranty.
- Users have commented that it has great built-in beer cooler and liquor cabinet.
- No interior light
- Not designed for storing frozen food or making ice cubes
2. BLACK+DECKER BCRK25V Compact Refrigerator
This stylish mini-fridge can accommodate food, soda bottles and beer cans and is compact enough for use in college dorms.
It has additional door storage that can fit five 12-oz cans, along with shelf space for small containers and 2L tall bottles. It has a freezer compartment with an ice cube tray as well. It will fit most frozen dinners and ice packs.
It has an adjustable thermostat control with the lowest setting at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Defrosting is done manually.
It also has a low eco-footprint; it uses R600a Refrigerant which does not deplete the ozone layer and is Energy Star certified. It isn’t noisy, with only 45dB of sound level when in operation.
Other standard features include a reversible door, recessed door handle, leveling legs, and a space-saving flat back design.
- Comes with a dripping tray to collect water from the freezer
- Small footprint
- It takes two months to arrive since it’s being shipped from China
3. Danby Designer 1.7 cu. ft. Compact Refrigerator
This is a countertop mini-fridge that features a third-generation CanStor beverage dispenser and a scratch-resistant worktop.
It has plenty of room for tall bottles and comes with 1.5 strong wire shelves to allow optimal storage space. It has a reversible door swing which is great for either right or left handed users, and includes an integrated door handle and smooth back design.
It is equipped with a mechanical thermostat with automatic defrost settings. It is Energy-Star compliant and also uses the eco-friendly R600a refrigerant coolant.
- 18 month warranty on parts and labor
- Automatic defrosting
- The thermostat control is difficult to read, especially since this unit does not have an interior light
- Not for outdoor installation or carports and porches; warranty will be voided
4. Proctor Silex 1.7 Cu Ft Compact Refrigerator
This mini-fridge is compact enough to fit most spaces but is large enough to store food and beverages. It has the standard reversible door hinge and a flush-back design to help save space.
Juice boxes, condiment bottles, beer or soda cans will fit in the door storage area and its three adjustable glass shelves. It also comes with an interior light and an adjustable thermostat to control the temperature.
- Has an interior light
- Adjustable thermostat
- Not for RV/van use, unless the vehicle has a 120V supply; this is not a dual voltage appliance
5. RCA RFR320-B-Black-COM RFR321 Mini Refrigerator
The interior of this compact mini-fridge is designed for maximum storage. It has two interior racks that are adjustable for your specific needs along with shelves and beverage holders in the door for extra storage. On its exterior, it features an invisible door handle and a flush back design.
This is a refrigerator and a freezer. It’s energy efficient and features an adjustable thermostat for maximum control. It’s also CFC free so it doesn’t damage the environment.
It features a reversible door and adjustable lever feet for easy placement in any kitchen space.
- Tempered glass shelves
- No interior light
- Many user complaints on careless shipping; many have received the appliance in dented condition
Buyers Guide to Choosing the Right Mini-Fridge for Your Needs
In general, any mini-fridge will work just as well as another. They will get cold enough to store food for a few days or chill drinks enough to chase humid days away. But if you want to pick the best one, here’s what you should be checking out.
Fridges can consume a lot of electricity especially since they're running non-stop. And while mini-fridges are smaller and won’t consume much energy as a standard ref, every little bit of energy-saving function helps in the long term.
So check if the fridge has an energy-saving mode or has an energy-efficient label. One type of model, the inverter type, is a good choice because inverter type refs are designed to use the right amount of energy based on the usage. During night time when the fridge is not being used, it runs slow so it consumes less electricity.
Single or Double Door
A single door mini-fridge has a limited freezer compartment (if it has one at all). So it’ll only be good for storing a few soda cans or popsicles. And if you open it often, the cold temperature will easily escape because it only has a single door. The compressor will work twice as harder in order to maintain the cold temperature in the interior.
A double door mini-fridge, however, is like a full-sized fridge but smaller. It has more compartments and shelves, with some models even having a vegetable crisper. While this can be more expensive than a single door, it’s a more practical choice especially for those who live in tiny apartments who want the benefits of a regular ref but just don’t have space for one.
Also, since it has separate doors, one does not have to worry about temperature fluctuations in either compartment. You can open the freezer without letting the cold out of the main fridge area.
Freezer or Fridge
Not all mini-refs have the freezer and fridge option. Whatever you choose will depend on how you plan to use the fridge. A combo is ideal if you’re going to use it as a refrigerator. Bear in mind though that in some models, the freezer space will be small that it’ll only be good enough for ice trays and not a tub of your favorite ice cream.
If you plan to use it just for chilling beverages, a fridge is more than enough for that purpose.
Warranty and Shipping
Check the warranty of the unit. See if it’s for the whole unit or just the compressor motor. And while you’re at it, also check the product page for customer comments. When I was researching for this list, I noticed that most complaints were about the quality of the shipping service. It seems that many of the units arrived at their destinations dented or had some missing parts.
A reliable manufacturer would ensure a top-notch quality shipping service that handles the goods carefully. Or at least have some sort of warranty to cover such cases of neglect.