How Do You Make a Mini Fridge Work

Updated on April 18, 2022

Sometimes a regular refrigerator just doesn’t offer enough space for the food and beverages you have to store. At other times, you may need another mini fridge or portable fridge, such as when you are traveling, going camping or if you’re moving to a new location like a college dorm room.

By following a few basic food safety rules and choosing the right unit, you can enjoy the convenience of a second, portable refrigerator.

How Do You Make a Mini Fridge Work

How Portable Compressor Refrigerators Work

When to comes to compressor fridges, a pump brings refrigerant fluid into a high-pressure condenser chamber, which is outside of the refrigerator compartment. The fluid then travels into a narrow valve and a low-pressure evaporator, which is inside of the refrigerator compartment. When the fluid is pressurized in the condenser, it heats up, releasing into the air from the outside chamber.

After that, as the fluid flows into the lower pressure evaporator, the temperature turns cold. The fluid cycles between the two, keeping the cold inside while pumping the hot air out into the surrounding area.

Benefits of a Mini Fridge

One of the main benefits of a mini refrigerator is the most obvious one: its portability. They’re useful for bringing to a college dorm room where you’re not allowed to have a full-sized refrigerator. They can be taken on camping and road trips. And you might even see them in used offices.

They’re often very quiet, so they won’t disrupt a workday or a student’s busy lifestyle. They’re useful in that they can comfortably fit in most environments. In the end, you’ll find that a portable fridge can fit just about anywhere that you might need it.

Drawbacks of Mini Refrigerators

One of the biggest drawbacks of a portable refrigerator is the fact that it’s so small, meaning that it might be difficult to fit certain things, especially larger items, within. Another downside is that you’re dependent on a power source if you keep the fridge in a camper van or RV, which means that it could be inconvenient to have to get up and go inside every time you want a drink or snack.

It’s also risky to keep a portable fridge in a car or other vehicle, because you have to make sure you don’t overextend your auto battery and end up with a fridge full of spoiled food and a car that won’t start.

Choosing a Portable Refrigerator

Depending on why you need a portable refrigerator, there are likely a few different types and brands to choose from. For those who are looking to travel with their mini fridge, a thermoelectric fridge would probably be a solid choice. For those who are looking to keep a smaller refrigerator in a new space like a dorm room, garage or office, then a mini fridge with compressor is likely your best option.

A few of the best brands for mini fridges, according to Business Insider, are: Danby, Insignia, Midea, Frigidaire and EdgeStar. These are a good place to start your research before you buy.

Are Mini Fridges Safe?

A mini fridge is as safe to use as a regular fridge. Most mini fridge owners put theirs in the kitchen, living room, home office, bedroom, garage, or RV.

As with any appliance, choose a mini fridge from a manufacturer that you can trust and buy it from a reputable retailer. When buying online, check other customers’ reviews.

Register your unit with the manufacturer, especially if they offer an extended warranty. Doing so ensures that you will also be contacted by them in the case of product recalls.

Do Mini Fridges Use Freon?

Until the mid-1990s, most manufacturers used to add Freon as a refrigerant for their units. Freon is a family of halocarbon products and a trademark of The Chemours Company (ex-DuPont).

As of January 1, 2020, the production and import of the principal component of Freon, also known as R-22, has been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S.

The agency’s ban comes after strong scientific evidence that R-22 damages the Earth’s ozone layer (and therefore contributes to global warming).

Based on the make and model, your mini fridge may use an R-22 refrigerant. As a home appliance owner, the ban doesn’t require you to replace your fridge or its refrigerant fluid.

The chance, according to the EPA, is slim. “Most refrigerators and freezers manufactured since 1995,” the agency says, “contain ozone-friendly hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.”

R-22 is mostly found in HVAC equipment, like AC units and heat pumps. Most manufacturers have changed the design of their systems to use R410A, a chlorine-free refrigerant.

Can Mini Fridges Be Recycled?

So far, so good. We covered what to look for when buying a mini fridge. But what if you want to get rid of an old one?

To find out the answer, I consulted with Justin Havre, Team Leader of Justin Havre & Associates. Havre and his team had published a comprehensive guide about the parts of a home that can be recycled.

“If you are trying to upgrade your appliances or downsize, you should consider recycling,” he tells Home Cook World readers. “Mini-refrigerators can be recycled but it’s important to keep a few things in mind when you do.”

Can a mini fridge catch fire?

All electrical appliances create some risk of an electrical fire, and mini fridges caught on fire before. To reduce the risk, always plug your refrigerator directly into the electrical outlet rather than using extension cords or adaptors. If your fridge came with a grounding prong, use it.


Mini fridges: they’re compact, don’t consume that much electricity, and keep your drinks and food cool—even if you live in a dorm room, have a tiny kitchen, or limited space in your wet bar or home office.

Before you buy a mini fridge, make sure it fits the space you have available for it. Ideally, there should be 2-3 inches of space between the back of the fridge and the wall, allowing it to dissipate heat so that it can work well.

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