We thoroughly researched the functionality of seven mini fridges, using the specs pages to compare features, capacity and design elements. Based on the research we can recommend specific models that are best for storing a variety of food, best for cooling drinks and best for office, dorms or other compact spaces.
Best for Office, Dorm or RV
The Danby DAR017A2BDD and the Haier HC17SF15RW are very small refrigerators that make good use of internal space. The Danby model doesn’t have freezer space, but the Haier does. The main compartment of each fridge is divided by a single shelf, and, combined with the door space, will hold enough snacks and drinks to get you through the day.
The Danby DAR017A2BDD is an energy-efficient mini fridge from the leading brand in the category. It is 20.1 inches tall and has a capacity of 1.7 cubic feet. This Danby compact refrigerator uses a compressor rather than a thermoelectric cooler as its cooling system. This is the same cooling unit found in regular-sized refrigerators, and it is more efficient at maintaining steady cooling temperatures.
The Haier HC17SF15RW is a lightweight, quiet and easily stored compact refrigerator. It has 1.7 cubic feet of storage and a small profile. It’s a compact 19.5x 18.9 x 17.9 inches, so you can fit into tight spaces like countertops, in dorm rooms, under desks and in RVs. At only 30 pounds, it is quite easy to move from place to place.
Best for Storing a Variety of Food
If you need a mini fridge with plenty of space for both food and drinks, the Supentown RF-244SS and the Midea HS87L are great options. Some fridges customize door space for soda cans and bottles, but these mini fridges provide open door space you can fill up the way you want, whether its soda, milk and juice or condiments, yogurt and cheese. Both units also have freezer space for frozen desserts and a spacious dual-shelf main compartment.
The Sunpentown RF-244SS offers the luxuries of refrigeration technology in a compact design. This mini fridge has a flush rear design so you can fit it easily in tight spaces, and customizable wired shelving in the interior makes space for all kinds of food. It includes a freezer, so it can store a wide variety of food. With its stainless-steel exterior and durable design, this unit promises years of service in keeping your food cool and well preserved.
Best for Cooling Drinks
Some mini fridges are designed for the single purpose of keeping drinks cold and readily available. The New Air AB-1200 and the Koolatron KWC4 Coca-Cola Personal Fridge are two very different drink-cooling machines. The New Air is a large-capacity mini fridge with a distinct design that cools up to 126 soda or beer cans with seven temperature settings. The Koolatron, by contrast, is a simple, ultracompact fridge that will plug into your car’s lighter and cool six sodas for a short road trip or a picnic in the park.
The Koolatron KWC4 Coca-Cola Personal Fridge is a retro-style mini fridge that is small enough to fit in a vehicle. It is available in hot red with Coca-Cola branding, including the picture of a cute polar bear on its door. With a capacity of 0.14 cubic feet, this Koolatron fridge is only 12 inches tall and weighs 4.7 pounds. It is designed for one purpose, to cool soda cans that you can have on hand.
The NewAir AB-1200 is a mini fridge designed specifically to chill canned beverages in a sizable interior compartment. This fridge’s interior space is customizable with multiple temperature controls and five adjustable racks. While the NewAir fridge is designed for a single purpose of keeping beverages cold and readily available, its solid construction surpasses most other devices in our buying guide in terms of capacity and longevity.
Other Considerations: What to Look for in a Mini Fridge
While mini fridges have compactness in common, they come in different sizes and have different storage priorities and varying features that that you’ll want to pay attention to. Here are the key features to look for when you’re choosing the right mini fridge for you:
While all mini fridges are smaller than regular refrigerators, their size and weight vary. When you're looking for a small fridge to use in a temporary living space, it is important to get one that is light enough to move from one location to another. This is especially important if you are a traveler who wants to install a portable refrigerator in your vehicle.
Portable fridges come in many sizes, and the available storage space varies from 6 cubic feet to less than 1 cubic foot. Choose one with the capacity for what you intend to put in it and no bigger. If you simply want to keep a few beverage cans cold, then a countertop fridge will do. If you want a variety of food and drinks on hand, you will need a relatively tall freestanding portable fridge to have the space you need.
Not all small refrigerators can attain freezing temperatures. To keep ice and frozen treats on hand, you need a portable fridge with a small freezer compartment or a separate mini freezer. Usually, the freezers found in mini fridges are too small for anything beyond a pint of ice cream, an ice tray and a couple popsicles. Often, they are not cold enough to freeze food and drinks that are not already frozen.
Most small refrigerators employ a compressor-powered cooling system. Some run on a thermoelectric system that is quieter than a compressor, but less efficient. Generally, however, the cooling system in mini fridges is much quieter than that of a traditional refrigerator since it has less space to cool. Regardless of the type of cooling system, you will want to place the fridge at least an inch from the wall to allow for venting.
Small refrigerators consume less power than big ones. However, power consumption varies from one mini fridge to another. An energy-efficient portable fridge has features to let it save on power without sapping it of the power it needs to properly cool your food.
With their portable designs, compact refrigerators can be placed where regular refrigerators cannot and are a convenient way to keep food and drinks cool and fresh in places like a dorm room, office or RV. They come in different sizes and have different storage priorities. Some are designed to cool drinks exclusively while others cool all kinds of food and beverages. Whether you want to take one on a road trip or keep one in your bedroom, just make sure to get the right one for your needs.
Contributing Reviewer: Noel Case