A mini fridge is one of those appliances you could probably live without, sure, but once you step over to the cooler side of life you'll have a hard time looking back. Having a fridge dedicated to chilling only drinks ensures you'll be stocked, locked and loaded for when tipple time comes calling. You can also find mini fridges for the inevitable grocery spill-over and even very small models to take on the move.
Brands like Russell Hobbs, Cookology and Subcold are leading the way with mini fridges of all shapes, sizes and specs, and we've been busy collecting an eclectic selection of the best options online from the high-end and modern to the budget buys under £100. Trust us, no Amazon, Argos or eBay stone has been unturned to bring you this ice-age-inducing top 10.
From this simple buying guide you'll come to know the different ways in which a mini fridge keeps cool under pressure and a few design features to look out for. Once you become a mini fridge aficionado, choosing your favoured mini fridge from the top 10 below will become a swift affair.
Mini fridges can function using either a thermoelectric or a compressor system of cooling. There are some stark advantages and disadvantages to both, making this decision your first on the list.
A compressor mini fridge keeps cool in the same way that your regular fridge does. Using a vapour compression cycle, it removes heat from the inside of the fridge through a coolant gas that expels it externally.
This compressor system allows a mini fridge to reach almost freezing temperatures, making them the perfect cooling companion for your drinks and groceries at home. Just like a normal fridge, they will also turn themselves off once they reach your desired temperature, helping to keep energy bills to a minimum.
Compressor fridges also come in a larger number of sizes compared to thermoelectrics, giving you a greater possibility of finding the perfect fit for your worktop or under-counter space. All of this typically makes a compressor the preferred option if you're looking for an in-home mini fridge.
One of the most beneficial aspects of thermoelectric mini fridges is that they truly are mini. Their small stature makes them an ideal travel partner to keep your essentials at temperature when on the move. Whether those are medicines, cosmetics, snacks or drinks, a thermoelectric will keep them warm when needed or cool when called upon.
Their biggest drawback is that their in-fridge temperature is dictated by the outside temperature, as they're actually more of an electric cooler than a fridge, creating a temperature difference by transferring heat between two points. They do, however, run much more quietly than compressor fridges.
While they're also typically cheaper to buy, unfortunately, they can be more pricey to run. This is because they need to function constantly, which isn't a problem when plugged in on the move but can get expensive if plugged into your home's mains. They also can't reach the low temperatures of compressors, which excludes meat and dairy from the thermoelectric conversation.
Temperature is an important consideration when honing in on your chosen mini fridge. With each brand claiming a different chilling and warming degree, it really pays to check the temperature fine print before anything else.
As previously mentioned, compressors are seen as the premier way to get mini fridges down to almost-freezing, as they usually have a potential temperature range of 2-18°C which is adjustable with an in-fridge dial. They can also feature a small freezer section to hit those desirable below-zero temperatures.
Thermoelectric systems are a little different as they're affected by the ambient room temperature, which isn't ideal during summer. You'll find the cheapest and weakest of the thermoelectrics to tap out at 16°C at a minimum, although they do regularly have a warming option designed to keep food warm at +50°, which can be a godsend on those long winter drives.
Another important factor to consider is how much space you need. The capacity of a mini fridge is always measured in litres and refers to the total internal capacity that it's able to keep chilled.
The scope really is vast in the mini fridge arena, with the smallest thermoelectric fridges coming in at 4 litres and the largest compressors topping out at around 100 L. The latter doesn't sound quite so mini, but when compared to a standard home fridge which can have upwards of 500 L, it gets put in its place pretty quick.
While capacity consideration is very much a personal one, just remember that previous pain and agony of trying to squeeze every last bit into a too-small fridge. All in all, there's a good case for scaling up wherever possible, we think.
Depending on where your mini fridge is destined to spend its days, its noise level could be a make or break sticking point of annoyance. Measured in decibels (dB), the noise level of a mini fridge can range from the almost un-hearable hum of 24 dB to a more intrusive 48 dB.
Any fridge that runs below 40 dB is considered to be quiet, as interestingly, this is what a library aims to function at. The decibel scale is best understood by the following, whereby the scale exponentially rises tenfold with each 10 dB rise:
As a final fun decibel fact, a loud rock concert can produce potentially ear-damaging 120 dB sounds, which are a whopping 10,000,000 times louder than 10 dB.
With the cost of energy forever rising, it'll save to pay attention to your mini fridge's energy consumption rate. This energy consumption is measured in terms of kilowatts per hour for an entire year. But what do the numbers mean?
On the one hand, the least energy-hungry mini fridges can consume as little as 5 kWh/year, which is extremely low and will be a mere blip in your yearly electricity bill. Some of the larger fridges will use upwards of 200 kWh/ year – this equates to an extra £30-40, which is still a decent amount of electrical bang for your buck.
By now we've dissected the way in which mini fridges function, but now it's time to differentiate them ever further through handy design features.
One of the main design features worth considering is a glass door, which is perfect for when constant re-stocking is the order of the night. Shelves are also hugely beneficial and can be very specific to a fridge's intended use (a wine fridge, for example), or more standardised like a regular fridge.
Another feature that's specific to compressor mini fridges is a freezer, seen as an ice-saving grace when the home's main fridge seems too far of an adventure. Some compressors also impressively have reversible and lockable doors, which could be useful if you want to keep certain drinks out of reach.
Now that you're well aware of the more defining parts to the mini fridge debate, it's time to unleash the cooling fury of this icy-demeanoured top 10. With just as many thermoelectric and compressor mini fridges ranging from 4 to 66 litres, you can shop assured that your food and drinks have got a place to chill.
|Temperature Range||12°C - 18°C|
|Noise Level||30 dB|
|Energy Consumption||247 kWh/year|
|Features||1 internal shelf, 2 door shelves, AC/DC adapter, handle|
|Temperature Range||5°C cooler than room temp/warm 65°C|
|Noise Level||30 dB|
|Features||Glass door insert, AC/DC adapter|
|Temperature Range||Cold 3°C/warm 65°C|
|Noise Level||24 dB|
|Features||1 shelf, handle, AC/DC adapter|
|Temperature Range||12°C - 18C°|
|Noise Level||38 dB|
|Energy Consumption||162 kWh/year|
|Features||Glass door, 8 bottle wine-specific shelving|
|Temperature Range||18°C cooler than room temp/warm 57°C|
|Energy Consumption||5 kWh/year|
|Features||Handle, 1 internal shelf, AC/DC adapter|
|Temperature Range||2°C - 21°C|
|Noise Level||42 dB|
|Energy Consumption||105 kWh|
|Features||Wide glass door, 5 bottle-specific shelving|
|Temperature Range||0°C - 10°C|
|Noise Level||39 dB|
|Energy Consumption||96 kWh/ year|
|Features||Ample door shelving/1 internal shelf|
|Temperature Range||4°C - 22°C|
|Noise Level||39 dB|
|Energy Consumption||175 kWh/year|
|Features||Glass door, 7 bottle wine-specific shelving|
|Temperature Range||4°C - 16°C|
|Noise Level||41 dB|
|Energy Consumption||103 kWh|
|Features||Reversible door, freezer, 2 internal shelves, 2 door shelves|
|Temperature Range||0°C - 10°C|
|Noise Level||42 dB|
|Energy Consumption||95 kWh|
|Features||Reversible glass door, 2 shelves, lockable with key|
7-Bottle Mini Fridge
Rubik's Cube Mini Fridge
Drinks Mini Fridge
Retro Mini Fridge
Wine Mini Fridge
High-Functioning Drinks Fridge With a Lock and Reversible Door
Room for Food Shop Overspill With a Handy Freezer
Splendidly Slender and Sleek to Blend in Seamlessly
A Funky Fridge Perfect for Gamers or College Bedrooms
A Compact Compressor Geared Toward the Tipple Times
The Best Retro Mini Fridge for Skincare and Medicine
For Snugly Fitting and Chilling Eight Bottles of Your Finest Wine
A Teeny Tiny Fridge Boasting a Large Range of Temperatures
With a Glass Insert, You Can Keep Track of What You're Chilling
16 Litres of Thermoelectric Chilling Courtesy of Cristal
|Temperature Range||0°C - 10°C||4°C - 16°C||4°C - 22°C||0°C - 10°C||2°C - 21°C||18°C cooler than room temp/warm 57°C||12°C - 18C°||Cold 3°C/warm 65°C||5°C cooler than room temp/warm 65°C||12°C - 18°C|
|Capacity||50 L||66 L||20 L||43 L||43 L||4 L||23 L||4 L||15 L||16 L|
|Noise Level||42 dB||41 dB||39 dB||39 dB||42 dB||Unknown||38 dB||24 dB||30 dB||30 dB|
|Energy Consumption||95 kWh||103 kWh||175 kWh/year||96 kWh/ year||105 kWh||5 kWh/year||162 kWh/year||Unknown||Unknown||247 kWh/year|
|Features||Reversible glass door, 2 shelves, lockable with key||Reversible door, freezer, 2 internal shelves, 2 door shelves||Glass door, 7 bottle wine-specific shelving||Ample door shelving/1 internal shelf||Wide glass door, 5 bottle-specific shelving||Handle, 1 internal shelf, AC/DC adapter||Glass door, 8 bottle wine-specific shelving||1 shelf, handle, AC/DC adapter||Glass door insert, AC/DC adapter||1 internal shelf, 2 door shelves, AC/DC adapter, handle|
With summer never too far off to daydream about, now is as good a time as any to up your refrigeration game. Luckily, we've been busier than an Inuit preparing their igloo to bring you the best refrigeration that money can buy. From under-counter fridges to cool boxes and wine coolers, there are more chillers than you can poke an icicle at.
Having ample fridge space is one of the great in-house pleasures in life. Knowing there'll be no drink or snack left behind on the quest for complete cooling glory will set your day, night or life off on the right track. We hope this article was helpful in finding you a mini fridge to keep the essentials cool and you collected.
Author: Connor Macanally
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