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All Hail the Mini Fridge

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Mini refrigerators have been becoming increasingly popular through the years. They are perfect for bedrooms, dorm rooms, living rooms, the garage, the car, and with the advent of USB mini fridges, even the office. You may be surprised to find out that mini fridges are actually a relatively recent invention. They are made possible due to smaller and more efficient electronics and higher power efficacy. Whereas normal refrigerators operate through a process called gas absorption, compact mini refrigerators cool themselves quite similarly to how a computer cools itself, using high powered electronics, heat sinks, and fans. Well, you're probably more interested in buying the best mini fridge for your dollar than learning about the inner workings of refrigerators, so let's get started with a mini fridge buying guide. Below you will find all of the features and characteristics that you should look for when buying a mini refrigerator. It is very easy to simply visit the local Walmart or Best Buy and pick the first refrigerator you find, but with a little bit of knowledge and shopping around you can get a lot more refrigerator for your dollar.

Space

Perhaps the most important consideration when looking for a miniature refrigerator is space. Other than advanced features like exceptional energy efficiency and a no-frost freezer, the size of the mini fridge is the number one determinant of cost. The size you need is ultimately dependent on your intended use of the refrigerator. If you intend to use it as a primary refrigerator for a dorm room or office space, you may wish to look at large models or even a commercial mini fridge. On the other hand, if you only

Small Mini Fridge
need to keep some sodas or beers cool, you likely only need a small mini fridge that comes without a freezer. There are also portable mini fridges that are meant to be kept in your car or even on your desk. As you may have guessed, small mini fridges tend to be on the cheaper side while larger mini fridges tend to cost a great deal more. This is because every additional square inch of space that needs to be cooled requires a great deal of energy and proportionally stronger electronics. Buying an inappropriately sized mini refrigerator will cause problems in the future, so make sure you plan ahead when buying one.

Freezer

One of the biggest decisions you have to make when it comes to your mini refrigerator is whether or not to buy one that contains a freezer. There are two issues when it comes to the freezer. First, a freezer can create a great deal of frost and condensation in your mini fridge due to the temperature variance and lack of meaningful separation between the fridge and freezer. Most lower end mid-sized and small mini fridges have a freezer that introduces this problem, but at no extra cost. The second issue is cost. If you wish to buy a mini fridge that has a frost-free freezer, the cost will be much higher than a standard mini fridge. Most people find that a freezer is useful, but not quite useful enough to justify the cost of buying a fridge equipped with a fully separate freezer. If you anticipate that you will not have much use for a freezer, you are better off buying a mini refrigerator that does not have a freezer.


Warmer

Many compact mini fridges and car mini fridges have something known as a warmer. This is a section in the refrigerator that you can toggle to heat up. This is a great feature to keep food or coffee warm when you are busy or need to focus on driving. However, having a warming feature in a larger mini fridge or a commercial mini fridge will dramatically increase the cost.

Shelving

The ideal mini refrigerator will use wire shelves that are replaceable or re-configurable instead of glass or plastic shelving. Not only is wire shelving highly resistant to breakage or warping, but it is also extremely easy to reconfigure and rearrange when your refrigeration needs change. As you may have guessed, high quality wire shelving will increase the cost of your mini fridge.

Name Brands

Stores like Walmart and Best Buy will typically carry a great deal of mini fridges. In general, name brand mini refrigerators tend to be of much higher quality than store brand or generic brands while not costing a great deal more. Name brand refrigerators will also tend to carry higher quality warranties in case you encounter problems down the road. Because you want your mini fridge to last for a long time, you should try to stick to the larger brands like Haier and General Electric.

Specialized Mini Refrigerators

Due to the ever-increasing popularity of mini refrigerators, companies have been in a rush to cr
Blue Mini Fridge
eate specialized and "gimmick" versions of these products. The truth is though that these specialized refrigerators may be exactly what you need. The features that companies put in specialized mini fridges are generally optimized for their specified use, though these optimizations may end up costing you more. Following are some of the more popular mini fridge variants.

USB Mini Fridge

This is a mini fridge that is powered solely by your computer or laptop's USB connection. It is usually slightly larger than a twelve ounce can of soda or beer, though there are some larger variations. Most USB mini fridges are designed only to cool, but some variants can heat foods as well. These are incredibly useful for preserving your drink's temperature when you're working in the office or in a café. Be wary of using them on a notebook computer though, as they can seriously draw down your battery. A USB-powered fridge is generally inexpensive and takes about five minutes to reach cooling-appropriate temperatures.

Mini Beer Fridge

When marketing departments figured out that many mini fridge buyers are seeking to keep beer cool for gameday, they rushed to introduce these models. A mini beer fridge is usually distinguished by shelves designed to house glass beer bottles, a see-through glass door, and colder temperatures than standard mini refrigerators. You can usually find mini beer fridges in the garages and living rooms of football fans.

Car Mini Fridge

These fridges are designed to be powered by your car's battery. They are intended to be used for longer trips or commuters who make an hour-long drive every day. It can take a few minutes for one of these refrigerators to reach the desired temperature. You should note that these fridges are not intended for the long term storage of food and that overusing a car mini fridge can draw the power down from your battery very quickly. If you are planning on making a road trip or taking the family on a vacation in your car, a car mini fridge is an absolutely essential component of the trip.

Mini Fridge Tips

The performance of your mini fridge can vary by a large margin depending on how you treat it. Always make sure to keep your mini fridge in a well ventilated area away from obstructions, as mini refrigerators rely on air flow and proper ventilation to perform. Also, if you are using your mini refrigerator outdoors or in a hot room, try to keep it out of the sunlight or in a cooler area, as this will reduce the power draw and keep the contents of your fridge cooler.


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