Whether you’re living in a dorm or off-campus, a mini fridge is a college essential. If you live in a dorm room, you obviously won’t have enough space for a full-sized refrigerator — space is hard to come by as it is. But you need somewhere to store milk for your Froot Loops, so you get a mini-fridge. Big enough to serve the food storage needs of your average college student and small enough to fit in your shoebox-sized living space, a mini fridge is a worthy purchase you won’t regret. Even if you live off-campus in a house or apartment that already has a full-sized fridge, I still recommend buying a mini-fridge for your bedroom so you can keep a few special snacks away from the vulturous grip of your mooching roommates.
Once you’ve decided to invest in a mini-fridge, the question becomes, which mini-fridge should I get? There are about a million on the market for you to choose from, coming in all styles and sizes, making your purchase a difficult decision. Whatever you need, there’s a mini fridge out there for you, and TUN is here to help you find it. We’ve put together a full mini fridge buying guide with advice and product recommendations catered to the unique needs of college students.
Here’s our top recommendations for each size class – anyone of these is great, so we suggest you choose by price at the time you are looking to buy!
The EdgeStar CRF150SS0-1 is a great, compact mini fridge. Only for those who need a minimal amount of storage space, the CRF150SS0-1 contains only 1.1 cubic feet of storage space, slightly smaller than the average cube mini fridge. It won us over with its versatility, as it can admirably function as either a fridge or a freezer. As a fridge, it’s excellent for holding snacks and a few drinks. Turn the temperature down, and it can hold frozen meals and a couple pints of ice cream.
Dimensions: 17.8 x 18.5 x 19.2 inches
Weight: 42 pounds
Capacity: 1.1 cubic feet
The Midea WHS-65LSS1 is a great cube mini fridge for most people’s purposes. There’s nothing fancy about this unit, but it manages to stay cold with few issues and comes at an affordable price. Small enough to fit underneath a desk, the WHS-65LSS1 nevertheless has a comfortable 1.6 cubic feet worth of storage space. The door shelving can hold cans and bottles of a variety of sizes. There is also a small freezer space perfect for holding a few frozen burritos. The interior shelving is simple, with a single shelf that sits in the middle. The shelf is not glass, but it does come with a no-spill tray for drinks.
Dimensions: 17.7 x 18.6 x 19.4 inches
Weight: 35.3 pounds
Capacity: 1.6 cubic feet
The Black & Decker BCRK17W is another simple, affordable, and well-performing cube fridge. With a 1.7 cubic foot capacity, it has the most interior storage space of our recommended cube mini fridges. The freezer compartment, which spans the width of the fridge, is excellent. Many mini fridges with freezer compartments have trouble keeping food frozen, but this one works like a charm and can keep ice packs, frozen food, or a tray of ice frozen with no problem. The shelving design is pretty standard, though it features an adjustable and spill-proof glass shelf. It is also energy efficient and Energy Star certified.
Dimensions: 18.5 x 17.5 x 19.7 inches
Weight: 33.1 pounds
Capacity: 1.7 cubic feet
The Danby Designer CR044A2BDD is our favorite tall mini fridge due to its unique shelving design. The door features eight individual can holders capable of holding standard 12-ounce cans as well as 16-ounce tall boys. It also features storage space for a liter-sized bottle and a shelf designed to hold eggs. The fridge area has a surprising amount of space, and there is a small freezer compartment atop which spans the whole width of the fridge.
Dimensions: 20.9 x 20.7 x 32.7 inches
Weight: 57.8 pounds
Capacity: 4.4 cubic feet
The Daewoo FR-044RCNM could win on looks alone, but its function matches its form. The retro exterior of this tall mini fridge is beautiful and comes in a variety of clean colors to choose from. The interior looks equally great, with stainless steel features, LED lighting, and glass shelves. In addition to a freezer compartment that runs the width of the fridge, there is also a crisper area for veggies, and compartments for butter and other small items. It doesn’t have features specifically for holding cans or bottles, so it’s not our number one option for storing drinks, but an all-around-excellent refrigerator.
Dimensions: 22.8 x 19.2 x 36.1 inches
Weight: 61 pounds
Capacity: 4.4 cubic feet
The Black & Decker BCRK43V is a simple mini fridge with well-designed and adjustable shelves. It contains all the features you would expect in a tall mini fridge, including dispenser door shelving that can hold six 12-ounce cans, a freezer compartment, and even a crisper area for fruits and veggies. The interior shelving is adjustable, so you can maximize your storage space based on what you intend to store.
Dimensions: 22.8 x 23 x 35.6 inches
Weight: 51 pounds
Capacity: 4.3 cubic feet
The Midea WHD-113FB1 is a great two-door mini fridge that should fit the needs of any student. The interior shelving is simple with two adjustable glass shelves and a crisper area on the bottom. The door shelving features dispenser-style storage for 12-ounce cans as well as space for a liter-sized bottle and a small area to keep butter or an extra 12-ounce can. The freezer area is a spacious 0.92 cubic feet, more than enough to keep a variety of frozen foods and a couple pints of ice cream. The freezer door also has some shelving for extra storage. With an estimated yearly operating cost of $26, its energy usage rates well in comparison to similar models.
Dimensions: 18.5 x 19.4 x 33 inches
Weight: 52.2 pounds
Capacity: 3.1 cubic feet
Another quality mini fridge with a simple design, the EdgeStar CRF321SS features interior shelving that is nearly identical to that in our two-door Midea-made unit. This model features stainless steel doors with black cabinets and 3.1 cubic feet of interior space. In short, the freezer keeps food frozen and the fridge keeps drinks cool. What more could you ask for?
Dimensions: 19.8 x 18.8 x 33.5 inches
Weight: 52 pounds
Capacity: 3.1 cubic feet
If you have plenty of space to spare, the Magic Chef HVDR430SE is an extra-large mini fridge with over 4 cubic feet of food storage space. The freezer is large enough to fit plenty of food and even features a removable shelf. Inside the refrigerator, there are three drawers and a crisper drawer for keeping fruits and vegetables fresh. The door shelving features holders for six cans and space for liter-sized bottles. The extra space in the Magic Chef HVDR430SE may be more than is necessary for most college students, but it would be a great fridge for 2-3 roommates to share.
Dimensions: 20.7 x 19.1 x 43.4 inches
Weight: 71 pounds
Capacity: 4.3 cubic feet
A Unique Alternative
A fun alternative to a traditional mini fridge, the Cooluli Electric Cooler and Warmer is small, ultraportable, and capable of alternatively keeping items cool or warm. Designed primarily for use on camping and road trips, the Cooluli Electric Cooler and Warmer comes with AC and DC power adapters and can be operated using a standard outlet or a car cigarette 12V (DC) adapter. The interior is well-insulated so that it can be used to keep items cold even after being unplugged. It comes in a variety of sizes, but the most convenient for car use is the 10-liter size, which weighs less than eight pounds and can fit 12 cans inside. This cooler/warmer runs on thermoelectric power, so it won’t keep items as ice cold as a standard compressor fridge will. As a result, I don’t recommend it primarily for food storage, but it does a capable job of keeping food and beverages cool and is great on car trips.
Dimensions: 10 x 12.5 x 14.5 inches
Weight: 7.7 pounds
Capacity: 0.35 cubic feet
Things to Consider When Shopping for Water Filters
There are two common types of refrigerators: compressor and thermoelectric. Both have different benefits and drawbacks — which we’ll cover in a second — but we generally recommend compressor refrigerators for most people’s purposes.
- Compressor cooling is the technology used in most full-sized refrigerators. These refrigerators use a coolant gas to carry heat from inside the fridge and expel it externally. They have a few critical advantages over the competition. Namely, they get colder and are cheaper to operate. However, they can also be noisier and are often heavier.
- In thermoelectric refrigerators, heat is transferred out of the refrigerator via an electric current. These refrigerators operate silently and with no vibration. They are also lighter and better for the environment, because they don’t require any coolant. However, they cannot get as cold as compressors, and typically they don’t stay cool enough to store meats. They can be a good option for people interested in a mini-fridge purely for storing snacks and drinks, but most people should look elsewhere.
Size and weight
If you’re moving into a dorm room, this may be one of your main considerations. Make sure you factor in the amount of space you’re going to have available, and allow it to dictate what type of fridge you purchase. Also keep in mind the weight of the fridge. It’s not necessarily the most important factor, but you will likely be moving your fridge around more than you might expect. At the very least, you’re going to have to transport it to your room and move it with you everytime you move.
Mini fridges come in three main styles: cube, tall, and two-door.
Cube mini fridges are named for their shape. The smallest mini fridges, cube fridges typically measure between 22 and 24 inches tall and offer about 2 cubic feet worth of storage space. That means they’re super convenient for dorm room storage — most units will fit under a desk, or possibly even your bed. They don’t offer a tremendous amount of space, but if you need a small unit to store some snacks and a few drinks, you should be fine with one of these.
Tall mini fridges are among the largest mini fridges, but they take up minimal floor space, so they are still a convenient option for most consumers. Tall mini fridges may have anywhere from 3 to 6 cubic feet of storage space, easily enough for any college student’s purposes, and typically have better shelving inside than their cubic counterparts. Some may also have an interior freezer compartment.
Two-door mini fridges have separate freezer compartment, typically located above the refrigerator compartment. While tall mini fridges often have a freezer box located inside the fridge unit, these freezer boxes typically don’t maintain accurate freezer temperatures. The freezer unit in two-door models are better at maintaining low temperatures, keeping frozen food colder. If you would like accessibility to a freezer, whether to store pre-made frozen meals (which come in handy in college) or to store meats for longer periods of time, I recommend going for a two-door model.
For the sake of the environment and your wallet, energy efficiency should be one of your main priorities when looking for a mini fridge. Look for EPA Energy Star rated models. This certification signifies that a product is in or around the top 25 percent most efficient models on the market. Also examine the EnergyGuide label, which will provide an estimate of the unit’s yearly operating cost and an estimate of its yearly electricity consumption. As a general rule, you should look for a compressor-powered fridge, which use less energy than thermoelectric models.
A mini fridge’s shelving arrangement is one of its most important features, and many mini fridges feature unique shelving designs that maximize storage space. For example, some may contain racks for storing cans or even convenient crisper drawers. Before you purchase your fridge, consider what kinds of food items you expect to store in it. If you expect to be keeping a lot of drinks in it, look for shelves with lots of space to store cans and bottles. You will also want to look for units with flat glass shelves to prevent spills from leaking throughout the fridge.
Nobody expects to get a faulty unit, but it does happen from time to time. I recommend seeking out products with a warranty of at least a year, particularly if you are paying upwards of $200 for your fridge.
Sam Benezra is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in History from the Honors Tutorial College. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York. Sam enjoys writing on a variety of subjects, including science, music, politics, film. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, playing guitar, and writing songs.