Mini fridges provide adaptable and compact cold storage for food, drinks and more.
While it’s easy to group all mini fridges in a single category, the reality is that there are different types which perform various functions. They also use different technologies too, so whilst they often have similar aesthetics, that’s only on the outside.
There are some true mini fridges which offer cold storage to keep food fresh and drinks cold. Others are even capable of switching from cold storage to a warm storage mode. Then there are fridges made to be a beer cooler or similar without food storage being provided too.
To help make sense of this for readers, we have split up this buyer guide into six different categories of mini fridge/cooler. A product recommendation per category is provided, which not only covers the best product but also serves to highlight the features you can usually expect too.
Additionally, we have highlighted which types of fridges are suitable for different situations, such as in a dorm room, a home office, man cave, rented flat on a kitchen countertop, for a camping trip, and so on. This will allow you to pick the model that is the most appropriate for your individual needs.
Table of Contents
Best Kitchen Table Top Fridge: Russell Hobbs
The inelegantly named model RHTTLF1B from Russell Hobbs is a top performer. Depending on how it’s priced, it offers excellent value and provides good all-round performance. Russell Hobbs is a respected brand in consumer refrigeration and many other kitchen appliances too.
Unlike many other models, this freestanding Russell Hobbs mini fridge comes in a range of attractive colours – Black, Silver, White or Red – to better fit into the surrounding décor. Its gross weight is 14kg, so it’s not backbreaking to lift and move into position either. There are feet on the underside to avoid scratching a countertop surface or floor.
This Russell Hobbs model sports an A+ energy rating backed by the Energy Star certification program, so this little unit won’t kick up your electric bill too much. The estimate on energy consumption annually is 105 kWh, so you can calculate your cost based on what your energy provider charges per kWh. The noise level is an acceptable 42 decibels. The noise level does reflect the thermostat setting; don’t use the freezer section if you need a quieter mini fridge (or see our silent mini fridge recommended later in this guide).
The model we’re recommending has a 45-litre capacity. Its dimensions are 49.2cm high by 47.2cm wide by 45cm deep. The brand also offers a larger 66-litre model too, if you’re wanting larger cold storage and have the space for it. This 45-litre model fits on a countertop, under a desk or on the carpet of your living room to store cold food and drinks.
The door is reversible, making it easy to access or prevent the door from restricting access with large bottles. Speaking of bottles, there’s a convenient bottle rack inside the door which can hold a 1.5-litre of water or fizzy drink, a pint of milk, a couple of juice smoothies and two Chocolate sundaes above it for good measure.
There’s a single shelf which is removable as needed. When it’s in position, there’s space on the top shelf for a soup container and a tray of tomatoes. In the top right is the thermostat dial control and a small freezer section (the coldest setting is required for the freezer compartment to function). On the bottom, there’s space to add some groceries to keep you going or a packed lunch ready for later.
An instruction booklet is provided with the model. It’s noted that when relocating the appliance, it must be left turned off for 24 hours before turning it on again (the coolant requires this time to resettle). This applies whether bringing it into a space for the first time or relocating the fridge.
Cheaper Recommendation: Cookology
The Cookology Mini Fridge made for table tops looks and acts much like the Russell Hobbs model above but looks less stylish. We’re reviewing the white model, but we note that there are sometimes a black or a colour shade that resembles stainless steel from a distance, available too.
When looking for similar and interior fridge layout at a more affordable price, the Cookology MFR45WH model is worth strong consideration and gets our pick as such.
It’s heavier at 16.4 kg gross weight compared to the 14 kg of the Russell Hobbs alternative.
The same A+ Energy rating for this freestanding mini fridge is present, as you would expect. It holds 46 litres and is roughly 45 decibels during options. One year’s usage is expected to consume 106 kWh.
The interior layout with its 45-litre capacity is almost identical to the Russell Hobbs model, so there’s a door section to hold a 1.5-litre bottle and some other items, and space for a couple of small yoghurts up top. The removable upper shelf can store one large item and some smaller bits below the icebox. The icebox is just large enough to store an ice cube tray inside. The bottom shelf is reasonably spacious to hold food and small drinks too.
The thermostat is positioned in front of the icebox.
The MFR45WH model is useful in a home office, bedroom or for motorhome/RV/camping with supplied electrical hook-ups. However, it does need the usual 24 hours to let the coolant settle. It depends how close you’re sitting near it or what your other activities are whether the 45 dB is too noisy for your needs. It will be fine for some people and not for others. Usually the 4 (out of 5) thermostat setting is cold enough. Use of the icebox requires the coldest setting to be really effective, which typically increases the noise factor to the maximum.
For potential buyers wanting to spend less but get a similar range of features to the Russell Hobbs (but without the vaunted history) then this Cookology model ticks a lot of the right boxes.
Best Silent Mini Fridge for Bedroom: ChillQuiet
The ChillQuiet is our pick for the silent mini fridge to place in your bedroom or elsewhere in places where you don’t need the extra noise distracting you. Whilst it functions a bit like a mini fridge, it’s essentially a compact size mini bar as it’s only designed to store cold drinks ready for consumption.
The system is designed to use heat pipe technologies making it different to some other mini fridges. The use of this different technology enables the product to run whisper quiet. It’s so quiet during operations, in fact, that some people even have it inside a recording studio control room. If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will!
The gross weight is 10 kg, and the unpacked weight is 9 kg. The external measurements are 470mm in height, 380mm in width and 380mm in depth.
The internal storage capacity is 24-litres. There’s a single adjustable shelf (no additional shelves are available to increase this). However, what matters is what kind of bottles can be fit inside. With a high enough removable shelf position, various popular brands of beer bottles or a small bottle of water can fit on the bottom shelf. The top shelf then has enough space to store a few cans of a chosen beverage.
When removing the shelf entirely, this frees up all the refrigerated space to hold up to 8 standard size wine bottles (75cl). They’ll be standing up, not in a rack, but this is still excellent for wine drinkers.
It should also be noted that the reversible door is not see-through, nor does it have an internal compartment like the mini fridges reviewed above. There is a LED light for the interior which is bright enough to read labels while not blinding you if you have the main room lights off at the time.
A one-year warranty is provided by the manufacturer.
Best Mini Fridge for Man Cave: Husky
The Husky HU219 Stella-Artois mini fridge is a cooler but operates differently to the QuillQuiet reviewed above. Instead of heat pipe technologies, this cooler uses more familiar compressor technology. As a result, it’s much noisier at 40 dB which compares well to the mini fridges reviewed at the top of this guide.
The Husky brand fits well with the “Man Cave” suitability of this product. It is officially licenced with the Stella logo displayed both on the glass door and sides of the cooler. It stores up to 40 x 40ml cans of Stella-Artois. However, it’s worth noting that other beer cans with similar dimensions will also enjoy ample space and excellent refrigeration too. Also, there are other cooler design choices available including a Rubik cube for nerds, Coca-Cola for fizzy drink fans, a Kopparberg, Guinness, Carlsberg or Budweiser mini fridges; all made by Husky.
The 45.8-litre capacity of this Stella-Artois mini fridge isn’t likely to disappoint. The square-shaped fridge measuring 51cm high by 43cm wide by 46cm deep has a reversible door that provides easy access to another cold one as needed. The door is metal with a glass interior, making it transparent to see the contents of the cooler from across the room.
The A+ Energy rating ensures this mini fridge won’t add much to the electric bill too. The gross weight of 20.2 kg is bit heftier than other mini fridges under review.
While ideal for a Man Cave, this cooler could sit happily in a garage, a home office when occasionally entertaining, or other places where easy access to a cold drink is desired.
Best Small Capacity Portable Fridge: Subcold Ultra 10 Mini Fridge Cooler & Warmer
The Subcold Ultra 10 is an interesting, adaptable mini fridge that does more than you expect it will.
It has true portable/travel credentials. So, it’s good for going camping but equally works fine indoors as a mini fridge in an office, bedroom, man cave or inside a car too.
There’s a switch on the back to convert it from cold to hot storage via the thermoelectric technology used. It also has an AC and DC switch for RV, motorhome and caravan users running on a different power system too. Additionally, there’s a DC and 12- volt selector (for a cigarette lighter socket) and AC and 230-volt selector too.
The shape is upright rectangular with a rigid carry handle on the top for good measure. The exact measurements are 342mm in height, 244.5 in width and 289mm in depth.
The model is available in black, grey and white. However, the colouring is mainly noticeable on the fridge door because the body remains a light colour whichever colour model is selected.
To give a proper sense of size, this mini fridge could sit on a desk next to a 15.6-inch laptop and wouldn’t be much taller than it. It’s really travel size! The main building material is ABS plastic with glass used for the fridge door.
The limitations on the cooling are 20-degrees Centigrade below the current temperature or provide heat up to 65-degrees Centigrade when using the hot mode. Therefore, while it won’t keep your drinks ice cold if it’s scorching indoors, for the power it uses and its compactness, we’ve no complaints. Similarly, it will keep cooked food warm enough to eat later too. Also, cosmetics or medication that must be kept cold can be stored inside instead.
The internal storage capacity is 10-litres. The interior space can hold ten 330ml cans of beer or fizzy drinks. It’s also able to store milk and keep it fresh. Or hot food, obviously. The internal shelf can also be removed to store 2 x 2 pints of milk or something similarly sized. Sneaking a couple of slim bars of Chocolate on the side of the inside door isn’t out of the question either as there’s a small mini shelf there too.
The gross weight is 3.8 kg clearly showing how this product was designed with true portability in mind. It emits up to 28 dB in sound, which is only about 60% of top-end mini fridges and strikes a balance between a mini fridge and the typically quieter drinks only coolers. It’s very affordable too.
Best Large Capacity Fridge for Camping: Dometic Combicool
Dometic is a big name in RVs/motorhomes and other travels looking for a larger fridge that can handle being parked on somewhat uneven ground and withstanding the bumps from road travel. Therefore, it’s a highly respected name in the portable refrigeration space for consumers.
Consequently, Dometic have numerous models available offering different levels of storage capacity, minimum internal cooling temperature, and so forth. We’ve focused on the RC2200 model, which has a 41-litre internal capacity. The external dimensions of this product are 50.8 x 50 x 44.4 cm.
It uses 85 watts during operations and may run off a 12-volt power system (draws 8 amps). This is because these larger fridges are mainly designed for motorhome owners. For the UK market, there’s also a fitted 230-volt system to plug directly into the UK mains power system too, so you have the best of both worlds here.
Additionally, gas can be used to power the fridge too. There’s a Piezo ignition system to use the gas for the fridge. There’s also a 3-step regulation for flame management when using gas. A cradle is designed within the unit to fit a replaceable gas canister without it sticking out. The 30-volt setup allows for reliable thermostat reading too.
The wide, black lid lifts upwards from the front. A vent is behind it with a control system to the left of it. There are two recessed handles, one on either side to lift the fridge to carry it or lift it into position. It will be necessary to empty out the contents before attempting to lift it as it’s substantial and weighs up to 14 kilos (gross weight).
The internal capacity is 41 litres which is large enough to store up to a 2-litre bottle of water; standing storage for 13 x 1.5-litre water bottles is possible too. An ice cube tray is included. Many campers and motorhome owners use this type of fridge to store food for cooking later on a gas travel stove.
The fridge can achieve 33-degrees Centigrade below the ambient temperature. So, it depends on how hot it is where the fridge is positioned as to how cool it will be internally. The fridge itself does push out a little bit of heat during operations, but it’s minimal when compared to a regular fridge.
Mini Fridge Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much can you fit in a mini fridge?
A: A cooler that only stores drinks on the low end can store 10-litres. For a mini fridge designed to store food/drinks, the storage capacity might be up to 45-litres. The larger sized mini fridges typically have a removable shelf which is height adjustable using grooves on either side of the interior. This allows storing taller items on the bottom or on the inside door, which often has storage for bottles or pints of milk. The upper shelf will store food, and there’s sometimes a freezer box for ice cubes, etc.
Q: How safe are they?
A: Most mini fridges run off UK mains power. They have coolant inside that must be allowed to settle for 24 hours when installing or relocating the fridge. Some travel models use different cooling technology. Other motorhome/camping oriented models may provide the option of 12-volt DC power, UK 230-volt mains power or an insertable gas canister for true off-road living. As long as you follow the instructions, these are safe products to use indoors and depending on the model’s suitability, sometimes outdoors in the shade too.
Q: Do they keep drinks at very cold temperatures?
A: That depends on the model and cooling technology used. Some may achieve a 5-degrees Centigrade temperature while other models work by reducing the refrigerated temperature by 20 to 33 degrees Centigrade lower compared to the ambient temperature. For UK users, this is likely to be cold enough.
Q: How quiet are they?
A: There are small, almost silent models to store drinks. Regular mini fridges are around 40 decibels which can be heard during use. They’re fairly quiet though unless you expect almost no sound which for food cooling is not realistic.
Q: How much electric do they use?
A: Most mini fridges use around 7 amps. They use significantly less electricity than a standard large fridge/freezer, which is a power hog by comparison. Both still have an A+ energy rating, but mini fridges are cooling a much smaller litre capacity storage area, so they’re inexpensive to run.