Can You Just Plug in a Mini Fridge?
When it comes to choosing a mini-fridge, the process can seem long, confusing, and even a bit expensive. Should you purchase an Energy Star-approved appliance? Does it qualify for “freezer” or “refrigerator” functions? Will the mini-fridge plug into your home’s electrical system or is there a dedicated circuit needed? Let’s take a look at these things…
If there are three prongs in the wall, you can likely plug in your refrigerator without having an electrician install anything else. The three-pronged outlets on your wall are grounded outlets — they have a ground pin — so you don’t need to install any other electrical equipment in your home for your new mini fridge to work.
It’s the same kind you might use to plug in an electric hair dryer or curling iron, although the breaker should be rated for at least 20 amps.
If you’re using an older home with two-prong wiring, you’ll need to have your electrician install a three-prong outlet specifically for the refrigerator.
And if you’re using an older refrigerator designed for a different voltage than U.S. outlets, also contact your electrician to check the voltage specifications and make sure you have a matching breaker in place.
After making sure that your refrigerator does not exceed the amperage capacity of your circuit, plug it in and turn it on. Plug your refrigerator into the wall and turn it on. That’s all there is to it!
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Does a Mini Fridge Need a Dedicated Circuit?
With an increasing number of gadgets and devices needing to be plugged in, it can become a challenge to find room for everything, especially when you have to consider that your kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house.
Tapping into an existing circuit is fine as long as the load on the circuit will not be greater than the wiring can handle.
Each circuit has its own capacity, and this capacity limits how much electricity it can safely deliver at one time. When calculating the appropriate load for a circuit, you multiply the voltage of the wires by their amperage.
To determine if you should have a dedicated circuit for your refrigerator, you must know how much power it will draw over time. You also need to know how much power is available on your existing circuits and what types of appliances might be using that same circuit.
Trying to run a fridge off of the same circuit as other appliances could cause overloads and power outages. Having a separate circuit means that if there’s an overload (or if the fridge malfunctions), it won’t affect any other appliances or the rest of the house.
However, it is not necessary or is it a legal requirement to have your mini-fridge (or a normal full-size refrigerator for that matter) on a dedicated circuit.
The NEC (National Electric Code) is a set of regulations developed by the National Fire Protection Association. It’s the building code that governs all electrical work in the US and they don’t require it.
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Can You Plug a Mini Fridge into a Regular Outlet?
Generally speaking, if you can plug in a lamp, you can plug in a refrigerator. Most refrigerators sold today are designed to run on household current and won’t require any kind of special outlet.
A mini-fridge is a convenient appliance to keep your beer and soda cold, or maybe even food, depending on how long you are camping or RVing. They can also be plugged into a regular outlet, right? YES!
You can plug a mini-fridge into a regular outlet as long as the circuit is big enough for the load. You can get a good idea of how much power your new appliance will take by looking at the energy guide label stuck to the side of it. This will tell you how many amps and watts your appliance requires.
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How Many Amps Does a Mini Fridge Use?
A mini-fridge is one of the most common types of appliances in use today. While a full-size refrigerator can be a great convenience, especially if it’s in your kitchen, sometimes you need something smaller.
Tiny homes are very popular and they make use of all available space. That may include the space under the stairs, which is often right next to the kitchen. What better place for a mini-fridge? However, you should know how many amps a mini fridge use before purchasing one.
A mini-fridge needs very little electricity because it is smaller and doesn’t hold as much food compared to a regular refrigerator. It also doesn’t have as much insulation, so it doesn’t need as much air circulation.
You are best checking what the manufacturer says about amp usage for your particular mini-fridge. However, a typical mini-fridge uses around four amps or less. You should ensure that the circuit supplying power to your appliance has at least 10 amps available, according to Energy Star standards.
To get an accurate number for your appliance you need to know the type of refrigerator you have as well as any additional features it may have. One factor that can affect the total energy use is whether or not the refrigerator is on a separate circuit from other appliances in your home.
If your kitchen has separate circuits for most appliances and systems, your fridge will use only part of the full capacity of the circuit’s maximum wattage. If your fridge shares a circuit with other large-draw appliances such as a dishwasher, oven, or coffee machine, it will draw more current than if it had its own circuit.
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Can I Run a Mini Fridge Off an Inverter?
Can you run a mini-fridge off an inverter? The short answer is yes, you can run a mini-fridge off an inverter. However, there are some things you need to be aware of.
It depends on the size of your inverter and the size of your fridge. Power inverters work by taking the direct current from your vehicle’s battery, and converting it to alternating current which can be used to power a variety of household appliances.
Inverters are rated by their continuous wattage level which determines how much power it takes to keep the inverter running.
The first thing you have to do is figure out whether or not your vehicle has enough power available to run the fridge. Since most mini-fridges draw more than 300 watts (a little over 1/3 horsepower), they are going to need a pretty hefty source of electricity.
Even if you have 1000 watts worth of power available through your inverter, it could still be insufficient to run the mini-fridge. That’s because the typical mini fridge will use anywhere between 800 and 1200 watts under load!
The catch is that a fridge is a “dynamic” load. It draws power only when the compressor starts up. Once it shuts down, the load drops to zero within seconds. Inverters are “static” loads in that they supply power at a steady rate, even when there is no demand for it (like during sleeping hours).
This means an inverter must continuously supply power to the fridge during off-time, causing additional strain on the batteries (lowering their lifespan).
Inverters are designed to run things like lights, fans, laptops, and other appliances with steady loads. This can be done by adding an automatic timer that will switch the inverter on and off during certain hours of the day. So it’s possible, but you should know that it would reduce your battery lifespan considerably.
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Can You Use a Power Strip for a Mini Fridge?
The answer for the most part is that it’s not a good idea. Power strips are made to provide an extra outlet without any protection from electrical problems, like surges and spikes. They’re also meant to just be used with electronics like computers and televisions, where no other device would be plugged into the same outlet.
Power strips do not have the flexibility or capacity to properly protect your refrigerator. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t plug anything else into the same power outlet as your refrigerator.
If you want to use a power strip you obviously want to use more than one appliance from the outlet which is a big no-no and it may void your mini-fridge warranty. Also, what if the power strip overload and the surge protector activates? Especially while you are at work or away – whatever is in your mini-fridge will spoil.
Plus, using a power strip with more than one item with your mini-fridge could be a fire hazard and could lead to a denial of any insurance claims.
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Can a Mini Fridge Be Plugged into an Extension Cord?
Can these mini refrigerators be plugged into an extension cord? The answer to that question is yes, they can but there are some things to watch out for when doing so.
Trouble is, that most extension cords are not powerful enough to handle the continuous use of household appliances.
The first thing to watch out for is whether or not your extension cord is rated for your appliance’s power needs. If you have a 24-hour timer on the mini-refrigerator then it needs to have a heavy-duty extension cord so that it will work properly. A light-duty cord could overheat and cause a fire if you use it with your mini-refrigerator.
Another thing to watch out for is how long the extension cord is. If you use too long of an extension cord with your mini-refrigerator, you could potentially overload it and cause a fire.
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You don’t want to plug your refrigerator into a multi-plug outlet with other appliances. The refrigerator will overload the circuit and blow every time you use it.
No, A mini-fridge should not be sharing a wall socket. While most of the time a mini-fridge uses very little current the problem is that when the compressor first turns on it creates a large starting current.
The current can spike to 3 times higher than normal. On a shared circuit this can cause other appliances to trip their circuit breakers and may even result in a fire.
Can You Plug a Microwave and a Mini Refrigerator on the Same Outlet?
So what happens if a refrigerator is plugged into an outlet shared by another appliance? In this case, the other appliance is going to have to compete with the refrigerator for power from the wall socket.
If there isn’t enough power available to both devices, then one of them may stop working properly—or worse yet, both devices could stop working!
So, your mini-fridge should be the only thing plugged into that outlet. Do not share it with anything else.
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In summary, the general guideline is that if there are three prongs, you don’t need to do anything special. You can plug your fridge into a regular outlet. But, if your outlet has only two prongs, or you have a two-pronged adapter, this puts you in a bit of a predicament.
Your best option might be to hire an electrician (or check out the official Energy Star guidelines) who can install a ground pin for you.
You may also be interested in… Why Does My Mini Fridge Freeze Everything? (What Can You Do?) and Is Danby A Good Brand? (Highly Efficient Mini Fridges)