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Mini-Refrigerators: Main Criteria For Choosing

A modern mini fridge is a portable device that fully performs all the functions of a cooling unit. It is used to reproduce design ideas when arranging a kitchen, as a bar for hotel rooms, or to store food on a trip.


The latter option refers to the portable category and can be represented as a portable option or a fridge and thermoelectric device for the car. In this article, we will talk about what is desirable to consider when choosing the mini-refrigerator.


Types of mini-refrigerators


mini fridge in the kitchen

Refrigerators have long been an important part of our everyday life. Most prefer dimensional models with capacious chambers and freezers.


However, for hotels or cars, such a capacious unit is not at all suitable. In this case, the rational decision is to purchase a small, but quite a convenient refrigerator.


Depending on the design type of the device, the principle of operation and dimensions, there are several main categories of portable refrigerators: portable, up to 11 liters, automobile/car – up to 110 liters, and stationery – up to 122 liters.


Of course, the most compact representative is an isothermal cooler bag. Visually, this is a small-size case with different configurations and designs.


The package may include a wide variety of accessories, for example, cutlery for a comfortable picnic, etc.


Such a device can for a long time maintain the necessary temperature conditions for storing food on a trip.


In addition to insulation, the use of one or more refrigeration elements is mandatory. Special cold accumulators/batteries are made of durable plastic, liquid-filled, and they must first be frozen before putting them in the cooler bag.


The advantages of such thermal containers are compact size, simpleness, and affordable cost. The disadvantage is obvious – over time, the cooling elements are thawed, therefore, such refrigerators are not designed for long-term storage, a preferable maximum is one day.


The smallest refrigerator in the world is designed for only two cans of drink – its volume is 0.4 liters. Like many other portable devices, it can work for both cooling or heating.


To start the cooler, you will need to connect it via a standard USB connector to a desktop computer or laptop. Since the dimensions of such a chamber are very small, five minutes of the operating mode are enough.


For some users, designing their comfort zone is not possible without a compact refrigerator, which can easily be placed even on a coffee table. At the same time, designers are not limited to the standard appearance.


Various decorative solutions, for example, a mini-model in the form of a telephone box, allow you to bring some zest to the retro interior.


The capacity of such units varies from 5 to 11 liters. However, these options are designed to work in only one of the modes: refrigeration or freezer.


Use in the car


Mini-refrigerators specifically designed for use in the car are perfect for long trips. The choice of their volume is based on the number of people for whom the products will be kept in the device.


For a company of four passengers, a 30-40-liter chamber will be enough. For short trips, you can use the smallest option of 7-10 liters.


Depending on the type of power supply, refrigerators can operate through such sources:


  • car electric network;
  • combined type;
  • liquefied gas.


If a unit is selected for a passenger car, its voltage should be 12 V, and for a truck, it must be twice as much – 24 V.


The combined type of cooling device can function not only from the cigarette lighter socket but also from the home network. Devices operating on liquefied gas with the help of a single-cylinder are able to provide the necessary temperature conditions for at least 7 days of continuous operation.


Functional classification


Mini-refrigerators are presented in several forms.


Based on the type of construction, there are four main categories of units:

  • isothermal;
  • compressor
  • thermoelectric;
  • absorption.


The isothermal option is an absolutely silent analog of a household appliance. It can be made in the form of thermal boxes, where the cigarette lighter or a conventional outlet serves as an electric source, but there are models that do not require a connection at all.


Its principle of operation is quite simple: the built-in plastic cold accumulator maintains the desired temperature for a certain period of time.


Depending on the environmental conditions and the load on the chamber, the average exposure of the cooling mode is up to 10 hours, and the heating mode – up to 8 hours.


A refrigerant made in the form of a briquette filled with a special heat-consuming composition needs constant recharging. To do this, it is placed in the freezer until completely frozen.


The compressor type is noisier, which does not interfere with car lovers, because in the process of driving in the vehicle this drawback is not noticeable.


Freon mobile refrigerators are economical in power consumption. The unit is equipped with a special safety device that notifies you of a low battery.


Usually, cooling is carried out from -15 to -22 ° C / 5-7.6 F, so the container is quite suitable for freezing food.


The thermoelectric type can operate in two modes: cooling and heating. They have increased resistance to mechanical damage, insensitive to tilting and vibration. The best representatives of this species are able to cool to 0 ° C / 32 F, reducing the temperature by almost 30 ° C / 86 F from external indicators.


These devices are multifunctional and multi-seasonal. Additionally, they have a heating function up to +65 ° C / 149 F.


It is possible to control all processes and settings thanks to the display. The package includes a cable for sockets designed for 220 V.


Absorption (gas) thermal boxes are operating from a 12 V and 220 V network or a gas cylinder. Due to this, they are quite suitable for long trips by car. When operating exclusively on a gas cylinder of 6 liters (or more), the charge is enough for seven days of continuous operation.


The refrigerant here is ammonia-water concentrate. The heater can use not only gas but also the mains.


Absorption models are used both in automobiles and in everyday life due to the good chamber volume, efficient gas consumption and silent operation. They are especially relevant in areas where there are constant interruptions in electricity.


What to consider when choosing a mini cooler?


Before choosing a specific model of a small refrigerator, it is worth carefully familiarizing yourself with the specifications declared by the manufacturer. Here are a few recommendations on this subject, and consider all the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular models.


# 1 – dimensions and type of construction

For a small kitchen with a small cubic capacity, an ergonomic solution is a compact refrigerator up to 130 cm / 51 inch high. Conventionally, such devices are divided into minibars used to cool drinks, and full-fledged refrigerators with or without a freezer, but in a compact design.


Refrigeration equipment is represented by freestanding or built-in options. In the second case, the equipment is placed in a prepared niche in whole or in part, depending on the idea of ​​the person. Also, models in the form of drawers or independent boxes are popular.


Manufacturers of small freezing equipment produce single- and two-chamber systems with and without a compressor. Despite small dimensions, some have retractable shelves for drinks.


For free-standing units, the installation location is not limited to space under the kitchen worktop, they can be placed in any niche. Most single chamber fridges are also equipped with a freezer. There are models with the lower and upper arrangement of the freezer compartment. However, the first option is more spacious.


There are models without a freezer at all, and accordingly, there is much more useful space in them. Nevertheless, separate freezer cabinets are purchased for domestic use.


# 2 – the type of defrost system

Just like standard models, small-sized ones work with one of the defrosting systems: a crying (weeping) wall or No Frost.


The principle of operation of the equipment with a weeping wall looks like this: condensate droplets formed on the rear wall of the chamber drain into a special compartment, where they are evaporated.


Such refrigerators must be thawed once a year. This is a budget option.


No Frost technology is based on chilled air circulation. Condensed moisture enters a special compartment where it evaporates. As a result, there is no need for defrosting.


# 3 – materials of the case

Recently, shockproof plastic has been used as the main material for the manufacture of the case. Due to this, there is a significant reduction in metal consumption in the manufacturing process, which reduces the total weight of the device.


Despite the positive characteristics of this composition, the most reliable version is still the combination of plastic and metal.


# 4 – energy class and management

Mini-refrigeration equipment is not complicated by unnecessary details, so you should not count on anything more than the electromechanical type of operating parameters. However, this solution is quite successfully implemented – for the most demanding customers they produce models with multi-stage temperature settings.


With regard to energy consumption, refrigerators with small dimensions consume quite a bit of energy in operation mode, but for maximum savings choose class A energy consumption. Nevertheless, B class will also not affect your monthly energy bill significantly.


# 5 – compressor and type of refrigerant

Mini-refrigerators are equipped with reciprocating compressors only. Such a motor unit perfectly demonstrated its positive qualities. But the refrigerant is represented by several options. It is useful to opt for an isobutane engine. It is less noisy and more efficient.


It is also worth paying attention that piston units cannot be disassembled at home since this leads to depressurization. To repair such a motor, special equipment will be required.


# 6 – climate categories

Due to their compact dimensions, small refrigeration units can be installed in the most non-standard places: balcony, corridor, garage, etc.


It is better to arm yourself with knowledge of a suitable climate class, as indicated in the equipment manual:


T – / + 18 … + 43 ° C – not suitable for a balcony or garage, but great for hot climate.

N – / + 16 … + 32 ° C – the most suitable option for most regions.

N-ST – / + 16 … + 38 ° C – it is similar to the previous class.


The operating manual will help find out which climate class the device belongs to. This information is also mentioned on a sticker on the back of the unit, along with other parameters.


The life of a modern person can no longer be imagined without household appliances, and the refrigerator can be attributed to the most necessary ones.


Nevertheless, the interior should not be cluttered with bulky equipment, and today’s models of small refrigeration units are presented at a decent level. Therefore, it will be easy to choose the best mini-option that can be useful not only in everyday life but also on trips or for camping out.