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How Much Power Does a Mini Fridge Use? Simple Tips You Can Use

For proffesional truck drivers, RVers and travelers, the mini fridge is the main stay of taking food with you while you’re on the road. Here’s a few tips you may not know.

Mini fridges are almost a necessity for truckers. You know that you have to be careful about how much stress you put on your battery or inverter, so you may be wondering: How much power does a mini fridge use? The answer depends on several factors. Let’s just dive right in and find out.

How Much Power Does A Mini Fridge Use?

The average truck-sized mini fridge pulls between 50 and 75 watts from an inverter. For DC applications, that’s between 4.5 and almost 7 DC amps.

AC Applications

Most truckers run their fridges off of inverters. In that case, you’re mostly concerned with AC watts and amps, and you don’t have to worry about the DC draw from your battery. The best power inverter will have a safety feature that will keep your battery from draining past the danger mark.

But it’s still important to be as accurate as possible when calculating the drain on your inverter. Overloading an inverter can trip it’s breaker and cause a lot of headaches.

Know your inverter’s rating, whether it’s built into your truck’s electrical system or an add-on.

Think about the other stuff you run.

A mini microwave may pull around 700 watts; Add that to your fridge, and you probably end up with a draw of around 760 watts when both are running. 

But you have to consider your fridge’s startup pull, because it takes a lot of juice to start a compressor of any size. A good rule of thumb to calculate a mini fridge compressor’s startup draw is to triple the running wattage.

So if your fridge takes 65 watts to run, it’ll pull almost 200 watts for that split second that it’s getting going.

Using the microwave and mini fridge specs from above, we can say that if your mini fridge starts a cycle when your microwave is running, the demand on your inverter will be about 900 watts. That’s pretty close to the breaking point of a 1,000-watt inverter. 

Given that a breaker may trip at anywhere from 80 to 120 percent of its rated capacity, both of those mini appliances running at once can trip your inverter’s breaker. This is why it’s important to know what kind of power your fridge and other appliances pull.

Just add all of your wattages together and make sure you never overload your system.

DC Applications

If you don’t have a 110 outlet or an inverter in your truck, you’ll have to run your mini fridge directly off of your truck’s DC power supply. This probably means that you won’t be running anything else at the same time as your fridge, except maybe a small device charger. 

So, you won’t have to worry about inverter circuit breakers. But you will have to be cautious about draining your battery. Most trucks have circuits built in somewhere between their battery and their DC outlets, but not all do.

Go by your fridge’s DC amperage rating. Don’t exceed the rating of the outlet you’re using.More than likely though, you probably won’t. Most DC receptacles supply 10 amps. 

You can just about run a 100-watt mini fridge on that kind of amperage. It would be a good idea to have a few extra fuses, though.

To find the DC amp draw of a mini fridge that runs on AC power, divide the AC wattage rating of the fridge by 12 and multiply that by 1.1. This knowledge is useful if you use one of those really small inverters that are basically just DC-to-AC adapters.

Whether you’re trying to calculate AC or DC draw, this website has a useful tool to help you figure out your power needs. 

How To Minimize Your Mini Fridge’s Power Consumption

Fridges, microwaves, televisions, ELDs and laptops are all creature comforts (except ELDs of course) that truckers like to bring to add a touch of home to their trucks, right? It seems like we are constantly demanding more power from our trucks. 

The problem is that there is only so much accessory power you can ask of a truck’s electrical system. You don’t want to constantly have to think about your power draw.

Think about it;

You don’t want to fry an expensive inverter, or worse, keep draining your battery until it stops taking a charge. Truck batteries are way too expensive nowadays, aren’t they?

The thing is;

You should make your fridge as efficient as possible. It may seem like there’s nothing you can do, but there are a few small things that can make a big difference.

4 Simple Tips For Mini Fridges

These four simple tips can help you keep your mini fridges power consumption in check as well keep the fridge working properly. 

Keep your fridge’s door gasket clean. 

Just a little dirt or grime can prevent the gasket from forming an airtight seal. That’ll let cold air leak from the fridge, which of course will cause the fridge’s compressor to run more often. Use mild dish detergent and warm water to clean that gasket.

Full refrigerators hold their temperatures better

After you stock your fridge for a haul, fill up as much empty space as possible with bottled water or soft drinks. I recommend this because water and drinks typically have a long shelf life. If you don’t drink them on your trip, they’ll still be good for the next one. A couple bottles of water can even be a permanent feature of your freezer compartment, if your fridge has one.

Some chest-type mini fridges have compatible insulated covers

They minimize heat transfer from your truck’s interior to your fridge’s interior. You may think this can’t be an issue, and it usually won’t be unless a lot of direct sun hits the fridge. 

This may happen more than you think. Your truck has windows and a big windshield, doesn’t it? Another advantage that these insulated covers has is protection for your fridge’s finish. They keep it from getting scratched up.

Here comes the sun

If you want to get really efficient, you can add a solar panel to the mix. There are several ways to do this and some ways can get really complicated. But you can buy a cheap solar panel that fits on your dash and hook it up to directly feed your mini fridge electricity when your truck’s engine is off.

That’ll prevent idle drain on your battery, and It’s pretty easy to connect a small solar panel to a fridge that’s made to run on DC power. For AC fridges, you can still connect the solar panel to your inverter. Connecting to an inverter can be a little more complicated, but more and more truckers are doing it.

How To Pick An Efficient Mini Fridge

The best way to minimize the power draw from your mini fridge is to get an efficient one to begin with. I wouldn’t go out and buy a new one just to save power, but if you’re in the market for a new one or just about to buy your first, keep these tips in mind while shopping.

First of all, get a mini fridge that’s just a little bigger than you think you need. Don’t go out and buy the biggest one that will fit in your truck. Bigger fridges usually have bigger compressors,  bigger compressors obviously draw more power. It also takes more food and drinks to fill up a big fridge. You’ll end up wasting electricity to cool the air in the mini fridges interior.

It’s also a good idea to look at fridges with energy star labels. To qualify, appliances have to have an efficiency rating at least 15 percent better than federal minimum efficiency standards.

You want a fridge with good insulation, at any rate. It’s the insulation that keeps all that cold air inside the fridge, where it belongs.

The color of the fridge actually makes a difference, too. Black may blend in with your truck’s interior better than light colors will, but darker colors absorb heat energy. Ideally, you want light, which can be considered a form of heat energy, to be reflected away. The lighter the color, the better, at least when it comes to efficiency.

Check out our list of the best mini fridge for truckers to get see our buying guide and picks.

Conclusion

how much power does a mini fridge use

How much power does a mini fridge use? Now you know the answer. It all depends on the size of the fridge and how you use it. Of course, you want that power draw to be as low as possible, don’t you? Well, you know how to minimize the electrical pull now, too. And that really is important today, with all of our mini appliances that are made for pro drivers.

For those who want to really power up, check out our article on connecting power inverters in parallel.

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