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Is it normal for a mini fridge to get hot? 3 Simple Tips

Many pro truck drivers who spend a lot of time out on the road invest in a mini fridge and install it somewhere in the sleeper area. But is the area ventilated enough to handle heat and is it normal for a mini fridge to get hot?

Is it normal for a mini fridge to get hot

One thing that makes road life a bit easier and a little more like home is the ability to take food and drinks with you. Because your taking food with you you’ll need to store that food and [Spoiler Alert] you’re going to need a mini fridge.  

Let’s face it;

Commercial travel with a truck or similar large vehicle isn’t without its hiccups. There are bad drivers to constantly be aware of, congested traffic, and plenty of inclement weather to go with it. Having to deal with your on board fridge shouldn’t be an issue. 

But what about situations where the food doesn’t seem to stay cold? It’s something that many commercial motorists struggle in dealing with. But is it normal for a mini fridge to get hot?

Related: Accessories for Truck Drivers

Is It Normal for a Mini Fridge to Get Hot?

For the exterior, yes, it’s a normal thing. Refrigerators need electricity to run, whereby the cooler is activated when its interior temperature exceeds the temperature that you set it at. Large coolers have this issue, though the heat could be even worse with smaller models.

Coolers that rely on a smaller amount of electricity are sometimes cooler to the touch, but not by much. However, some circumstances could make the cooler much hotter on the outside than normal. If this occurs, the heat could even affect the lifetime of the refrigerator.

A mini fridge, for example, is already in a strained situation when placed inside of a moving vehicle. The truck may vary in temperature according to the region, or how often the driver uses air conditioning and heating.

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If there are cracks in the refrigerator’s gasket that seal in the cool air, it can result in food being unable to reach a temp that’s below 40 degrees. This is the maximum recommended temperature for refrigerated food. If the cooler’s inside is above this number by even a couple of degrees, the food would be at risk of turning back faster.

Furthermore, if the cooler has a portion dedicated to freezing food, the freezer may have a hard time getting below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The result is a cooler that must work harder to refrigerate food, meaning that it stays on longer and gets hotter on the outside.

As you may have guessed, this in turn opens up the potential for more trips to refuel, more funds spent on service, and spoiled food getting thrown away more often.

Why Is My Mini Fridge Getting Hot?

Mini fridges get hot when they’re forced to stay on to keep food cool, as discussed here.

Many electronic items become warm to hot during use. The source of the heat is the electric current being fed to the motor, which turns a fan, which transfers warm air from inside the cooler to the outside. The cooler constantly does this, usually when only necessary.

Most people set their refrigerators to run periodically, including mini coolers. Because of the way that mini coolers are stored, they tend to suffer from longer cooling times than ordinary house refrigerators. They’re sometimes turned off for extended periods when receiving power from the truck’s battery.

Is It Normal for a Fridge to Be Hot on the Side?

Yes, heating along the sidewalls of a refrigerator is perfectly normal. Mini coolers have defrosters placed in the back, which transfers air that’s warmer than the temp set for the inside. In other words, the refrigerator acts as an air conditioner of sorts for the space inside of it. When this happens, the heat travels from the sides and comes out from the rear.

How to Keep a Mini Refrigerator From Getting Too Hot

The easiest way to prevent or lower excessive heating on a mini cooler’s exterior is by changing where you store it. Since mini fridges are often bought as a means of conserving space, the area around them is sometimes riddled with other items.

They can also be placed close to walls or other objects that generate lots of heat, such as stoves or microwaves. This can lead to the cooler’s exterior warming up to the point of it being unable to be touched without causing pain.

There are four types of refrigerators: top-freezer (or top-mount), bottom-freezer (or bottom-mount), side-by-side, and built-in.
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First, check to see if there’s any place for you to remove the cooler, especially if it’s currently placed in a position that’s closed off. Give the sides at least six inches of space. The rear should have about three inches of space, though less if you can find a spot where it rarely gets hot. Try to avoid placing nearby curtains or other materials that hold in heat well.

Ensure that the mini cooler you’re using is made to withstand the setting of a truck cabin. Not every small cooler is built to last long in such a place, where the confines are small. The best truck refrigerators operate with minimal wastage, are thoroughly insulated from the outside, and can even keep their exteriors cool while running.

Lastly, you might need to rearrange some of the items in your truck cabin. Too many articles of clothing, large stoves, and blockage of AC vents can all contribute to hotter coolers. And with a hotter cooler comes a warmer cabin.

If you’re driving in warm climates, the poor placement of a mini fridge could make the temperature much hotter than it would be if it weren’t there. Rearrange to see if that fixes the issue. If it doesn’t and you’ve had your unit for a while, then a newer model should be considered.

Is it normal for a mini fridge to get hot…Summary

With a hot refrigerator, the comfort you experience while driving could be less. Is it normal for a mini fridge to get hot? Yes, but as we’ve talked about, there are things to be careful of. 

Place one in the wrong spot, and the unit may instantly become a heat magnet. At first thought, some might not think that a cooler could have the opposite effect. But refrigerators work through heat transfer from warm on the outside for cold air to envelop the food being stored.

So if your truck feels a bit warmer than you would like, check to see if the problem stems from the cooler. You might be surprised just how comfortable your cabin is once you move the refrigerator from one corner to a place where it can breathe easier.

More Reading: Can a Mini Fridge Be Connected To An Extension Cord?

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