How to Set Up a Mini Fridge

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Make sure to properly level your mini fridge.
Image Credit: Pawel Wewiorski/Moment/GettyImages

When it comes to setting up kitchen appliances, ensuring they sit level on the ground or counter is often job one — and, surprisingly, it's true of mini fridges too. When planning your mini fridge setup, where and how you install it is just as important as how to operate it.

Mini Fridge Setup

Space: Just like their bigger cousins, a mini fridge can't be too close to the wall. The recommended distance is at least 3 inches away because it needs to have air circulation so the cooling coils function properly. You can't put the door-hinge side too close to the wall either, as it may need an inch or so for clearance when opening it.

Surface: The flooring must be level or the fridge must be made level, because the oil in the compressor that cools the fridge down will not do its job properly if the appliance is unlevel. Also, an unlevel fridge can have poor sealing around the door, making it even less effective and potentially leading to moisture issues and frosting. This can be helped with either adjustable footings on the fridge or by using a mini fridge stand, especially for fridges sitting on carpet. As a plus, many stands offer additional storage shelves and racks.

Racks: If you've got adjustable racks for inside the fridge, consider what you're using it for and adjust accordingly. Milk jugs? Consider the height.

Mini Fridge Temperature Dial

Whether you're talking old white spinning dials, a knob or digital displays, the mini fridge manufacturer guidelines will tell you the "ideal" setting for the fridge. If you don't have the owner's manual, then a quick bit of online web searching for the brand, model name and model number should get you a downloadable copy of the guidelines, if you feel you need it.

But a safe way to go with any fridge is to pick the midrange of temperature options. For instance, with Whirlpool mini fridge settings 1-7, level 1 is coldest and 7 the least cold, and 3 to 4 would be in the middle, according to Spoon University. If you're storing things like lettuce, which can spoil when freezing, err on the cautious side and choose the lower to middle temperatures to start. If you have an instant read digital meat thermometer, you could use it to gauge the fridge, and for food safety it should be under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be patient, though, because it can take 24 hours for the fridge to hit full effectiveness — or even longer if you've not set it levelled or it was toppled while moving it. Always keep a fridge upright, even when moving it.

Mini Fridge Tips

  • Freezers often don't have a separate control in mini fridges, and they're not as effective as regular freezers, so don't use them for long food storage.
  • While drink can dispensers are popular, they're not always the most efficient use of space. Keeping six-packs intact can be a better move.
  • If you're not planning to use the slide-out crisper for veggies, as intended, which comes with some mini fridge models, then why not slide it out for additional storage for the items you do intend to stock?
  • Locate the drip tray in the fridge and wipe it dry. This is where condensation collects. Don't panic if condensation does collect, of course, because this can be a by-product of changing humidity or other climate factors that come and go with seasons and weather shifts.
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Steffani Cameron is the daughter of a realtor and interior decorator mother and a home contractor father. Steffani is a professional writer with over five years' experience writing about the home for BuildDirect and Bob Vila. Raised with a mad love for decorating, Steffani gave up her Art Deco apartment to travel and work remotely for five years. She's in love with experiencing traditional decor around the world, including stays in Thai teak plantations on the Mekong River and cave homes in Turkey.

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