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Compact vs Mini vs Portable Refrigerators: What to Buy?

Surprisingly, refrigerators come in a multitude of types. If you need something smaller than a full-size fridge, you have several options from which to choose – compact, mini and portable. Here are how every three types differ.

Compact vs Mini vs Portable Refrigerators

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Mini Refrigerators

A mainstay of every dorm room in America, the mini refrigerator is smaller and lighter than compact fridges and lighter than many portable fridges. These fridges are cube-like in shape, and they weigh about 20 to 30 pounds, making them easy to tote from one place to another.

With a capacity of 1.5 to 3 cubic feet, mini fridges can hold a 12-pack of soda and a few snacks. Depending on the model, there may also be a freezer section. Mini fridges with a freezer compartment are large enough to store a frozen meal or two along with a tray of ice. These refrigerators are excellent for college students, people who live with a roommate or anyone who wants drinks on-hand at the office.

Compact vs Mini Refrigerators

Like full-size refrigerators, many mini-fridges allow you to install the door to open on either side. If you don’t want anyone indulging in one of your sodas when you aren’t home, you can get a mini fridge with a door lock. Additionally, mini fridges come in a variety of finishes from solid white to stainless steel.

Compact Refrigerators

Compact refrigerators are larger than their mini fridge counterparts. In terms of interior space, these refrigerators range from 3 to 7 or more cubic feet. They are handy to have in a variety of settings, including RVs, offices and small-footprint kitchens.

Mini vs Portable Refrigerators

In terms of energy-efficiency, compact fridges are typically cheaper to run. Many models offer features like an adjustable thermostat and automatic defrosting. With a compact fridge, you also get the benefit of a sizable freezer that can hold multiple packages of meat, several ice trays and a container of ice cream. Since these refrigerators offer more cubic footage, you can put several 12-packs of soda in the fridge compartment.

Compact fridges are broken down into two sub-categories – freestanding and built-in. A freestanding compact refrigerator is just like a full-size fridge in that it stands alone and vents out the backside. A built-in compact fridge is much shorter than a freestanding compact refrigerator. Unlike a freestanding unit, a built-in compact refrigerator can be surrounded by cabinetry without its ventilation system being blocked.

Compact vs Mini Fridges

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Portable Refrigerators

Portable refrigerators may be small like mini and compact refrigerators, but the major difference, and benefit, of portable fridges, is that you can take them with you when you travel. These refrigerators offer the least amount of storage, which is typically measured in quarts. Portable fridges often resemble coolers, but they keep food cool through other methods besides ice.

Absorption portable refrigerators rely on liquid ammonia to cool the interior of the unit. Like all portable refrigerators, these fridges require a power source to operate. Since absorption-style fridges don’t contain a motor, they aren’t noisy; however, they must remain level in order to run.

Compact vs Portable Refrigerators

The second type of portable fridge is the portable thermoelectric refrigerators. These refrigerators can be hooked up to an automobile’s auxiliary DC socket. Since the extended use of an electronic or an appliance plugged into a DC outlet can quickly drain a car’s battery, you can only use a portable thermoelectric fridge for a few hours at a time. Therefore, they are best suited for day trips.

Final Words

Compressor-equipped portable fridges are most like full-size refrigerators in regard to how they operate. Like you may have guessed by the name, portable compressor refrigerators contain a compressor, which works in conjunction with refrigerant to cool the interior. You can use a compressor-equipped portable fridge with an AC electrical outlet or a car DC socket.

Compact vs Mini vs Portable Refrigerators

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About the author

Hi I’m Alex, founder of HouseholdMe.com and I’d like to say thank you for dropping by. Like most of you, the first thing I look at before buying something online is reviews or buying guides. By reading what other people say will help me gauge whether or not a product is good or not.  I am trying to help people find answers, solve problems, and get inspired.

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