No one likes to waste energy. Not just because it’s expensive, but also because it’s bad for the environment.
The easiest way to reduce your energy consumption is to buy and use energy-efficient appliances.
As a refrigerator is one of the biggest electricity users in most homes, choosing an eco-friendly model can help you save a lot of energy.
We compared 2967 different refrigerator models to help you get a clear picture of how much energy do refrigerators use and what are the main factors that influence wattage consumption.
Let’s see what we’ve found.
How Many Watts Does an Average Refrigerator Use?
An average modern refrigerator typically consumes between 190 and 247 watts while older models can use 400-750 watts or more. The annual consumption ranges from 556 kWh to 720 kWh and from 1168 to 2190 kWh respectively. The specific value depends mainly on capacity, configuration, energy efficiency, and environmental factors.
Keep in mind that a refrigerator needs extra watts (also called starting watts) to start the motor. This is completely different from running watts.
The average starting watts of a fridge is usually between 700-1300 watts, however, the exact number very much depends on the actual model. This is something you must take into consideration if you want to run your fridge on a generator.
If you want to reduce your electricity bill, consider choosing an Energy Star certified unit that consumes at least 15% less amount of watts than standard models.
Average Refrigerator Power Consumption By Capacity
Capacity is usually the most important consideration when buying a refrigerator. Below you’ll find a table showing how many watts a fridge consumes on average, by capacity.
Here’s how capacity influences the average energy consumption:
Refrigerator Capacity (cu ft) | Typical Power Consumption (watts) | Annual Power Consumption (kWh) |
1-8 cubic feet | 87 watts | 254 kWh |
9-13 cubic feet | 117 watts | 341.6 kWh |
14-19 cubic feet | 144.6 watts | 422.1 kWh |
20-24 cubic feet | 190.3 watts | 555.6 kWh |
25-27 cubic feet | 228.2 watts | 666.4 kWh |
28-30 cubic feet | 246.5 watts | 719.8 kWh |
30-33 cubic feet | 293.4 watts | 856.6 kWh |
Now have a look at the chart below that shows the relationship between electricity consumption and capacity:
As you might expect, a refrigerator with a larger capacity uses more wattage on average. This is why it’s so important to choose the right size fridge. You don’t want to pay unnecessarily for unused capacity for years.
Speaking of capacity, if you don’t know what size refrigerator would be the best choice for you, make sure you check out this visual guide.
Average Refrigerator Power Use By Configuration
Let’s move on to configuration. In this section, we examine how the type of refrigerator (configuration) affects the average energy consumption. In brackets, you can see the average electricity consumption per cubic foot.
Refrigerator Configuration | Typical Power Consumption In Watts | Annual Power Consumption In kWh |
Compact (Mini) Fridge | 86.9 W (23.5 W) | 253.6 kWh (68.5 kWh) |
French Door | 217.5 W (9.3 W) | 634.9 kWh (27.1 kWh) |
Side-by-Side | 224.6 W (9.2 W) | 655.7 kWh (27 kWh) |
Bottom Freezer | 157.1 W (10.3 W) | 458.6 kWh (30 kWh) |
Top Freezer | 125 W (7.7 W) | 365 kWh (22.5 kWh) |
Single Door Freezerless | 100.7 W (6.4 W) | 294 kWh (18.6 kWh) |
As you can see mini fridges consume the least amount of energy in absolute terms. However, this result has to do more with the capacity than the configuration itself.
A mini fridge uses 86.9 watts and has an annual power use of 254 kWh on average.
If we have a closer look at the average power consumption per cubic foot, we can see that a mini fridge uses way more wattage per cubic foot on average than any other type of refrigerator on the list.
Besides freezerless models, top freezer configuration seems to be the most energy-efficient.
A top freezer refrigerator consumes 125 watts and has a yearly energy consumption of 365 kWh on average.
Bottom freezer configuration is the next on the list while French door and side-by-side configurations use nearly the same amount of energy per cubic foot on average.
Overall, side-by-side and French door refrigerators need the most electricity in absolute terms, but this is because they have the largest average capacity.
An average French door refrigerator uses 217.5 watts of electricity with an annual consumption of 635 kWh.
An average side-by-side refrigerator consumes 224.6 watts and has an annual power consumption of 655.7 kWh.
Average Refrigerator Wattage Consumption By Defrost Type
Automatic defrost refrigerators are pretty widespread nowadays, however, you can still get a manual defrost model if that’s what you prefer. Auto-defrost fridges are more convenient to use as they require less maintenance.
Does this benefit come at a cost? Let’s see which type needs more electricity to operate.
Defrost Type | Typical Power Consumption (watts) | Annual Power Consumption (kWh) | Typical Power Consumption per cu ft (watts) | Annual Power Consumption per cu ft (kWh) |
Automatic | 148.9 W | 434.8 kWh | 10.1 W | 29.6 kWh |
Manual | 77.4 W | 226.1 kWh | 8.7 W | 25.4 kWh |
According to the data, self-defrosting refrigerators tend to consume more power than manual defrost models.
The average annual power consumption per cubic foot of automatic defrost refrigerators is 16.5% higher than that of manual defrost refrigerators.
The difference is even larger if we compare the absolute numbers, however, that’s just a consequence of the fact that automatic defrost models tend to have a larger capacity.
Average Refrigerator Wattage Consumption By Ice Making Functionality
More and more refrigerators come with a built-in ice maker. Let’s see if that feature influences electricity usage.
Ice Maker | Typical Power Consumption (watts) | Annual Power Consumption (kWh) | Typical Power Consumption per cu ft (watts) | Annual Power Consumption per cu ft (kWh) |
Yes | 206.1 W | 601.7 kWh | 9.5 W | 27.7 kWh |
No | 129.4 W | 377.7 kWh | 8.5 W | 24.7 kWh |
As it turns out, refrigerators with an ice maker feature consume 12.1% more energy on average.
This result however does not mean the entire effect is due to the ice maker functionality. Those refrigerators which come with an ice maker almost always have another feature as well and that is automatic defrost. We already know that automatic defrost fridges usually consume more power, so that is something to be considered.
FYI - If you’re interested in TV power consumption data, here we compared 357 models.
How to Calculate the Energy Consumption of a Refrigerator?
Estimate the Running Wattage From Current and Voltage
You can easily calculate the running wattage if you know the rated current and voltage. In most cases, this information can be found on a sticker inside the refrigerator.
The formula is the following:
running wattage (watts) = rated current (amps) x voltage (volts)
Keep in mind that the surge watts are often three times (or even more) the running watts. This is an important piece of information if you need to use your fridge on a generator.
Although a refrigerator is plugged in 24 hours a day, the compressor does not run continuously. Fridges cycle on and off several times a day in order to keep the set temperature.
As a rule of thumb, you need to divide 24 (total hours the fridge is connected to the power supply) by 3 to get an approximate number of hours the fridge is running per day.
To calculate how many watts a refrigerator uses per day, you need to multiply the running wattage by the total hours the fridge is running.
Estimate the Running Wattage From the Annual Power Consumption
Running watts are the number of watts an appliance needs for continuous running. For example, if the power rating of a fridge is 450 watts and you let it run for an hour, it will use 100 watt hours of energy.
By knowing the estimated yearly energy consumption, you can estimate the running watts by using the following formula:
running wattage (watts) = annual power consumption (kWh) x 1000 / 365 / (24 / usage time*)
*usage time: number of operating hours per day (often it’s approximately 8 hours)
Use an Electricity Usage Monitor
The most precise way to keep track of the power use of a refrigerator is to use an electricity usage monitor, such as this one.
This simple device will show you the exact amount of watts your refrigerator uses, as well as the voltage, the operating current, the maximum and minimum values and it also calculates the cost.
How to Calculate the Cost to Run a Refrigerator?
If you want to estimate how much does it cost to run a refrigerator, use the following formula:
running cost per day = wattage x usage time (hours per day) x electricity cost / 1000
For example, if the wattage is 200 W, the electricity cost is $0.15 per kWh, and the fridge is running 8 hours a day, the cost will be 200 x 8 x 0.15 / 1000 = $0.24 per day.
Here’s a handy electricity cost calculator:
What Factors Affect Refrigerator Power Consumption?
As you can see there are several methods to estimate the power consumption of a refrigerator, but the only way to get an exact figure is by measuring.
This is because power usage can be affected by many factors. Here are the most important ones:
- capacity
- environmental factors, such as temperature
- ventilation
- configuration
- automatic defrosting
- energy efficiency
- extra features
- frequency of door opening
- anti-sweat heaters
- condition of the refrigerator
Popular Energy Efficient Refrigerators
Model | Capacity | Annual Power Consumption | |
Samsung - RF28T5001SR | 28 cu ft | 645 kWh | |
Frigidaire - FFHB2750TS | 26.8 cu ft | 715 kWh | |
Kenmore - 71215 | 21 cu ft | 472 kWh | |
Frigidaire - FFHT1425VV | 13.9 cu ft | 332 kWh | |
LG - LFDS22520S | 21.8 cu ft | 587 kWh | |
GE - GDE03GGKBB | 3.1 cu ft | 321 kWh | |
Samsung - RF23A9071SR | 23 cu ft | 635 kWh |
List of The Most Energy Efficient Refrigerators
Refrigerator Power Consumption: Wrapping It All Up
As you can see, there are pretty significant differences between refrigerator models regarding electricity usage.
There’s a straightforward correlation between capacity and wattage consumption. The larger the fridge, the more watts it pulls.
You can save a significant amount of money over the years if you don’t make the mistake of choosing a too large refrigerator (but you don’t want too small a unit either). So I suggest you think carefully about the actual size you need. Here’s a handy guide that will help you.
I also highly recommend that you opt for an Energy Star certified model. Fortunately, most of the new units are Energy Star qualified, however, you can still find plenty of energy hogs on the market. Avoid them at all costs.
By choosing an eco-friendly refrigerator, you can save a considerable amount of energy. It’s good for both your wallet and the environment.
Data sources: avantiproducts.com, beko.com, bosch.com, danby.com, electrolux.com, energystar.gov, fisherpaykel.com, forno.ca, frigidaire.com, galanz.com, ge.com, hisense.com, insigniaproducts.com, kenmore.com, lg.com, midea.com, mieleusa.com, samsung.com, thermador.com, whirlpool.com