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How Many Watts Does a Refrigerator Use? 2967 Models Compared

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A photo of the inside of a refrigerator with an open door

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:

This table shows the average power consumption of the studied refrigerators by capacity.
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.

Table of the average energy use of the studied refrigerators by configuration (average power consumption per cubic foot in brackets)
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.

This table shows the average power usage of the studied fridges by type of defrosting system.
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.

Table of the average energy consumption of the studied refrigerators by ice maker feature.
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:

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. Large Capacity 3-Door French Door Samsung - RF28T5001SR 28 cu ft 645 kWh
Frigidaire FFHB2750TS 36 Inch French Door Refrigerator with 26.8 cu. Frigidaire - FFHB2750TS 26.8 cu ft 715 kWh
Kenmore Top-Freezer Refrigerator with Ice Maker and 21 Cubic Ft. Kenmore - 71215 21 cu ft 472 kWh
Frigidaire FFHT1425VV 28 Inch Freestanding Top Freezer Refrigerator (Brushed Steel), Frigidaire - FFHT1425VV 13.9 cu ft 332 kWh
LG LFDS22520S 30 Inch French Door Refrigerator with 21.8 cu. LG - ‎LFDS22520S 21.8 cu ft 587 kWh
GE Mini Fridge With Freezer | 3.1 Cubic Ft. | GE - GDE03GGKBB 3.1 cu ft 321 kWh
SAMSUNG 23 Cu Ft Smart Counter Depth 4-Door Flex Refrigerator 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

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is a home improvement expert, contractor, avid DIYer, and security manager. He is passionate about home repairs, remodeling, and teaching. Read More

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