How Long Does It Take a Refrigerator to Get Cold? (21 Examples to Compare)

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How long does it take a fridge to get cold

Buying a new appliance can be a lot of fun, especially when it’s a new fridge! If you’re about to receive a new fridge, you might be curious about how long it will take for the cooling process to complete, so you can store food inside safely.

How long a refrigerator takes to reach a proper temperature will vary from brand to brand, but in general, most refrigerators go through a similar cooling process. In this article, we’re going to explore how long it takes for a refrigerator to get cold. After we explore the average refrigerator’s cooling time, we’ll look at examples of refrigerators from popular brands and explore their refrigerator cooling time.

How Long Does it Take a Fridge to Get Cold?

For the average refrigerator, cooling time usually takes around 12-24 hours.

However, you should note that this number can vary based on a number of factors. The type of refrigerator you have, its brand, its size, its position in your space, and many other things can all impact a refrigerator’s cooling time.

Factors that Impact Cooling Time

Let’s look closer at the different factors that can impact the cooling times for different fridges. Some of these include:

Fridge Size

large two-door refrigerator

One of the most influential factors on a refrigerator’s cooling time is its size. Obviously, getting to a cool temperature inside will be shorter for a countertop mini fridge when compared to a full size refrigerator meant to stock an entire kitchen.

Where a mini fridge might only need a few hours to reach a cool temperature, a full size refrigerator can take up to 24 hours. It will vary based on the exact sizing.

Room Temperature

The temperature inside the room you want to place your fridge can also impact how long it takes to get cold. A hot room is no good for a fridge, as it can trick your appliance thermometer into thinking your fridge is hotter than it is.

This is why it can be tricky to keep a fridge in hot environments like an outdoor setup, as sunlight can cause your fridge to struggle with temperature control, and thus not maintain a food safe temperature. In general, refrigerators should be kept in indoor rooms, away from direct sunlight. The use of air conditioning can also help your fridge to not overwork itself.

In fact, the user manual your fridge came with might indicate the temperature your room should be in order for your fridge to operate at its most effective rate. Always keep this in mind, as you don’t want to unintentionally overwork your fridge, causing it to break down faster.

Fridge Age

old refrigerator

The age of your fridge can also impact whether or not it can start cooling properly, how long the cooling takes, and if it will have good temperature control.

A new refrigerator will often work better than an old refrigerator. Older refrigerators have older cooling systems and can be impacted by issues such as a damaged door seal, broken condenser fan, dirty coils, and other tech issues that make them struggle with working properly.

Full Fridge

spacious refrigerator

Keeping your fridge too full can also have an impact on how they operate. It’s much easier for a refrigerator to reach a cool temperature when it’s empty, rather than full of food or items. This is because an empty fridge will have better internal cool air circulation, allowing it to reach a cool temperature more easily.

This is why it’s a good idea to not put food into a fridge until it is fully cool. This is not just for food safety, as it also helps your fridge get colder faster.

Refrigerator Cooling Process Explained

What exactly is a refrigerator doing during the cooling process?

While this process can differ depending on fridge age, we’ll describe the process as it happens in modern day refrigerators. First, we need to understand key fridge parts, which include:

  • Expansion Valve: This piece controls the flow of coolant, aka liquid refrigerant, into different parts called the evaporator.
  • Compressor: The compressor is a motor that completes a compressor cycle, where it sucks in refrigerant from the evaporator to turn it into gas.
  • Evaporator: The evaporator is a series of fine tubes that absorb heat inside the fridge, turning it into vapor.
  • Condenser: The condenser is a series of tubes on the back of a fridge, that assist in liquefying the gaseous refrigerant, absorbing heat, and expelling it.

These parts work to facilitate this cooling process:

  1. The compressor will take in refrigerant gas, which gets hotter as the compressor works to pressurize it.
  2. The heat generated in this process is then dissipated via the condenser coils at the back of the fridge. Meanwhile, the refrigerant gas gets condensed via high pressure into a liquid.
  3. This generated liquid then enters the expansion valve.
  4. In the expansion valve, the liquid boils and turns into vapor. During this process, there’s a huge temperature drop.
  5. As a result of this evaporation process, cold air via the gas can then enter the fridge through the expansion coils, and absorb excess heat.
  6. This hot absorbed heat is sucked into the compressor, repeating the cycle.

Cooling Time By Brand

These are the cooling times for different refrigerators, as indicated in their individual manuals:

Brand Type Cooling Time
LG Electronics French Door 24 Hours
Samsung French Door 1-2 Hours
GE French Door 24 Hours
Bosch French Door 2-3 Hours
Whirlpool French Door 24 Hours
GE Side by Side 24 Hours
Frigidaire Side by Side 24 Hours
Whirlpool Side by Side 24 Hours
KitchenAid Side by Side 24 Hours
Vissani Top Freezer 2-4 Hours
Frigidaire Top Freezer 8 Hours
Galanz Top Freezer 24 Hours
Whirlpool Top Freezer 24 Hours
LG Electronics Bottom Freezer 24 Hours
Haier Bottom Freezer 12-24 Hours
Unique Appliances Bottom Freezer 4 Hours
Summit Appliance Bottom Freezer 12-24 Hours
Magic Chef Mini Fridge 2-3 Hours
Honeywell Mini Fridge 2-4 Hours
Whirlpool Mini Fridge 2-3 Hours
Galanz Mini Fridge 4 Hours


How to Find the Cooling Time on Your New Refrigerator

The easiest way to determine the cooling time on a new refrigerator is to refer to the individual user manual for your specific refrigerator. We know reading these long user manuals can be daunting, but we have a tip to make the process a little bit easier!

Go to Google and look up your fridge by its brand and model number. Alternatively, you can also look up the brand and model number on a trusted seller’s website, such as the Home Depot.

Once you do this, you should be able to find a PDF version of your fridge’s user manual. Once you do, hit CTRL + F on your keyboard to bring up the word search function. You can then look up the phrase “temperature” or “hours” to more easily find the section that outlines your refrigerator’s specific cooling time.

Keep in mind, though, that your new fridge will still be affected by the factors outlined above such as room temperature, so this time can vary.

How to Get Your Fridge To a Cold Temperature Faster

There are different things you can do to get your refrigerator to get colder faster. Try the following:

Limit Door Opening

opening a refrigerator

It’s a good idea to keep the fridge door closed more often than it’s open to keep it cool. You might be tempted to check in on the cooling process by opening your fridge for a feel, but this will only work to get cool air out and bring warm air in.

Try your best to resist this temptation, and not interrupt your fridge’s cooling. Try to wait at least 5-6 hours before checking your fridge thermometer to see if it’s reached the ideal temperature.

Keep Fridge Room Cool

You can also help your fridge cool faster by making sure the room it is in is cold. When setting up a new fridge, consider running your air conditioning to provide an ideal cool environment.

Use Ice

ice on a freezer compartment

We know we said to keep your fridge empty, but if it has a top or bottom freezer, adding in some ice can massively decrease cooling times! You can also put these in the fridge too, but don’t go overboard. A blocked air vent won’t do much to help the temperature of your fridge stay cool, even with ice.

No Warm Food

When first filling your fridge, try not to store warm foods. In general, it’s a good idea to only put cool/room temperature foods inside a fridge, as it can affect your fridge’s temperature.

Plug Into an Outlet

power adapter on wall outlet

It’s also a great idea to make sure your fridge has a solid supply of power, which means making sure your refrigerator has a dedicated electrical outlet. Do not plug a refrigerator into a power strip, especially if it supplies other kitchen appliances.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal temperature for a fridge?

Ideally, a refrigerator should be kept at around 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above the 40 degree mark are no longer food safe, according to the FDA.

Why can’t I keep my fridge too full?

full fridge

If you store too much food inside of your refrigerator, it can have a big impact on how effectively it can keep things cool.

This is because a packed fridge often leads to poorer air circulation throughout your unit. It can also often work to block air vents inside the refrigerator, limiting the amount of cold air that gets in, and hot air that gets sucked out.

To avoid this issue, do your best to keep your fridge from getting overly full. If you find you are constantly packing your fridge to the brim, it may be time for a second fridge!

How long does it take a fridge to get cold after a power outage?

closed fridge

If your fridge has become turned off due to a power outage, it should be able to effectively reach its ideal temperature after 24-48 hours.

This amount of time will vary based on how long the power outage has happened, and how well your fridge has maintained its temperature even while off. If your power goes out, do everything you can to not open the fridge door. Your fridge should stay at a safe temperature for up to 4 hours if the fridge door stays closed, even while turned off.

If your fridge is without power after 4 hours, though, it’s a good idea to remove foods and transfer them into iced coolers to avoid food spoiling.

What temperature should my freezer be?

The freezer section of your fridge should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, you can keep foods nicely frozen without risking freezer burn and excessive ice build up.

What can I do to keep my fridge as cool as possible?

If your fridge is struggling to stay cold, there are a few things you can do to keep it cold easier. Try the following tips:

  • Keep the door closed as often as possible
  • Let food fully cool before storing it in the fridge
  • Check door seals and hinges for faultiness