Consumer Reports checks out mini fridges

August 3, 2012 3:32:58 PM PDT
Heading off to college? In addition to clothes, sheets, and computer, you may also be thinking about a small refrigerator for the dorm room.

Don't just pick the first one you see. Consumer Reports just tested nearly 20 mini-fridges and found problems with almost all of them.

Lillian Mayer is packing up to go back to college.

One of the most important items she takes with her is a mini-fridge for her dorm room.

"I use it mostly for milk, and then I also use it for jam or lettuce or study snacks," said Mayer.

Consumer Reports just tested 19 mini-fridges, including ones from Danby, Haier, and Kenmore, to find out which ones do the best job of keeping your food cool.

There are two basic types --ones that have a separate freezer compartment and ones that have the freezer inside the refrigerator section.

Testers put thermocouples throughout the refrigerator section to measure the temperature. In the freezer section, thermocouples are put into packages of frozen spinach. Testers monitor how evenly each refrigerator maintains the temperature in both sections.

"Inconsistent temperatures affected nearly every mini-fridge. In two-door models, the problem was worse in the refrigerator section, while in the other types it was an issue in the freezer," said Dan DiClerco of Consumer Reports.

Testers use this audio sensor to measure how noisy each fridge is. Some are much louder than others. Energy efficiency is another area where testers found big differences.

"Some of these compact refrigerators cost nearly as much to run as a full-sized model, even though they only have about a quarter of the space," said DiClerco.

In the end, Consumer Reports found most of the mini-refrigerators tested didn't perform well.

But testers did find one to recommend. The Frigidaire, model FFPH44M4L, costs $220 and both the fridge and freezer sections keep their cool.

Consumer Reports says before you buy a mini-fridge for a dorm room, check the rules at your school. Some colleges don't allow fridges, and others require that you rent them from the school itself.


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