HomeKitchenHow Long Does It Take a Fridge To Get Cold?

How Long Does It Take a Fridge To Get Cold?

When you buy a new fridge (or unplug yours to defrost and clean it), you will undoubtedly want to know how long it will take for it to get cold again. 

Putting food into a warm fridge is after all not the best idea. While some items may be just fine, your perishables can start to go off when exposed to temperatures higher than recommended. 

Let’s see how long you have to wait before your fridge starts operating at the required temperatures. 

How Long Does It Take a Fridge To Get Cold?

On average, it will take around 12 hours for a fridge to cool down to the recommended 4 degrees Celsius. Cooling times will however vary based on brand, fridge size and type.

There is very little to no difference in cooling times between a fridge that is brand new, and a fridge that has lost power and is now starting back up again. 

What will matter is how full the fridge is, what temperature setting you have chosen, and where you have placed it. 

How to Determine How Long Your Fridge Will Need to Get Cold 

The best way to figure out how long it will take your specific fridge to cool down is to check the manual. You can find it online by searching for the brand and model of your appliance. 

You may of course also have the manual somewhere in your home, but doing a simple search will often provide faster results. 

Factors that Impact How Long Your Fridge Will Need to Get Cold 

How long a fridge will take to get cold will depend on several factors. They include:

Fridge Size 

In the most general terms, larger fridges will take longer to cool down than smaller ones. Mini fridges can get to operating temperatures in as little as 4 hours, while large models can even take up to 24 hours. 

Fridge Brand 

The brand of fridge will also matter. You will need to check your manual to determine if your specific model is in any way different, i.e. if it has a fast cooldown setting that will speed it up.

Starting Temperature 

If you have stored your fridge somewhere hot, for example in the back of a truck or in your warm garage, it may take longer to cool down, as the starting temperature will be hotter. 

Room Temperature 

Where you place the fridge will also affect cooling times. If your kitchen is not well ventilated and you’ve just been cooking a major meal, your fridge may require longer. 

Appliance Age 

Older fridges will be less efficient, so they may take a lot longer to cool down. You should also consider the condition of your coils. If they are dusty and dirty, the fridge will need longer to cool. Also, if one of the parts is damaged, the same rule will apply.

Empty vs. Stocked 

A full fridge will run better, as there will be less room in it for warm air to circulate, and the fridge will be able to maintain the cool temperature much more efficiently. However, keeping the fridge empty while it’s first cooling down will be super helpful. 

Type of Food 

Solids will cool faster than liquids, as will airtight containers and cans. If your fridge is more solids than drinks, you can expect it to be more efficient. 

How Often You Open It 

Every time you open the fridge door, it will need to make up for the warm air that has entered it. If you can refrain from repeatedly opening the fridge door, whether just to check what’s in there or to take something out, it will help its efficiently. Leaving the fridge door open will of course also impact cooling times (and potentially food quality). 

How to Speed Up Your Fridge’s Cooling Process

If you want to speed up your fridge’s cooling process, you can do the following:

Keep the Door Firmly Closed 

Simple yet effective. Once you stock your fridge, leave it closed for as long as you can. This will help it both cool every item down efficiently, and ensure it does not have to contend with the warm air you keep introducing.

Clean the Coils 

The coils at the back of the fridge should also be kept clean. Dust them every six months or so, and it will reduce your fridge’s energy consumption.

Keep the Fridge Away From the Wall 

You need a couple of inches of space between the fridge and the wall (and ideally between whatever is placed next to it). The coils in the back need space to disperse hot air, and the extra air flow on the sides will help it operate more efficiently. While you can put your fridge next to the oven, aim to have a bit of breathing room between them.

Plug It Into the Wall 

You can theoretically plug a fridge into an extension cord (as long as it is of the highest quality and the right voltage, wattage and amperage), your best choice is to plug it into a wall socket. This will help it get the best quality power.

Put a Bag of Ice In It 

You can chuck a bag of ice into your fridge while it is cooling. It will begin to melt, so place it into an open container. 

Cool the Room 

Make sure the kitchen is not too warm. Turn the aircon on if you have one, and make sure the room is well ventilated. 

Cool the Food 

The cooler the items you place in your fridge, the better. You want to make sure it has reached the right temperature first, but ideally, you will let any fresh dishes cool down completely before putting them in the fridge, instead of expecting the fridge to cool them down. 

When is it Safe to Put Food in the Fridge?

It’s safe to put food in the fridge once it has reached 4 degrees Celsius or lower. 

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Put Food in a New Refrigerator?

You should wait at least 2 hours before you put any food in a new fridge. You will also need to wait some time for it to settle before plugging it in. 

Read more in our How Long to Wait to Put Food in a New Fridge article! 

How to Know When Your Refrigerator Is Cool Enough to Store Food

If your fridge has a temperature display, you can check to see when it has reached 4 degrees Celsius. If not, you can place a thermometer in it and use that to check. 

You don’t actually need a thermometer. You can just leave your fridge to cool for the required amount of time. 

How Long Does it Take a Fridge to Get Cold After a Power Outage?

A fridge will need around 4 hours to get cold after a power outage, depending on how warm it has gotten while the power was out.

If your fridge has become very warm, it can need the same amount of time to cool as it did when first turned on. If this is the case, make sure you check all your items before you eat or drink them, as they may have gone off in the heat. 

If the power outage was short, the fridge may not even need to do any extra work. Most modern fridges will keep the right temperature for up to four hours even without power. 

How Long Does It Take a Fridge to Get Cold After Being Unplugged?

A fridge can take between 2 and 24 hours to get cold after being unplugged, depending on its size, brand, and how long it has been off the grid. 

Make sure to wait to turn your fridge on after moving, as it will need some time to settle. If it was moved upright, you can plug it in after 2 to 4 hours. But if it was moved on its side, you may need to wait an entire day.

Will an Empty Fridge Get Cold?

Yes, an empty fridge will get cold, but it may take longer, and it may need to use more power. Most new fridges need to be allowed to cool before you place food into them.

Ideally, you want to give your fridge 2-4 hours to cool down before you place anything inside. After that, the fridge will work better when it’s full, as the cold items will help keep the temperature at the required level. 

If your fridge is routinely more empty than full, it may end up using more power, as it needs to produce more cool air. 

Wrapping It Up 

A fridge will get cold in a couple of hours after plugging in. To make sure no food goes off, only place it in your fridge when it has reached 4 degrees Celsius. 


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