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What is the Coldest Fridge Setting?

We have come to take our fridges for granted, like much of our modern existence. The fridge is there, it will keep our food fresh and cool, and all we need to do to feed ourselves is reach in and take something. 

We rarely pause to think about the temperature setting. Is it cold enough, is the food preserved at the right temperature? We don’t ask this question until the food in our fridge starts to freeze or the items in our freezer begin to melt. 

The thermostat dial usually shows numbers from 1 to 7, but the settings are rarely explained in the manual, and often remain a mystery. Let’s unravel this mystery and explain which fridge setting is the coldest, and which one you should actually use.

What is the Coldest Fridge Setting?

The coldest fridge setting on every fridge is the highest number on the fridge’s temperature dial. 

The numbers on the dial indicate refrigerating power, which means that setting the dial to the highest number will make the fridge the coldest. In contrast, setting the temperature dial to a lower number will make the fridge less cool.

Note that setting a fridge temperature to its coldest setting does not mean that food will be stored better. Setting the temperature too low might cause food to freeze even though it is not in the freezer compartment.

Fridge Settings Explained

Depending on the brand and model of your fridge, the temperature dial may go from 1-5, or 1-7. Some refrigerators even have a temperature dial that ranges from 1 to 9. This section explains fridge settings in cases when the temperature dial goes from 1 to 7:

Settings 1-2

Setting the fridge temperature dial to 1 or 2 will use the least amount of refrigerant power, resulting in the “warmest” internal temperature, usually around 4°C (39°F).

It is usually good practice to set the dial to 1 when turning the fridge on for the first time, since it is a great starting point to begin cooling the interior.

Setting number 2 is great if the fridge is lightly stocked and rarely used.

Settings 3-5

Settings from 3 to 5 are optimal for most cases. For a fridge that is used daily and opened often, while moderately stocked, there is no need for a colder setting.

If your fridge only goes up to 5, setting 3 should be the optimal setting, as it is right in the middle. If it goes up to 7, a bit above 3 will work well. If it goes as high as 9, you can place the dial between 4 and 5. 

Settings 6-7

Settings 6 to 7 are the highest and use the most refrigerant power, which means that the fridge interior will be the coldest. 

Only use these settings if your fridge is completely full, or if there are foods that spoil quickly in it. Having a fully stocked fridge means that there is less room for the cold air to circulate around, which justifies the highest setting. However, note that running your fridge on the highest setting for too long usually leads to frost build-up.

If the fridge dial only goes up to 5, then setting 5 is the coldest temperature.

What is the Coldest You Can Set a Refrigerator?

The coldest a fridge can be set depends on the brand and model. On a fridge with a dial from 1 to 7, setting 7 is the coldest, while 1 is the least cold.

If the fridge dial ranges from 1-5, then 5 is the coldest setting, and 1 is the least cold.

The temperature of a fridge set to its coldest setting is usually about 0.5°C (33°F). On the other hand, the highest temperature of a fridge (setting 1) is about 4°C (39°F).

Can a Fridge Be Too Cold?

A fridge can be too cold for several reasons:

  • The temperature dial is set to the highest setting and there isn’t enough food inside, so frost starts to build up and food starts to freeze.
  • There is damage to the door seals – if they are cracked, the fridge will try to compensate for the warm air entering the interior, making it produce more cold air to keep the temperature stable.
  • Blocked air vents – refrigerators use air vents to circulate cold air and ensure a consistent temperature. Make sure to leave enough room for proper air flow between the freezer and refrigerator compartments. If there is food blocking the air vents, it will be exposed to more cold air and may freeze.

If you have accidentally left the fridge door open, it will also kick into overdrive to compensate for the warm air entering it, so it will technically get too cold, even though it won’t appear that way.  

Is a Fridge Colder on 1 or 5?

A fridge is colder when it is set to a setting of 5 on the thermostat dial. It uses more refrigeration power to make the air colder.

Is a Fridge Colder on 1 or 7?

A fridge is colder when it is set to a setting of 7 on the thermostat dial. The higher number indicates more refrigeration power, resulting in a colder interior.

Is 1 or 9 Coldest on a Fridge?

The highest number on the dial – setting 9 – is the coldest setting on a fridge. On the other hand, setting 1 is the least cold.

Is 4 on a Fridge Cold?

Depending on the fridge model and brand, 4 can either be a moderate temperature or close to the coldest.

For refrigerators that range from 1-5, setting 4 is close to the coldest setting. Use it only when there is a lot of food in the fridge, or there is a risk of it spoiling.

For fridges ranging from 1-7, 4 is a moderate setting which can be used on a daily basis when the fridge is moderately stocked. The same applies to fridges that go from 1 to 9. 

What Number Should a Fridge Be On?

The optimal number setting for a fridge depends on how stocked it is and how often you open it. In general, the middle setting is what most manufacturers recommend. For fridges ranging from 1-5, that would be setting 3, while in fridges that range from 1-7, it is setting 4.

The optimal temperature for a fridge is between 1.6 and 3.3°C (35-38°F), so you need to find a temperature setting that keeps your fridge in that range. 

You should adjust your fridge’s temperature as needed. When there’s a lot of perishable food in it, you can put it on a higher setting, and when it’s lightly stocked or you are going away for a while and it will be nearly empty, you can put it on a lower setting. 

Remember that a fridge needs around 12 hours to get cold, so if you have been adjusting the temperature dial, factor in the time it will need to drop the temperatures where you want them to be.  

Wrapping Up 

While the coldest setting on a fridge will be the highest number you can set it to, you shouldn’t keep your fridge that cold all the time. Ideally, you want the dial to be pointing somewhere in the middle, but you should adjust the temperature to the items you are storing. 


  1. Usually the higher the number the colder the setting. I would suggest to set it in the middle initially and then adjust it up or down in the next few days, if needed.


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