How Many Amps Does a Mini Fridge Use


A typical mini fridge uses 0.2-0.6 amps when connected to a 120V AC power source and 3-7 amps on a 12V DC battery system during regular operation. Start-ups can see a spike of up to three times regular consumption.

However, these numbers are for reference only and will vary depending on the fridge’s model, size, settings, location, usage habits, and seasonal variations.

In this article, we’ll examine the amperage consumption of mini RV fridges of two sizes. We’ll also explore its typical amperes on various power sources and the factors influencing its energy demand.

Let’s start by seeing the amps needed to run two typical sizes of RV mini-fridges.

How Many Amps Does A 1.7 Cubic Feet RV Mini Fridge Use?

1.7 Cubic Feet RV Mini Fridge

The amperage needs of a 1.7 mini fridge depend on the connected power source and whether the fridge is in regular operation or starting up.

Amps During Regular Operation

Let us start by finding how many watts a 1.7 mini fridge consumes. This fridge has a typical power consumption of 50 to 65 watts per hour.

To better understand amperage consumption, it’s essential to grasp the relationship between watts (W), volts (V), and amps (A). The equation that relates watts to amps is:

\(Watts = Volts * Amps\)

On a 120V AC Power Source (Like Shore Power)

Using the formula for a fridge consuming 60 watts at 120V, we get the following:

\(Amps =\displaystyle {\frac {60\ Watts}{120\ Volts}} = 0.5\ amps\)

This shows that on a 120V power source, a 1.7 cubic feet fridge consumes approximately 0.5 amps during its regular operation.

On a 12V DC Battery System (Common in Many RVs)

Again, using the formula for the same fridge consuming 60 watts:

\(Amps =\displaystyle {\frac {60\ Watts}{12\ Volts}} = 5\ amps\)

This results in a consumption of about 5 amps.

Amps During Starting

All electrical appliances experience a phenomenon known as “inrush current” or power surge at start-up. This inrush current can be significantly greater than the consumption during regular operation for devices like RV mini-fridges.

This is due to the sudden power demand from internal components such as capacitors, inductors, and transformers.

On a 120V AC System

An RV 1.7 mini fridge that draws around 0.5 amps during steady-state operations might experience an inrush current of up to three times its usual draw. This means that the fridge will draw around 1.5 amps when starting up.

On a 12V DC System

Using a similar method, a mini fridge’s start-up amps that draw 5 amps at 12V during normal operation can be up to 15 amps.

It’s important to note that residential circuits can typically handle these inrush currents. However, given the available power sources’ constraints and potential limitations, it’s especially crucial in an RV setting.

How Many Amps Does a 3.1 Cubic Feet RV Mini Fridge Consume?

3.1 Cubic Feet RV Mini Fridge

Let’s now see how many amps a larger 3.1 cu. ft. mini-fridge needs.

Amps During Regular Operation

A 3.1 mini-fridge typically consumes around 80W during its regular operation.

Using the same relationship to determine amps for a power source of 120V:

\(Amps =\displaystyle {\frac {80\ Watts}{120\ Volts}} = 0.75\ Amps\)

This means the fridge would use about 0.75 amps during its regular operation. Remember, this is a general approximation, and actual values might vary.

Amps During Starting

Like its smaller 1.7 counterparts, a 3.1 mini-fridge will also experience a higher amperage during its start-up phase.

While most 3.1 mini-fridges may only need 0.6-1 amps during steady-state operation, the start-up amperage is around 3 times higher.

So ensure the electric circuit can handle around 1.8 to 3 amps to accommodate these surges comfortably.

How Many Amps Does A Mini Fridge Use In A Day?

For those who wish to keep a close eye on their energy consumption, especially in off-grid settings like an RV or when considering backup power solutions, understanding the daily amperage usage of mini refrigerators is essential.

The average mini fridge amp is about 0.260 over a 24-hour, which translates to 6.24Ah (Ampere-hours). But, the daily amp consumption of mini fridges can range from 2.6Ah to 12Ah, due to differences in efficiency, settings, and sizes.

There are a few crucial details to discuss here, which we talk about next:

The Manufacturer’s Listed Amperage vs. Actual Amp Usage

Manufacturer's Listed Amperage

Often, online resources might reference the manufacturer’s listed amperage. However, this can lead to an overestimation of actual consumption. Typically, these figures depict peak or optimal conditions, which do not reflect day-to-day usage.

To get a more precise evaluation, measuring the live amps drawn from the mini refrigerator is recommended. Various instruments can be used for this task, including clamp meters, multimeters, plugin wattmeters, and energy monitors.

Calculating Daily Amp Usage

First, measure the amps your fridge uses to calculate the daily amp draw for mini refrigerators of varying sizes. Take multiple readings throughout the day and average them out.

Next, use the following formula:

\(Daily\ Amps = Amps * 24\ Hours\)

For example, if your mini fridge has an average amp draw of 0.5A, its daily consumption is calculated as:

\(Daily\ Amps = 0.5A * 24\ Hours = 12\ Ah\)

Calculating the Daily Energy Usage

To calculate the units of electricity your mini fridge consumes daily, simply multiply the daily amps by the voltage of the power source. So, if the voltage is 120V for the example above, the daily energy consumption is,

\(Daily\ energy\ consumption = 12\ Ah * 120 = 1440\ wh = 1.44\ units\)

What Factors Affect the Amps Usage of a Mini Fridge

Several factors come into play when determining how much electricity a mini fridge uses. Here’s what you need to consider:


The energy usage of a mini fridge largely depends on its model. Some are designed to be more energy-efficient due to the materials used and their technological innovations.

Energy Star ratings, such as A++, indicate highly efficient models. On the other hand, a fridge with a C or D rating will likely consume more energy, thus drawing more amps.


Mini fridges come in various dimensions. Larger units, especially those equipped with a freezer compartment, will consume more power to maintain the desired temperature, leading to higher amps usage.


Older mini fridge models might not be as energy-efficient as the latest ones. Technological advancements mean newer models are generally more efficient and will likely use fewer amps.


The settings you choose for your small refrigerator can affect its power consumption. Factory pre-set settings might cause the fridge to use more energy than necessary.


The environment in which the mini-fridge is placed plays a significant role. Fridge units in warmer areas must operate more frequently, leading to higher refrigerator amps.

Usage Habits

How you use your fridge matters. Frequently opening the door or leaving it open for extended periods will let cool air escape. This makes the compressor work harder, using more energy and thus drawing more amps.


The ambient temperature during different times of the year affects the fridge’s operation. In summer or warmer months, a mini fridge will typically require more energy and, consequently, more amps than in cooler seasons.

Tips for RV Mini Fridge Users

An empty RV mini fridge in camper van

The following practical tips will guide you on how to get the best out of your fridge while keeping energy costs in check.

Monitor Battery Levels

One of the primary concerns for RVers is battery conservation. When your fridge pulls high amps during start-up, it can rapidly deplete batteries, especially if you’re not connected to shore power.

Regularly check the battery status to prevent unwanted surprises.

Optimal Packing

While cramming the fridge with all your favorite snacks is tempting, remember that RV fridges function best when there’s room for air to circulate.

Rather than packing it to the brim, leave some space and consider using a small battery-operated fan to facilitate even cooling within.

Leveling is Key

RV refrigerators rely on a unique gas absorption mechanism for cooling. To ensure the proper flow of this cooling agent, the unit must be level.

Avoid parking your RV on steep inclines for prolonged periods, as it can permanently damage the fridge. However, don’t worry about it while driving; the movement ensures the cooling agent remains active.

Efficient Usage

Limit the fridge door opening frequency to conserve energy and maintain a consistent temperature. When you do open it, ensure it’s sealed tightly upon closing.

Also, pre-cool drinks and foods before placing them in the fridge. It not only reduces the cooling time but also minimizes temperature fluctuations.

Shade Matters

The external temperature has a direct impact on your RV fridge’s efficiency. Aim to park your RV in a shaded area on particularly hot days, especially on the fridge side.

This simple step can enhance your refrigerator’s average power consumption efficiency and maintain optimal internal temperatures.

Early Activation

Since RV fridges can take some time to reach their cooling potential, it’s a good practice to turn them on at least a day before stocking them.

Ensure Regular Maintenance

A well-maintained average refrigerator optimizes power usage. Ensure there’s no debris clogging the refrigerator roof vent. A blocked vent can reduce efficiency and may cause the fridge to malfunction.

Regularly inspect and clean the vent to promote smooth airflow.

Consider Solar Integration

For frequent RV travelers, solar panels can be great. These panels can recharge your RV batteries during daylight, compensating for some of the energy consumed by the fridge.

When setting up solar panels for your refrigerator, knowing how much power your refrigerator consumes is important to calculate how many panels you need and the circuit breaker size.

Besides that, you can consider using solar-powered refrigerators. They offer a practical solution for off-grid and remote areas and contribute significantly to reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainable living.

Enhance Airflow with External Fans

In addition to internal fans that promote even cooling, think about installing a 12-volt fan outside to channel warm air away from the fridge.

This additional ventilation can significantly enhance your fridge’s efficiency. You can easily find these fans online or at RV dealerships.

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