The last thing you want when you’re living in tight quarters is a dinosaur-size fridge. While full-size refrigerators have more storage space, their enormous energy consumption and overall size makes them a poor choice for college dorms and offices. Compact refrigerators are a great way to store leftovers and other essentials without putting too much of a dent in your wallet.
Depending on your living space and daily demands, you may opt for a larger unit with a better cooling capacity for storing larger quantities of food or a much smaller and simpler fridge for beverages. Certain features, such as guaranteed quiet operation or a designated beverage holder, might prompt you to choose one compact refrigerator over the next.
1. Danby Designer DAR026A1BDD Compact Refrigerator
From college dorms to first apartments to areas with limited storage space, the Danby Designer is an effective storage solution for your favorite food and beverages. This fridge is available in sizes from 1.7 to 4.4 cubic feet. Styles range from plastic to stainless steel. Most sizes are available in black or white, ensuring that you’ll find a fridge that matches the existing room decor. Each model is Energy Star compliant and has a scratch resistant worktop. The 2.6 cubic foot fridge is large enough to hold up to eight cans. There’s even room for tall bottle storage.
Price: $139.99 (22 percent off MSRP)
- Available in multiple sizes
- Holds up to eight beverage cans
- Room to store taller bottles
- Manual isn’t model specific
- Some caution the lowest shelf doesn’t feel very sturdy
- Lacks a separate freezer section
2. EdgeStar CRF321SS Compact Fridge
If you’re looking for a combination compact fridge and freezer that’s a bit beefier than your average mini refrigerator, consider this Energy Star rated unit. At 3.1 cubic feet, it’s just the right size for most dorm rooms. However, you can also use this fridge in smaller spaces such as an office or apartment. Highlights include reversible doors and slide out shelves, which facilitate cleaning and storage. On the outside, the appliance catches the eye with its stainless steel doors. There are door bins in the fridge and freezer sections. There’s also a molded worktop as well as automatic defrost in the fridge section. An adjustable thermostat lets you set the ideal temp for your favorite food and beverages, with a range from 34 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also find an adjustable wire shelf, a glass shelf, and a vegetable crisper.
- Ideal size for dorm rooms
- Energy efficient
- Adjustable temperature control
- A bit pricey
- Only available in one size/color
- Some wish it was quieter
3. Haier HC17SF15RW Refrigerator/Freezer
This 1.7 cubic foot Haier refrigerator is a bit on the small side, but it has many versatile storage options. Examples include a full-width slide-out wire shelf and both full and half-width door storage shelves. There’s also a two-liter bottle storage option for keeping drinks cold. There are separate refrigerator and freezer sections — a combination that’s surprisingly hard to find in the compact fridge world.
Price: $97.75 (10 percent off MSRP)
- Slide-out wire shelf
- Several storage shelves
- Two liter bottle storage
- Shallow bottom shelf
- Lacks space for taller objects
- Doesn’t have an interior light
4. Culinair Af100s Compact Refrigerator
If you just can’t stand loud compact fridges, this one might be your best bet thanks to its ultra-quiet operation. Convenient auto-defrost and temperature control settings help to keep food at a reasonable temperature. The unit cools down to around 51 degrees — other units get much colder. Aside from a generally spacious 1.7 cubic foot storage capacity, the unit is equipped with a reversible door for easy opening.
Price: $89.48 (16 percent off MSRP)
- Reversible door
- Auto-defrost and temperature control settings
- Ultra-quiet operation
- Only cools down to 51 degrees
- Lacks a separate freezer space
- Flimsy bottle holder
5. Midea WHS-65LB1 Compact Refrigerator
This compact fridge has a capacity of 1.6 cubic feet, making it a solid choice for those who only need to keep smaller quantities of food and drinks cool at a time. A mechanical temperature adjustment range of 32 to 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit lets you find the optimal temperature. There’s also a reversible door that opens to the left or right for your convenience. Instead of separate drawers and nooks, this fridge offers large storage spaces that work particularly well for fruits, veggies, and snacks. Separate beverage holders allow you to chill drinks of various sizes.
- Mechanical temperature adjustment
- Reversible door
- Separate beverage storage spaces
- No freezer space
- Can get loud
- Some find it difficult to fit larger bottles
6. RCA RFR321-FR320/8 IGLOO Mini Refrigerator
In a sea of compact refrigerators that generally look the same, the RCA RFR321-FR320/8 IGLOO Mini Refrigerator stands out for the fact that it’s available in several fun colors. If you prefer to keep your dorm room or living space simple, however, you can still opt for more traditional hues such as black and white. While its 3.2 cubic foot capacity means that this fridge requires more storage space than its smaller counterparts, it also provides ample room for chilling a your favorite drinks and snacks. There’s a built-in can dispenser and freezer compartment on the inside, along with an adjustable thermostat. Slide-out tempered glass shelves add a stylish look and tend to be sturdier than many wire shelves. A reversible door lets you open the fridge to the left or right.
- Available in multiple colors
- Built-in beverage dispenser
- Slide-out glass storage shelves
- Beverage dispenser takes up a lot of space
- Small freezer space
- Several consumers caution that their unit arrived dented
7. BLACK+DECKER BCRK17W Compact Refrigerator
If you prefer a color other than white, you can also find this compact fridge in black and a brushed metal finish. With a storage capacity of 1.7 cubic feet, this small appliance has just the right amount of storage space for your essentials. A full width glass shelf provides a secure storage solution for snacks, produce, and other items. You’ll also find two door shelves to fit bottles of all sizes. One feature you won’t find in many other fridges this size is a handy full width freezer compartment with an ice cube tray. Other highlights include a reversible door and flat back design for saving space. It’s also Energy Star Certified and comes with a one year parts warranty and a two year compressor warranty.
- Comes in several colors
- Includes a small freezer compartment with an ice cube tray
- Reversible door
- Can be tough to store wider bottles
- Small freezer space
- Some find the bottle storage compartment bars to be flimsy
8. Whynter MRF-310DB Compact Refrigerator
The Whynter MRF-310DB Compact Refrigerator offers a total volume of 3.1 cubic feet, which is plenty of space to store your favorite fresh or frozen foods and drinks. College students in particular will find the dry-erase door and included neon blue marker particularly helpful for writing notes and jotting down essentials for the next grocery run. The door is reversible so that you can open it from the right or left. On the inside you’ll find two storage shelves, one wire and one glass. Each shelf slides out for easier cleaning. Other features include a vegetable crisper drawer and bottle storage inside the refrigerator door with enough space for 2 liter bottles.
Price: $212.00 (26 percent off MSRP)
- Separate freezer and refrigerator space
- Wire and glass shelves slide out
- Front door is a dry erase board
- Bottle dispenser can be awkward
- Crisper drawer is relatively small
- Some note the markers don’t show up well
9. Danby DAR044A6LDB Compact Refrigerator
If red isn’t your color, you’ll find the Danby DAR044A6LDB Compact Refrigerator in several other colors, including silver, steel, white, and black. It also comes with an array of sizes, from 1.7 cubic feet up to 4.4 cubic feet. This particular model has a generous storage capacity of 4.4 cubic feet. White LED lighting on the inside helps you see against the black interior, and lets you sneak a snack or drink as your roommate snoozes. For the higher price you’ll get features such as a door lock and glass shelves. There’s also a scratch resistant worktop. The rubber grip chrome door handle adds an elegant touch.
- White LED interior lighting
- Scratch-resistant worktop
- Available in many sizes and colors
- No freezer compartment
- A bit pricey
- Some colors/sizes can take awhile to ship
10. Haier HC17SF15RB Refrigerator
A storage capacity of 1.7 cubic feet, along with an affordable price tag, makes the Haier HC17SF15RB Refrigerator a solid choice for college students and anyone else looking for a compact fridge. Despite its smaller size, this unit has enough space for a half-width freezer compartment and an ice cube tray. There’s also a slide-out wire shelf. You’ll also find storage space for up to 2 liter bottles inside the door. A flat back design and recessed door handle allow the unit to take up as little space as possible. There’s also a user-friendly temperature control dial so that you can maintain the desired temperature.
- Includes a small freezer compartment and ice cube tray
- Space-saving design
- Adjustable thermostat
- Only available in one size
- Can freezer food on lower temperature settings
- Some wish the wire shelf was sturdier