Cheap Mini Fridges Review
A brief rundown of the best cheap mini fridges under $150, including the Danby DAR259 and the Haier HCR17W.
Compact refrigerators are a popular item. A cheap mini fridge serves lots of extra functions: It lets office workers and college students save on eating out, it holds movie snacks for the watch-at-home crowd, it fits in small spaces, and it offers versatile cool storage for a fraction of the cost of a full-sized refrigerator.
Because these modestly-sized appliances are typically second refrigerators or short-term solutions, it doesn't make sense to overspend. Moreover, industry experts tend to give cheap mini fridges relatively low scores for performance and durability in comparative tests. Consumers, on the other hand, are far more likely to appreciate a mini refrigerator for what it is.
Where to buy
Here's a brief rundown of the best cheap mini fridges under $150.
The Danby DAR259 (starting at $146, Amazon) is a standout model in the category, according to mini refrigerator reviews by both experts and users. It comes in black or white, has a reversible door, and features storage for cans and tall bottles. This 2.5 cubic-foot unit earns 4.3 out of 5 stars in mini refrigerator reviews at Buzzillions and 4.5 out of 5 stars from users who posted comments at Abt. One consumer products review site ranks the Danby DAR259 the best mini fridge for features like roomy storage and an Energy Star rating.
The Danby DAR259 has no freezer section, but mini refrigerator reviews indicate most users consider that a plus. The reason: freezers in mini fridges are too small to be useful, consumers say, and periodic defrosting is a time-sink.
The majority of reviews say this compressor-run refrigerator is quiet and its cooling power is robust. But consumers are divided about some issues. Beer enthusiasts and those who use the mini fridge as a bar appreciate the in-door can storage but others deem it wasted space. And a few users gripe about an inconveniently-located temperature dial.
Another cheap mini refrigerator worth checking out is the Haier HCR17W (starting at $100, Amazon). While this tiny, 1.7 cubic-foot fridge may not suit everyone, its super-cheap price makes it an excellent choice for dorm rooms or under-desk storage at the office. Expert commentary on this model is absent, but reviews at Amazon approvingly note its quiet operation, effective cooling, and stable temperature control, which includes the freezer's success in actually freezing small items without overcooling everything in the fridge section. At Best Buy reviews generally say this compact appliance does what it's supposed to -- chill small items/containers and beverages. We found a few minor complaints about limited space and one reviewer reports receiving a unit with a door that didn't shut properly.
Unlike the Danby DAR259, the Haier HCR17W contains a freezer compartment that reviews say is a nice bonus, especially because it performs well. Given the small size of the fridge, the freezer is, obviously, quite small -- half the width of the interior space -- and holds only small items. Users don't consider this a drawback; most are just happy to have a freezer.
Another cheap mini fridge with a freezer is the Magic Chef MCBR170 (starting at $97, Amazon), which is available in black and white and features a reversible door. This 1.7 cubic-foot model finds favor with consumers, whose reviews at Home Depot comment favorably on its price, relative spaciousness, and versatility. On the other hand, several users report premature failure and inadequate cooling, and a few disgruntled buyers complain about receiving lemons.
If you're looking for a cheap mini fridge with a freezer and a bit more space than a cube model, Magic Chef also makes larger portable refrigerators, including the 3.6-cubic-foot MCBR360 (starting at $133, Amazon) and the 2.4-cubic-foot MCBR240 (starting at $119, Amazon). Consumers seem to appreciate the freezer compartments in both compact appliances, saying they're large enough to hold frozen entries and the refrigerator section keeps food properly chilled. The MCBR240 carries a higher (though still cheap) price tag than the smaller Magic Chef MCBR170 but earns higher ratings in mini refrigerator reviews at Home Depot. The MCBR360 takes some hits reviews at Amazon for noisy operation and a limited lifespan.
Yet another cheap mini fridge with a small freezer compartment, the Kenmore 92489 (starting at $119, Sears), features 2.4 cubic feet, door racks, and a reversible door. Mini refrigerator reviews at Sears are generally favorable. Most consumers are satisfied with the Kenmore 92489's performance, although a few gripe about units that don't stay on or keep foods at the right temperature.
Cheap compact refrigerators by brand giants like GE, Frigidaire, and Kitchen Aid don't make an appearance on our list either because the models are tagged above $150 or because they don't fare well with users. One Haier product, the HNSE04 (starting at $145, Amazon), garners mixed reviews at Amazon, where some users serve up positive assessments while others grumble about loud noise, the lack of an interior light, poor build quality, and limited durability.
Despite the fact that expert reviews of inexpensive mini refrigerators are rare and well-recognized brands don't show up at the party, there are good mini fridges at attractive prices. Buyers should temper their expectations, however. These cheap mini fridges may not offer the longevity and performance of higher-end models, but for consumers seeking low-cost convenience, these flaws might not be deal breakers.