Refrigerators are one of those large appliances that we simply can’t do without, as they make the storage of supplies and allows the optimal preservation of food incredibly easy.
The need for this product is so deeply rooted in our habits that, in addition to normal refrigerators, we increasingly choose to buy special portable models to use in the most diverse situations. This category of products, called small fridge, small refrigerator, mini refrigerator or mini bar, soon established themselves on the market both for domestic and professional use. But what is a mini fridge really for and why should you consider buying one?
Initially these small appliances were mainly used in the hotel sector: you will have certainly noticed that every hotel room has one of these appliances - in which small bottles of fruit juice, water or liqueurs are placed. Over the years, the diffusion of these products has spread to different areas, from nautical to domestic, so much so that today everyone wants a mini fridge!
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If we take a quick look at the different uses that can be made of a mini fridge, we immediately realize that they are really many: in a camper, on a boat as a practical beer fridge, in the office or simply in the living room, this accessory will allow you to keep your favourite drinks cool at all times. Given the very small size, moreover, this small appliance is often considered a real design object, to be placed in plain sight in your living room. The choice of the most suitable mini fridge for you will certainly depend on your specific needs. However, there are a number of elements that must necessarily be taken into consideration before making the purchase, in order to ensure efficiency in performance and practicality in use. Let's see in detail what are the fundamental factors to consider when choosing the mini fridge.
The first aspect that characterizes the different models of mini fridge is related to its capacity. A mini fridge usually has a capacity of between 5 and 50 litres: a fairly substantial difference that strongly affects the possibilities of using the product. It is therefore necessary to evaluate this factor with careful thought of one's own needs, because those who, for example, are looking for a model to take with them in the car or on a camping site will have to opt for a mini fridge that is less capacious but more manageable.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a product to be placed on campers, boats or offices you should probably consider a larger model. Think also about the type of food you will need to refrigerate: a single person looking for a cheap replacement for the traditional fridge will be able to choose a larger model, while a sports fan on TV who wants a mini fridge to always have a nice fresh drink at hand will choose something smaller and more stylish.
The second aspect to be taken into consideration concerns the internal structure of the mini fridge, and the possible presence of the compressor refrigeration system or other technologies. We can essentially distinguish two groups of mini refrigerators with respect to the aesthetic criterion: those that look like classic miniature refrigerators and those that can be considered real design objects. The first category does not present any particular characteristics, since they are mostly small single-door square-shaped appliances. This type of product is very popular with those who are looking for a practical model to be placed in small rooms, such as boat or camper van kitchens, studios or hotel rooms.
The second macro-category, on the other hand, is that of mini fridges with a particular design, a trend launched by Coca-Cola which was soon followed by other leading brands in the household appliances sector, often in collaboration with the most famous beverage companies. These products are widely purchased by those looking for something special to keep in their room or living room, including small bars and restaurants or simple design enthusiasts. This group also includes mini refrigerators inspired by the old refrigerators that were so popular in the 60s: an increasingly popular vintage design that is enjoying growing success.
The structural characteristics of these two types are very similar: in both cases it is possible to find horizontal shelves inside the refrigerated compartment (which can be removed at will) and, in some models, even small balconies outside the door that allow small things such as butter cakes, yeast cubes or loose eggs to be stored.
Some mini refrigerators have a freezer drawer: this element is however very rare due to the technical aspects of the product. The motor of the mini fridge is in fact very different from that of traditional refrigerators, which is generally much more powerful and can have different operating mechanisms. Mini refrigerators, on the other hand, can essentially have two types of motor: the classic compressor or the fan motor. Models with a compressor allow to reach lower temperatures faster, but consume more electricity; models equipped with fan motor, on the other hand, consume less energy but cool slightly less and more slowly.
Before purchasing your mini fridge, carefully check the model's energy label: there you will find all the technical information you need to choose the model that best suits your needs.
Another feature that may vary according to the mini fridge models is the type of power supply: since it is suitable to be moved frequently, in fact, when talking about a mini fridge it is possible to find practical alternatives to the classic domestic power supply.
Also in this case it is necessary to make a distinction into three main groups of products: mini refrigerators that are powered only by an electric cable, those that have only the cigarette lighter connection of the car and those that offer both possibilities.
The best choice depends mainly on your needs: a product that is connected to the electricity grid certainly consumes more energy, however it is necessary for those who want a mini fridge to be kept in their living room. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a product to take with you on holiday or in your motorhome, you can opt for a model that only allows the cigarette lighter to be plugged in. These mini refrigerators are slightly less performing, but still represent a very useful travel accessory.
Compared to the power supply, our advice is therefore to buy a mini fridge that allows both connections: in this way you can increase its versatility and use the product in different situations, always ensuring fresh drinks and dishes.
The last factor to take into consideration is the practicality of use of the various models; by this term we mean above all the noise level of the appliance and the cooling time. The noise data are usually indicated on the energy label and expressed in decibels: values may vary according to the models, keeping in mind that these small products are powered by relatively small motor, and the noise level will be reduced accordingly, compared to traditional refrigerators.
As far as cooling time is concerned, this aspect depends basically on the technical and structural characteristics of the different models. Generally speaking, smaller dimensions correspond to faster cooling: this statement, however, is not always true since the cooling time is also affected by the type of integrated motor. A compressor motor will be more efficient than a fan motor: however, it must be considered that mini fridges with a compressor motor are usually larger, bulkier and heavier.
The materials that make up the various models of mini refrigerators are all very similar: as with traditional refrigerators, most products have a polyurethane foam coating to insulate the internal temperature and keep it constant over time. The choice of the external materials, however, has more to do with the overall design of the product: it’s possible to find mini refrigerators covered in metal or hard plastic. There is therefore no better material than another: the differences mainly concern the aesthetic appearance and cannot therefore be evaluated objectively.
The only thing to keep in mind with respect to the material factor is to make sure that the chosen model has a good insulation system: only in this way will it be possible to fully leverage the power of the compressor and achieve the optimal cooling effect.
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