How Many Amps Does a Refrigerator Use? (Explained)

While it remains an indispensable kitchen appliance, refrigerators are among the energy hogs in most homes. In the United States, refrigerators account for about 7% of a household’s energy usage.

So, before you get one or size a battery backup for one, you’ll probably want to know details on amperage and other pertinent information.

This births one key question: How many amps does a refrigerator use?

Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing in this article. Herein, we’ve got all the information you need to know about the power consumption of a fridge. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, read on!

Read: How Many Amps Does a Water Heater Use?

How Many Amps Does a Normal Refrigerator Use?

A normal or full-size fridge uses about 725 watts of power, which is about 6.04 amps when running on a 120-volt circuit. But that’s just an average. The actual figure can range from 3 amps to as high as 10 amps or even more, depending on your refrigerator’s make, model, and age.

To begin with, being a responsible household owner, you should know how much you’re directing towards your bills monthly, ranging from electricity to water and gas. So, it really makes sense to be curious about the number of amps your fridge draws.

And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical refrigerator runs on about 725 watts on average, although some models can use as low as 400 watts and as high as 1300 watts. That means usually, the amperage draw of a refrigerator ranges between 3.3 amps to 10.8 amps, although we still have some models that fall on either side of this range.

Perhaps you’re wondering how we get amps from wattage and voltage ratings. Well, you don’t have to. It’s simple. With voltage and wattage ratings of a unit, you can calculate the amperage rating by using this formula:

Amps = Watts/Volts.

So, assuming that we go by the average power consumption of a fridge of 725 watts, we can quickly calculate that such a fridge would use about 6.04 amps (725 watts/120 volts).

However, it’s essential to keep in mind that the actual amperage draw of your fridge can triple on starting up. So, if your appliance uses 725 watts, it can draw as much as 2,175 watts (3 X 725 watts) when starting up. So, converting that to amps, we get to about 18.13 amps (2,175 watts/120 volts).

How Many Amps Does a Small Refrigerator Use?

Your small refrigerator draws anywhere below an amp to 2 amps. It all depends on the location, room temperature, and other factors. But generally, their energy requirements are much lower than those of the full-size or standard fridge.

Small refrigerators are ideal if you live in a small space, such as an apartment, or in scenarios where you don’t have much to store that a standard fridge would be overkill. And while it’s apparent that it doesn’t need as much power, it still makes sense to know how much it actually needs to help save on your energy bills.

Usually, small refrigerators use between 55 and 85 watts, which translates to about 0.5 to 0.7 amps. But sometimes, the wattage may rise to 240 watts, bringing the maximum amperage to 2 amps.

That’s less than a third of what the average fridge uses. And since most small refrigerators use less powerful compressors than those found in full-size fridges, they don’t need as much electricity to run, which helps reduce your energy usage.

Can You Plug a Fridge Into a Surge Protector?

Can You Plug a Fridge Into a Surge Protector?

No, you don’t have to plug your fridge into a surge protector. Plugging your refrigerator into a power surge protector overrides the appliance’s built-in power surge protection, which could cause trouble to your fridge, sometimes leading to great losses.

Replacing a faulty fridge part can be costly, leave alone the labor cost. As such, it is natural to stumble on the thought of bringing an extra layer of protection like a surge guard.

And while it may seem a good idea for the majority of appliances, it’s not exactly the case for refrigerators.

Your fridge has a built-in power surge protection system to protect the appliance from voltage fluctuations. In case of a power surge, this built-in feature automatically activates and shuts off the fridge to prevent damage. The appliance then restarts automatically when everything stabilizes.

Now, if you have an external power surge protector plugged into the outlet, it will prevent the unit from restarting automatically.

That could lead to huge losses, such as your food going bad. Hence, it’s best to avoid using a power surge protector with your fridge and let the appliance’s built-in power surge protection system do its job.

Do Refrigerators Need Their Own Circuit?

A refrigerator doesn’t need its own circuit, but having one is the safest thing to do. A dedicated circuit will protect you from losses likely to occur when a breaker connecting to the fridge trips.

As already mentioned, a standard refrigerator needs about 6 amps on average. That’s lower than what your circuit can support, and so adding other appliances to the same circuit is okay, right?

Well, not exactly!

You see, when your fridge starts, it uses more amps than when running normally. So, if other appliances are on the same circuit, the breaker may trip. That could translate to many losses, especially if you don’t notice it in time. It’s therefore advisable to use a dedicated circuit for your fridge.

Can a Refrigerator Be on A 15 Amp Circuit?

Yes, a refrigerator can be on a 15-amp circuit, but only if the circuit feeding the appliance’s outlet is dedicated. Most fridges keep their amperage draw under 15 amps, so a dedicated 15-amp circuit is less likely to trip even on start-up.

But if the outlet feeding your fridge is on a circuit shared with other outlets, have at least a 20-amp circuit, depending on the total load. 20 amps will provide enough buffer for the inrush current on start-up and still have enough capacity to run the fridge and other devices connected to the same circuit.

But even with a 20-amp circuit, it’s still best to have a dedicated circuit for your fridge. That way, you don’t have to worry about the start-up current of the fridge tripping the breaker.

With the tripled amperage demand on start-up, a standard fridge will need 18 amps when you turn it on, leaving just 2 amps for other devices on the same circuit, which likely won’t be enough.

Read: How Many Amps Does an Electric Blanket Use?

Hence, a dedicated circuit for your fridge is the best option. It will save you the hassle of constantly monitoring the devices on the same circuit as your fridge, and will protect your food should the breaker trip when you’re not around.

But then again, 20 amps is for fridges that are about 6 amps. If your fridge is below 6 amps, then a 15-amp circuit will suffice. Big refrigerators used for heavy chilling need a dedicated 30-amp circuit.


How Many Refrigerators Can Be on a 20 Amp Circuit?

You can connect up to two standard refrigerators in the same circuit. Two standard refrigerators will draw about 12 amps of power, which is below the recommended 80% capacity of a 20-amp circuit. But then still, don’t switch them on at the same time; otherwise, their start-up amperage draw will exceed the breaker’s capacity and trip it.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) recommends that the maximum number of appliances on a single circuit should not exceed 80% of the circuit’s capacity. So, if you have a 20-amp circuit, the amperage shouldn’t exceed 16 amps.

Of course, 16 amps is more than two refrigerators will need. But then, remember that each refrigerator has a high amperage draw on start-up. So, assuming that you start them both simultaneously, the inrush current may surpass the capacity of the circuit, thus causing the breaker to trip.

It’s therefore advisable to connect them to different circuits or at least stagger their start-up times. That way, you’ll keep the amps within what the circuit can handle, so you won’t encounter the hassle of constantly resetting the breaker.

Do Refrigerators Use a Lot of Electricity?

Yes, refrigerators use a lot of electricity and are one of the most power-hungry appliances in your home, usually claiming about 7% of your total power use. But then again, with a few tricks and attention to power usage, you can keep your fridge from being a power guzzler.

If a refrigerator draws about 725 watts of power, it consumes about 17400 watts per day. To put that in perspective, each kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs about $0.13, so a fridge that uses 17400 watt-hours will cost you about $2.26 per day, or $67.50 per month.

Well, that’s if your fridge is anything like what the U.S. Energy Department terms a “standard” refrigerator. If you have one of the recent innovations in fridge technology that works with as low as 250 watts, that’s a different story. In that case, your fridge will only cost you about $0.8 per day or $24 per month to run.

But still, keep in mind that your fridge automatically turns on and off to maintain a consistent temperature, so it will still use even less power than this. So, refrigerators aren’t what they’ve been made to look like over the years.

Factors Affecting Amps Consumption of a Refrigerator

Factors affecting the amps consumption of a refrigerator are very diverse and range from the voltage and age to how well you maintain it. Other factors include the temperature setpoint, the usage time, and where you position your fridge.

Let’s take a look at each of these factors;

1. The Voltage

A refrigerator that runs on 240V won’t draw as much amperage as one that runs on 120V. That’s because voltage and amperage are inversely proportional, so the higher the voltage, the lower the amperage.

2. Age of the Refrigerator

Older models of refrigerators are generally less energy-efficient than newer ones. They use more amps because they weren’t built with energy efficiency in mind.

Temperature Setpoint

3. Temperature Setpoint

The lower you set your refrigerator, the more it uses energy. The lower setting means your fridge has to work extra hard to maintain the set temperature, thus using more power. But ideally, you should set it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the recommended temperature by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

4. Frequency of Access

How often you open and close the fridge door also affects how much power it uses. If you frequently open and close the door, more cold air will escape, and the fridge will have to work harder to maintain the set temperature.

5. Location of the Fridge

Another factor that affects how much power your fridge uses is its location. If you place it near a heat source, such as a stove or a radiator, it must work harder to maintain the set temperature. That’s why it’s essential to keep it away from heat sources.

6. Maintenance

A dirty fridge has to work harder to maintain the set temperature. Improper defrosting, for instance, will make your fridge work harder because the ice will block the flow of cold air. So, it’s vital to keep your fridge clean and properly defrosted to prevent it from using too much power.

Read: How Many Amps Does a Dishwasher Use?

Final Verdict

The refrigerator plays a vital role in every home, and knowing how much power it uses is essential. And while they don’t consume massive power, they’re still not close to the most efficient appliances in your home. But with a few tricks and paying attention to power usage, you can keep your fridge from being a power guzzler.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.