How Long Does It Take for a Refrigerator to Cool? (16 Examples)

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If you’re plugging in a new refrigerator, moving, or just regained power after an outage, you might be wondering:

How long does it take for a refrigerator to cool?

On average, full-size refrigerators take 12 hours to cool to the FDA-recommended food-safe temperature of 40°F. However, cooling time varies drastically by refrigerator type and brand, ranging from 2 to 24 hours. Mini fridges are ready quicker with an average cooling time of 4 hours. 

Now that you have a general idea of how long refrigerators take to cool, let’s get into more specifics.

In the following sections, I share the actual cooling times across different refrigerator brands, types, and sizes. I also explain the factors that impact cooling and how you can speed up the process.

Use the links below to navigate:

Refrigerator Cooling Times by Brand and Type

Averages are helpful, but how long do refrigerators actually take to cool?

In the chart below, you’ll find the cooling times of popular refrigerators across different models, including:

  • Bottom Freezer Refrigerators
  • French Door Refrigerators
  • Side-by-Side Refrigerators
  • Top-Freezer Refrigerators
  • Mini Fridges Refrigerators

The key takeaway is that the cooling time varies significantly across brands. For example, Whirlpool refrigerators take 24 hours to cool down, while Samsung models only take 2 hours. 

BrandTypeCooling Time
LG ElectronicsBottom Freezer2-3 hours
WhirlpoolBottom Freezer24 hours
GEBottom Freezer24 hours
SamsungBottom Freezer2 hours
SamsungFrench Door2 hours
LG ElectronicsFrench Door2-3 hours
GEFrench Door24 hours
SamsungSide by Side2 hours
FrigidaireSide by Side8-12 hours
WhirlpoolSide by Side24 hours
Magic ChefTop Freezers4 hours
FrigidaireTop Freezers8 hours
WhirlpoolTop Freezers24 hours
GalanzMini Fridge4 hours
Magic ChefMini Fridge4 hours
FrigidaireMini Fridge4 hours

How to Determine Your Refrigerator’s Cooling Time

The best way to determine your specific refrigerator’s cooling time is to Google the brand and model number and review the user manual or installation guide on the manufacturer’s website. Or refer to a trusted retail site, such as HomeDepot.com or Lowes.com.

When you open the installation guide, press Control+F on your keyword and search for the word “hours.” Doing so will help you find the section discussing cooling time in seconds rather than wasting 15 minutes reading the entire guide.

Below is a screenshot from the installation guide of a popular Whirlpool refrigerator:

time it takes for refrigerator to cool
Whirlpool Installation Guide

Factors that Impact How Long Refrigerators Take to Cool

What determines how long a refrigerator takes to cool? Well, there are many factors, including:

Size: While this isn’t a universal rule, generally, a bigger fridge will take longer to cool. Two of the mini-fridges on our list only take four hours to cool, while many of the bigger fridges take around 24 hours.

Storage area temperature: If a fridge were stored somewhere hot, like a warm truck or storage area, before arriving at your house — the starting temperature would be hotter. So it will take a bit longer to reach 40°F.

Temperature of the room: The room temperature will also affect the cooling period. Your user manual may tell you information about the ideal room temperature. However, if you’re storing your fridge in a hot room, like a garage or outdoor kitchen, the refrigerator can burn out. It will overrun itself constantly trying to keep cool, so it works harder for much longer. If the refrigerator (or freezer) is in your garage, you may need to invest in fans, vents, insulation, or air conditioning to keep it cool. I also recommend minimizing sun exposure.

Age and condition: Older refrigerators are less efficient, so they’ll take longer to cool down than newer models. Dusty, dirty, and clogged coils can slow down cooling times. Lastly, the condition of your fridge matters. If certain parts aren’t working correctly, the fridge won’t cool as fast. The key parts are the thermostat, blocked air vents, a damaged door seal, the condenser fan, and even a faulty compressor.

Empty vs. stocked: A well-stocked fridge runs better since there is less room for warm air, and it’s easier for the refrigerator to maintain its cool temperature. However, it would help if you didn’t put anything in the fridge while cooling down for the first time.

How often you open the door: Keep the door closed during the cooling process. Opening the door allows cool air out and warm air in, slowing down the cooling process.

How to Speed Up the Cooling Process

To make the cooling process as quick and seamless as possible, here are my top tips:

Keep the door closed: This is the best thing you can do. It sounds simple, but it makes all the difference. Every time you open the door, you let in warm air, increasing the cooling time.

Keep the coils clean: Make sure the coils are clean. Dusty, dirty, or clogged coils means your fridge is working harder to keep cool. I recommend cleaning the coils every six months.

Ensure good airflow: Keep your fridge a few inches away from the wall to ensure adequate airflow. The coils are usually located in the back and need space to disperse the hot air.

Plug it in properly: The fridge should always be plugged into its own electrical outlet (not into a power strip with other appliances), and the voltage rating must match that on the refrigerator’s rating plate. Incorrect line voltage is a fire hazard.

Room temperature: Make sure the room isn’t unusually hot. You may want to turn on the air conditioning while the fridge is cooling to aid the process.

Ice it: Put a bag of ice or an ice block into the fridge while it’s cooling. Do this quickly, minimizing the time the door is open. Check on this periodically, as the ice will begin to melt.

How to Know When Your Refrigerator Is Cool Enough to Store Food

According to the FDA, the temperature inside refrigerators should be at or below 40°F for safe food storage. Freezers should be at 0°F.

Some refrigerators have a built-in control panel that displays the temperature digitally. Otherwise, buy a fridge thermometer on Amazon (like this one here).

A thermometer is vital not only during the installation and initial cool-down process but also because temperature fluctuations can signal something is wrong with your refrigerator. So, it’s important to keep an eye on the temperature inside your fridge regularly.

Final Thoughts

On average, refrigerators take around 12 hours to cool down. However, the cooling time ranges from 2 hours up to 24, depending on the brand. For your fridge, check the installation guide for the specific number.

Whatever you do — don’t put food in the fridge before it has reached 40°F.

If you want to speed up the cooling process, turn on the AC, and keep the fridge a few inches away from the wall. Most importantly: be patient and keep the door closed.

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