How Long Does It Take A Fridge To Get Cold?

Last Updated on September 23, 2022 by P. Simon

Refrigerators are not designed to cool down to the ideal temperature as soon as they are plugged in. Your refrigerator will take several hours to cool down before it is safe for you to keep your foodstuffs.

However, the cooling time is the same whether the fridge is new or you just got your power back on. What makes the difference between how long refrigerators A and B get cold is their model, type, and how full they are.

So, exactly how long does it take a fridge to get cold? Is there a way to speed up the process? Let’s get right into it!

How Long Does It Take A Fridge To Get Cold?
How Long Does It Take A Fridge To Get Cold?

How does a refrigerator cool down?

Did you know that the refrigerator relies on the heat from the stored food to cool down? That is why an empty fridge takes longer to cool than a fridge that is three-quarters full.

The vaporized refrigerant passes through the evaporator coils absorbing heat from the food inside the refrigerator. As it does, it cools the air inside, keeping food at the desired temperature. The refrigerant then exits the coils and moves to the compressor, releasing the heat and turning it back to its liquid form.

The temperature inside the fridge is not uniform, though. Most refrigerators utilize a basic cooling design that works like a power pump. They draw heat from one side and pump it to another side.

That is why your refrigerator is coolest at the bottom and warmest at the top. Warm air in the fridge rises to the upper shelves while the cool air is pushed downwards. This is also why you should keep your most perishable items like meat and vegetables on the lower shelves.

How long does it take a fridge to get cold?

The ideal temperature for storing food in the refrigerator is 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the freezer. Therefore, it would be best to wait until the fridge reaches this temperature before storing your food. Cooling the refrigerator first draws heat from the metals, insulation, drawers, and shelves.

Typically, a refrigerator takes about 3 to 24 hours to attain the ideal temperature. However, a frost-free refrigerator often takes between 4 to 6 hours.

Some refrigerators come with a digital led display that shows the temperature at which the fridge is running. If yours doesn’t, you can install a specialist fridge thermometer inside your fridge.

How long should the new fridge run after the first plugin?

A new refrigerator takes up to 24 to cool to the ideal temperature for storing food. Research also shows that a new fridge needs to run for 80-90 percent of the time for the refrigerator to work effectively.

After that, the fridge will take between 4 to 6 hours to cool after the plugin if,

  • The air vents are clear from blockage
  • The refrigerator is three-quarters full
  • The climate or weather is cool
  • The door seals properly
  • The door is kept closed during the cooling process.

Refrigerator Cooling Times by Brand and Type

The cooling time for refrigerators varies across brands. Some brands take longer to cool than others. For example, Samsung fridges need only 2 hours to cool down to the ideal temperature after a blackout, while Whirlpool fridges need a whopping 24 hours before they can be restocked.

The type of refrigerator also determines how long you will wait before you restock your refrigerator. Let’s look at the cooling times for some of the most popular styles and brands of fridges.

Note that the quoted time is the same whether you are installing a new fridge or you just plugged it in after a power outage.

Mini Fridges

  • Galanz- 4 hours
  • Frigidaire- 4 hours
  • Magic Che- 4 hours

Bottom Freezers

  • LG Electronics- 2-3 hours
  • Whirlpool- 24 hours
  • GE- 24 hours
  • Samsung- 2 hours

Top Freezers

  • Magic chef- 4 hours
  • Frigidaire- 8 hours
  • Whirlpool- 24 hours

Side-by-side Refrigerators

  • Samsung- 2 hours
  • Frigidaire- 8-12 hours
  • Whirlpool- 24 hours

French Door Refrigerators

  • Samsung- 2 hours
  • LG Electronics2-3 hours
  • GE- 24 hours

How to Determine Your Refrigerator’s Actual Cooling Time

The best way to know the actual cooling time of your refrigerator is by googling the model and brand of the fridge. You could also review the installation guide on the brand’s website or go over the refrigerator manual.

If you opt to review the installation guide on google, you can gallop to the section you need by pressing control + F on the keyboard and searching for the phrase “Cooling hours.” This will save you the time of scheming through the manual to get the information you need.

Read our article: Refrigerator Not Cooling?

Factors that Impact How Long it Takes Refrigerators to Get Cold

Several factors determine how long it takes a refrigerator to get cold. These factors include:

The size of the refrigerator

Larger refrigerators take longer to cool compared to small refrigerators. For example, while mini-fridges take only four hours to cool, larger appliances such as French doors and side-by-side take up to 24 hours to cool.

Check our Best French Door Refrigerator Deals
Check our Best Side-by-Side Refrigerator Deals

However, this is not a universal rule. Some manufacturers such as Samsung and LG produce large appliances that take between 2 to 4 hours to cool to a safe temperature.

The temperature of the storage area

The storage area considerably determines the time it takes for a refrigerator to cool down. If a fridge were stored somewhere cool, the time it would take to cool down would be much lesser if the storage temperature was higher.

Read our article: What Temperature Should A Refrigerator Be?

If the refrigerator were transported using a warm truck on a hot day, the starting temperature would be warmer, and so it will take a bit longer to reach 40 degrees F.

The temperature of the room

The temperature of the fridge’s room also determines how long it will take to cool down.

Storing your fridge in a hot room such as an outdoor kitchen under the smoldering sun could lead to burnout. The refrigerator will overrun itself by trying to keep cool. The cooling process will therefore take much longer.

If you plan on keeping your refrigerator in a hot room, consider investing in vents, fans, ACs, or heat insulators to keep the room cool.

The age and condition of the refrigerator

The older a fridge is, the less efficient it is. So if you have an older refrigerator model, it is likely to take longer than a newer model.

Refrigerators with dirty and clogged coils reduce the fridge’s cooling capacity. The dirt buildup in the condenser coils causes the temperature in the refrigerator to rise due to a faulty cooling system which makes the cooling process even longer.

The fridge could also take longer if some cooling system parts, such as the thermostat, condenser coils, evaporator coils, door seals, condenser fan, and vents, are faulty or blocked. So, it’s good to quickly diagnose the problem with your fridge and repair the fault to hasten the cooling process.

Whether the fridge is empty or stocked

The recommended capacity for a refrigerator to give optimum performance is three-quarters full. A well-stocked fridge cools faster than a near-empty fridge.

Moreover, a full refrigerator makes the fridge energy efficient. However, if the refrigerator is new, it would help to let it cool without first stocking anything in it.

How often the fridge is open

During the cooling process, it’s advisable to keep the door closed. Opening the door allows warm air inside, and the cold air escapes to the outside.

6 Tips on How to Speed Up the Cooling Process

1. Keep the door closed 

Keeping the door closed prevents cold air from escaping or warm air from entering. Every time warm air seeps through, the temperature within the fridge rises, thereby slowing down the cooling process.

2. Keep the coils clean

Cleaning the coils eliminates dirt buildup that clogs the coils and reduces the fridge’s capacity to cool. Ensure that you clean your refrigerator coils every six months for optimum refrigerator operation.

Read our article: How To Clean Refrigerator Coils?

3. Ensure there is sufficient airflow 

When installing your brand new fridge, ensure that about one or two inches are left between the appliance and the walls or counters.

Leaving enough space around the refrigerator allows sufficient air to circulate and the condenser coils to disperse hot air without any obstruction. This enables the fridge to cool down faster.

4. Plug the refrigerator in properly

Do not plug the refrigerator into a power strip with other appliances. A refrigerator is designed to have a higher voltage, so you should get the fridge’s electric outlet and ensure the voltage rating match before plugging in the fridge.

Using an outlet with a lower voltage outlet could lead to a fire breakout.

5. Room temperature

Ensure that the temperature of the room in which your refrigerator is stored is cool. You can use air conditioning to reduce the room’s heat while the fridge cools.

6. Use Ice 

You could also reduce the cooling time by reducing the heat within the fridge using a bag of ice cubes or a block of ice. Place the ice on the shelves and then check on it periodically as it begins to thaw. Do this quickly to prevent too much warm air from getting into the fridge.

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

The ideal temperature at which food should be kept in the fridge is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the freezer should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some refrigerators have an inbuilt control panel that shows the temperature of the fridge digitally. However, if yours doesn’t, you could get a specialist thermometer and install it in your fridge.

The thermometer will come in handy during the initial cooling process and temperature fluctuations, indicating a problem with one or more parts of the refrigerator’s cooling system.


How long does a fridge take to get cold after being off?

The refrigerator cooling time varies across types and brands. Some brands like Samsung require only two hours to get cold, while Whirlpool needs 24 hours to cool down. However, most frost-free fridges require 4-6 hours to get cold after being off.

How long do you have to wait to put food in a new refrigerator?

The recommended time for cooling a new refrigerator before stocking it is 24 hours. However, the time varies across brands, so it is always wise to review your instruction manual.

Will an empty fridge get cold?

Yes. An empty fridge gets cold by drawing heat from the shelves, drawers, and walls. However, it takes longer to cool down an empty fridge than a full one.

How long does it take for a Samsung fridge to get cold?

Samsung fridges take the shortest time to get cold. If you get a Samsung fridge, you will only have to wait two hours before stocking it.