How Long Does A Refrigerator Take to Cool?

By Nick Evans •  Last Updated: 07/16/21 •  8 min read

Have you recently bought a new refrigerator, or experienced a power outage? If so, you may be wondering how long a refrigerator takes to cool.

Luckily, we have all the answers. In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How long it takes a new refrigerator to cool
  • When you should stock your new refrigerator
  • How long a refrigerator takes to cool after a power outage
  • Why your new fridge isn’t cold
  • Whether you can put your new refrigerator to use immediately
How Long Does A Refrigerator Take to Cool

How long does it take for a new refrigerator to cool?

A new refrigerator may take as little as 2 hours or up to 24 hours to cool.

It can be frustrating to hear such a varied answer, but it depends on too many factors for us to give a one-size-fits-all answer.

For an exact timeframe, check the manual that comes with your appliance. This is easiest done online so that you can use the page search function to check the expected cooling time without skimming the rest of the manual to find it.

Just be sure you are checking the manual for the right brand, make, and model of your refrigerator.

Below, we’ll look at some factors that affect fridge cooling time.

Size and type of refrigerator

The size of your refrigerator can greatly impact the cooling time. For example, mini-fridges take much less time to cool than larger types as there is less space that needs cooling.

Refrigerators with bottom freezers seem to take the longest, although this isn’t a strict rule. The brand plays a huge part in cooling times as well.

Overall, you should expect bigger refrigerators to take longer to cool and smaller ones to take less time.

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Delivery of the refrigerator

How your refrigerator is delivered will play a role in how fast it cools, assuming you get it hooked up immediately.

Think about the temperature inside of the delivery truck as well as your outdoor climate. If your refrigerator was delivered on a hot, sunny summer day, it’ll take longer to cool than if it’s delivered when there’s snow on the ground.

Refrigerators that were turned on their side for any period will need to sit upright for that same amount of time. If you’re unsure or know that your fridge was on its side for more than 24 hours, wait a full 24 hours before plugging it in.

The temperature of your home

Just like we mentioned above, refrigerators take longer to cool in hot environments. If there’s a heatwave in your area and you don’t have air conditioning, expect your fridge to take more time to cool.

On the other hand, if it’s winter and you have your windows open, the fridge should cool a little bit faster.

Brand, make, and model of refrigerator

The brand, make, and model of your refrigerator all play a role in their cooling times.

Some brands, such as Samsung, are known for their quick cooling times, while others may take up to 24 hours to reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the FDA-recommended temperature for fridges.

If you have a fridge/freezer combo, the freezer section will likely take longer to cool as it needs to reach 0 degrees Fahrenheit to safely store your food.

If you’re here because you’re preparing to buy a new fridge, I recommend doing some extra research into the specific models on your list. Read reviews or even look up the manual for each model before your purchase if cooling time is important to you.

Although it’s only a one-time waiting period, it may be worth it if you have a large quantity of food that you don’t want to spoil, as that would end up costing you money. Cooling time might also be important to you if you move frequently, or are just impatient (we’re not judging!).

New or used refrigerator

If you’re buying your refrigerator brand new, it’ll likely take less time to cool than a used refrigerator.

Unfortunately, the more use a fridge gets, the less effective it’s likely to be. As appliances age, they all too often lose efficiency.

Keeping the door closed

Lastly, whether or not you keep the fridge door closed will affect cooling time. I recommend opening the door only when needed.

The reason for this is that opening the door lets out cool air. If you leave the door open, you now have a cooling system meant for a small space working to cool your entire home!

You can see why this wouldn’t work and would cause the fridge not to cool effectively.

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

You should wait to stock your new refrigerator until the temperature has cooled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the FDA-recommended temperature for refrigerating food.

Many foods need to be kept out of the “danger zone,” which the USDA defines as 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. These foods are as follows:

Keep in mind that anything containing these foods is also at risk if it falls into the danger zone.

If your fridge doesn’t measure temperature on its own, as smart fridges do, then you can check it yourself using a glass of water and a thermometer.

Simply place the thermometer in the glass of water, place it in the middle of your refrigerator, and wait for the temperature to reach 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long for fridge to cool after power outage

After a power outage, the time it will take your fridge to cool depends on many factors, including the size, brand, model, and age of your appliance. It also depends upon how long your power was out.

If your fridge hasn’t cooled within a few days, you should consider repairs.

We know power outages are a pain, and no one wants to lose a fridge full of food. Here are some tips and tricks to get your fridge to cool faster after a power outage:

In the meantime, you might be able to look into alternative solutions such as asking a friend or family member to hold onto some or all of your food until your power is restored.

If your power goes out frequently for long periods and you have it within your budget, it’s likely worth buying a generator. This may even save you money in the long run, since you won’t be wasting cash on spoiled food.

Why is my new fridge not cold?

One of the most frustrating things is to buy a big-ticket appliance like a fridge, only to find that it isn’t working as it should.

Below are some reasons your new fridge may not be cooling properly.

Improper set-up

The first thing you should check if your fridge isn’t cooling is that it was set up properly. First, make sure it’s plugged into an electrical outlet.

This may seem simple, but sometimes the simple things are what we forget!

Next, read the instructions in your fridge’s manual to ensure it was set up correctly. If you’re unsure, you can unplug the refrigerator and start the process over again.

You should also check to see what the temperature control in your fridge is set to an appropriate temperature, and adjust it as needed.

Improper delivery

It’s also possible that your refrigerator was delivered improperly, and this is causing it to cool more slowly or not at all.

Of course, as with any appliance, your fridge might have been broken due to rough handling during transport. But with a refrigerator, it’s also likely to not be cooling if it was delivered on its side.

Oil from the compressor can leak into the cooling lines in this position, which will prevent the fridge from cooling.

If your fridge has been on its side, it needs to be placed upright for the same amount of time (or 24 hours) before running it. This will allow the oil to drain back to the compressor.

If you’ve done so and your fridge still won’t cool after a few days, you will likely need a replacement as yours is too damaged.

You’re opening the door

It’s tempting to keep checking back to see how much the fridge has cooled, but opening the door repeatedly or for long stretches of time will let out the cool air. This, of course, will make it so that the fridge takes more time to cool.

Instead, check back every 5-8 hours, and never leave the refrigerator door open.

Can you use a new refrigerator immediately?

Unfortunately, your new refrigerator won’t be ready for use immediately. It will take anywhere from 2-24 hours for it to reach the recommended food-safe temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Food that’s not stored properly can contain damaging bacteria, making it unsafe for consumption.

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