During a power outage one of the biggest concerns is losing power to the fridge. If a power outage lasts long, you could have to throw away a lot of spoiled food. And this costs a ton of money. For some, buying a portable generator for their home alleviates this stress. But in order to run your fridge during an outage, you need to know how many watts a fridge uses.

Surge vs Rated/Running Watts

One of the first things to understand is the difference between surge and rated watts or running watts. All appliances draw power differently. Many will will draw more power during certain cycles – either when the appliance first starts up or if an appliance cycles like in a fridge compressor.

While an appliance may only need 700 watts to run consistently, you may need more than that to power it up. In order to operate the appliance at all you need to make sure you have enough power for its maximum power draw – how many surge watts is uses.

Rule of thumb is that you should multiply the running watts by 3 to get the surge watts. So if an appliance uses 700 watts, you should estimate that the surge wattage is around 2100 watts. In reality, the surge wattage could be more than that so if you’re concerned about having the necessary power, always be conservative.

Common Fridge Sizes and Watt Ranges

On average, a typical fridge in the US will draw about 750 watts when it is running. But that’s just the running wattage. Multiply that by 3 (to estimate the surge wattage) and you’ll need a generator that can generate over 2250 watts.

A mini fridge may go up to about 250 watts. So to cover the running of this fridge, you’ll need at least 750 watts.

A wine fridge will use less power than a mini fridge on average. This is mostly because it has a cold section but no freezer. You can find wine fridges with a running wattage of about 100 watts. This all depends on the size of the fridge, of course. If you multiply that by 3, you’ll need about 300 or so watts to cover the surge wattage.

What Impacts Power Consumption of a Fridge

Obviously you won’t find a fridge’s compressor running all day. It will kick on and off (cycle) at different times. This will depend on the conditions around the fridge, the make up of the fridge, and the settings of the fridge. Also, if the door is constantly being opened, the temperature will likely drop and the compressor will kick on more frequently.

How to Check How Many Watts Your Fridge Uses

So now we know the average wattage of different types of fridges. But how do you know exactly how much your refrigerator uses? Well there is a few different ways.

Look At The Stickers

The first way you can figure out the total wattage you need to run your refrigerator is to look at the stickers on your fridge. There is often a sticker on the inside of your fridge which will give you the amperage. Amperes multiplied by Volts will give you the wattage.

If you’re able and if your fridge has one, look at the compressor’s sticker as well. This will give you the wattage needed to run the compressor.

Check the Manual

Some refrigerator manuals will include the wattage within them. So check your manual. You may be able to find your model’s manual online as well if you can’t locate yours.

Get a Wattage Meter

Lastly, to get the most accurate measurement, get a wattage meter to calculate the wattage used by your appliance. You can plug your appliance into the meter. Then plug the meter into your outlet to get a read on the wattage it draws.