Your refrigerator is one of the larger household appliances, and it’s always on! On average, a refrigerator uses 300 to 800 watts of electricity, or between 3 and 6 amps and about 120 volts. If you’re looking to cut down on your electrical bill or estimate how many solar panels you need to keep your home up and running, understanding how many watts of electricity a refrigerator uses is one important piece of the puzzle.
Key takeaways about powering a refrigerator
On average, refrigerators use 300-800 watts of electricity.
It costs an average of $20 a month or $240 a year to run a refrigerator.
A refrigerator’s actual energy use is typically much less than the stated wattage because they cycle on and off throughout the day.
Generally, you can divide your refrigerator’s wattage by 3 to estimate its energy usage.
The best way to save on electricity is to install solar panels. Start comparing your options on the EnergySage Marketplace today.
In this article
How much electricity does a refrigerator use?
A home refrigerator’s power consumption is typically between 300 to 800 watts of electricity, or between 3 and 6 amps and about 120 volts. Importantly, refrigerators generally have a much lower “running” wattage than their stated average wattage – this is because they cycle on and off throughout the day. As a general rule of thumb, you can divide your refrigerator’s wattage by 3 to estimate its actual energy usage. So, a 500-watt refrigerator actually will use about 167 running watts.
The exact amount of power your refrigerator uses depends on how old it is and its make and model, but for the sake of this analysis, let’s consider a side-by-side fridge/freezer. The two parts of your combo fridge/freezer appliance use similar amounts of electricity. However, freezers use more energy to produce cold air, and the amount of space they take up is usually less.
Over the course of a year, a fridge might cost about $235 to run – that’s about $20 on each of your monthly electricity bills.
Your electricity usage and bill are measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), a measurement of wattage over time. One kilowatt (kW) is 1,000 Watts (W), which means that powering a typical refrigerator for one day uses about 4 kWh of electricity.
How many watts do refrigerators use? Breakdown by time period Refrigerator wattageActual energy usageLength of time poweredkWh of electricity used 500 W167 W1 hour0.167 kWh 500 W167 W1 day4 kWh 500 W167 W1 week28 kWh 500 W167 W1 month122 kWh 500 W167 W1 year1,463 kWh
We’ll mostly be referring to the electricity used by refrigerators in terms of kWh in this article. The reason is simple: your electric bill is measured in kWh, and you get charged based on the kWh of electricity you use per month!
How many volts and amps does a refrigerator use?
Your fridge’s wattage is determined by its voltage and amperage. You can use the yellow EnergyGuide label on your fridge to determine the volts and amps it uses.
Using the above label, here’s how you can calculate volts and amps:
Translate your fridge power consumption to watt-hours (Wh) by multiplying the label’s kWh by 1,000. This gives you 630,000 Wh.
Divide 630,000 Wh by the number of days in a year (365), which gives you 1,726 Wh per day.
Divide 1,726 Wh per day by the number of hours in a day (24), to get an average hourly wattage of 72 W.
Refrigerators usually use 120-volt outlets. Divide the 72 W by 120 volts to get the amperage for your appliance: 72 W / 120 V = 0.60 amps.
Watts, amps, voltage, and more: what do they mean?
There are a lot of terms you can use to describe how electricity flows and is used by appliances. We’ve already mentioned most of them – here are a few definitions to keep things straight:
Volts (V): volts (short for voltage) measure electrical pressure differences. Voltage is the speed of electricity passing through a circuit.
Amps (A): amps (short for amperes) measure electrical current. Amps are the number of electrons (which make up electricity) flowing through a circuit.
Watts (W) and kilowatts (kW): multiplying volts x amps get you watts (or wattage). Watts are the rate of energy consumption. A kilowatt is just 1,000 watts.
Kilowatt-hours (kWh): lastly, kilowatt-hours are how your electric bill measures your energy usage. Simply put, kilowatt-hours are electricity consumption over time.
You can think of all these terms like water flowing through a pipe. Voltage is the water pressure, amps are the amount of water flowing past any point, and wattage is the overall rate of water flow through the pipe.
How much electricity does a mini fridge use?
Smaller mini-fridges use between 50-100 watts of electricity or 310 kWh per year. This varies widely depending on the age of the mini-fridge and if it is kept plugged in.
How much does it cost to power a refrigerator?
When you get your monthly electric bill, you only see the total amount you’re charged, not how much each appliance contributes to your final bill. Based on an average running wattage of 167 W for refrigerators (amounting to 1,463 kWh/year) and using state average electricity rates, here’s how the cost to run a refrigerator pans out over the course of a month and a year:
Monthly and yearly costs to run a refrigerator by state StateAverage electricity rateCost per monthCost per year California22.00 ¢ / kWh$26.84$322 New York20.59 ¢ / kWh$25.12$301 Texas12.56 ¢ / kWh$15.32$184 Massachusetts22.59 ¢ / kWh$27.56$330 Florida12.21 ¢ / kWh$14.90$179 Virginia12.58 ¢ / kWh$15.35$184 New Jersey16.20 ¢ / kWh$19.76$237 Maryland14.48 ¢ / kWh$17.67$212 Washington10.38 ¢ / kWh$12.66$152 US Average14.19 ¢ / kWh$17.31$208
Note: average electricity rates are based on October 2021 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Looking to offset your electric bills (and the energy these appliances use) with solar? When you sign up (for free!) on the EnergySage Marketplace, you can compare solar quotes from high-quality, local solar installers. Make sure to keep in mind your current and future electricity usage, and talk about how that could change with your installer for the most accurate quotes.
Calculate how much energy your own refrigerator uses
Remember that yellow Energy Saver sticker we mentioned above? If you want to know how much power your refrigerator uses (or at least is supposed to use), take the estimated yearly electricity use in kWh – which is probably your best bet for an accurate number. Simply multiply this number by the average electricity rate in your area to estimate how much you spend to power your refrigerator each year. For an estimated monthly cost, divide the estimated yearly cost by 12.
How many solar panels does it take to run a refrigerator?
The average refrigerator runs on between 300 and 800 watts of electricity. On average, solar panels are rated at around 350 W, meaning you’ll need between one and three panels to power most refrigerators. Remember, refrigerators sometimes use less energy than that. Still, to power them when they consume the most energy (like when you keep the fridge door open longer), you’ll need to design a solar system that can handle the higher power usage times.
How much electricity does a home use?
On average, American homes use 10,715 kWh of electricity per year – about 893 kWh of power consumption per month. Looking at refrigerators with an average running power rating of 167 W, you can expect your refrigerator to be responsible for roughly 18 to 20 percent of your electricity use. Of course, this will vary by season, region, type of refrigerator, and more.
See what electricity costs near you
The more expensive your electricity is, the more you’ll pay to power your refrigerator and other home appliances. Curious how much electricity costs near you? Click on your state to learn more:
Frequently asked questions about powering a refrigerator
What’s the best time to run a refrigerator?
If you’re on a time-of-use (TOU) rate plan, you are charged different amounts for electricity throughout the day. In general, it’s cheaper to use appliances during “off-peak” hours, which are usually overnight.
What size battery do you need to back up a refrigerator?
Just about all popular home batteries are capable of powering a refrigerator: most lithium-ion batteries like the Tesla Powerwall or Generac PWRcell have a power rating of 4 to 5 kW or higher and 10+ kWh of usable capacity. Fridges use 300 to 800 W (0.3 to 0.8 kW) of power at any one time and 4 kWh over the course of a day – meaning most batteries will be suitable for backing up your refrigerator.
What are ENERGY STAR appliances?
The ENERGY STAR rating is a U.S. government-backed system that certifies how energy-efficient appliances are. If an appliance is better than the average appliance in its category by a certain amount, it is labeled as “ENERGY STAR certified”. ENERGY STAR appliances use less power and therefore cost less money to run.
How much money can solar panels save you?
Solar savings vary widely, and your unique savings depends on factors like electricity usage, your location, electric rates and plans, and more. In general, most homeowners can expect to save somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000 on their energy use over the lifetime of a solar panel system. On average, it takes between 7 and 8 years for most homeowners who shop for solar on EnergySage to get their solar panels to pay for themselves.
Going solar is one of the most effective ways to generate energy savings, and you should make sure you are getting several quotes from reputable installers before you decide to move forward. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to get solar quotes from installers in your area and begin comparing options.