How Long Does It Take for a Fridge to Get Cold?

Written by Jason Hutchinson
6 Min read
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If you’ve just brought a new one, recently experienced a power outage, or needed to unplug it, you’re probably now wondering; how long does it take for a fridge to get cold again?

Well, the simple answer is that it can take anywhere between 2 - 24 hours.

But you can normally find the specific guidance for your machine’s make and model by finding the online manual and searching for “cooling time” or “hours” after pressing control + F.

In this blog, we’ll simplify the whole deal so that you know you’re following the right processes without digging out the individual manual. Plus, we’ll even tell you how you can expedite that cooling time, regardless of what make or model you have.

How long does it take to cool a refrigerator after it’s plugged in?

When it comes to plugging your machine in, whether from new or after a power outage or move, the cooling time will always be the same. The FDA has outlined that the optimum running temperature for a refrigerator is around 40°F.

Generally, the time it takes for a fridge to get cold will depend on the size, make and model. But there are also external influences that can cause delays in the process too. But for now, let’s focus on those machine-centric issues before we take a look at the external factors.

What is the quickest cooling fridge?

Each brand has its own rules and guidelines around cooling times. Samsung fridges boast the fastest cooling time on the market with most of their appliance models taking just 2 hours to reach that magic 40° mark. So, if you’re thinking of resetting your Samsung fridge then you may not have to wait as long as other brands. 

Elsewhere, other leading manufacturers may see you waiting much longer to be back up to full cooling potential. On the whole, Whirlpool appliances tend to take up to 24 hours to complete the initial cooling cycle. Whereas LG products boast a super-speedy 2-3 hour window.

On the other hand, size also matters. While the above timings are generally true across the range of Samsung, Whirlpool, and LG machines, if you’re purchasing or plugging in a minifridge, your timings will be dramatically lower than those of larger machines.

But it’s not just all down to the fridge you know. There are a number of external things you can do to push the process along a little too.

What can you do to speed up the cooling time?

There are six simple ways to hurry that cooling cycle along:

  1. Store it away from the wall
  2. Put ice in the freezer
  3. Keep the doors shut
  4. Cool down the kitchen
  5. Keep food cool before transferring it to the fridge
  6. Ensure your fridge is well maintained

1. Store it away from the wall

Now, we know you will normally put the fridge in a corner of the room and forget about it. But, when you do that, just make sure to pull it out a couple of inches away from the wall. This will help the condenser coils in the rear or bottom to circulate the cool air and expel heat emitted from the compressed air.

2. Ice the freezer

Adding some ice to your new freezer is a great way to help it reach the optimum temperature. If you have some ice trays ready, then add some to the draws and shelves to help circulate the cool air around the area.

Plus, when you’re done, there’ll be enough ice left over to chill that relaxing drink you’ve made.

3. Keep the doors shut

This one probably goes without saying, but to minimize the time it takes for your fridge to cool down, it pays to keep the doors shut. Those seals which run around the edge of the doors prevent the cool air from escaping so your food stays cooler for longer in a more energy-efficient way.

So, if you’re trying to cool down your appliance after a power cut or for the first time after buying it, then you’ll want to keep those doors closed. While it can be tempting to check on how cool the fridge is getting by opening the doors and having a feel, you should try to resist.

If you think about it, you wouldn’t turn on the air conditioning in the summer and open up all the windows as well would you? Not only is it counter-productive, but it’s also pretty inefficient from an energy-saving perspective.

4. Cool down the kitchen

You may not think that the temperature of the room the fridge is in has an impact, but it absolutely does.

It’s never ideal when your fridge cuts out in the height of summer. But if you do find yourself installing a new machine in the hotter months, it pays to try and keep the kitchen cool. Warm, muggy temperatures can hinder your refrigerator’s performance and cause that first cooling cycle to be longer than usual.

5. Keep food cool

If your refrigerator has gone kaput or suffered a power outage with shelves full of groceries then it’s best to try and keep those cool while you wait for the new fridge to catch up or for the cooling to occur when it’s turned back on.

We completely understand there may be too much to salvage, but it’s best to try and focus on the perishable items. Get any meat, fish, or dairy products into a cool bag with some store-bought ice thrown over the top. Replace the cubes when they start to melt.

This should mean that when the items are returned to the fridge, they are actually helping to speed up that cooling process too, rather than adding to the appliance’s workload.

6. Take care of your fridge

Remember those condenser coils we mentioned in point one? Well, they’re back again. But this time we’re focussing on keeping them in top condition. If you’ve got dusty or dirty condenser coils, your fridge may take longer to cool down again following a reset.

The condenser coils help expel hot air from your machine. However, their performance can deteriorate if they’re trying to push out that heat through a layer of lint.

Will an empty fridge get cold?

The answer to this question is… yes and no. You should make sure a new fridge is left empty when it completes its first cooling cycle.

Having said that, a fully-stocked fridge will operate more smoothly in the long run. Essentially, this is because there’s less room for warm air to circulate in a well-stocked appliance.

So, can you use your fridge immediately after turning it on?

Sadly, no. It’s important to wait that all-important 2 – 24 hour period for the fridge to complete the cooling cycle before transferring your food back into it.

The reason why we’ve been referencing that 40 degrees Fahrenheit number is because that’s the FDA’s recommended food-safe temperature. Anything higher than that and you may risk food spoiling too quickly or, worse, getting sick from improperly stored products.

In summary

Whether you’re plugging in a new refrigerator for the first time, or turning it back on after an outage or move, there are definitely things you can do to improve how long it takes for a fridge to get cold.

But it’s important to know the make and model you’re dealing with so that you can look up specific guidelines in the installation guide. And, where possible, try to follow those six simple steps for speeding up the cooling process safely.

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

This depends on the make, model and size of your appliance. Generally, this can be anywhere between 2-24 hours. Also, mini fridges take much less time to cool. Find model specific information in the installation guide online.

Why is my fridge not cold?

Usually a refrigerator not getting cold is a sign of dirty condenser coils. Clean the dust and lint off the coils in the back or bottom of your machine to allow excess heat to escape.

Why do you have to wait 24 hours to plug in a fridge?

Standing your fridge upright for 24 hours after purchase allows the oils inside the machine to drain down safely without clogging or breaking the compressor.

What happens if you turn a fridge on too soon?

If you switch your new fridge on too soon after moving it the compressor oils can jam the compressor causing it to overload and break. This will mean your fridge doesn't cool down.

Appliances made simple. 

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