The 5 Best Tiny House Refrigerators [For Maximizing Your Space]

by Tessa Hobart | LAST UPDATED October 13, 2021

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Tiny house living involves a lot of DIY work and creative solutions to everyday problems. For example, if you don’t have space for a washer/dryer combo, you could use your local laundromat. Likewise, if a mini-split takes too much power during the winter, then you can get a simple heater.

The problem comes with items like refrigerators that are notorious for taking up a lot of space and power that can’t be replaced or removed entirely.

If you’re looking for something that would fit in a small home but would still be able to keep all of your food from spoiling, then we have a few tiny house refrigerators that might be the perfect fit.

Too Small

Unlike many other tiny house appliances, refrigerators lose a lot of their utility if you get a model that’s too small to meet your needs.

Plenty of tiny house cookers come with fewer burners or a small induction cooktop to fit on the smaller countertop. There are even portable washing machines that you can get that don’t require any electricity and would be a perfect fit for an off-grid home.

While these items can remain useful even if you reduce them in size, there is a point where a compact refrigerator becomes useless if you get a model that’s too small. Simply put, if your refrigerator has so little storage space that it can’t even fit a few days’ worth of food inside, then it’s not doing its job.

At the end of the day, the size of the refrigerator depends on your circumstances. Your family size and eating habits will determine your tiny home refrigerator size and needs.

If you live alone, then you can pretty much make do with any tiny fridge and still have enough space for all of your groceries. However, couples can usually fit in a few days worth of food in refrigerators that are around 4-6 cubic feet, and 3-4 person families might need something that’s between 7 and 10 cubic feet depending on their perisable food needs.

Anything above four cubic feet is usually a two-door with a separate freezer and stands around 4-5 feet in height. This isn’t ideal for small spaces, but these refrigerators are typically slim enough to fit in a gap, and bigger families can’t really manage to rely on the 2-feet tall refrigerators unless they want to go shopping for food every day.

Features

In all honesty, there’s only one feature that a compact refrigerator needs to have, and that’s a freezer. Of course, you don’t need a fridge-freezer that has a built-in ice maker and wifi connectivity, but you do need a compartment that can freeze certain items. While you won’t be stocking your fridge with bulk freezer items from Costco, you do need a little space to keep them.

Many mini-fridge models lack this one feature, and while a freezer isn’t an exclusive feature that can only be found in high-end small refrigerators, it still might add to the overall price of the appliance, which is why a lot of people tend to skip it.

Since smaller refrigerators have pretty limited freezer space to begin with, and they can’t fit all that much inside, we can see the logic when people say that this isn’t all that important. However, being able to freeze your food to keep it from spoiling is a pretty important feature in our book, so we’d strongly suggest picking out a fridge that can manage that.

Propane Refrigerators

There are plenty of kitchen appliances like stovetops with propane alternatives that can be used in off-grid tiny homes, and refrigerators are no different. In addition, while it may sound strange, there is a gas range of compact fridges that would make a great addition to any tiny house kitchen.

Propane refrigerators use a method that uses heat to power the cooling system, and while we won’t go into the details of this process, the result is that you can keep your food cool by using nothing more than a propane tank. These compact appliances are a great choice if your priority is energy efficiency while also saving kitchen space.

Unfortunately, while these appliances are a good option for homeowners that don’t have access to electricity, they have a few disadvantages that make them less than ideal in any other situation.

One of the biggest issues with these fridges is that they usually cost about twice as much as the standard models. Even tiny fridges like the SMETA 3 cost a few hundred dollars more than their electrical counterparts.

Another issue is the amount of propane that’s used. While propane might not be too expensive where you live, you’ll still need to refill your tank regularly. The number of times you do this per week will depend on the size of the fridge itself, but even doing it once every four days is still going to cost you and take time out of your day.

And finally, these refrigerators also require two separate venting ports to be installed to function correctly.

As you can see, these refrigerators aren’t ideal, but since tiny house living usually also means off-grid living, that means that these are going to be the best choice available to you unless you have a very powerful solar array set up.

Our Picks

Each of the portable refrigerators that we chose has at least one characteristic that makes them different. Each of these items has its own use, and they can all be a good pick for you depending on what you want from them.

We should also point out that these are only our choices, and we can’t know exactly what sort of setup you have or how many square feet you have available to you. Since your fridge of choice will be subjective, feel free to consider similar products on Amazon that might fit your specific requirements. 

In the meantime, take a look at our top tiny house refrigerators suggestions.

F40C4TMP 12V Car Fridge

Starting with our smallest fridge, the F40C4TMP 12V Car Fridge has a capacity of 28 liters, which is exactly one cubic foot. As we mentioned a bit earlier, this makes it a good choice if you’re the only one that lives in your tiny house, but it’s less than ideal for two or more people.

The space-saving compact size of the refrigerator makes it easy to place just about anywhere in your home, and the compatibility with both AC and DC power supplies makes it a good choice for road trips as well.

While it doesn’t have a freezer compartment, it has temperature control that allows you to keep your items at temperatures between -7.6℉ and ~50℉, which means that you can either use it as a fridge or a freezer on what you need that day.

This fridge costs around $260, which is a bit expensive when you consider that there are larger refrigerators that go for less, but its small size and versatility make it worth the cost, in our opinion. Plus, if you need a fancy car fridge, this is the perfect option.

SMAD Electric/Gas RV Compact Refrigerator

The SMAD Electric/Gas RV Compact Refrigerator is a hybrid form of the propane refrigerators that we mentioned a little while ago. This makes them ideal for locations that have frequent power outages or even if you want to take the fridge with you on the road.

With a capacity of around two cubic feet, this model is a bit larger than the horizontal fridge that we just covered, but you still won’t be able to put away too much food on the three small shelves or too many drinks on the two bottle racks.

These models usually come in at just below $300, and are a good choice for anyone who lives off-grid or wants to keep their energy consumption at an absolute minimum.

Midea WHD-113FB1

With a capacity of 3 cubic feet, the Midea WHD-113FB1 is a decently sized fridge with a feature the others didn’t have: a dedicated freezer space. Additionally, the freezer space that you get in this model is actually pretty sizable, and since it’s a two-door, that means that you don’t have to open the fridge door every time you want to get to your frozen goods.

Since separate freezers are usually a rarity in small refrigerators, you’d expect that to reflect in the price of this item, but surprisingly, this is the cheapest fridge on our list, and it’ll only set you back around $200.

The refrigerator has one large and one smaller shelf and a retractable drawer at the bottom, and space for all of your drinks on the side of the door. While the fridge can be set for temperatures between 32 and 50℉, the freezer compartment can be set for anything between -11 and 5℉.

Danby Designer Energy Star

As you might have guessed by the name, this particular Danby Designer model is energy-star rated, which means that it has the official seal of approval that says it’s pretty energy efficient. The fridge comes in at just over four cubic feet, making it the largest item on our list so far but still small enough to fit in just about any kitchen space.

The Danby Designer Energy Star is a tiny house refrigerator that has a retro black finish, four large shelves with plenty of room for all of your groceries, as well as bottle compartments on the inside of the door, and even a few can holders as well.

This refrigerator will cost you around $300, but the energy efficiency means that the slightly high upfront cost will be covered in the lower running costs.

Avanti RA7316PST

The Avanti RA7316PST refrigerator is the biggest item on our list, and it just scrapes by when it comes to qualifying as a tiny house refrigerator. While the fridge is around four and a half feet high, it’s only about 2 feet wide and long, so it can still fit in some compact spaces, as long as there’s enough headroom at least.

This model comes with five shelves for your food items, as well as a full-sized freezer compartment and enough space on the inside of the refrigerator door to accommodate any drinks that you have. The most surprising feature of this item is its low price tag at just below $400, which is absurdly low for a fridge of this size.

With a capacity of over seven cubic feet, this is the obvious choice for larger households that don’t want to have to restock their small refrigerator each day. While the size might seem a bit problematic at first, you should still easily be able to find a place for it as long as you have a section in your kitchen where you don’t have low-hanging cabinets.

Conclusion

Living in a small house sometimes feels like playing a giant game of Tetris since you’re trying to fit all of the pieces in a very narrow spot. Luckily, as long as you have a power socket nearby, you should easily be able to fit all of the refrigerators in our reviews somewhere in your kitchen. The last item on our list might require a bit more vertical space than the others, but it should still be relatively easy to find room for it.

Tessa Hobart
Tessa Hobart moved into her first tiny home (a trailer in her uncle's backyard) when she was 19. Without giving away her age, she now has many years of tiny home experience and is currently designing an A-Frame as a second off grid home. She lives with her husband and enjoys card games and mountain biking.

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