empty refrigerator not cold

Does a Refrigerator Work Better Full or Empty?

We’re sometimes asked, “Does a refrigerator work better full or empty?” Good question! Think of your refrigerator as following the Goldilocks Principle: Not too much, not too little, but just right.

Refrigerators that are too full don’t have adequate airflow to keep everything cold. On the other hand, if your fridge is near empty, it won’t work efficiently either. Your refrigerator has a sweet spot – this is where the Goldilocks Principle comes in.

Does a Refrigerator Work Better Full or Empty?

So does a refrigerator work better full or empty? Let’s take a look.

Problems with an Overstuffed Refrigerator

When a refrigerator is stuffed to the brim, it has a lot of work to do competing with all the food. Your refrigerator needs room to circulate the cold air through and around the food to keep everything at the proper temperature.

In addition, an overfilled refrigerator likely has blocked vents. Not only does this inhibit air flow, a necessary function to keep things cold, but it can damage your refrigeration system. If you’re finding your refrigerator not cold enough, overstuffing it could be the reason.

When questioning “does a refrigerator work better full or empty,” understand that your refrigerator works better when full, but you don’t want your fridge to be too full.

how full should your fridge be
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Problems with an Empty Refrigerator

We know a refrigerator doesn’t work best when it’s overstuffed. However, we know it won’t work well being empty either. Food absorbs the cold air, which helps to chill the food next to it. When the refrigerator is too empty, the appliance is working very hard (and costing you money) just to cool a few items. You may find you empty refrigerator not cold enough, or you could find delicate items (i.e., lettuce) freezing.

An empty refrigerator is not very efficient and certainly not a good use of your hard-earned paycheck.

empty refrigerator not cold

Answer: A Refrigerator Works Better 3/4 Full

Does a refrigerator work better full or empty? Neither. Remember that sweet spot we mentioned? Keeping a refrigerator at 3/4 full is where it’s at. This allows the refrigerator to operate at maximum efficiency. Air circulation is unhindered and freely moving, and the food is properly absorbing the cold to assist in the process.

So how full should your fridge be? For peak performance and efficiency in maintaining internal temperatures, always fill the refrigerator 3/4 full and keep all vents clear and unblocked. This prevents the issue of the refrigerator running constantly and therefore saves money on utilities.

Other Refrigerator Efficiency Tips

The questions of “Does a refrigerator work better full or empty?” is but one piece of the refrigerator efficiency puzzle. There are a couple of other refrigerator efficiency tips you should know to ensure the maximum efficiency as well.

Every 6 months, take 15 minutes to clean the condenser coils. These are located either underneath or behind the refrigerator. These snake-like coils become clogged with dirt and debris and need to be cleaned for the refrigerator to run properly.

Another tip is to ensure you have a proper door seal. When the door seal is worn or damaged, it no longer traps the cold air inside the refrigerator. This allows the cold air to leak out and requires the fridge to work harder. If you have a defective door seal contact a technician that specializes in refrigerator repair to have it replaced.

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