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How Long Does it Take For a Refrigerator to Get Cold?

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If you have just bought a new fridge, there may be several questions going through your mind. You probably want to know how to use all the extra features, how to set it up, how much energy it may consume, and how long does it take for a refrigerator to get cold?

This last question may be immensely important if you have a ton of freshly bought groceries (especially frozen foodstuffs) to put in your new refrigerator and you want to prevent them from spoilage, or if you have a group of friends coming over in the evening and you need to serve them chilled drinks.

For those of you who think that a refrigerator gets cold instantly, unfortunately, you are wrong. It takes some time for a refrigerator to cool.

If it’s a brand new refrigerator, it may take 24 hours for the thermostat to reach the right temperature to store your groceries. If you have just unplugged a refrigerator already in use, and then plug it in again, it will cool faster. It will take approximately 3 hours to reach a safe temperature for you to be able to store your groceries.

How cold should a refrigerator be to store food?

It takes anywhere from three hours to twenty-four hours for a refrigerator to get cold enough to store anything. Low temperatures prevent the growth of bacteria and keep everything in your fridge safe for consumption.

Just because your refrigerator is blowing cold air doesn’t mean it is cold enough to put groceries in.

The desired temperature to store foods is a little below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for regular refrigerator compartments and if you want to make ice cubes, the freezer should be at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a safe temperature to store food and drinks.

The time a new fridge takes to start emitting cool air varies according to brand and model, but the difference isn’t of a few hours – just a few minutes.

It is best to buy a new refrigerator with a digital display so the appliance thermometer is easily visible and you’ll know what the present temperature is.

Should I leave my refrigerator to settle before plugging it in?

Your new refrigerator has probably been through quite a ride while being brought to your kitchen, so it’s likely that the cooling liquid in the refrigerator is not properly settled.

Therefore, it’s not a good idea to plug in your new refrigerator immediately. You should wait approximately six to eight hours to let the fluids in your new refrigerator settle down before you plug it in.

If the ride from the store to your house wasn’t bumpy and the new refrigerator was transported with care, then you might be able to plug it in sooner.

However, we recommend waiting longer before you plug it in because you can never be too careful with a new appliance.

Again, these times may vary a little bit according to the brand you use and the model of your refrigerator. However, most refrigerators take as long as stated to settle in.

How long does it take for a refrigerator to reach the proper temperature?

As stated above, if you have a new refrigerator it can take 24 hours for the refrigerator to get cold and safe for storing things in.

However, if you have just unplugged a refrigerator and are plugging it back in, after plugging in the refrigerator it usually takes three to four hours of cooling time for the refrigerator to reach the proper temperature.

You can open the door of the refrigerator once or twice during this time to see if it is emitting cool air and feels cold.

Once your new refrigerator is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (and you have waited the initial 24 hours for new refrigerators to cool) you can begin storing foods that are at room temperature.

A new fridge will take longer to start producing ice. It can take up to 24 hours for the new refrigerator to get cool enough to produce ice, provided the freezer is at zero degrees.

What’s stopping my new refrigerator from getting cold?


If it is taking too long for your new refrigerator to get cold, it may be because the temperature inside your house or the climate in your location is too hot. A refrigerator takes less time to cool if it is in a colder environment.

Turn on your air conditioner to help your refrigerator cool faster. You can also move it away from the wall – this may be adding to its internal heat.


If your refrigerator is overfilled and has too much food and drinks in it, it will take longer to cool, or might not cool properly at all. Obviously, too many items will take longer to cool, and this prevents the proper functioning of the fridge.

If the refrigerator does not operate at the required temperature and low temperatures are not maintained, everything in your fridge may end up spoiled and wasted.

It is ideal to keep a limited amount of groceries in the refrigerator and not overstock! The same goes for your freezer – overloading will affect the cooling, causing spoilage.

The door is opened too often

If you have many people in your family and they are often hungry, you may be opening the door of the refrigerator too often. This may happen even if there are a few people using the fridge, but are opening the refrigerator door multiple times!

If this happens, you are not giving the refrigerator enough time to cool and whenever you open the door, the cool air moves out and warm air moves into the refrigerator, making the compressor work harder to bring the thermostat back to the required temperature.

This also increases your electricity bill because it causes more energy consumption. Therefore, if you want to keep your refrigerator cool, try to open the door less often.

Blocked air vent

If your air vent is blocked, airflow will be hampered and this can damage or spoil your groceries. Air flows from freezers to refrigerator compartments to maintain a temperature throughout the cooling appliance. However, if your air vent is blocked, this will affect the temperature in your refrigerator and be problematic.

Items that are near the freezer air flow in the refrigerator compartment may freeze and other issues may arise. This can include moisture build-up, and cause the sensitive contents of your fridge to spoil.

It is important to check for blocked vents and make sure air is freely flowing between the freezer and refrigerator compartments to allow for proper cooling. Make sure the contents of your fridge are a few inches away from the air passage.

Broken door gasket

If you have a new refrigerator, you shouldn’t have to worry about a broken door gasket for a long time unless you aren’t taking care of your appliance and misusing it.

However, if for any reason, your refrigerator door doesn’t stay closed, the refrigerator will obviously not get cold.

If you have a broken door gasket for your freezer, this may also affect the functioning of your evaporator fan and evaporator coils, causing problems in the temperature.

Broken door gaskets mean that your freezer and your refrigerator will not be able to function properly and maintain the proper condition for the contents of your fridge to be safely consumable.

If you have such a problem, it is imperative to solve it immediately, otherwise, you run the risk of spoiling everything in your refrigerator and getting sick if you consume it.

Can a refrigerator be too cold?

While refrigerators are made to cool their contents, it is possible for a refrigerator to be too cold.

There are many factors that can cause a refrigerator to be too cold. Your refrigerator may be too cold because of airflow problems in the machine, clogged vents, an improperly functioning defrost drain, and the wrong cold control settings.

As mentioned above, your refrigerator should be at around 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer should be at zero degrees for storing foods.

If temperatures are fluctuating or are below this, you may also end up freezing the groceries in your refrigerator and spoil them if they weren’t meant to be frozen.

For example, defrosting a bar of chocolate after it has been frozen completely ruins the taste. The same goes for fruits and vegetables, so you wouldn’t want to freeze fresh food.

Make sure you pay attention to the thermostat and ensure the temperature is what it should be.

If it isn’t, check your settings or check for any of the problems mentioned above.

How often should you get a new fridge?

A question that is perhaps more important than how long does it take for a refrigerator to get cold, is how often should you get a new refrigerator.

Obviously, a new refrigerator is not a very frequent investment – but that doesn’t necessarily mean a fridge is a lifetime investment either. Again, the lifespan of your fridge depends upon the brand, the make, and similar factors.

However, most refrigerators last about ten to twenty years.

If you start noticing problems with your fridge, then it may be time to buy a new one. These problems can be problems such as consistently inaccurate temperature, too much condensation, your freezer being too frozen, your groceries getting spoiled often, etc.

Also, it depends on the style of your refrigerator. If you have a side-by-side fridge in which the freezing compartment is right next to the fridge, you might need to replace your appliance sooner- in approximately 5 years.

However, it is ideal to probably change your fridge anywhere between seven to ten years for optimal performance.


How long after plugging in a refrigerator can it be used?

As mentioned above, if you have a new refrigerator it is ideal to use it after 24 hours of plugging it in for it to be safe to store groceries in.

However, if you have unplugged your refrigerator and plug it in again, it takes about three to four hours for the refrigerator to reach the appropriate temperature to use.

Therefore, be sure to wait the required number of hours before putting in your food and drinks. You don’t want to get sick after consuming spoiled food!

Will an empty refrigerator get cold?

An overfilled refrigerator may not work properly and the same stands for an empty refrigerator too. The cool air is absorbed by the contents of your fridge and the air that certain food absorbs helps chill the stuff next to it.

An empty refrigerator may often not get cold enough or if you have very few things in your fridge and some of them are delicate, such as lettuce, they may end up freezing.

Therefore, it isn’t a good idea to run an empty refrigerator. It is always ideal to have a few items in your fridge. Try to buy groceries according to the size of your fridge so you also save on energy and use the appliance efficiently.

Can I put hot food in a cold refrigerator?

Putting hot food in a fridge would make the air inside the refrigerator hotter and make the compressor work harder to reduce the temperature. Putting warm food inside a fridge prevents the refrigerator from cooling quicker and may cause problems for the rest of your food.

Therefore, it is never a good idea to put contents that have been heated up recently inside a refrigerator.

Food at room temperature should be placed inside the fridge and things you would want to freeze should be kept in the freezer.

What’s the ideal temperature for storing fresh food?

In order to keep everything in your fridge fresh and tasting ideal, it is important to store it at the recommended temperature.

Freezing food can also spoil it as can storing it in high temperatures. Fresh fruits and vegetables have a longer life in cooler conditions. It is best to set your fridge between 35-degrees Fahrenheit to 38-degrees Fahrenheit.

This will keep food fresh and the taste optimal, so you’ll be able to enjoy great-tasting food, and eliminate wastage at the same time.

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