We all like saving money, especially when it comes to appliances.
I once bought a washing machine for forty dollars off of a local yard sale site, and then wasn’t surprised when it only lasted a month. It’s a toss of the coin when you buy something used, because you don’t know how honest the seller is or if the unit you’re buying is on its last leg.
When it comes to used mini fridges, you have to be very careful.
We’re here today to weigh the pros and cons of buying a used mini fridge, or just going with a new one, as well as a plethora of buying advice when you go to buy a used mini fridge to avoid you getting screwed over.
Should You Buy a Used or New Mini Fridge?
Well, it depends on your budget, really.
If you’re going to buy a mini fridge at all, you should always opt for a new appliance over a used one. Used products come with problems – or at the very least, more wear and tear – than new appliances do.
There are some points to consider, so let’s talk about them real quick.
While it might seem a bit ludicrous to even factor this in, some brands just hold up better in the long haul. Think about how many 30+ year old Toyotas are still on the road, versus how many Mercury cars are still on the road.
You can apply that logic to branding in other major purchases as well, like appliances. Frigidaire, Samsung and GE appliances tend to last for a very long time.
Not all of them make mini fridges, but it’s important to associate yourself with the right, trustworthy brands before making a purchase decision.
Is it in your best interest to be spending money on a brand new mini fridge right now?
It’s mini, but the cost surely isn’t minute. When you look at the four-figure costs of a full-sized, 22 cubic foot refrigerator from brands like Samsung and LG, of course you’re going to see high price tags that blow your budget out of the water.
Mini fridges are a different story, because even when they’re from big brands, there’s still a lot that goes into them. In some instances, the compressors could be more expensive than standard size fridge compressors due to the size and associated cost of production.
Do you have a very specific space that’s already been set up?
When you’re hunting for mini fridges, it might be hard to find the dimensions. An older mini fridge might not have an online sales page that you can scope out for specs, so it’s a good idea to measure it before buying it.
You don’t want to have to completely revamp your space just to fit a new fridge – the fridge should fit the area you designated for it. When you buy a new fridge, there’s more information
As we’ll discuss later, older units might end up using more energy. If you’re in an area with common blackouts, are conscious of your economic footprint, or you just want to keep that bill low, a newer fridge might be the way to go.
Energy Star ratings and efficiency ratings are getting better every single year, so a newer model might end up saying you operating costs in the long haul.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be better to go with a new appliance if your budget allows it.
What to Pay Attention to When Buying a Used Mini Fridge
Mini fridges can be worth it, if you buy them used, but only if the stars are aligned.
It’s doubtful that you’ll find a perfect used mini fridge, but so long as you pay attention to some of these key markers and specifications, you should do alright.
How do you really measure quality?
You get the technical specs on the model, which can usually be found on labels along the back or interior of the fridge, near the compressor and coils.
Quality components can be found by comparing individual elements with others online, to determine what parts are good and which ones are not.
If you don’t want to keep the seller held up, you can come prepared with some knowledge on quality mini fridge parts and match the specs against your own info.
The age of a refrigerator is only relative to the brand, really. Any fridge, even mini fridges, are going to be plugged in and used 24/7/365.
It’s just how it’s going to work. I don’t know anyone who just has appliances sitting in their garage that go unused for years on end.
There are still refrigerators and mini fridges that work that were first manufactured in 1990, and I’m sure that there are even some from before that.
Is that every fridge? No, but you’ll find that most of these age-old fridges rae of a relatively small pool of brands.
Compressors are louder when they have to work harder to maintain the same air temperature inside of the refrigerator.
If you’re going to buy a used mini fridge, let it run for ten to fifteen minutes after raising the air temp (leaving the door open for a few minutes, then shutting it).
Listen to how loud the compressor is. It could be dust (which we’ll talk more about later), or it could be a faulty compressor that’s about to give out from years of stress.
To really understand the compressor noise versus the noise coming from the entire fridge (internal fan, motor, etc.) you’ll have to get behind it and identify the compressor first.
If the previous owner, upon showing you something that they expect you to pay for, has a dirty fridge, then chances are they didn’t care for this thing the entire time they owned it.
If you go to sell anything , to anybody, you’re supposed to clean it up and make it presentable. A very clean mini fridge doesn’t mean that they’re hiding problems; it means that there’s pride in ownership. Cleanliness is good, but the rest of these points matter as well.
The gasket keeps the cold air in. This means your compressor has to work less to maintain the cold air, so long as you have a good gasket.
Gaskets are simple, rubber pieces that rarely cost over $30.00 (especially for mini fridges), and are easy to replace all on your own. This should not be a deal-breaker, especially if it’s a mini fridge that’s older than five years old.
Just be sure to bring it up if you’re buying a used one from somebody, and let them know that you may need to replace it. It could at least bring your initial cost down.
This one is a bit harder to tell, but basically you want a thermostat to give you an internal temperature of the fridge air.
Basically, you want your fridge to maintain a running temperature on a constant basis to ensure there’s no lapses in your food’s temperature, which could bring it into the danger zone.
Fluctuating between a few degrees is okay, if it’s still between 35°F and 39°F. You just want some level of consistency.
Older fridges run a bit louder than newer fridges. This isn’t anything that can really be avoided with a specific model or anything, it’s just a fact of machinery getting older and wearing down from use.
Think about how your car sounded when you drove it off the lot, versus how it sounds now that you’ve had it for a few years.
Noise can be caused by dust buildup on the condenser coils, so if you’re inspecting a used mini fridge for purchase, consider cleaning off the coils and letting it run for a while before making a final decision.
The coils are used to cool the unit, and if dust buildup is prevalent, they could be working harder to achieve the same internal temperature, causing them to run louder (and hotter).
Making the Decision
You know what to look for to make a sound decision. If you don’t like a unit, then go with your gut and don’t get it.
Most people aren’t engineers that can know exactly how a compressor runs, 100% beyond the shadow of a doubt, and will make mistakes in diagnosing if a fridge is going to give out any minute or not.
These guidelines help you make a more informed decision, though if you ask us, it’s always best to go with a brand new mini fridge, since they are a low-cost appliance.