Refrigerator Power Consumption: Unveiling How Many Amps It Uses:

Refrigerators are the unsung heroes of our kitchens, tirelessly keeping our food fresh and edible. Yet, they are also notorious energy hogs, responsible for a substantial chunk of a household’s electricity consumption. In fact, in the United States, refrigerators account for approximately 7% of a home’s total energy usage. When choosing a new appliance or a backup power source, it’s essential to know how many amps a refrigerator uses.

Discover how many amps your refrigerator uses in seconds.
How Many Amps Does a Refrigerator Use?

Let’s explore further to find out how much energy these common appliances in the kitchen use.

How Many Amps Does a Typical Refrigerator Use?

A typical full size refrigerator consumes approximately 725 watts of power when running on a 120-volt circuit. This translates to roughly 6.04 amps. However, this is just an average figure, and the actual amperage can vary significantly based on factors such as the refrigerator’s make, model, and age.

Understanding your monthly utility bills, including electricity consumption, is a responsible homeowner’s duty. Knowing how many amps your refrigerator uses allows you to make informed decisions about energy usage and cost management.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average power consumption of a refrigerator is around 725 watts, but there is considerable variability among models. Some fridges are more energy efficient, using as little as 400 watts, while others, particularly older models, can gulp down as much as 1300 watts. Consequently, the amperage draw of a refrigerator typically falls within the range of 3.3 to 10.8 amps.

Calculating amperage from voltage and wattage ratings is straightforward using the formula:

Amps = Watts / Volts.

For instance, a refrigerator with an average power consumption of 725 watts operating on a 120-volt circuit would draw approximately 6.04 amps (725 watts / 120 volts).

It’s essential to note that a refrigerator’s amperage can spike significantly during startup. If a refrigerator consumes 725 watts during regular operation, it can draw as much as 2,175 watts (3 times the normal wattage) when starting up. This surge equates to approximately 18.12 amps (2,175 watts / 120 volts).

How Many Amps Does a Small Refrigerator Need?

Small refrigerators, often found in apartments or compact living spaces, have considerably lower energy requirements compared to their full size counterparts. These pint sized appliances typically draw less than an amp to around 2 amps. However, the specific amperage can vary depending on factors like room temperature and other usage conditions.

Small refrigerators typically consume between 55 and 85 watts, which translates to roughly 0.5 to 0.7 amps. In some cases, the wattage might peak at 240 watts, resulting in a maximum amperage of 2 amps. This is significantly less than the energy demands of standard refrigerators.

The reduced energy consumption of small refrigerators can be attributed to their less powerful compressors, which don’t require as much electricity to operate efficiently. Investing in a smaller fridge can be an energy saving choice for those with limited storage needs.

Is a Fridge Pluggable Into a Surge Protector?

You may be confused about if it is wise to plug your refrigerator into a surge protector because the security of your appliances is of the highest priority. However, it’s crucial to note that doing so is generally discouraged. Plugging a refrigerator into a surge protector can override the appliance’s built in power surge protection, potentially causing issues and significant losses.

Refrigerators are equipped with internal power surge protection systems designed to safeguard them from voltage fluctuations. When a power surge occurs, this system activates, shutting off the refrigerator to prevent damage. Once the surge subsides, the fridge automatically restarts. However, if an external power surge protector is connected to the outlet, it can prevent the refrigerator from restarting automatically. This can lead to spoilage of food and other inconveniences.

To ensure the proper functioning of your refrigerator’s built in surge protection, it’s best to refrain from using an additional surge protector. Trust the appliance’s internal safeguards to do their job effectively.

Do Refrigerators Need Their Own Circuit?

While refrigerators don’t necessarily require their dedicated circuit, having one is a prudent choice. A dedicated circuit specifically for your refrigerator can prevent potential losses caused by a circuit breaker tripping.

As previously mentioned, the average refrigerator consumes about 6 amps during normal operation, which is well within the capacity of most circuits. However, it’s essential to consider the higher amperage draw during startup. When a fridge starts up, it can momentarily draw significantly more amps than during regular operation. If other appliances share the same circuit, the breaker may trip, potentially resulting in food spoilage and inconvenience.

To avoid this scenario, using a dedicated circuit for your refrigerator is advisable. This ensures that the fridge’s startup current doesn’t interfere with other devices on the same circuit, providing peace of mind, especially when you’re not around to monitor it.

Is a refrigerator suitable with a 15 amp circuit?

Yes, a refrigerator can be connected to a 15-amp circuit, provided that the circuit is dedicated solely to the refrigerator. Most refrigerators have amperage draws that remain below 15 amps, even during startup.

However, if the outlet supplying power to your refrigerator shares the circuit with other outlets or devices, it’s recommended to have a 20-amp circuit. This extra capacity allows for the inrush current during startup and ensures that the circuit can adequately power the fridge and any other connected devices.

It’s worth noting that even with a 20-amp circuit, a dedicated circuit for your refrigerator is the best choice. With the considerable spike in amperage during startup (a standard fridge can momentarily demand 18 amps at startup), having a dedicated circuit eliminates the need to worry about the breaker tripping due to other devices on the same circuit.

For larger refrigerators used in commercial or heavy duty settings, a dedicated 30-amp circuit is typically necessary to accommodate their higher power demands.

How many refrigerators can be linked to a 20 amp circuit?

You can safely connect up to two standard refrigerators to a 20-amp circuit. Two standard refrigerators typically draw a combined total of about 12 amps of power, which is comfortably below the recommended 80% capacity limit for a 20-amp circuit. However, it’s important not to start them both simultaneously.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) advises that the maximum load on a single circuit should not exceed 80% of the circuit’s capacity. In the case of a 20-amp circuit, this translates to a limit of 16 amps.

While the combined amperage of two standard refrigerators doesn’t exceed 16 amps during normal operation, it’s important to consider the inrush current during startup. Simultaneously starting both refrigerators can briefly exceed the circuit’s capacity, causing the breaker to trip.

To avoid this situation, it’s recommended to either connect the refrigerators to separate circuits or stagger their startup times. This ensures that the amperage remains within the circuit’s capacity, preventing the inconvenience of constantly resetting the breaker.

Do Refrigerators Use a Lot of Electricity?

Yes, refrigerators indeed consume a substantial amount of electricity and are among the most power hungry appliances in your home. On average, a refrigerator accounts for approximately 7% of your total power consumption. To put this into perspective, a refrigerator with a power consumption of 725 watts uses around 17,400 watt hours per day.

Considering that the average cost of a kilowatt-hour (kWh) is approximately $0.13, running such a refrigerator costs roughly $2.26 per day or $67.50 per month. However, modern advancements in refrigerator technology have introduced more energy efficient models that can operate with as little as 250 watts. In such cases, the monthly cost drops to a mere $24.

It’s important to note that refrigerators cycle on and off to maintain a consistent temperature, which further reduces their overall power consumption. Therefore, while refrigerators do use a significant amount of electricity, their actual energy usage is typically lower than the maximum wattage suggests.

Factors Affecting Amps Consumption of a Refrigerator

Knowing the factors affecting a refrigerator’s amperage use is essential if you want to maximize energy savings. These factors include:

1. The Voltage

Refrigerators running on 240V draw lower amperage compared to those operating on 120V. Voltage and amperage have an inverse relationship, meaning that higher voltage results in lower amperage.

2. Age of the Refrigerator

Older refrigerator models tend to be less energy efficient, consuming more amps due to their outdated design and technology.

3. Temperature Setpoint

Lowering the temperature setting on your refrigerator forces it to work harder and consume more energy to maintain the desired temperature. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal food safety.

4. Frequency of Access

Frequently opening and closing the refrigerator door allows cold air to escape, causing the fridge to work harder to maintain the set temperature, which increases power consumption.

5. Location of the Fridge

Placing your refrigerator near heat sources like stoves or radiators forces it to work harder to stay cool. Optimal placement includes keeping it away from such heat sources.

6. Maintenance

A well maintained refrigerator operates more efficiently. Proper defrosting and regular cleaning prevent energy wastage due to ice buildup and clogged vents.


One particular appliance that is essential to your daily life is your refrigerator. Making informed decisions about energy use and spending is easier when you know an item’s amperage consumption. While refrigerators do consume electricity, they can be managed to prevent them from becoming energy guzzlers.


Q. How can I calculate the amperage of my refrigerator?

You can calculate the amperage of your refrigerator using the formula: Amps = Watts / Volts. Simply divide the appliance’s wattage by the voltage it operates on (usually 120V in the United States) to determine the amperage.

Q. Are older refrigerators less energy efficient?

Yes, older refrigerator models tend to be less energy efficient than newer ones. Advances in technology have made modern refrigerators more energy conscious, resulting in lower energy consumption.

Q. What is the recommended temperature setting for a refrigerator?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends setting your refrigerator to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) for optimal food safety.

Q. How does the location of the refrigerator affect its energy consumption?

Placing a refrigerator near heat sources like stoves or radiators forces it to work harder to maintain the set temperature, increasing energy consumption. It’s best to keep the fridge away from heat sources for optimal efficiency.

Q. Can using surge protectors with refrigerators cause damage?

Yes, using surge protectors with refrigerators can override the appliance’s built in surge protection, potentially causing problems and losses. It’s advisable to rely on the refrigerator’s internal surge protection system for safety.


Understanding the amperage consumption of your refrigerator is crucial for managing energy usage and costs. By considering the factors that affect its energy consumption and following best practices, you can ensure your refrigerator remains efficient and cost effective while keeping your food fresh and safe.


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