How Often Should a Refrigerator Run?

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The amount of time a refrigerator runs depends on many variables. High and low exterior temperatures, the fullness of the refrigerator and dirty condenser coils are just some variables that cause the refrigerator to run more often or not. Understanding these variables will help you determine if your unit is running too much or just enough.

  1. Exterior Temperatures

    • The exterior temperature around the refrigerator will cause it to run more or not very often. If the unit is next to a stove or in the path of direct sunlight from a window, the refrigerator is going to warm quickly and run more often to keep the internal temperature at the set temperature. If the unit is in a location with temperatures that are about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it won’t need to run often because the internal temperature will stay at the set temperature longer. According to Whirlpool, when the room temperatures are normal, about 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the unit runs 40 to 80 percent of the time, but the running time increases with higher exterior temperatures.

    Condenser Coils

    • Keeping the condenser coils vacuumed and clean will help keep the refrigerator from running more often. When the condenser coils are dusty and dirty, the refrigerator will run more often. In newer refrigerators the condenser coils are covered, but on older units the coils are exposed and collect dust. If the coils are dirty, the refrigerator is going to run more often, trying to keep the coils cooler.

    Refrigerator Fullness

    • A full refrigerator will hold the interior temperature more so than an empty or half-full unit. When the items in the refrigerator are cold, they help keep it at the set temperature. When you don’t have many items in the unit, the internal temperature has nothing helping to keep the interior cold, which causes the refrigerator to run more often to keep the internal set temperature. If you don’t have a full refrigerator, you can place jugs or bottles of water in the unit to take up space and keep the internal temperature lower. However, when you add large quantities of food to a refrigerator, it will run more to cool all of the newly added foods to the set temperature.

    Other Variables

    • New refrigerators will run nonstop until the interior temperature reaches the set temperature to keep foods cold or frozen. Opening and closing the refrigerator door allows the cold air to escape, which causes the internal temperature to rise. This will cause the refrigerator to run. If you constantly open and close the door, a refrigerator will run more often than it would if you keep the door closed and open it only once an hour or every couple of hours.

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