Why Is My Mini Fridge Hot on the Sides or Outside (Is it Overheating?)

Mini fridges are a super convenient way to keep food and drinks cold away from the main fridge in the kitchen. If you’ve noticed that your mini fridge is getting hot on the outside, however, you might be a little alarmed and wondering if it is actually a problem or something that you can safely ignore.

It is normal for a mini fridge to get hot on the outside, particularly the sides or back of the fridge, because that is how heat dissipates from the hot compressor during normal use. If the mini fridge is excessively hot, the compressor is running constantly, or your food isn’t staying cold, then you will need to diagnose and fix the problem.

Let’s learn more about the most common reasons for a mini fridge to get hot on the outside along with the quickest, simplest fix for each one!

Is it normal for a mini fridge to get hot on the outside or sides?

Yes, it is normal for a mini fridge to get warm or hot on the outside or the sides.

A mini fridge cools food and drinks by running a compressor which needs to dissipate the heat it absorbs from the inside of the fridge to keep it cool. The heat is released through the walls of the fridge, making the outer surfaces feel warm or hot to the touch.

A common heat source in a mini fridge is the condenser coils, which are usually found at the back or the sides of the appliance. When your mini fridge is working efficiently, it transfers heat from inside the refrigerator to the condenser coils. The coils then release the heat to the surrounding environment, keeping the inside of the fridge cool.

It is also important to know that there might be a difference in temperature in various parts of the fridge. The back and sides might feel hotter than the top and front of the mini fridge, depending on where the compressor and condenser coils are located.

Is it normal for a mini fridge to get hot on the outside or sides?

How hot should a mini fridge’s side walls be?

It’s normal for your mini fridge to feel warm or even hot on the sides at times.

A mini fridge’s walls are excessively hot if they are too hot to touch for long periods of time.

Most mini fridges should will be set to around 34-40°F (1-4°C) inside, as anything above 40 degrees can cause issues with food safety. If the interior temperature remains within this range, the sides of your mini fridge might feel warm but should not be excessively hot.

Note that if your problem is the mini fridge getting hot inside then you have a WHOLE different problem!

6 causes for a mini fridge’s sidewalls to become excessively hot?

Fortunately, there are usually only so many reasons why a mini fridge would get too hot on the outside. Here are the most common ones:

  • There is no airflow around the mini fridge
  • You are using the mini fridge outside in hot temperatures
  • Dirty condenser coils
  • Faulty condenser fan
  • The mini fridge door isn’t closed or sealed properly
  • The compressor is overworked

There is no airflow around the mini fridge

Lack of sufficient airflow around your mini fridge can cause it to become hot on the sides or outside because the hot air can’t dissipate away fast enough to keep it cool.

How to improve airflow around the mini fridge

To improve airflow and promote proper ventilation, position your mini fridge with at least a couple of inches of spacing on all sides. This spacing allows airflow to circulate more freely and helps the fridge stay cooler.

You are using the mini fridge outside in hot temperatures

Using the mini fridge in an outdoor setting that is exposed to direct sunlight or a warm room can make it feel warmer than usual because a higher outdoor temperature forces the mini fridge to work harder to maintain the inside temperature.

You are using the mini fridge outside in hot temperatures

Consider moving the mini fridge inside or into the shade

If you are able, it is always best to move a mini fridge into a climate-controlled space so that the outside temperature isn’t more than about 30 degrees higher than the temp you set your mini fridge to.

Think about it like this – on a hot day in some places the outdoor temperature could easily reach 100 degrees making it VERY difficult for your little fridge to keep up!

Move your mini fridge indoors if you can – even the garage would be a better alternative than outside because it will have shade and some insulation from the outdoor heat.

Dirty condenser coils

Dirty condenser coils can be another reason why the mini fridge sidewalls are becoming hot. Dust and dirt buildup on the coils can prevent proper heat exchange, making the fridge work harder to cool down.

Dirty condenser coils

How to clean the condenser coils

To clean the condenser coils, start by unplugging your mini fridge and then use a vacuum to suck away the dust on your condenser coils.

If the dust isn’t moving with the vacuum alone, just use a small brush to loosen up the build-up to make things easier!

Faulty condenser fan

A damaged or faulty condenser fan can also cause the mini fridge to become hot. If the fan isn’t working properly, it may not be able to provide the necessary cooling for the appliance, leading to overheating.

How to fix or replace a condenser fan on the mini fridge

If your condenser fan is faulty, it’s best to contact a professional repairman or the manufacturer’s support team for assistance. They can help you determine if the fan needs to be fixed or replaced and provide guidance on how to proceed.

The mini fridge door isn’t closed or sealed properly

An improperly closed or sealed mini fridge door can let cold air escape and let warm air in. This can result in the fridge working harder to maintain its temperature, causing it to heat up.

The mini fridge door isn't closed or sealed properly

How to make sure the mini fridge door seals

Inspect the door seal or gasket for any gaps, cracks, or signs of wear. If you find any issues, consider replacing the damaged seal to ensure a proper seal between the door and the fridge.

If your fridge is a bit older or is often used outside where it is exposed to the elements, it is fairly common for rubber gaskets and seals to dry up.

Here is a quick video that explains how to properly relubricate your fridge door seals:


The compressor is overworked

The compressor is responsible for cooling the inside of your mini fridge but it isn’t designed to be running 24/7. If there is an issue with your fridge that causes the compressor to run constantly, it will burn out much more quickly as well as create lots of extra heat on the outside of the unit.

An overworked compressor can cause your mini fridge to become extremely hot and, if left unattended, may lead to overheating. This can also result in a higher energy bill and potential damage to the fridge in the long run.

The compressor is overworked

How to stop overworking a mini fridge compressor

To prevent your mini fridge compressor from becoming overworked, avoid opening the door too frequently or keeping the fridge too full.

Ensure the fridge is in a well-ventilated area and properly maintain it to prevent unnecessary strain on the compressor. If the compressor continues to overwork and you’re experiencing issues, consider contacting a professional for support or investing in a new, more efficient fridge.

Mini fridge is getting hot on the outside – Key Takeaways

  • Warmth on the outside or sides of a mini fridge is typical due to the cooling process.
  • Extended excessive heat may indicate an issue with the appliance.
  • Understanding the cause of the heat will help you address potential concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions about mini fridges getting hot

Why are the sides of my refrigerator hot?

It’s normal for the sides of a refrigerator to feel slightly warm. This is because the refrigeration system’s compressor and condenser coils generate heat during operation. The heat is usually transferred away from the refrigerator through the sides, which can result in a warm touch.

Is it normal for my freezer’s sides to be warm?

Yes, it is normal for the sides of a freezer to feel warm. Similar to a refrigerator, the compressor and condenser coils generate heat, and the heat is dissipated through the sides. This process is essential for efficient cooling inside the freezer.

What causes a mini fridge to overheat?

A mini fridge can overheat for various reasons, such as a faulty thermostat, poor ventilation, dirty condenser coils, or a malfunctioning compressor. Ensuring proper ventilation, cleaning the coils regularly, and diagnosing potential issues with the thermostat and compressor can help prevent overheating.

How to cool down an overheating fridge?

To cool down an overheating fridge, try the following steps:

Check for proper ventilation around your fridge. Make sure there’s enough space for air to circulate around it. Inspect the condenser coils for any dirt or debris accumulation and clean them if necessary.Ensure the door seals are in good condition and are sealing properly.

If the problem persists, consult a professional technician to check the thermostat and compressor.

Is a hot fridge compressor normal?

A mildly warm fridge compressor is normal, as it generates heat while running.

However, a very hot compressor may indicate an issue with the refrigerator’s cooling system, such as an overworked compressor, low refrigerant levels, or a blocked condenser. In such cases, it’s best to consult a professional technician.

Should I be worried about my Insignia fridge’s warm sides?

It’s normal for Insignia fridges, like most refrigerators, to have warm sides due to the heat generated by the compressor and condenser coils.

However, if the sides feel excessively hot or the fridge is not cooling properly, inspect the ventilation, door seals, and condenser coils for potential issues. If the problem persists, contact a professional for further assistance.

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