Your refrigerator is one of the larger electrical appliances in your home, and it’s always on! If you’re looking to cut down on your electrical bill or estimate how many solar panels you need to keep your home up and running, understanding how many watts of electricity a refrigerator uses is one important piece of the puzzle.
Key takeaways about powering a refrigerator
- On average, refrigerators use 300 – 800 watts of electricity.
- It costs an average of $17 to run a refrigerator for a month, and $208 to run for a year
- The best way to save on electricity is to install solar panels. Start comparing your options on the EnergySage Marketplace today.
In this article
- How much electricity does a refrigerator use?
- Definitions: watts, volts, amps, and more
- How much does it cost to power a refrigerator?
- How many solar panels does it take to run a refrigerator?
- What size battery do you need to backup a refrigerator?
- How much money can solar panels save you?
How much electricity does a refrigerator use?
On average, a refrigerator uses 300 to 800 watts of electricity, depending on how old the model is. Most refrigerators use between 3 and 6 amps and about 120 volts.
Importantly, refrigerators generally have a much lower “running” wattage than their stated wattage – this is because they cycle on and off throughout the day. As a general rule of thumb, you can divide your refrigerator’s wattage by 3 to estimate its actual energy usage. So, a 500-watt refrigerator actually will use about 167 watts. We’ll use this as our “average” refrigerator in the calculations below.
Over the course of a year, a fridge might cost about $208 to run – that’s about $17 on each of your monthly electricity bills.
Your electricity usage and bill is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is a measurement of wattage over time. One kilowatt (kW) is 1,000 Watts (W), which means that powering a typical refrigerator for one day uses about 4 kWh of electricity.
How many watts do refrigerators use? Breakdown by time period
|Refrigerator wattage||Actual energy usage||Length of time powered||kWh of electricity used|
|500 W||167 W||1 hour||0.167 kWh|
|500 W||167 W||1 day||4 kWh|
|500 W||167 W||1 week||28 kWh|
|500 W||167 W||1 month||122 kWh|
|500 W||167 W||1 year||1,463 kWh|
We’ll mostly be referring to the electricity used by refrigerators in terms of kWh in this article. The reason is simple: your electric bill is measured in kWh, and you get charged based on the kWh of electricity you use per month!
How many volts and amps does a refrigerator use?
The wattage of an appliance is determined from its voltage and amperage. You can use the yellow EnergyGuide label on your fridge to determine the volts and amps it uses.
Using the above label, here’s how you can calculate volts and amps:
- Translate energy consumption to watt-hours (Wh) by multiplying the label’s kWh by 1,000. This gives you 630,000 Wh.
- Divide 630,000 Wh by the number of days in a year (365), which gives you 986 Wh per day.
- Divide 986 Wh per day by the number of hours in a day (24), to get an average hourly wattage of 41 W.
- Refrigerators usually use 120 volt outlets. Divide the 41 W by 120 volts to get the amperage for your appliance: 41 W / 120 V = 0.34 amps.
Watts, amps, voltage, and more: what do they mean?
There are a lot of terms you can use to describe how electricity flows and is used by appliances. We’ve already mentioned most of them – here are a few definitions to keep things straight:
- Volts (V): volts (short for voltage) are measures of electrical pressure differences. Put simply, voltage is the speed of electricity passing through a circuit.
- Amps (A): amps (short for amperes) are a measure of electrical current. Put simply, amps are the amount of electrons (which make up electricity) flowing through a circuit.
- Watts (W) and kilowatts (kW): multiplying volts x amps gets you watts (or wattage). Put simply, watts are the rate of electricity consumption. A kilowatt is just 1,000 watts.
- Kilowatt-hours (kWh): lastly, kilowatt-hours are how your electric bill measures your energy usage. Simply put, kilowatt-hours are electricity consumption over time.
You can think of all of these terms like water flowing through a pipe. Voltage is the water pressure, amps are the amount of water flowing past any point, and wattage is the overall rate of water flow through the pipe.
How much does it cost to power a refrigerator?
When you get your monthly electric bill, you only get to see the total amount you’re charged, not how much each appliance contributes to your final bill. Based on an average running wattage of 167 W for refrigerators (amounting to 1,463 kWh/year), and using state average electricity rates, here’s how the cost to run a refrigerator pans out over the course of a month and a year:
Monthly and yearly costs to run a refrigerator by state
|State||Average electricity rate||Cost per month||Cost per year|
|California||22.00 ¢ / kWh||$26.84||$322|
|New York||20.59 ¢ / kWh||$25.12||$301|
|Texas||12.56 ¢ / kWh||$15.32||$184|
|Massachusetts||22.59 ¢ / kWh||$27.56||$330|
|Florida||12.21 ¢ / kWh||$14.90||$179|
|Virginia||12.58 ¢ / kWh||$15.35||$184|
|New Jersey||16.20 ¢ / kWh||$19.76||$237|
|Maryland||14.48 ¢ / kWh||$17.67||$212|
|Washington||10.38 ¢ / kWh||$12.66||$152|
|US Average||14.19 ¢ / kWh||$17.31||$208|
Note: average electricity rates are based on October 2021 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Looking to offset your electric bills (and the energy these appliances use) with solar? When you sign up (for free!) on the EnergySage Marketplace, you can compare solar quotes from high-quality, local solar installers. Make sure to keep in mind your current and future electricity usage, and talk about how that could change with your installer for the most accurate quotes.
Calculate how much energy your own refrigerator uses
Remember that yellow Energy Saver sticker we mentioned above? If you want to know how much electricity your refrigerator uses (or at least is supposed to use), take the estimated yearly electricity use in kWh – this is probably your best bet for an accurate number. Simply multiply this number by the average electricity rate in your area to get an estimate of how much you spend to power your refrigerator each year. For an estimated monthly cost, divide the estimated yearly cost by 12.
How many solar panels does it take to run a refrigerator?
Average fridges use between 300 and 800 watts of electricity to stay powered. On average, solar panels are rated at around 350 W, meaning you’ll need between one and three panels to power most refrigerators. Keep in mind, refrigerators don’t always use that much electricity, but to power them when they are consuming the most energy, you’ll need to design a solar system that can handle the higher usage times.
How much electricity does a home use?
On average, American homes use 10,715 kWh of electricity per year, which is about 893 kWh of electricity per month. Looking at just refrigerators with an average running power rating of 167 W, you can expect your refrigerator to be responsible for roughly 18 to 20 percent of your electricity use. Of course, this will vary by season, region, and more.
Frequently asked questions about powering a refrigerator
If you’re on a time-of-use (TOU) rate plan, you are charged different amounts for electricity throughout the day. In general, it’s cheaper to use appliances during “off-peak” hours, which are usually overnight.
Just about all popular home batteries are capable of powering a refrigerator: most lithium-ion batteries like the Tesla Powerwall or Generac PWRcell have a power rating of 4 to 5 kW or higher, and 10+ kWh of usable capacity. Fridges use 300 to 800 W (0.3 to 0.8 kW) of power at any one time and 4 kWh over the course of a day – meaning most batteries will be suitable for backing up your refrigerator.
ENERGY STAR is a U.S. government-backed system that certifies how energy efficient appliances are. If an appliance is better than the average appliance in its category by a certain amount, it is labeled as “ENERGY STAR certified”. ENERGY STAR appliances cost less money to run, given that they are more efficient with the electricity they use.
How much money can solar panels save you?
Solar savings vary widely, and your unique savings depends on factors like electricity usage, your location, electric rates and plans, and more. In general, most homeowners can expect to save somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000 over the lifetime of a solar panel system. On average, it takes between 7 and 8 years for most homeowners who shop for solar on EnergySage to get their solar panels to pay for themselves.
Going solar is one of the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate your electric bill, and you should make sure you are getting several quotes from reputable installers before you decide to move forward. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to get solar quotes from installers in your area and begin comparing options.