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The Best Dorm Refrigerators

Updated on July 30, 2013

Off to College?

One of the top appliances taken to college for life in a residence hall is a refrigerator. While it might seem a little odd to those not familiar with dorm life, I found that my dorm refrigerator was a tremendous help, throughout my college years, for many reasons.

If you are looking for a graduation gift for a student who will be going to college next fall, a small refrigerator is a thoughtful selection. If you are the freshman, trying to decide on what your needs are for the coming year, a fridge to have in your dorm room is a good choice. If you are the parent of that freshman, you know that your concern for your child's nutrition is a top interest, and a refrigerator in the residence hall room is a good way to enable your child to have healthy foods in his or her room.

This lens is more relevant as I send my daughter off in August!

I lived on campus for 5 years, 3 of them serving as a residential life employee. Great way for your college kids to help with the expenses, by the way, with room and board paid for! Needless to say, as my daughter prepares to attend my alma mater, I'm excited and nervous. The fridge is a must, but we don't want to tote it on the long we are shipping it ahead of us. Actually, I'm going to have her ship heavy stuff directly to a relative in the area when she purchases it.

What's your suggestion for "can't live without it" appliances and goodies for the dorm? Leave a comment so we can all appreciate your insight!

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Select the right fridge for sharing with a roomie...

A larger refrigerator is ideal if you will share a room. Many college residence halls permit approximately a 3 cubic foot fridge as in this example, ideal for lots of space and enough to share. A bit of freezer space is nice so that you can keep a couple of frozen treats or microwave meals handy.

Fight the "Freshman 15"...

have a nutritional plan, not just a meal plan! Think about your food choices before you ever leave home!

Which Fridge?

What's the best fridge for a college student?

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So If I Have a Meal Plan, Why Do I Need a Fridge?

Do you snack?

Most universities require that freshmen who live on campus carry a meal plan, but the specific meal plan choices generally range from every meal available, to a 14 meal plan, to a 7 meal plan. Many students will find that they can't make it to every available meal, or they don't want to eat every available meal. If you have early morning classes, you may not have time to make it to breakfast. Perhaps you aren't a big breakfast eater. It may seem like a waste to pay for breakfasts to be a part of your meal plan, when you are only going to eat fruit, or yogurt. You may prefer to keep a small stock of these types of foods in your dorm room, and save yourself a slew of money on that meal plan. A refrigerator for your dorm room makes it possible to keep perishables on hand, freeing your schedule up a bit from the dining hall hours.

What is the "Freshman 15"?

This reference is to the tendency of college freshmen to gain extra weight when they go off to college. There are many things that can influence freshman weight gain. For some, it's the easy access to unrestricted quantities of food in the university dining commons. Imagine every meal taking place at an all you can eat buffet. Several entrees are offered, along with sides, salads, drinks, and desserts. While it is easy for students to berate food quality, it is equally easy to make poor food choices in terms of quality, or quantity.

When we eat at an all you can eat buffet, the emphasis is on indulgence. We don't typically eat this way on a daily basis. The new college student, with a full or partial meal plan, needs to keep this in focus during that first semester, particularly. Ice cream at every meal sounds divine. The end result will be a rather big rear-end, if the student isn't cautious. Sodas and other sugar laden drinks are easy choices, but bad for the figure. Even the availability of healthier choices, such as a salad bar, isn't an automatic path to avoiding weight gain, as dressings and toppings can easily undo a freshman's good intentions.

It's fine to enjoy the goodies, but it's essential to do so in moderation. Further, it is wise to incorporate a reasonable exercise plan into the freshman schedule. If it's possible, include an exercise class in your schedule. Social dance, aerobics, water aerobics: these are all fun classes, and a way to build some physical activity into your routine.

Haier HCR17W 1.7 Cubic Feet Refrigerator/Freezer, WhiteCHECK AVAILABILITY

A small refrigerator, 1.7 cubic feet, more or less, in size, is perfect for the student who will eat most meals in the dining facilities of the university. There is room for some basics, including yogurts, fruits, string cheeses, and even a jug of milk.

The model featured above includes a small (very small) freezer, which is nice for frozen treats, microwaveable meals, or even frozen fruits for smoothies. Obviously, there won't be a lot of freezer space, and its use can be healthy, or indulgent. The model featured below is strictly a refrigerator, no freezer.

Great points for the 1.7 - 1.8 cubic foot refrigerator model:

*Small Space Requirements

*Ample Storage For Individual Needs

*Healthful Perishables Can Be Stored In The Dorm Room

A fridge is not an absolute need in the residence hall room of a college freshman, as a meal plan will accomodate a student's nutritional needs amply. However, it is a great convenience, and very liberating if a student has days which are more hectic in terms of class schedule. During cold and flu season, it's great to have a place to keep orange juice handy, and during finals week, it's nice to have a place to keep a variety of cold study snacks. Often, university dining halls are closed on federal holidays, and a small fridge allows a student to have some alternate food choices.

Larger Dorm Fridges

3-4 cubic ft.

If your freshman is going to have a roommate, a larger dorm fridge is a better choice. It's likely that roommates will share fridge space, as there is a limit on space available for such appliances in the confines of a residence hall room, and most university residential life departments will restrict refrigerators to one per room, with a size limit of 4 cu. ft.

Danby DCR326BSL 3.1-Cu.Ft. Dual Door Compact Fridge with Freezer, Black/StainlessCHECK AVAILABILITY

The model featured above incorporates freezer into the main body of the refrigerator, with one door to the entire appliance. The model featured below has a separate door for the freezer. I would recommend this feature if the freezer is a priority, as the freezer doors of the one door models are not as tightly fitting, at times...they close, and work well enough, if the freezer is not the priority, but tend to be a little less sturdy, more like a compartment (think in terms of a dairy compartment, butter drawer, etc.) than a full door.

Homework Tip

Use a dry erase marker, in conjunction with your white dorm fridge, as a message board or problem solving surface!

Dorm Fridges: 2-3 cubic feet

This is the size range my college refrigerator fell into, and worked really well for my needs, both with a roommate, and without. It affords more space than the 1.7 cu. ft. models, and still uses minimal space.

Danby DAR259BL 2.5-Cu. Ft. Designer Compact All Refrigerator, BlackCHECK AVAILABILITY

Dorm Refrigerator Rentals

Some university residential life departments offer refrigerator rentals, which is a viable alternative. Comparing my own university's offerings, the cost of the microfrige, a combined microwave on top of refrigerator, the yearly rental is more than $250. While this may be a good choice for roomates who are interested in sharing the cost, the reality is that there is no guarantee both roomates will want to participate in sharing costs. Further, the number of appliances is generally limited.

Over the course of a 4 year period using residence halls as a living choice, the yearly rental of such a device would total more than $1,000. On the other hand, a modest fridge and microwave can be purchased for much less, approximately 1/4 of that costs, depending on the selections. Furthermore, the option exists to sell your used fridge to another college student at the end of your time in residence halls, thus recovering a portion of your investment.

Find More College Dorm Refrigerator Choices at Amazon - Watch for super saver/ Prime shipping choices

You'll find that the fridge choices can change over the years. However, the basics for college are the basics. A little bit of fridge space can make the year a little easier to manage.

Dorm Fridges: Comments and Suggestions for a Residence Hall Student

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I remember my sirattng college it was a great time for me. Now I live in a college town and I really love the start of the semester it brings back lots of happy memories for me as well as new beginnings of my own new people start showing up at the swing dances and the other student groups I am involved in, and the quiet little town I'm in comes alive.I also went to college in the midwest in Oberlin, Ohio. I've driven through Indiana a number of times, and stopped in a few places, but I've never been to Anderson. But if it's at all like any of the other towns I've been to in the midwest, it's probably a great place. I absolutely love midwestern towns, especially midwestern college towns!Good luck with everything! I hope it goes very well!

    • LauraCarExpert profile image


      5 years ago

      the best thing you can buy for a dorm is a small fridge! We used it for um....... beverages= )

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      Very useful. A fridge can save you a lot of money and it's convenient too.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      6 years ago from Concord VA

      I think it's a good idea to have a dorm fridge, even if you only use it keep cold sodas and snacks.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      When our last daughter graduated, and didn't need the mini-fridge, I used it in my office, for many, many years! Really great... re-purposing, I suppose! ;-)


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