What Size Inverter do I need for my Fridge?

I see the same question when I’m roaming Facebook groups or forums.

What size inverter do I need to run a fridge?

A question on a Facebook group on what inverter size to use

Fridge Inverter calculator

The following calculator is made to determine the size of your inverter. You simply fill in the voltage and the current of your fridge.

Blank Form (#12)
Amps
Watts
Watts

The power rating of a mini fridge

When we size a power inverter for a fridge we have to know the running power (wattage) of the fridge. Most fridges have a power consumption of 30-100W continuous.

That means that the fridge will use 30 to 100 Watts when it is running. If you already have a fridge and want to know how many watts it consumes, check the label at the back of the fridge.

Alternatively, you can check it in the manual.

veripart fridge specifications

We can see that the rated current is 0.5A at 230V. Using ohms law, we can calculate the power needed to run this fridge continuously:

P=I*U

0.5A*230V=115W

Surge power during startup

Now to power this fridge we cannot just use a 200W inverter. If we do, the inverter will trip because of an overload.

Why is this?

Because the compressor which compresses the cooling liquid inside the fridge requires a higher current for starting.

The normal starting power draw for a fridge will be 6 times the continuous power.

For our example this means:

115W*6 times = 690Watts of peak power or surge wattage

Therefore we need to choose an inverter that can supply 690 Watts of continuous power.

Now you might ask, there are inverters out there that can supply a surge current of up to 2 times the continuous current.

That might be true for low-frequency inverters but not for high-frequency inverters. I have written about these differences in my article: low vs high frequency inverters; read more about it there.

Your additional loads

Remember the 690Watts we needed? Now what if you wanted to charge your laptop or run your TV?

We don’t want the inverter to shut down because of an overload when you are charging your laptop and running the fridge at the same time.

You need to add this to your total AC power.

690W fridge + 30W laptop charger = 720W

Next, we can choose an inverter for our system. But first, let’s talk about the efficiency of an inverter.

Inverter efficiency

Can you add a 2,000 Watt inverter to your system and call it a day?

You could, but it’s not the whole story. You see, inverters have losses. The bigger the inverter the higher the losses. Even when no load is attached to the inverter or the fridge isn’t running, the inverter will consume power. We call this standby power consumption. For a 2,000 Watt inverter, this can even be 50 Watts. If we multiply that by 24 hours, your inverter will consume the following:

50Watts * 24 hours = 1200Wh

This is equal to a 12V, 100Ah battery DAILY!

Therefore I recommend using a smaller, efficient pure sine wave inverter with eco mode.

The ECO mode detects a load and switches on or off accordingly, saving you from idle consumption.

It is important to note that the ECO mode only works when the load is over 25 watts. If the load is below 25 watts, the inverter will not turn on if it’s in ECO mode.

I recommend using a Victron Phoenix inverter. In this case, I would choose the 800W or 1200W Phoenix inverter.

Victron 800VA phoenix inverter

You can get the Victron 800W inverter here.

Facebook user sharing his experiences with the Victron eco mode

Inverter Types for Refrigerators

Pure Sine Wave Inverters

  • Operation: Mimics grid-like power with a smooth wave, ideal for sensitive appliances.
  • Advantages:
    • Compatible with most appliances, including modern refrigerators.
    • Reduced noise and heat, ensuring longer appliance lifespan.
  • Cost: Generally more expensive but offers better performance and appliance safety.

Modified Sine Wave Inverters

  • Operation: Produces a simpler, stepped wave, suitable for basic appliances.
  • Advantages:
    • More affordable than pure sine wave inverters.
    • Adequate for older or less sensitive refrigerators.
  • Limitations:
    • May cause issues with modern fridges (like humming or reduced efficiency).
    • Not recommended for refrigerators with electronic components.

Use a DC fridge.

If you don’t want to oversize your pure sine wave inverter to accommodate the fridge, you can use a DC fridge. These fridges run on 12 or 24V dc and bypass the inverter. This is the most efficient way to power a refrigerator, but is also the most costly because DC fridges are more expensive.

I have connected my inverter but my fridge is not working.

It could be that the surge power of your fridge is higher than your inverter is rated for. To test this, plug the fridge into your 120V or 230V wall socket (outlet) and see if it works on the grid. If the compressor kicks in, then your inverter needs to be increased.

Will a 1500W inverter run my fridge?

If we divide 1500W by 6x the startup current, then we become: 1500W/6=250W. Therefore, a 1500W inverter would be able to run a 250W fridge.

How long will my battery last with a refrigerator?

Read my article about it here: How long will a 12V battery run a refrigerator

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2 thoughts on “What Size Inverter do I need for my Fridge?”

  1. My older single door kenmore elite refrigerator has a nameplate amperage of 7.9 amps
    Reading various posts on the internet nowhere do I see a 6x startup wattage requirement
    Your calculator says I need a 6000 watt inverter to run this refrigerator- is this right? It seems high to me

    Reply
    • Hello Nelson, Your fridge cannot be 7.9amps. Are you sure it’s displayed as 120VAC? If that is true, then your fridge is (7.9A*120V=960W) which is impossible. 1.9Amps would make more sense.

      Reply

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