Whether you’re replacing an old refrigerator or starting from scratch with brand new appliances for a new home, there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s essential to bring your new refrigerator down to the correct temperature before storing perishable food in it, as too high of a temperature may allow bacteria to take hold.
If you recently bought a new fridge and aren’t sure how cold it needs to be before you can store food in it, continue reading to learn more!
Can A New Fridge Be Used Immediately?
No, you can’t use your brand-new refrigerator immediately. Usually, you need to ‘let it stand’ before using it. The timeframe you need to wait before using your new fridge depends on the unit itself and how it was transported. For example, if the refrigerator was transported upright, wait at least an hour or more before you plug it in.
If the unit was transported on its side, turn it the right way up. Allow it to sit for at least four hours before you plug it in. When the appliance is transported, the fluid inside the system gets shaken around.
The fluid is essential for the cooling function. So, it’s best to allow the appliance to ‘stand’ for a while after it arrives, as this allows the fluid to settle. Once it settles, there shouldn’t be any issues with plugging it in.
How Cold Does A New Refrigerator Need To Be?
After the refrigerant in your new fridge is settled, you can go ahead and plug it in. You probably already have a designated slot for the refrigerator, but ensure it’s centered in the space.
Make sure it’s situated in the correct spot with enough room on all sides for air to flow freely, so don’t push it all the way up against the wall. Generally, the fridge needs about ¼ inch of space around each side.
Once you plug in your new refrigerator, you need to wait for it to cool to the correct temperature. If you put perishable items in the fridge before it drops to the proper temperature, you could get sick from eating those items.
For example, leaving food out for too long at room temperature can allow the growth of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella. This temperature range swings from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The 100-degree zone is known as the ‘danger zone.’
Although you may reach in the fridge and it feels cooler than room temperature, make sure the fridge reaches the proper temperature before you put it in. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the ideal refrigerator is 40 degrees or below.
As long as the temperature remains below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, microorganisms like Salmonella, listeria, and E. Coli, shouldn’t be able to grow. Considering these microorganisms are notorious for causing foodborne illnesses, it’s essential to keep the fridge’s temperature out of the ‘danger zone.’
How Long Do You Have To Wait To Put Food In A New Refrigerator?
The amount of time you need to wait before the fridge reaches the correct temperature hinges on the specific unit. For example, some refrigerators may take up to 24 hours to get to the correct temperature.
On the other hand, some units may take as little as two hours to drop to the right temperature. However, on average, a full-size refrigerator takes about 12 hours to cool to the FDA-recommended food-safe temperature.
Of course, if you have a mini-fridge, the time frame will look much shorter. Generally, mini-fridges only take about four hours to cool to the correct temperature.
The exact timeframe revolves around factors including the size, age, and brand of the fridge. Smart fridges with an LED display will typically tell you the temperature as it falls, so there’s no guesswork on the temperature.
Some fridges will beep or display a green light once the interior reaches the correct temperature. If your refrigerator doesn’t have an LED display or any indicators for the temperature, there are a few ways you can ensure the temperature reaches the right level.
How To Determine The Temperature Inside My New Refrigerator
It’s essential to wait until the temperature in your new refrigerator drops to the appropriate level. However, with generic, non-smart fridges, determining the exact temperature can be tricky.
If your fridge doesn’t have a temperature gauge, we recommend putting a refrigerator thermometer on the shelf when you first plug it in. The thermometer will give you an accurate indicator of the temperature as it falls.
Or, if you don’t have a refrigerator thermometer, you can put a cup of water in the fridge when you first plug it in. Place the full cup of water on the shelf, then allow it to cool in the refrigerator. After 12-24 hours, place a regular thermometer in the cup of water.
The water should be thoroughly chilled, providing the temperature has reached the appropriate level. If you don’t have a thermometer that can be set in the fridge, this is a great way to determine the temperature in the fridge.