The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered a ban on Freon, also known as R-22. However, it’s going to be a gradual process that’ll slowly phase out Freon and other harmful refrigerants over a period of 20 years. So does that mean commercial appliances like mini-fridges currently have Freon inside them?
Mini fridges may have Freon inside them if they’re manufactured before 2010. However, most manufacturers ceased using it in 2010 as the EPA’s gradual ban on Freon took effect during that time. Modern mini-fridges made after 2020 have replaced Freon with other less harmful refrigerants.
In this article, I’ll give you a detailed overview of how you can know if your mini fridge has Freon and what you need to do if it does. Following this, I’ve also discussed how to tell if your mini-fridge is leaking freon. Finally, I’ve shared a couple of Freon-free, eco-friendly mini-fridges that you can consider purchasing.
How To Know if Your Mini Fridge Contains Freon?
Here are a few ways to know if your mini fridge contains Freon:
- Mini-fridges made before 2010 likely have Freon.
- Check the paperwork that came with your mini-fridge to see if it cites the use of Freon as a refrigerant.
- Visit the manufacturer’s website to see if it contains Freon.
- Consult a technician.
In 2010, the EPA imposed a ban on the production, manufacturing, and use of Freon for new appliances in the US. As such, mini-fridges made after 2010 will likely not contain Freon.
That said, if you can’t find out when your particular model was manufactured, don’t know its model number, or lost its paperwork, I’d recommend that you consult a technician and have them figure out if your particular unit uses Freon.
What To Do if Your Mini Fridge Contains Freon
As of 2020, Freon can’t be manufactured or imported into the US for use in particular appliances or for servicing older models.
Service centers will have to rely on Freon available through recycling or use leftover stocks for maintenance purposes. This will make the refrigerant extremely expensive.
With this in mind, I’ve listed a few things you need to keep in mind if your mini-fridge contains Freon:
- Get the mini-fridge routinely serviced. You need to make sure your mini-fridge is working properly and that it doesn’t leak any Freon, or it will be an expensive refill.
- Retrofit your mini-fridge with a Freon alternative. Ask a technician or service provider if they can switch out the system in your mini-fridge that uses Freon and replace it with one that works on safer refrigerant alternatives.
- Get a new mini-fridge that doesn’t contain Freon. If your mini fridge has Freon, it’s likely over a decade old by now, and you should consider getting an upgrade. Newer models are free of Freon and also more efficient.
How Do You Know if Your Mini Fridge Is Leaking Freon?
You’ll know if your mini-fridge is leaking Freon using a leak detector tool. If you don’t have one, you can call a technician to check out your unit. A potential sign of a Freon leakage includes reduced cooling performance combined with oily residue near the mini-fridge.
Freon is a refrigerant that helps you cool whatever you put in your mini-fridge. If you find that the device is suddenly unable to cool as efficiently as it used to, it might be because of a Freon leakage.
Additionally, during a Freon leak, it typically leaves behind an oily residue. So if you notice something like this near your mini-fridge, it’s a big warning sign for potential leakage.
If you’re suspecting a Freon leakage, the best way to know for sure is by using a leak detector tool like the Inficon Refrigerant Leak Detector (available on Amazon.com). It can detect the mildest leakage with a sensitivity of 0.25 oz (7gram) per year and won’t ring a false alarm.
That said, buying a detector makes sense if you have a lot of appliances in your home that use Freon. If you just wish to check on your mini-fridge, calling a technician would make more financial sense.
Best Freon-Free Mini Fridges
Freon is a generic term used to describe many different halocarbon products like CFCs and HCFCs used as refrigerants.
If you want to go Freon-free, it’s most likely because you’re concerned with its harmful effects. In that case, you can pick mini-fridges that use other, more eco-friendly refrigerants. However, my recommendation would be to go with an option that uses thermoelectric cooling technology that is truly free of Freon and all other sorts of halocarbon refrigerants.
Here are a couple of eco-friendly mini-fridges that you can look into:
The AstroAI mini fridge is a bang for the buck compact, eco-friendly refrigerator with a 4-liter (1 gallon) capacity, sufficient for storing up to six 12oz (350ml) cans. It can help you cool whatever you have inside it to 32-40℉ (0-4℃). Alternatively, you can also use it to keep the contents warm up to 150℉ (66℃).
The unit is extremely small, highly portable, and can work with the 100-120v outlet in your home or a 12v power supply in your car.
The Crown Mini Fridge is slightly more expensive than the AstroAI, but it offers 10 liters (2.64 gallons) of storage space to store up to twelve 12oz (50ml) cans. You can use it to cool down things to 35-45°F (2-5.5°C) or keep them as warm as ~149°F (65°C).
The device is highly portable and lightweight. It can also use 100-120v outlets in your home as well as 12v car chargers.
Mini fridges made before 2010 are likely to have Freon inside them, whereas models made after then should be Freon-free. Most manufacturers ceased using Freon as a refrigerant after 2010, following its ban by the EPA.
However, to know for sure if your particular model has Freon, you should either check its paperwork or consult a technician.
If you’re looking for a Freon-free eco-friendly mini-fridge, check out some of the new options on the market that use thermoelectric cooling technology.