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How to set the ideal temperature in your fridge and freezer

6 minute read |

Having correct refrigerator temperature settings not only helps you keep your food fresh, it also contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle in the process. Yet not everyone knows how to adjust refrigerator temperature or understand the refrigerator temperature control properly.

No worries, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn helpful advice from Electrolux experts.

What are the right refrigerator temperature settings to keep food fresh?

1. What temperature should a refrigerator be?

It's advised by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the ideal or normal temperature for 1-door refrigerators is at or below 4℃, and below -18℃ for freezers. For daily use, refrigerator temperature should be kept between 1.7 – 3.3 or close to freezing. This temperature range helps to slow down the growth of bacteria and prevent food from spoiling.

It is important to note that different parts of the fridge may have slightly different temperatures. For example, the temperature on the door shelves may be slightly higher than the temperature in the back of the refrigerator.

How to set the ideal temperature in the fridge

Some default temperature settings for ideal food storage conditions

2. What temperature should the freezer be?

As mentioned above, the ideal temperature for a freezer is -18°C or below. This temperature helps to keep food frozen and prevents the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses.

While the freezer temperature should be at or below -18°C, it is also important to keep the temperature as consistent as possible to ensure that the food stays frozen and safe to eat. It is recommended to use a thermometer to check the temperature in the freezer regularly and adjust the temperature settings as needed to maintain the proper temperature.

Read the following article to keep your refrigerator fresh for longer: How to clean your fridge easily in the right way

3. Should a fridge be set to min or max temperature?

A fridge should not be set at the minimum or maximum temperature. Setting the fridge temperature too low can cause your food to freeze, which can damage the texture and flavour of some foods. On the other hand, setting the temperature too high can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria and spoil your food.

control panel

A refrigerator should not be set at the minimum or maximum temperature but within a recommended range between 1.7 and 3.3°C

It is important to set the refrigerator temperature to the appropriate range of between 1.7-3.3°C and use a thermometer to ensure that the temperature remains consistent over time. If you're not sure about the right temperature setting for your refrigerator, refer to the user manual or contact the manufacturer for guidance. 

How to check your refrigerator temperature?

Based on the ideal temperatures mentioned above, it’s important to know what temperature your fridge is maintaining. Modern fridges such as Multi-door refrigerators (French door refrigerators) or Side-by-side refrigerators often have a digital temperature readout inside or sometimes even on the outside of the appliance, making such temperature checks super easy.

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Digital temperature readout on refrigerators

If you don’t have a refrigerator with such a readout, we recommend that you buy a refrigerator thermometer. These are specifically designed for use with refrigerators, and you can find them in kitchen supply stores or online.

Place the thermometer in a place inside your refrigerator for which you want to monitor the temperature. Leave it there for a few hours before you take the first reading. You can then use this information to decide whether your refrigerator’s temperature control needs to be adjusted.

Understanding your refrigerator temperature controls

To make sure that your fridge is always at an ideal temperature, it’s very important that you learn how to use it correctly – and that means understanding the temperature controls. Depending on the make and model of your fridge, these controls can look quite different, but they usually work either with numbered or named power levels.

Where are the temperature controls on my fridge?

The temperature controls can be found either on an interior control panel or on a slider control panel on the outside of the refrigerator.

Some top freezer refrigerators and bottom-freezer refrigerators have a temperature control found inside the freezer compartment, which controls both the freezer and refrigerator temperatures.


Temperature control inside the freezer compartment

In some older models, the temperature control may be at the bottom or back of the refrigerator. This control may be a dial or slider, and it may be labeled with temperature ranges or numbers.

How do you use refrigerator temperature controls with numbers?

Usually, the numbers on your fridge’s temperature controls don’t directly correspond to temperature. That means that if you set your refrigerator to “1”, it will not automatically cool the inside of the appliance to 1 degree.

Most often, these numbers are power levels ranging from 1 to 5 or 9, with the highest number standing for the highest power level.

Read moreFAQs about refrigerators

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Temperature controls with numbers on a freezer

How do you use fridge temperature controls labeled with words?

If your fridge temperature controls are labeled with words such as "cold," "colder," or "coldest,", or “low”, “medium”, and “high”, you should first refer to the user manual. See if it provides guidance on how to use the temperature controls.

It may also give recommendations for the best setting for different types of food. If you’re unsure, start with the middle setting, which is often labeled as "normal" or "recommended."

Helpful food storage tips:

Extra tips to keep your refrigerator cool

To make sure the temperature inside your refrigerator stays evenly cool, it is important to make sure that the appliance is not overloaded, as this can interfere with the circulation of air and cause some areas to be colder than others. It’s also a good idea to keep the refrigerator door closed so the cold air can’t escape.

The latest refrigerators from Electrolux offer a wide variety of technologies that help you keep your refrigerator cool and your food fresh and tasty.

The EvenTemp technology minimises temperature fluctuations by cooling each shelf individually, creating a more consistent temperature. The TwinTech Cooling keeps temperature and humidity levels stable while the QuickChill lets you cool large amounts of fresh food quickly.

TwinTech® No Frost fridge-freezer protects food quality.


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FAQs about refrigerator temperature

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