Refrigerator Normal Run Time

For a freezer to maintain a desired temperature of 0 degrees F or a combination refrigerator-freezer to maintain a 5 degrees F freezer and 35 - 40 degrees fresh food temperature, the compressor will usually run much of the time.

Newer refrigerators have smaller, more powerful, high-speed compressors that generally cost less to operate than those in older refrigerators. These compressors are designed to run 80 % to 90% of the time. This makes them more energy efficient because the greatest amount of energy used when the compressor cycles on.

Factors that contributes to run time:

  • In extremely hot, humid areas, run time may approach 100%.
  • Loading the refrigerator or freezer with a large amount of food, especially warm or hot foods.
  • An empty or lightly loaded freezer. The freezer should be at least 3/4 full to maintain proper temperatures and reduce time.
  • When the door is opened, some of the heavy cold air slides out of the cabinet, pulling warm air in at the top.
  • Damaged or dirty door gaskets. See Refrigerator Interior and Gasket Care and Cleaning.
  • Blocked air vents in the freezer section.
  • Dirty condenser coils on model that do not have a NeverClean condenser. See Cleaning Condenser Coils on Refrigerator
  • Interior light not turning off when door is closed.


The below are all exceptions to the above:

  • All 14 and 16 cu. ft. (TBX/CTX models vs.TBF models of past) will have an average run time of between 40 and 52% as do compact models,(TA2,4,6).
  • Cycle defrost and single door models will run slightly less, 30-60%.
  • Chest & Upright freezers run 75% to 90% of the time.