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How Long do You Have to Wait to Put Food in a New Fridge?

There’s nothing quite like getting a brand new refrigerator. Especially if it’s a nice new one compared to your old one. But while you might be tempted to just load up the new one after unboxing, it’s good to ask how long do you have to wait to put food in a new fridge?

As a general rule, plan to wait a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 24 hours before placing food in a brand new refrigerator. This is how long it can take to reach the optimum temperature. But the best temperature to set it to depends on the make and model of the refrigerator purchased.

But the answer sometimes depends on what kind of refrigerator you just got.

The new refrigerator in your kitchen might seem like a simple thing, but there are actually quite a few considerations to take into account when deciding how long to wait before loading it up with food.

And believe it or not, if you don’t set your refrigerator up properly, it can actually be a fire hazard under certain conditions. Read my complete guide on fridges and fire danger to see all the do’s and don’ts.

And how long you need to wait varies based on 3 factors: the size of the fridge, the temperature you set it to, and the location of your refrigerator.

Let’s explore each of those in greater detail so you know exactly what temp to set it to and how long to wait before loading it up.

Interior of modern kitchen with black granite counter, refrigerator 3d render

Can you use a new refrigerator immediately?

As a general rule, wait a minimum of 2 hours before powering on a new refrigerator. However, if it was delivered or transported on its side as opposed to straight up, plan to wait 4 hours.

It’s important to pay attention to how the fridge was delivered in your home. Notice whether it was brought in standing upright, or on its side.

As crazy as it seems this is an important factor and should be taken into account to maximize the life of the refrigerator.

The pipes in a refrigerator carry both lubricant and gas.

The refrigerant in them must be settled properly before the refrigerator gets switched on. That will happen much faster if the fridge was kept upright during delivery, unboxing, and installation.

And as I mentioned, in that case, you only need to wait 2 hours before powering on.

On the other hand, if the fridge was transported on its side, it’s best to wait about 4 hours to let the refrigerant settle down properly.

And of course, there’s no reason you can’t wait even longer to play it safe.

Why do I need to wait before loading a fridge?

It is best to wait a minimum of 2 hours before loading a new refrigerator as 2 hours is the minimum amount of time it will take for the refrigerator to reach its set temperature, and placing food in prematurely may not preserve the food properly.

So essentially, for the refrigerator section, it’s a food safety issue. Definitely wait 2 hours minimum before loading the freezer.

Now, of course, you will have some items you keep in the refrigerated part of the fridge that don’t really require refrigeration. We just get used to keeping them in there.

Those items include:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Eggs
  • Hot sauce
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Bread

So by all means, go ahead and load up the new fridge with those items if you wish to. They won’t be impacted by going into a warm fridge that is dropping.

For truly perishable items you will, of course, want to maintain their cold temperature while you wait for the new fridge to drop. If the delivery crew didn’t take the old fridge, then just leave them in there with that fridge plugged in.

If they did remove the old one, or if it was already gone, plan to have an ice chest on hand with plenty of ice for your cold stuff.

But Samsung, on its website, also mentions another good reason to wait 2 hours. That reason is to make sure whether the fridge is working or not.

Occasionally you will see a fridge that recommends waiting 24 hours before using, but most likely they are indicating it may be up to 24 hours before the full-functionality of the fridge is at 100%.

Things like the ice-maker bin being full are included in that.

What is the downside of loading a refrigerator before 2 hours?

If you load food in a new refrigerator before 2 hours, when it reaches the optimum temperature, any food placed in it will take much longer to be cool. Additionally, it may end up putting extra strain on the refrigerator’s compressor.

A refrigerator is always striving to reach or maintain an average temperature based on the thermostat setting. And the 2 hour time frame allows the fridge to reach its set temperature as efficiently as possible.

But of course, while this is a minor issue with refrigerated items, it’s really important with the freezer section.

The freezer section of your new fridge has to drop a much larger temperature drop than the fridge section.

After all, the back of a delivery truck, even in mild weather, can easily be over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. So it has to drop 50 degrees or more to reach its set temp.

That makes it mission-critical to not load up the fridge’s freezer section any earlier than 2 hours. If you try and rush it, you’ll end up with partially-thawed frozen food that will eventually refreeze.

That can lead to freezer burn and an unpleasant texture with the items.


In this article, we took a deep dive into the world of new refrigerators.

We explained that it’s best to wait a minimum of 2 hours before powering on a new refrigerator, and 4 hours if the fridge was transported on its side rather than upright.

Then we also looked at how long to wait before loading it up after powering on.

That way you can be certain of now overloading the compressor. But more importantly, you won’t be putting highly perishable items at risk by placing them in a hot fridge that is going to take some time to get down to the correct temperature.

But waiting also allows you to make sure your new fridge is functioning perfectly too. There’s nothing worse than loading it up and waiting, only to discover you bought a lemon.

But here’s to your new fridge!

Jeff Campbell