How Long Should A Refrigerator Run Between Cycles?

Many people may or may not have paid attention to this, but, our refrigerators are not supposed to run constantly. So, a refrigerator runs through a sequence constantly going on and off, which we refer to as a refrigeration cycle.

how long should a refrigerator run  between cycles

What is a refrigerator cycle?

Also referred to as a heat pump cycle, A refrigerator cycle is a process through which the refrigerator steers heat away from the area that is supposed to be cooled and dispels it out.

So in this case, the refrigerator draws heat out of the food kept in it and expels this heat such that the food remains cold.

The cycle consists of four steps; compression, condensation, expansion, and evaporation.

The refrigerator typically starts back up again after it has defrosted. This process of going on and off does not affect or damage the refrigerator in any way and should not ever be a cause for alarm.

How long should a refrigerator run between cycles?

There is no standard interval for how long it should run in between cycles, though some sources say it runs for about four to eight hours per cycle on average.

Every refrigerator’s cycle is different depending on various factors such as the manufacturer, how often the doors are opened and closed and how much food is inside.

Also, newer refrigerator models are more efficient in terms of energy so they don’t need to cycle as much.

How often should a fridge freezer cycle on and off?

The average freezer cycle is about 30 minutes. The freezer is expected to cycle on and off in 30-minute intervals with an average running time of 8 hours per day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

But certain aspects can change a freezer’s run time for instance how old the freezer is, how often the door is opened and closed, and the temperature of the food when placed in the freezer.

Should the refrigerator run constantly?

No, refrigerators are not designed to run constantly. If a refrigerator is running constantly, it could be a sign that it is not operating efficiently.

This could occur as a result of dirty condenser coils, defective door seals, or too much food stored inside it.

Running constantly could also be an indicator that the refrigerator is old and needs to be replaced.

Refrigerator Interior

Why won’t my refrigerator stop running?

Firstly, the internal temperature could be too high, which means that the refrigerator is working harder to keep the interior cool.

Additionally, it could be a result of a faulty defrost thermostat which is failing in its role to monitor the temperature of the evaporator coils which signals the defrost heater to melt any frost if the coil gets too cold.

Lastly, a failed condenser fan motor could be another cause since it hinders the condenser fan from blowing cool air over the condenser coils which removes heat from the refrigerant.

Should I be able to hear my refrigerator running?

The short answer is yes. A refrigerator usually makes a humming sound and this is no cause for alarm. This humming sound indicates normalcy and shows that the refrigerator is running as it should.

Furthermore, if the fridge isn’t making any sound, then there is a problem. The sound made while the refrigerator is running is actually that of the compressor which is crucial in its operation.

Pile of fridge compressors

The sound is not constant though, it goes on and off throughout the day. Just in case the sound is a bit disruptive, upgrading to a newer freezer helps because the new models have a gentle humming sound.

Should we switch off the refrigerator at night?

Switching off the refrigerator at night is not advisable. This is because, in order for the food not to go bad, the refrigerator has to maintain a constant temperature of 4 degrees Celsius or less.

So, turning it off would mean that instead of cooling, the temperature in the refrigerator would be rising. Contrary to this, some people prefer to turn it off at night such that money is saved on electricity, ultimately the final decision on this is left up to the individual.

Factors That Affect How Long a Refrigerator Should Run Before Shutting Off

These include but are not limited to the following;

The thermostat

The Thermostat is used to adjust the temperature of the refrigerator. In case the temperature is set too low, the refrigerator runs for a longer time.

Ambient temperature

The temperature of the environment around the refrigerator matters too. Placing it in a warm place means it has to run longer before shutting off. It is important to maintain a constant external temperature, preferably a low one.

Internal temperature

The temperature inside the refrigerator also determines how long it’ll run. Overstuffing the refrigerator with food makes it work harder to keep it cold. It’s the same case with putting in food that’s too warm.

Door gasket

The door gasket enables the refrigerator to close properly thus keeping in the coldness.

A damaged door gasket causes the coldness to seep out causing your fridge to run longer. In order to avoid this, the door should be regularly inspected and in case it’s damaged it should be replaced immediately.

Condenser coils

These do the job of removing heat from the refrigerator. Dirty condenser coils do not work as well and will cause the refrigerator to run more frequently. They require cleaning in order to operate well.


In conclusion, now that we know a refrigerator is not supposed to run constantly, we can understand it better and recognize that it cycles on and off at certain intervals.

We’ve also covered the possible reasons for constant running plus how to take care of the refrigerator better such that it is well maintained and can be used for a good number of years.

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