How to reduce noise and energy use in guestroom refrigerators

The guestroom refrigerator is often the noisiest thing in the room, aside from a room’s air conditioning, and has been known to negatively affect the guest’s sleep experience based on how hard the refrigerator is working to keep itself cool. In some situations, guests unplug the machines for a night’s sleep, leaving them unplugged, and often overlooked by housekeeping.

Stephen Ross, VP of Summit Appliance, suggests the placement of refrigerators plays a large part in the amount of noise they make. If a refrigerator is sitting in a kitchen or bedroom area where it is up against two different walls, acoustical padding may be necessary to muffle the sound.

“Guestroom sound is absorbed mostly through the carpet and drapes, but that won’t absorb vibrations in the walls,” Ross said. “Today’s refrigerators are efficient, and won’t run for six hours straight. But when they kick on and they are against walls with bad acoustics the guest will hear it.”

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Some manufacturers are designing refrigeration products specifically with noise in mind. One such product is Minibar Systems’ SmartFridge, which has a built-in snooze button to stop the fridge from cooling for up to eight hours, or until it warms to a certain temperature, and an on/off switch for guests who do not plan on using the device at all and wish to avoid noise.

Thermostats are being placed low in ADA-compliant guestroom refrigerators. This places them in reach for guests in wheelchairs, who may have had difficulty reaching them in older models. 

To assist this, the refrigerator has a temperature display, as well as a ‘quick cool’ setting to instantly drop the refrigerator’s temperature to 34 degrees in 30 minutes. 

“The standard temperature for guestroom refrigerators is 41 degrees,” said Walt Strasser, EVP at Minibar Systems Worldwide. “Quick cool uses the compressor, then eases off so it doesn’t stay at 34 degrees. Once it hits 34 it resets slowly to 41 degrees, so it doesn’t have a major effect on energy use.”

Thermostats are being placed low in ADA-compliant guestroom refrigerators. This places them in reach for guests in wheelchairs, who may have had difficulty reaching them in older models.

Additionally, the refrigerator is designed to cut back to 60 degrees after 48 hours without use. Then, the quick cool can be activated if a guest decides to use it. According to Strasser, the average guest will open the room’s refrigerator once in a 48-hour period, so a decision was made at the product level to double that potential time for the waiting period, reducing the margin for error.

“Guests will usually open their refrigerator once in 48 hours,” Strasser said. “Once they open the door, the compressor snaps on and the clock resets for another 48-hour period.”

Thermostats are being placed low in ADA-compliant guestroom refrigerators. This places them in reach for guests in wheelchairs, who may have had difficulty reaching them in older models.

“Regardless of fridge size, guestroom fridges are not open as often as household fridges, so they can remain cool longer,” Ross said. According to Ross, transient rooms are rented on average for 21 hours, and fridges are opened very few times on average within that period. “The compressor only runs harder when the door is open.”

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