Living with diabetes is a bit of an inconvenience. But it can be quite manageable – provided you take the appropriate measures.
One of the most important measures you have to take is to ensure that you always have a vial of insulin with you in case of an emergency. However, the small shelf life of insulin means that you have to keep it refrigerated or run the risk of it going bad. That is what this article will help you with.
Contrary to popular belief, your regular household refrigerator is not the best solution for keeping your insulin.
Insulin is extremely sensitive to temperature. It can degrade if stored at a temperature slightly higher or lower than the recommended range. Regular refrigerators, according to this article from WebMD, can vary widely in temperature, darting in and out of the safe temperature range for storing insulin. Temperature variation like this can render your insulin ineffective against controlling your blood sugar level.
So with that in mind, we have compiled a list of mini-refrigerators to keep your insulin safe.
The Best Mini Fridges to Store Insulin
|Best Mini Fridge||Best Features|
|1. Danby DAR017A2BDD Mini Fridge||Extremely compact, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly|
|2. Whynter FM-85G Portable Fridge||Portable, Dual AC and DC power compatible|
|3. Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer||Compact, lightweight, and portable. Also has a built-in battery.|
|4. hOmeLabs Mini Fridge||Large storage capacity, easy to maintain|
|5. BLACK+DECKER BCRK17W Compact Refrigerator||Quiet operation, small form factor, and an extended warranty|
|6. Midea WHS-65LB1||Compact, inexpensive, and the easiest way to get the job done.|
1. Danby DAR017A2BDD Mini Fridge
Best Features: Extremely compact, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly
The small size and adequate cooling capacity of this mini fridge makes it a perfect candidate for storing your insulin. The manufacturer offers this refrigerator model in many different sizes, but we recommend the 1.7 cubic foot one. This particular model is compact enough to fit inside your bedroom for quick access.
Additionally, your electricity bill will not take as much of a hit if you choose this model. This particular fridge is Energy-star compliant which means that it is extremely energy efficient. It even has an automated defrost feature which removes the need for routine maintenance.
Among the other notable features are:
- A mechanical thermostat which allows you to configure the temperature
- An environmentally friendly refrigerant
- A beverage dispensing system
- And an 18-month warranty on a brand new unit
2. Whynter FM-85G Portable Fridge
Best Features: Portable, Dual AC and DC power compatible
If you are looking for something more portable, this multi-purpose fridge might fit the bill. With an adjustable temperature range covering -8°F to 50°F, this fridge can easily keep your insulin cool without damaging it. Although it is too bulky to lug around in a backpack or purse, this fridge is the perfect size to keep in your trunk when you have to go out.
On the side of the refrigerator, you can find an LCD that tells you the current temperature inside the fridge. With the buttons next to the screen, you can easily set the temperature at the point you want your fridge to run.
What sets this fridge apart from other models is its portability and versatility. When inside your house, you can power it through AC power with a wall adapter. However, when you want to hit the road, you can put it inside your car and power it with the car cigarette lighter socket.
Think that is nifty? Here’s the kicker:
You can power this unit up with both AC and DC at the same time! In this instance, the fridge prioritizes the AC power over DC. When the AC power disconnects, it turns to DC power as a fall-back. This makes it great for people who live in areas where power outage can be an issue. You can connect an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to the fridge to keep your insulin safe in case of a power outage. Traditional refrigerators cannot run on a UPS, which is why this unit is so special.
3. Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer
Best Features: Compact, lightweight, and portable. Also has a built-in battery.
If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive solution to keeping your insulin cool, this thermoelectric cooler from Cooluli might just be what you need. This is an incredibly compact and lightweight cooler that you can lug around anywhere you go.
With a built-in battery bank, this device can keep your insulin cool even when there is no external power source! However, the battery life will heavily depend on how many vials or pens you store inside, as well as the temperature at which the fridge operates.
This cooler uses a thermoelectric core to cool the insulin. This is a very efficient way of cooling that does not require much power to run. However, there is one caveat:
Thermoelectric devices can only cool down the contents a set number of degrees below room temperature. In this instance, the device can cool down insulin 40°F below ambient temperature.
If you live in a hot environment where the temperature is much greater than 86°F, this might not be a great long-term solution for storing your insulin. However, it might help you keep your insulin cool for short periods of time when you have to travel with no external power sources.
4. hOmeLabs Mini Fridge
Best Features: Large storage capacity, easy to maintain
Another great option to keep your medicine cool and safe is to store it in the hOmeLabs Mini Fridge. This device has a 3.3 cubic feet compartment that allows you to store your insulin as well as a few snacks or drinks inside your bedroom.
By setting the thermostat knob to medium, you can keep the inside of this compact fridge around 34°F – perfect for storing insulin! The removable glass shelves allow you to customize the internal layout to fit something with a little more height. Furthermore, the reversible door also has a built in compartment that further increases capacity.
Unfortunately, unlike the Danby mini fridge, this does not come with an automatic defrost function. However, it does include a removable drain tray that makes the manual process much easier.
The fridge comes with a 1-year warranty and 30-days free return or exchange policy for your convenience.
5. BLACK+DECKER BCRK17W Compact Refrigerator
Best Features: Quiet operation, small form factor, and an extended warranty
If you are looking for an extremely quiet yet capable refrigerator, the Black+Decker BCRK17W might be worth a look. This is a practically silent machine that does not make a noticeable sound even when the compressor is running. Perfect for those who want to keep their insulin by their bedside without the whirring of a compressor ruining their sleep.
This mini fridge also features removable shelves and a reversible door for maximum capacity in a small form-factor. Other features include an adjustable thermostat that can go as low as 33.8°F. (Which is quite capable of keeping your insulin in the safe temperature range). The fridge comes with a 1-year warranty for parts and labor, and a 2-year warranty on the compressor.
6. Midea WHS-65LB1
Best Features: Compact, inexpensive, and the easiest way to get the job done.
Another great option for storing your insulin is this compact fridge from Midea. This particular fridge allows you to keep your medicine cool and safe without breaking the bank. With the smallest footprint of all the AC powered refrigerators covered in this list, this one allows upto 1.6 cubic feet of storage volume.
With such a small space, you give up the luxury of different removable shelves with this fridge. However, if keeping your medicine cool is all that you require, the Midea WHS-65LB1 is a great option.
The fridge comes with a mechanical knob to adjust the temperature inside. It also comes with a full 1-year warranty from the manufacturer when you buy it brand new.
When buying a fridge for storing insulin, there are a couple of parameters you have to check. Let’s go through them one by one:
The physical size of the refrigerator is of extreme importance. Since you are buying a secondary refrigerator with the primary purpose of storing your insulin, it must be small enough to fit in your desired space easily. Many people prefer keeping the fridge inside their bedrooms for quick access in case of an emergency. However, if you do have the space, you can opt for a slightly larger fridge for more storage capacity.
If you want to place the fridge in your bedroom or your office, you want to pay attention to the noise level of the compressor inside. A poorly designed fridge may have a noisy compressor, which can be a disturbance. Pick one that operates silently if you aim to place it in a place where noise might be an issue.
There are plenty of good options for mini-refrigerators out there. However, do make sure to pick one that suits your needs adequately.
If you just want a fridge to store your insulin inside your home or office, an AC powered one is all that you need. However, if you want one that keeps your insulin cool while you travel in a car, a portable DC powered fridge with a car charger is more suitable. If you are somewhere where there is no external power source, you should get a refrigerator with a built-in battery.
One of the most important parameters to look out for is the cooling capacity of the refrigerator. Make sure that you pick one that can keep your insulin adequately cooled and prevent it from degrading. Typically, the fridge must be able to retain temperatures between 36°F and 46°F.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ideal temperature for storing insulin?
At room temperature, insulin can stay effective for upto 28 days. To maintain the insulin potency for longer periods, you must store it between 36°F and 46°F. However, once you open the vial, you must use the insulin within 28 days – or throw it away once that time period passes. You should never refrigerate the insulin vial after opening it.
There can be some exceptions to the rule depending on the type of insulin your doctor prescribes you. So always make sure that you ask them about the lifespan of the insulin at the time of prescription.
Can you inject cold insulin straight from the fridge?
Absolutely yes. You can safely inject cold insulin in your body. Be warned though – this can be a bit more painful than injecting insulin at room temperature.
What are the best practices to prevent taking bad insulin?
The best way to prevent taking bad insulin is to track its expiration date. Once you open a new vial, mark it with the date 28 days ahead. This way you will know when the insulin is no longer effective. So you can throw it away rather than injecting yourself with an ineffective dosage.
What happens if you put your insulin in the freezer?
If you accidentally freeze the medicine, it is safe to say that it will no longer be as effective. The best thing to do in this case would be to discard the frozen batch.
How to know if your insulin has gone bad?
There are other visual signs also that can tell you when your insulin has gone bad. If it turns cloudy or changes color, that might indicate insulin degradation. Furthermore, if clumps and strings begin to form inside the vial, it might be time to throw it away.
And finally, if you realize that the insulin you are using is not being very effective, it might be a sign of your insulin going bad. You should swap out the vial at this point.
Can expired insulin still control your blood glucose level?
Injecting insulin that has gone past its expiration date is not a good idea. The insulin can lose its potency and not be as effective as it was originally.
What happens if you inject expired insulin?
Using expired insulin can cause your blood sugar to rise higher than you expect and make you sick. You may feel thirsty and tired, suffer from blurry vision, and a frequent need to urinate. Nausea and fainting are also some of the potential side effects you may experience.
Choosing the right refrigerator for keeping your insulin cool and safe is crucial. You do not want to buy the wrong device and later regret it when you realize that your insulin is no longer effective. We hope that our list makes the buying process much easier for you, and that our buying guide helps you to make an informed purchase decision.