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I have a refrigerator that is an old model (no name brand) and does not have indications of what is the actual temperature.
I currently suspect that the temperature is higher than what I have set it to. The items in the refrigerator are cool when I touch them but not as cold as my setting is for 4 degrees (and also tried with 2 degrees).

Is there a way/tool to measure the actual temperature? Note that the freezer works fine.

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    Any reason you can't just take the first thermometer you come across and put it into the fridge? Any kind of a thermometer meant for ambient temperatures should be capable of measuring 4 °C.
    – TooTea
    Aug 17 at 11:14
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    A fridge thermometer costs about $10 and shows you the high and low temperature since you last looked and the current temp.
    – jay613
    Aug 17 at 12:06
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    If it was old enough it'd have a dial with a meaningless "1~10" on it. Use a can of Coke. Ice crystals: too cold. If it doesn't hit right, it's too warm. Anywhere in between those is fine.
    – Mazura
    Aug 17 at 23:02
  • Infrared; you can measure at different points . also good for making fudge, aquariums , auto tires, fever, ete, etc, etc. Aug 17 at 23:19
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There are special thermometers for refrigerator & freezer use.

I have a Rubbermaid thermometer (amazon link) in my garage fridge compartment and another in its freezer. This showed me my freezer has trouble maintaining safe temperature during winter (unheated garage.)

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    They do recommend that fridges/freezers not be placed in unheated places. They are designed for cold outside temperatures.
    – crip659
    Aug 17 at 12:56
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    @crip659, Its possible for a fridge to have a "cold weather kit" when you want to use it in the garage. Also, many people with a garage fridge use it for non-essentials like drinks and left-overs, so if it fails its not a big deal.
    – JPhi1618
    Aug 17 at 13:41
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    @crip659 Is there a "not" missing from "They are designed for cold outside temperatures."? Aug 17 at 19:27
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    @crip659 Lol ;) You could add a new comment with the "not" in, delete your earlier comments by hovering over each of them and clicking the "delete" that appears, then flag my comments here as "no longer needed", and no-one else need ever know. Aug 17 at 19:52
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    @Jim, if a fridge has significant differences in temperature between shelves, then your fridge isn't working properly at all. The veggie drawer/bin often has slots and/or a slider to let you decide how much air circulation it gets, but it shouldn't really affect the temp, unless the cold air outlet is directed towards it and freezing your produce when it's completely open. I used to keep my lettuce on a shelf, but it kept freezing unless I put the bag of tortillas on top to avoid the direct air blast. Lol. Aug 17 at 20:04
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I have two tools I use to measure my refrigerator's temperature.

  • Refrigerator thermometer with multiple remote sensors. Mine has two; it has a base station that says in the fridge, and then two sensors that are placed in different places in the fridge with a wire connecting them. This is useful because refrigerators have issues sometimes where the area under the cold exhaust is TOO cold, or the area further away doesn't get cold enough (either because the airflow is insufficient, or the insulation is not good enough, or the door is left ajar). Having multiple sensors lets you test the different areas, and the model I have keeps track of the recent high/low temperatures.
  • Infrared ("laser") thermometer for spot readings. These are really helpful because it lets me look around the fridge for issues immediately. I can see if it's very different between one area and another, or if there is any area that's much too warm.

Most of the time, the airflow is the main issue; whether that airflow is being impacted by "inside the fridge" things (like, too much food), or "inside the pipes" things, like ice formation, either way it's the air moving around that's the problem. Unless your compressor itself is failing, in which case it'll be too warm everywhere.

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Outdoor (window) thermometer is cheap and has the required range. Just put one down on shelf and check in an hour.
Don't use ancient mercury-based one, as you don't want that near your food -> get a modern 'safe' one from nearby supermarket.

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