So we have a GE Refrigerator that's around 35-40 years old. Purchases between 1983-1985. The fridge has not died yet. Yes i know, GE makes amazing stuff. And i was really thinking about replacing it with something much more energy efficient.

My problem is I can't find ANY model or serial numbers, or any kind of documentation of any kind. I own a kill-a-watt meter, but the plug is in a position that I can't reach, and I'm unwilling to shift around the entire area to get an accurate reading of how many watts this fridge is taking on a daily basis.

My question is, does anyone have a ball park estimate on what refrigerators from this time period took in wattage. Is it really worth replacing the unit even though it's still working?

I can take a picture of the fridge if it's needed. ps. This is a secondary fridge, and I'm planning on replacing it with a $500 GE fridge current being sold at a local hardware store.

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    Whether or not you find it convenient, the Kill-A-Watt is designed to answer this specific question, accurately, and is the only way you are going to get any sort of accurate answer. So move the fridge and plug it in. While you are there, vacuum out the dust bunnies. – Ecnerwal Sep 24 '14 at 17:47
  • To use a kill-a-watt meter, the worst you need is two extension cords: one from the wall outlet to the meter and one from the meter to the refrigerator cord (if necessary). I wouldn't want to leave this long term but should be safe for a few days, especially if you use decent cords. This will give you a difitive answer to how much power you're consuming. – DoxyLover Sep 24 '14 at 17:48
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    I believe the Energy Star website has tools to help answer this question, including historical records of past models' performance when they were new. But let's put it this way: My fridge is half the age of yours, was off-the-scale efficient when I bought it, and Energy Star still thinks it's getting close to being worth replacing. The question, of course, is really one of how long it'll take to pay back the investment... and that can be influenced by whether you can find a buyer for the old one. Know any students furnishing dorm kitchens? – keshlam Sep 24 '14 at 18:43
  • @keshlam, do you have a link? And, The city I live in is offering a $150 rebate to replace a working fridge with a new fridge, so that's going to cut the costs to around 350. – Sickest Sep 24 '14 at 19:16

'ben rudgers' is right. There's no analytic solution to your question. A 35 year old fridge is unlikely to operate anywhere near its original design's parameters. You'll have to address this experimentally.

Using a Kill-A-Watt would be ideal. An alternative might be to observe the power consumption of the entire house, with the fridge turned off (turn thermostat off or to the highest temp). Then open the fridge door until you hear the compressor start and observe the power consumption again.

On older whole house power meters, a small metal wheel spun faster when the power consumption went up. If you counted the revolutions per minute with the fridge off, then again with the fridge on, that difference would reflect only the fridge's power consumption. Then you could turn off the fridge and turn on an appliance whose power consumption you know (like a 100 watt lamp or 500 watt hair dryer) to see how fast that makes the meter spin. You could calculate the fridge's wattage based on the ratio of the two spin rates per minute.

I assume that modern house power meters have something similar to that spinning wheel. Or maybe you could log into your power provider's website to check your house's current power consumption and monitor such experimental changes via their virtual meter on the site?


Even if someone had the specifications (and that supposes that you had the model number), those specifications would be for the new-out-of-the-box performance, not after four decades of service.

And given that the equipment is at least a decade older than Energy Star and more than two before it was expanded to general home appliances, the odds of those specifications containing meaningful real-world energy utilization information, is pretty close to zero.

  • This answer really doesn't answer my question. But thank you for that information. – Sickest Sep 24 '14 at 17:16
  • How many amps is the motor? Multiply by the voltage of the circuit. That will give watts. I don't think that's what you're really looking for. – ben rudgers Sep 24 '14 at 17:20
  • If I had any way of telling how many amps the motor was I would. Do you know how I could get that information without any documentation? – Sickest Sep 24 '14 at 17:21
  • Motors often have that information on them. Either a sticker or a plate or actually embossed into the housing. – ben rudgers Sep 24 '14 at 17:35

So, I broke down after all the verbal bashing and moved everything and was able to connect my kill-a-watt device to the OLD GE fridge and its running at a consistent rate of 300-302 Watts.

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So yea, I guess it's time to replace this hunk of junk for something more efficient

  • The fridge is consuming energy at a rate of 300 Watts constantly? It never stops? – DJohnM Sep 25 '14 at 20:04
  • no, the majority of the time. Right now My kill-a-watt meters says it's costing me $276 per year at 17 cents – Sickest Sep 26 '14 at 1:55

To be honest, very few companies make appliances like they used to back in the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's, GE still makes great products though, I know they are a company with a solid foundation upon what a company is, and what a company truly believes in. We have a 21 year old GE Profile refrigerator, and it just keeps on going!;D! All in all, If anything, don't run the heat very high in the household, regularly check and clean up under the refrigerator on the evaporator coils, and set the thermostat a little lower on the fridge, hope all of this helps, I abide by the quote "Don't fix what's not broken" or in this case, if the refrigerator runs, I suggest not replacing it. Congratulations on such a long time running, and good luck hopefully with many years to go.

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    I Disagree 100%. The new Fridge will pay it's self off in 2 years. – Sickest Feb 16 '16 at 9:16

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