A good unit but door heavy and unstable. Choose wisely.

Feb 24, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Works fine, very compact, quiet, good temperature control

Cons:Door heavy, unstable, adjustable feet allow it to slide around

The Bottom Line: Fine for most but not on a shelf or table. It's door heavy and slides around, making it a poor choice for older people or those with slow reflexes.

When my late father was in a nursing home, he asked us to buy him a little refrigerator for his Pepsi and chocolate that he loved. In that facility, you couldn't count on anyone ever actually doing anything for the residents so, we went out and got Dad the fridge in the hopes that he would have some things he liked on hand.

The refrigerator we chose was Magic Chef MCBR170 Compact Refrigerator. It is small and fit fine in his room but it had some problems that led us to replacing it with a more stable unit.

About the Refrigerator

This unit is a 1.7 cu. foot one which is quite small but fine for a few drinks and small items.

The unit has several good features like a smooth back design. We could push the unit up against the wall with no problems and it was space efficient. It has a reversible door which we did not utilize but could be a good little extra depending on where you place the unit. It has little rubber legs that you can adjust which should level the unit but caused us problems which I will get into in a moment.

Standing at about 20 inches tall, 19.5 inches deep, and only about 17 inches wide, this unit will fit almost anywhere. We it placed on top of a table with a skid resistant mat under it but it still slid all over the place.

The unit only came in white. We ultimately ended up with a different brown unit which was less clinical looking but white's fine for most settings.

The door opens from the top with a molded plastic inverted grip area. There is no handle per se on this little unit.

Inside, there are two wire shelves and the usual door shelves. Those proved to be a problem for us as well. The heaviness of storing cans in the door shelves caused the whole unit to nearly tip over when we opened the door unless we only put a few cans on the door.

There is a tiny freezer compartment, big enough for a little ice tray (one is included) or a frozen dinner. We rarely used the freezer compartment.

The temperature control is inside the fridge and is a wheel type which allowed us to set the temperature for the unit from very low to almost freezing. The freezer has no separate temperature control.

Lastly, the saving grace of this unit is that it has a door stopper. That helped to stop the fridge from falling over and from swinging wide open and possibly hurting my father. However, while the stopper is a plus, it was also a small problem when trying to put something slightly oversized into the unit. The door wouldn't open wide enough to allow us to fit certain things inside even though they would have fit inside the refrigerator itself.

Our Use

We set this unit on a table with a special rubber mat under it which was supposed to stop things from slipping and sliding around.

Despite that, the fridge often slid forward when we opened it and back when we shut it.

As far as how it worked, it was fine. It was quiet and kept items cold. The freezer seemed to work fine as well. Ice was always frozen and we never saw any dripping.

The problem came in when we stocked the fridge and used the storage space on the door. After about three cans of soda, the unit would become unstable when we opened the door and the whole unit would tip forward from the weight of the door and the stuff stored on its shelves.

That was a danger for my father, obviously. We essentially abandoned stocking the door and just used the inside for storage and, even then, the unit seemed wobbly and unstable. I thought the adjustable little feet would make the unit more stable, not less, but it seems a though they actually prevented the little unit from sitting flush and they also allowed for it to slide around rather than stay stationary.

We stored soda, chocolate bars, sandwiches, and other small items in the fridge and they stayed cold and fresh. We never had an issue with the actual way this unit worked. We had an issue with the stability of it.

If this compact refrigerator were on the floor and used by a younger person with quick reflexes, it would probably be a fine choice for dorm rooms, offices, and the like. However, when you have a nearly 80 year old man using the unit, you must be sure it is very stable and this just wasn't.

We ended up taking it out of my dad's room after he opened the door and the whole thing toppled over and fell to the floor. He was upset, the aides were upset, and we were concerned with his safety.

We replaced this unit with a second one and all was fine. My brother has the unit now and it is still working fine with no problems other than it is door heavy.

Buying Info

We bought this fridge a couple of years ago for around $69.00. I believe it is still being sold at Home Depot for $79.00 now. You may be able to find it elsewhere for a lower price.


This one is hard to rate. Although it didn't work out for my father, there is nothing wrong with the unit. It stays cold, is quiet, doesn't drip or leak, has a good temperature control wheel, and is compact. It isn't beautiful but it's fine for most areas where a little refrigerator would be used.

However, it isn't the most stable compact refrigerator I have used. It tends to get door heavy and start to tip when fully loaded and the adjustable feet, which seem good in principle, allow the unit to slide around when the door is opened rather than staying still.

It's only about 40 pounds so it is quite easy to move it about. The feet make it very easy to push it across the room if you prefer not to lift it.

I think I will go with 3 stars for this unit. As far as how it works, it's definitely a 4 star fridge. But the stability issue is one to consider when purchasing any compact refrigerator and this one has issues in that area.

The Magic Chef MCBR170 Compact Refrigerator is good choice for most but, if you plan to place the unit on a shelf or table or are giving it to someone who requires a very stable unit, pass this one by. It's an accident waiting to happen - especially when the door is fully stocked.

A better choice:

Whirlpool EL02CCXP Compact Refrigerator With Ice Box

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