Brightening a Dim Fridge Light: 5 Simple Solutions

Woman looking inside a fridge

Is your fridge light dimmer than a jazz club at 11 p.m.?

Believe it or not, the issue is very common! In fact, thousands of people all over the world face the same situation every day, causing them to squint just to find the carton of OJ.

I know how frustrating it can be to be stuck brightening a dim fridge light – especially if you love everything else about your fridge or just purchased it. But don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place for answers. Below, you’ll find a list including the 5 main causes behind a dim fridge light and simple ways to address each.

When you’re trying to brighten a dim fridge light, it can be due to a loose electrical connection, overtightening of the light bulb, or using the wrong bulb wattage. If your fridge light is LED-based, a Control Board issue or a faulty assembly can also be to blame.

Read on to brighten your fridge light once and for all!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and Andy Fulenchek.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

Andy is one of our resident appliance repair experts with over a decade of experience. He currently runs his appliance repair company with a team of trusted technicians.

Why You’re Dealing With a Dim Fridge Light

Fridge light bulbs are simple, and we don’t think about them often, but it’s undeniable that they play a key role in how we access our food and find our favorite veggies before a meal.

Before diving into the specifics, it’s important to mention that there are 2 main types of fridge light bulbs: incandescent and LED. Both bulb types are very different regarding how they’re built, how they work, and even how much power they draw.

To help you get to the bottom of the issue faster and save you some effort, here are the most common causes behind a dim light in both bulb types.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs have been around for decades – they work very well and are quite bright. Although modern fridges no longer use incandescent bulbs, there’s a good chance that yours has one if it’s older. Here’s what to look for to brighten a dim fridge incandescent light.

#1 A Loose Connection

When you’re trying to brighten a dim fridge light, and your fridge has an incandescent bulb inside, the first thing I recommend you check is that there’s not a loose connection.

Typically, incandescent fridge bulb housings run on a steady 120-volt current, which supplies enough power for the light to be bright and stay on. However, if the bulb is not screwed in all the way into the housing or there’s a loose connection between the housing and the door switch, you’ll likely experience lighting issues.

Fridge interior light
Ensure that your bulb is screwed in properly into its housing and receives the adequate voltage.

Solution: Ensure the bulb is screwed all the way into the housing but be careful not to go too far, as overtightening can also cause problems. Applying excessive pressure to the bulb can break it and pose a risk to your health, so try your best to wear gloves or some type of protective equipment for your hand.

Provided the issue is still present, try the solutions below.

#2 An Overtightened Bulb

While a loose bulb is problematic, an overtightened one can also cause its fair share of issues, including a dim fridge light.

When you overtighten the bulb inside your fridge and compress the housing with the bulb’s base too far, a short circuit can occur, causing the light to go out completely or not be bright enough.

Removing a fridge's light bulb
Getting the bulb tightness just right is key to ensuring it works properly.

Solution: If the short circuit has damaged the bulb, your best bet will be to replace it. However, if the damage is not extensive, my usual advice is to try unplugging your fridge from the wall outlet to stop the electrical current from flowing into the bulb.

Once you’re sure there’s no electricity going into the fridge, try loosening the bulb a little. You’ll have to be precise enough to place the bulb tight enough to ensure proper contact with the housing but not so tight that you’ll be back to square one.

#3 Using the Wrong Bulb Wattage

The last possible reason why you’re stuck brightening a dim fridge light is that you’re using the wrong bulb wattage.

From what I’ve seen, fridges that still use incandescent light bulbs will require 40-watt bulbs to work normally (although wattage can go up to 100W for other purposes). That said, there can be some variations depending on your fridge’s brand and model, so please check your appliance’s User Manual to determine the bulb wattage you need. If you no longer have the manual, please refer to our free resource below.

Solution: Once you know the bulb wattage your fridge needs, you can buy a replacement at a nearby hardware store. Please ensure to unplug your fridge from the wall outlet before replacing the bulb to prevent accidents.

LED Bulbs

Having covered all the possible reasons why you’re stuck brightening a dim fridge incandescent light, let’s now move on to LED bulbs.

Unlike their incandescent counterparts, LED bulbs are much more energy efficient and do not rely on a filament inside them to provide you with the bright light you’re used to. You’ll typically find LED on modern fridges, as they’ve become the standard choice for the abovementioned reasons.

Here’s what might be causing a dim LED fridge light.

#4 Control Board Issues

The first possible reason you’re stuck trying to brighten a dim LED fridge light is a Control Board issue.

As with several other electronic devices and appliances, the Control Board is the main component that controls how the LED bulb works and communicates with its housing the rest of your fridge. There are many ways to test whether an LED bulb’s Control Board is working, but I’ve found the simplest one to be testing the voltage.

Solution: To test the voltage on your LED Control Board, you’ll need a voltmeter and access to the bulb Control Board. In some cases, there will be more than one LED Control Board you’ll have to test (one in the bulb’s assembly and one in the fridge).

You must ensure that both Control Boards are providing 12-14 volts of DC (Direct Current); otherwise, the Control Board is faulty, and that’s the reason why you’re stuck brightening a dim fridge LED light.

If it’s just the LED’s Control Board that’s at fault, my usual advice is to replace the bulb. However, if it’s your fridge’s LED Control Board that’s on the fritz, things can get a lot more complex and expensive. Provided you’re unsure about the voltage testing process at any point, please do not hesitate to call a certified refrigerator technician for help.

#5 A Faulty Assembly

Lastly, let’s talk about the possibility of a faulty assembly as another possible reason why you’re stuck brightening a dim fridge light.

I’ve found that sometimes, even when the LED bulb is getting the right voltage, the light will still be dim, which is a telltale sign that the bulb needs replacing.

In brands like KitchenAid and Whirlpool, the light assembly that goes throughout the freezer and provides voltage to the bulb is daisy-chained, so several issues can arise. In many cases, replacing the freezer control board that’s responsible for sending voltage to the bulb can go a long way in fixing the problem.

Solution: Replacing the fridge’s Control Board is no simple task and can be very expensive. My recommendation would be to let a certified technician handle the repair as they not only have the right tools and skill set but may also find a different solution to the problem. Ideally, one that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.

General Fridge Light Recommendations

Now that you know all the possible causes behind a dim fridge light and the solutions you can implement to address the issue, let’s now talk about general fridge light recommendations that can help prevent further issues and keep your appliance running like clockwork.

  • Check the Door Switch: Often, the issue lies not with the bulb but with the door switch. Ensure that the switch works normally before attempting complex bulb and light assembly repairs.
  • Safety First: Always unplug your fridge and let a few minutes pass before opening it or working on its internal components to prevent an accidental electrical discharge.
  • Refer to Your Manual: Your User Manual has tons of useful information that can help you determine the right wattage for your fridge’s bulbs and more.

Brightening Your Dim Fridge Light

That about sums it up!

When you’re stuck brightening a dim fridge light, it’s normal to feel frustrated and worried over the potential cost and time of repairs.

Luckily, as I hope this piece has helped you better understand, addressing the most common causes behind a dim fridge light can be easy and quick. More often than not, something as simple as ensuring the bulb isn’t loose or overtightened will do the trick.

Thanks for reading. If this article was useful and answered your most burning questions, please check out our other resources and free guides below.

Have a great week!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more