Fridge types by installation style


Once you’ve chosen your preferred refrigerator arrangem […]

Once you’ve chosen your preferred refrigerator arrangement, you also need to select how you want it installed within your kitchen. You have three primary choices when shopping—counter depth, full-depth (or regular), or built-in.

Counter-Depth vs Standard Depth
All fridge types are either counter-depth or full depth. The box of the counter-depth refrigerators is designed to be aligned with the front edge of your cabinets. Only the door will protrude from cabinets giving a streamlined, custom look. Counter-depth fridges tend to be a bit more expensive, although they are slightly less spacious on average than standard depth fridges.

Standard depth refrigerators cost less and fit more inside, though they don’t offer the same custom, built-in look as their counter depth cousins.

Both of these types of fridges are considered Freestanding refrigerators. A term that simply means the refrigerator is its own separate unit. It is not attached or installed into the cabinetry of your kitchen. The advantages of these types include easier movement and replacement, increased depth, more flexibility, and lower costs. That said, they generally don’t carry the same luxurious look of built-in models. They do, however, have finished sides—since the sides of the fridge are often visible.

Built-In Refrigerators
Built-in refrigerators have become more and more popular in high-end kitchens. Made popular by Sub Zero, they provide a seamless, custom look in any kitchen layout. Built-in fridges are essentially installed within the cabinetry and can range in widths to as large as 48” (even wider if you install two built-ins next to each other).

That said, built-in refrigerators are often restricted to cabinet depth—around 24”. That’s because a built-in refrigerator extending past the flush plane of the cabinets gives a look that’s not really built-in at all.

It’s a high-end look, but it also means is that many built-in refrigerators aren’t as deep as their standalone counterparts. You’ll often have to make up for this by going wider. You are not restricted to stainless steel as a color with the built-ins. Many people install them with custom cabinet panels for a seamless look.

Built-in refrigerators tend to be much more expensive than freestanding units.

Column Refrigerators
Column refrigerators (some manufacturers refer them as integrated fridges) are starting to become more popular. They involve two tall, independent built-in fridge and freezer. Having the two units separated gives you options on a range of arrangements. Sometimes the fridge and freezer are placed side-by-side, and other times they’re separated in different areas of the kitchen. Sometimes they might even be placed surrounding a wine cooler.

They use an "articulating hinge system", which allows them to have fully flush installations with cabinets without any gap (industry term zero-gap) between the fridge and the cabinets.

Specialty Refrigerators
Aside from the main, full-size refrigerator types, there are also other specialty types to consider when you’re doing your shopping. While these won’t apply to all customers, they’re worth addressing, so you know what to look out for on the market. Specialty fridges can also be used in both indoor and outdoor applications.

Undercounter Refrigerators
Undercounter refrigerators are exactly what they sound like—fridges designed to fit under a countertop. They come in an array of design types, including drawers, glass or solid doors, with/without freezer, wine fridges, beverage centers, and ‘kegerators.’

Wine Refrigerator & Beverage Centers
Looking to keep your wine collection fresh, accessible, and chilled? A wine refrigerator is a great way to do it. There are under-counter versions. Full size versions that can hold some 180 bottles are available.

These can be perfect for showcasing your wine collection, entertaining and are often installed in kitchens alongside full-size, full-function refrigerators.

Beverage centers are usually under-counter fridges. The have racking that is suitable to hold cans and soda bottles. They may even have a rack hold wine in them. The temperature in beverage centers is usually colder than that of wine fridges.

Looking to furnish office space, home theater, or just provide extra cooling space in another area of your home, like the garage? A mini-fridge can be an excellent, low-cost option. While they range in size and capacity, they all tend to be built to fit under a desk or countertop. Like their full-size counterparts, they can either come as standalone units or built-in models.

Ice Makers
Some ice enthusiasts may opt for a standalone ice maker unit. Ice makers make either crescent-ice, clear-ice, or nugget ice. Clear-ice and nugget-ice machines need a pump or gravity drain underneath the unit to function. Scotsman, U-line, and Marvel are great residential ice maker brands.

Chest Freezer or Upright Freezers
Freezer-only appliances,often arranged in a chest or upright design, are usually purchased as a second freezer, then set to very low temperatures for deep-freezing foods to preserve them long-term. They’re often set up in a garage, storage space, or basement. Standalone freezers can be arranged like a standard fridge with a single, swing-open door, but they’re also commonly seen in a chest-shape, one which opens from a door hinged along the top.

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