Differences Between Freestanding and Built-In Refrigerators
Refrigerators are one of the kitchen appliances people use most often. Even if you’re not a fan of cooking, it’s hard to get by without using a fridge. When you’re designing a remodel or new kitchen, it’s very important to understand the differences between freestanding and built-in refrigerators so you can choose the one that’s right for your space.
Types of Refrigerators
There are many different refrigerator styles and designs. Some have attached freezers, exterior water and ice dispensers, or even windows that allow you to see the contents without opening the door. However, there’s one major difference you’ll want to keep in mind when designing your kitchen: a freestanding vs. built-in style.
A freestanding fridge is exactly how it sounds—a stand-alone kitchen appliance that can go anywhere your home has space and the proper hookup. These refrigerators come in a variety of styles, but the element they all have in common is that you can move them around without a professional’s help. Some kitchens have special cabinet housing areas for you to put your fridge, but don’t be fooled—these fridges are still considered freestanding.
On the other hand, a built-in fridge is one that fits into a specially designed opening in your kitchen cabinetry, which allows its main body to be hidden. Keep in mind, you may also see the terms overlay or integrated when researching different refrigerator models; these terms essentially mean the fridge will be flush with the rest of your cabinets, or it may even blend in completely.
Popular Fridge Styles
The nice thing about refrigerators is that both freestanding and built-in fridges come in many of the same styles. Here are a few of the most common designs:
- Top mount—the freezer is on top of the fridge
- Bottom mount—the freezer is below the fridge
- French door—two-door access to the fridge, the freezer may be below
- Side-by-side—the fridge is on one side, the freezer on the other
- Column—a full-size refrigerator only, may have a separate matching freezer unit
- 4-Door—a French door fridge on top, with separate freezers below
How To Choose a Door Style
When trying to decide which fridge style to buy, it’s a good idea to think carefully about how you plan to use it. If you have trouble bending over, you may not like having a bottom-mount freezer. If you like to bake, you may want space in your fridge or freezer for placing large baking sheets to chill desserts. If you enjoy hosting, an exterior water and ice dispenser is a must-have.
Once you know the functions that are important to you, you’ll be able to pick out the model that best suits your needs.
Comparing Freestanding and Built-In Fridges
While freestanding and built-in fridges come in many of the same styles, there are differences in other areas like maintenance, price, and kitchen design options. We’ve broken down the differences to make it easier to pick out the right fridge for your home.
Appearance and Design
The main appeal of having a built-in or integrated refrigerator is that it matches your kitchen completely. The result is a very high-end look that instantly makes your kitchen more luxurious. Depending on the style you choose, it may even be possible to get a built-in fridge with a wine cooler or other special units attached.
Freestanding fridges may not be able to disappear into your cabinets, but they still look very nice. These refrigerators can come in stainless steel, slate, and other high-end finishes that still give your kitchen the facelift it needs.
Installation and Maintenance
Unlike freestanding fridges, you’ll need to hire a professional to install your integrated or built-in fridge; these refrigerators have special design components that only a professional will know how to handle. For repairs, you will want to get a certified technician out to your home instead of just any repairman.
One of the reasons you don’t need the same specialized knowledge for fixing a freestanding fridge is because they’re much easier to work with. You can move them around to unplug them, and repair parts will be easier to find since they’re more common. If you try to find repair parts for your integrated fridge at the local hardware store, you’ll probably have trouble tracking down what you need.
Size and Depth
While freestanding and built-in fridges can both be quite large, one of the major differences is fridge depth. Most built-in or integrated fridges are cabinet-depth, which is typically 24 inches, to keep them flush with the surrounding cabinets. Freestanding fridges are typically full depth, which can be up to 36 inches.
While it might be nice to avoid having to reach deep inside your fridge to get whatever is at the back, do keep in mind that exceptionally large platters and baking trays may have trouble fitting inside a built-in refrigerator.
While built-in refrigerators are a wonderful choice for those who love to cook as well as for increasing your home’s value, they don’t always come with the features you’d expect in a freestanding fridge, like a water and ice dispenser.
The whole idea of the built-in fridge is to blend in with your kitchen cabinets, and a dispenser would ruin the illusion. However, built-in fridges sometimes offer other perks, like multiple freezers and wine coolers. They may also have a filtered water dispenser inside the fridge.
Another difference between freestanding and built-in refrigerators is that, because of the initial investment cost, built-in fridges tend to last a lot longer than other fridges. Their high-quality design is also why you want a certified technician performing any maintenance your refrigerator may need.
Choosing the Perfect Refrigerator
If you’re in the market for a built-in refrigerator, visit Town Appliance in person or via our online store to view our amazing selection. We carry many top-of-the-line brands, like Thermador, Bosch, Liebherr, and Bluestar, with a wide array of colors, door styles, and other design options.
Town Appliance has been in the business for 50 years, and we love helping people find the perfect appliances for their homes. Call or email us today with any questions you may have.