Outdoor refrigerators make excellent additions to outdoor kitchens for all the right reasons in the world. It doesn’t matter what function you are having outdoors – barbecue parties, hangouts, reunions among others – an outdoor refrigerator is very important.
Someone could easily ask why he can’t buy just about any refrigerator or move the one in his house outside.
The truth is even though the primary function of a refrigerator is to chill food, drinks, and vegetables and keep them fresh, not every refrigerator works well in any given environment.
An indoor refrigerator cannot thrive as effectively as an outdoor model will in outdoor settings. This is why outdoor refrigerators are being manufactured.
For starters, because of the fluctuating temperatures that exist outdoors, a refrigerator placed outside will work harder to get foods and drinks cold. And unlike, indoor models, outdoor refrigerators are specifically insulated and made from waterproof materials to prevent the risk of shock or electrocution.
Among other reasons why you need an outdoor refrigerator is the fact that if you will be grilling at a function, you can keep your meat fresh before you grill it. And you also don’t have to hurl a cooler of ice around because you need cold drinks at an outdoor event.
All that said, here’s something really important that we think you should note: finding an outdoor refrigerator is not as easy as most people think.
Moreover, not all refrigerators listed on online sites and walk-in shops are actually outdoor refrigerators as some sellers tag them to be.
An outdoor refrigerator must be specifically designed for the purpose. It also has to be UL-approved for use outdoors.
Not to worry, we are here to make the task of finding the right one easy for you.
Come along and let’s show you how.
Types of Outdoor Refrigerators.
Outdoor refrigerators could be installed on outdoor kitchens or in any sheltered area in your outdoor space. But, generally, there are 2 types of outdoor refrigerators to choose from.
They are the built-in models and the freestanding models.
The Built-in Outdoor Refrigerators, as the name implies, are specifically designed to blend seamlessly with your outdoor kitchen furniture.
A Freestanding Outdoor Refrigerator, on the other hand, can be installed in any space outdoors.
At first blush, it is easy to think that this is all there is to differences between the two models. But, in fact, there’s more.
So, while the built-in models have their vents in front and do not really need as much clearance as the freestanding models, the freestanding ones require some clearance all-round. And by all-around, we mean the sides, top, and rear of the refrigerator.
How to Choose the Best Outdoor Refrigerator
Knowing how to choose the outdoor refrigerator that is best suited for you makes choosing one a breeze. If you are able to follow through with the following factors we think you should consider you can rest assured the task will be easier.
- Size and Capacity: One good thing about outdoor refrigerators is that they are often more compact relative to the refrigerators/freezers found in indoor kitchens. You are likely going to find refrigerators that measure 24 inches in width and 34 inches in height with a capacity between 5 and 6.5 cubic feet. These are the common ones.You may also find something slimmer like the models that measure 15 inches in width. These models have about 3 to 3.5 cubic feet in capacity.
Bottom line: you need to check out the size and storage capacity of a refrigerator based on your available space and how much space you need respectively.
You should factor in the possibility of changes in tour storage needs as well. If you can envisage a change, then it will help you choose a model that can serve you now and in the future.
- Material: Already, we have established the fact that the materials used in the construction of outdoor refrigerators differ significantly from the indoor models. But the materials used in the construction of outdoor refrigerators may vary based on what the manufacturer deems best. Since we can’t really know the factors that influence a manufacturer’s choice of material, we advise you to be careful with choosing a refrigerator based on the material.In any case, because you want your refrigerator to be durable and resistant to the elements, you are better off with a refrigerator that is rust-free.
Stainless steel fits conveniently into this classification of material. However, not all stainless steel is durable because they are all created differently. This is why we recommend the 18/8 grade which is also referred to as the grade 304. This material has a high resistance to corrosion and is durable.
We also advise you to be on the lookout for and avoid the cheap outdoor refrigerators. They are usually made with steel that is plastic-wrapped or steel that is of grade 430. The grade 430 steel, for instance, is a kind of metal that is very easily prone to rusting and should be avoided.
- Features: Unlike indoor models, outdoor refrigerators come in pretty simple units. Still, they may have features like an adjustable thermostat, levelers, automatic defrost, interior lights, and adjustable shelves. Refrigerator drawers or wine storage centers are usually designed and function like the regular refrigerators. But the doors are usually made from insulated glass and the shelves are uniquely designed for beverages.If you have little ones around you, you may decide to opt for models that have locks for security. The locks are also necessary to avoid leaving the refrigerator doors open whether slightly or fully.
- Price: If you are in the market for UL-approved refrigerators like we hope you actually are, then you should plan to pay at least $600 for a good unit. This unit will likely have a plastic door and freezer that defrosts manually. With $700, you can get a sleek unit that is made from stainless steel and has a spacious roomy interior. The only issue with this type is that its freezer compartment is usually quite small.If you are thinking of an exquisite beverage cooler instead, then you should be willing to pay between $900 and $1,800 or more for units that have 2 to 3 drawers.
- Energy Efficiency: It always helps to have a low energy consumption refrigerator. You get to spend less on maintenance. Plus, you also save some bucks on the electricity bill. According to Energy Star, outdoor units usually cost about $35 every year. Outdoor Refrigerators manufactured by Marvel, for instance, cost an average of $25 each year to run. Other brands may cost more and even up to 50% of the amount spent on Marvel refrigerators.
“Outdoor” Not “All-Weather”
It is easy to assume that “outdoor” translates to “all-weather”. And we have seen some users who have had unpleasant experiences with their outdoor fridges because of this assumption.
Granted that most outdoor refrigerators are actually weatherproof, they are constructed that way only to protect the electrical parts of the refrigerator from moisture. That’s all.
So, can you leave the fridge out in really bad rainstorms? It’s a big NO. You shouldn’t also allow it to function during winter.
As per preventing rust and corrosion especially in the presence of moisture, high-grade stainless steel material has been saving lives for a long time. Still doesn’t mean you should leave the fridge out in terrible conditions. Stainless steel also has its limits.
What To Do with Your Fridge When the Kitchen Season is Over
First of all, we think it is important to note that outdoor refrigerators don’t work all year round. And like the AC in your car, you don’t want to run it during the winter or what will be the point?
Just so you know, outdoor refrigerators are designed to operate at temperatures above 40 degrees and never below.
So as soon as the season of outdoor kitchens is over it is advisable to rid the refrigerator of its contents. You should also disconnect the refrigerator from its electric source.
Bacteria and mold are very likely to grow in the refrigerator while it’s out of use. So, we recommend leaving the door slightly open by propping it. This will allow the free flow of air into and within the refrigerator’s interiors. Allowing air into the refrigerator is known to inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold.
And if you decide on a freestanding refrigerator, you may want to cover it up at the end of the season. But to ensure this is not counterproductive, you should make the covering a bit loose. The essence is to avoid trapping moisture in the refrigerator.
You should also keep a keen eye on your refrigerator for condensation during the winter or summertime. Soon as you notice anything of the sort, be sure to wipe it away using a cloth that is dry.
General Maintenance Tips for Outdoor Refrigerators
The secret to long-lasting use with the best refrigerators is proper maintenance. Of course, there’s a reason these refrigerators are specifically designed for outdoor purposes – to withstand the fluctuating temperatures and humidity. So, when in use, how should you run the refrigerator?
- Keep Your Refrigerator Dry
Like we said earlier, outdoor doesn’t translate to all-weather. Ditch the lie that your outdoor fridge will grow thick skin to hurricanes, snow, and rain. You are about to lose some good money if you think it will.
Now that we’ve established why an outdoor refrigerator is so called, it is important to know that one of the ways to extend the lifespan of your refrigerator is to keep it as dry as you possibly can.
You should keep it sheltered from the rain, far from the pool or sink and any source of water around it. Except it is a built-in model, we advise you to take the fridge in when it rains or snows.
You’ll need this tip most especially if the fridge you go for is not weatherproof or UL-rated.
- Keep it Away From Direct Sunlight
It could get really hot during the summertime. And if you’ve been following the trend, you must have noticed that summers keep getting really hot. During the season, if not properly shaded, your refrigerator will feel the heat too.
And if you expose it to direct sunlight, things could go really awry.
Here’s how: refrigerators generally work by taking in heat from the environment to release it back into the environment. If the heat gets too much, the process may not proceed properly. This may eventually damage the refrigerator and cost you some money in repairs or replacement over time.
What to do?
You can have it between cabinets or build a kitchen island if you don’t have one already. Installing your refrigerator this way will keep it shaded from direct sunlight.
- Keep it Adequately Ventilated
You may not have all the real estate in your outdoor space to build an island kitchen or have cabinets to shade your fridge. In such an instance, you can cover the fridge. But while covering, ensure you allow room for air to circulate.
In absorbing heat from the environment, the refrigerator will need refreshed air around it for the heat to escape. Ample ventilation keeps refreshed around for this purpose.
Manufacturers know so much about this and that’s why even the built-in models have their vents at the front. So, irrespective of where you place it and how many cabinets are beside it, it will still get ample ventilation.
The freestanding ones, on the other, will require clearance at the top, back, and sides for proper ventilation.
An outdoor refrigerator is a convenient appliance to have during summer and warm climates. You no longer have to cancel your outdoor events because you don’t have a reliable cooling unit.
Now that you know what to look out for before you make a purchase, you can go right ahead and select your most preferred choice.
We hope you learned as much as we hope you would.
Thank you for stopping by and happy shopping!