So, it’s one of two things: you are here for undercounter refrigerators because you don’t want to give up having chilled food and drinks. But your tiny kitchen space is threatening to deprive you of a good refrigerator. The other reason may be that you are not a fan of large electric chilling boxes.
Oh, there’s a third! You just want to remodel your home and you need a replacement for your old large fridge right after you declutter.
The why’s aren’t as important as the fact that you can rest assured that we are here to help you choose the right undercounter fridge.
So, first things first…
Without scaring you with terms that only techies can relate to, an undercounter refrigerator is an electrical appliance that works like the regular refrigerator you know. The only difference is its size.
Plus, as the name implies, they are installed under counters.
In other words, undercounter refrigerators are designed to cater to the needs of home and bar owners who have space constraints to deal with and those who like to have their appliances nicely tucked under their counter.
But before we go on with this guide, we thought to let you know that undercounter fridges are, for the most part, designed to meet specific needs.
Need we say that not every undercounter refrigerator is perfect for you?
That said (or implied), our job here is to give you a working idea of how to identify the different types of under counter fridges, the benefits each one offers, and factors to consider before you make a purchase.
Types Of Undercounter Refrigerators
You remember we said undercounter refrigerators come in variants, right?
So, without further ado, we’ll start by letting you know that there are 4 different types of undercounter refrigerators: Refrigerator Drawers, Ice Makers, Wine Storage, and Beverage Centers.
And if you weren’t sure about what to go for before now, we hope learning about these will put things in better perspective.
Refrigerators drawers got their name from their design. These refrigerators are designed as double drawers. They are like the chest of drawers you have in your closet. Only they are electric, made from a durable metal of some sort and they chill food and drinks.
This refrigerator is suitable for island locations and is even perfect if you choose to have your kids with you. Your little ones can store their party treats, juice boxes, and yogurts.
And thanks to their unique design, refrigerator drawers eliminate bending. This means easy access to your refrigerator.
So, your comfort doesn’t have to suffer because you want your kitchen in Zen-style.
That said, you are likely to find these type of fridges within the range of 24 inches and 30 inches.
And like most refrigerators, the icemaker and freezer will usually be found in the second drawer while the top drawer will have an array of refrigerators.
As the name implies, this type of refrigerator simply makes ice.
But they pose a myriad of questions to the average buyer. For instance, how can you make a choice between the 3 icemakers that there are? – the Condensation, Pump, and Gravity Fed.
Plus, how do you make a choice between the regular or clear ice? And shouldn’t the shape of the ice produced matter?
Here’s what you need to know…
Condensation Ice Makers, like the icemakers you may already have, don’t have drains. They cost less and are quite affordable. But, the ice they produce is cloudy and are relatively lower in volume than the other two. The reason the ice cubes are cloudy is that the impurities stay in the formed ice.
The Gravity Fed Ice Maker, on the other hand, has a drain. The problem, however, is that impurities can clog the drains. And more often than not, the major culprit in repair issues is a clogged drain.
The Pump Ice Maker is the most preferred of the three. This is because it deals with the problems the other two pose. It produces cubes that are not only clear but come in a good number. You are also less likely to have repair and clogging issues to deal with because of the pumping mechanism.
Important note: Irrespective of the choice you eventually make, please note that optimal performance of your icemaker will depend largely on maintenance. So, it’s important that you clean it once in 6 months.
The other thing to consider is the shape of the ice.
Well, this depends on your preference to a large extent.
The trick will be to look out for the shape that the icemaker produces. It should help to know that the common shapes are nugget, crescent, barrel, and sonic shapes. Hope that’s enough guide?
In storing wine, what we’ve seen in the past is the inclusion of metal shelves in already existing chilling units – a renovation that is only beneficial to your wines for a short while.
But not everyone knows that wines should be stored differently from how food and beverages are stored.
For one, wine is grape that still lives. And poor storage will not only ruin the wine, it may drill a gaping hole in a bar owner’s pockets.
Yet, not every manufacturer has really gotten it right with cooling wines. But brands like Sub-Zero and U-Line seem to be righting the wrongs of wine storage with Sub-Zero addressing the issues more adequately.
Vibration, light, and humidity can significantly affect the quality of wines.
These 3 important factors have been properly handled in the construction of most Sub-Zero Wine storages.
So, you may consider riding with this brand if your goal is to get an undercounter fridge for wines. But you must be ready to put your money where your mouth is because these refrigerators are relatively pricier.
Generally, a good wine storage will help with the aging and cooling of wine. Most times, its door is transparent to make a good show of your wine collection (can usually hold about 20 to 40 wine bottles).
A wine storage will be perfect in your wine room, bar, or kitchen space. It should also be able to store wines for short to long periods.
They are the most versatile and popular of the four undercounter refrigerators. And unlike Wine Storages, Beverage centers can store beer, wine, water, soda and even a deli tray.
Beverage Centers can hold any wine bottle and all kinds of cans.
If you want something that does it all, this seems like a good choice to make in an undercounter refrigerator, don’t you think?
You may want to shop for durable ones like the Electrolux Beverage Centers, the Marvel Beverage Centers, and the True Beverage Centers.
But note that even though the brand may say a lot about the efficiency and durability of the beverage center, finding the perfect choice is what’s important.
For instance, there are those that are only suitable for indoors purposes while some can be used in outdoor spaces.
So, it’s really about your specific needs.
Inbuilt vs. Freestanding Undercounter Refrigerators
Typically, an undercounter fridge may be designed as a freestanding unit or as a built-in unit. What’s common to these designs is that that they both have similar dimensions.
But they are quite different.
A freestanding fridge requires ample space because it has its compressor at the back. Placing it in a cramped up space between cabinets means the heat will be trapped. This may cause the compressor to seize or get damaged over time. If you are thinking of a fridge that is not noisy, then you may need to think twice about this type because it is noisier than the integrated refrigerators.
Built-in (or Integrated) refrigerators make excellent choices if you’ll like to have the fridge between cabinets.
The condenser in a built-in refrigerator is static and allows free ventilation through the toe kick in front.
The Pros and Cons of Undercounter Refrigerators
There are quite a number of benefits of having undercounter refrigerators. Here are a few of them:
- They are smooth, sleek and stylish. Having one is definitely going to improve your kitchen profile and make your space more appealing to the eyes. For starters, the fridge blends in line with the counter for a cleaner and streamlined look.
- Their designs complement other modern appliances. They also come in various textures, colors, and materials to match your kitchen style and your own taste.
- Undercounter refrigerators help to save up on space. Having one means you can have the more precious space in your kitchen – counter space!
- Because they haven’t been around for so long, undercounter refrigerators are certified by Energy Star. This means you can rest assured the one you’ll get is pro our precious earth. You also get to save some bucks on the electricity bill.
- They also allow parties of more. Conventional refrigerators take up space that could aid easy traffic while hosting a party in your kitchen. But an undercounter spells more space for easy traffic.
But, they also come with their own fair share of issues. Here are a few:
- The compartments are smaller and may be an issue if you plan to store vegetables like celery or even large Tupperware.
- No point hoping for a big freezer. The freezers come small. And that’s if they are even present.
- They tend to be pricey. This doesn’t rule out the fact that you can get one for as low as $400 but the price can go as high as $3,500 with more bells and whistles.
All that aside, there are way more reasons to get an undercounter refrigerator. For one, the benefits outweigh the costs. And if you are able to make the best buy as we hope you will, that will be some good money well spent.
What to Look Out for In Undercounter Refrigerators
Paying attention to the size of the fridge seems too obvious to mention, doesn’t it? But some people forget to check this. As a guide, the most effective way to ensure you have the right size is to check how much kitchen space you have for the purpose. Here’s how: Measure the length, height, and depth of the space you have first. This will guide you on the size to go for.
You may also want to make plans for some allowance between the kitchen space and the fridge; especially if the model requires ample ventilation. It is usually better to have a fridge that is slightly smaller than the available space. You can cover up the excess space after installing the smaller fridge.A bigger refrigerator, on the other hand, will defeat the purpose of the fridge in the first place.
Storage and Capacity
It is important to check if the particular product you’ll like to go for can cater to your storage needs. We have been able to provide a general idea of the storage capacity of the 4 types of undercounter refrigerators.
But you may want to check the model especially based on your preference. You may want an undercounter refrigerator for wines, food, beverages, or a combination of any of the three.
You may also check to see if the refrigerator allows tall items or large platters. It depends on what you hope to have in the fridge. For example, if you have a small family, a 200-liter fridge will be perfect.
Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, the smarter way to make the best buy is to work within your budget.Of course, as mentioned earlier, the pricier ones, like True, Sub-Zero, and Electrolux come with a lot of bells and whistles. But you can still find a good one with a budget of $350 or more.
Undercounter refrigerators usually have a sleek and smooth finish, because they are designed to blend with cabinetry and other kitchen appliances. So, you have a variety in color, texture, and material. For instance, you could opt for a panel-ready fridge in black color if you are particular about the integrated look.
However, except you are revamping the whole kitchen – in which case you may already have a working theme – it is important to ensure that the undercounter refrigerator you select blends with your existing kitchen furniture.
Now that you have come to end of this buying guide, you can now go ahead to shop undercounter refrigerators for the one that is suitable for you.