A refrigerator is one of those important appliances you purchase one every five or ten years. When shopping for a refrigerator today, you may encounter more options than you have anticipated, as things have radically changed in this industry due to the countless technological enhancements. One of the most interesting technological improvements in the refrigerator industry is the appearance of the undercounter refrigerator. More and more people are now taking advantage of the important benefits of these modern and innovative appliances to save space, save on energy costs, while substantially improving the kitchen’s look and feel.
Undercounter Refrigerators – Following the New Trend
At the moment there is a trend to remodel kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms and other areas of the house. Probably the most interesting trend is to redo a kitchen. An increasing number of homeowners are willing to declutter this very important part of the house to get more space and go green in the meantime, installing energy-saving appliances. Under the counter refrigerators are an integral part of this surging tendency, mainly because it’s a quick and easy addition. People choose to give up their old refrigerators and install a modern low-height built-in one, to gain more counter space.
So for homeowners who are anxious to save space and prefer living in a decluttered, zen-style kitchen, these new appliances are the ideal solution, as they function just as normal refrigerators, but they are hidden inside the counter. In fact, the depth of an under counter fridge can vary, usually ranging from 25″ to 30″ but is shorter than regular appliances and can easily fit in many places.
This kind of refrigerators have been in use in Europe for many years because of the space constraints in the small apartments in the big cities like London and Paris, but it is only recently that the technology improve enough to make it an appealing solution for the rest of the world. In the end, this new trend that sweeps all across the world is all about convenience, savings and utility. Here are some of the most important benefits and disadvantages of buying an undercounter refrigerator.
Under-Counter Fridges – Pros & Cons
The benefits of these modern refrigerators are obvious. Here they are:
- A More Streamlined Look: another amazing benefit of under counter refrigerators is that they enhance the appeal of your kitchen, contributing to a more streamlined and uniform profile. Due to the fact that the refrigerator does not protrude past the counter, the kitchen will look cleaner and more streamlined.
- Stylish and Smooth: most of these modern refrigerators are made of aluminum or stainless steel, which makes them have a longer lifespan and provide the same benefits for years to come. They are specially designed to complement modern appliances, and you can choose from a wide range of colors, materials, textures and designs.
- Easier Access to Contents: finding and retrieving the right products from your under counter fridge is as easy as pie. The same rules apply to the freezer compartment. All you have to do is to extend your hand and you can easily grab everything you need. Best of all, you can retrieve foods and beverages while standing on a chair, like at a bar counter.
- Free Space: moving the fridge into a lower cabinet frees up precious kitchen space that can be converted into more counter, the usually most precious asset.
- Environmentally Friendly: most under counter fridges were manufactured after 2002, which means they are all Energy Star certified. In other words, these fridges contribute towards saving the environment and are also perfect for cutting on the power bill.
- Bonus – Better Traffic Flow: a normal refrigerator usually sticks out of a wall, making traffic more difficult in the area. Even though it is placed in the corner of the kitchen, a fridge can be an annoyance, especially if the room space is limited. On the other hand, an under counter refrigerator enhances traffic flow in the kitchen area. As a result, you can throw more parties and invite more guests without being worried of overcrowding!
However, like any other appliance available on the market, under-counter fridges have certain drawbacks.
Shorter Crispers and Deli Compartments: although access is better, drawers are slightly shorter. This can make a difference when it comes to storing longer items, such as plastic storage containers or celery.
- Smaller Freezer Compartment: another drawback of these refrigerators is that the freezer compartment, if present at all, holds less. Whether you choose a fridge where the freezer section is a top mount or a bottom drawer, expect less capacity than what is offered by a standard freezer. So if you are a frozen pizza junkie, keep in mind that you might need to keep a separate freezer.
- Inconvenient Location: this is the other side of the coin… if on one side these devices allow you to make efficient use of space, on the other side they can be challenging if you have back problems or other disabilities. Digging into the bottom level can become a big hassle.
- Can Be Expensive: it turns out that under counter refrigerators can be quite expensive, depending on their design and features. The more affordable ones retail at around $200, but prices climb up to $2,000 and more if you are looking for the very best. Usually the regular ones are simply “plug and play” (as long as the space under the counter is large enough!), while the premium built-in refrigerators might need a carpentry job if you want to make them fit and look perfectly.
If we would consider the savings in the long run thanks to increased energy efficiency and all other benefits, under counter fridges become a smart investment, so all in all, the benefits of an under counter refrigerator clearly surpass its drawbacks.
Types of Under Counter Fridges
Without Freezer: most of these appliances come without a freezer compartment, as they are designed to be the very convenient addition to an existing fully-fledged fridge.
- With Freezer: simply enough, these models do include a freezer compartment, but as stated above, the size is usually reduced. But if you don’t want to compromise, you can check out the undercounter freezers, which can be installed side by side giving you everything you need.
- With Drawers: some premium models are based on the sliding drawer concept, which can be very handy when installed in the right places.
You can also choose from a wide range of under counter freezers, including small refrigerators, beverage refrigerators, freezeless refrigerators or upright freezers. When choosing the right type of under counter refrigerator for you, it is important to keep in mind two main criteria:
- Size: you need to make sure you choose the right size. It seems obvious, but sometimes people forget… Assess the space you have under your counter and purchase a fridge that can fit in there, leaving proper space for ventilation if required by your model. In fact, cheaper models need some extra room on top as the heat is dissipated from the unit’s back, while premium models have an integrated ventilation system inbuilt.
After this consideration, if the resulting space after installation is a bit too wide or high, don’t worry as you can easily cover up the extra space with simple DIY techniques.
- Budget: when buying a new refrigerator, it is imperative to choose a model that fits in your budget. You can choose from a $200 no-frills refrigerator, or go wild and opt for some great brands like Electrolux, Danby, Frigidaire, Midea, Edge Star and Arctic Air.
The Bottom Line
In a nutshell, you should definitely buy an under counter refrigerator if you want to leverage the benefits of our modern technology, you want to save on energy bills and you want to save space. However, if you are not willing to invest the money necessary for one of these modern fridges or you have a large family and you need a regular fridge with great space, you should probably stick to the old fridge designs.