So, you decided you want an under-the-counter fridge. Which model should you choose? Keep in mind, there are two types: freestanding or built-in refrigerators. Instead of buying the first unit that appeals to you, you must carefully assess what features you want in this appliance.

When shopping for one, consider these factors:

  • How do you plan to use this appliance (for example: to store frozen goods or beverages only)?
  • Do you need an ice-maker?
  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • Would you like to move it around or keep it in one place?

If you have a small home and space for appliances is very limited, buying a compact fridge may be your only choice. These units come in many shapes and sizes as well as appearances. You may want to choose one that compliments the décor of your kitchen. Stainless steel units are nice as they’re easier to keep clean.

Freestanding Versus Built-In

Each type has its own pros and cons, so you must be familiar with them before choosing one over the other.

Freestanding fridge:

The advantages of freestanding refrigerator are:

  • Total portability – you can easily move it to other rooms as needed or even take it with you if you decide to move out.
  • It is more affordable than a built-in fridge. Many freestanding models are priced under $300, but if you want a real nice one, you must be willing to spend more.

Its disadvantages are:

  • It takes up more space than a built-in one and may require more a few inches of space on all sides for optimal ventilation.
  • It must be pulled out occasionally to clean around or under it. Hence, internal storage room and dimensions of the unit may have to be limited when inserting it under a kitchen counter.
  • It lacks the ice-maker feature.

Built-in Refrigerator:

Its better features are:

  • It requires slightly less space than a freestanding fridge.
  • Some units have ice-makers.
  • No surrounding space is needed as it ventilates out the front bottom.

Its drawbacks are:

  • Because it requires a special type of compressor, units typically sell for $800 or more.
  • It is not portable. It must be installed by a professional in a permanent location. If you decide to take the unit with you if you move out, it must be uninstalled and reinstalled in the new dwelling. Thus, careful planning is required to ensure it will fit in its new location.

Other Tips

  • Before buying a specific model, read reviews on it. One great site to find them is on Amazon, but you may find them elsewhere. If that particular   model lacks reviews, find similar ones that others have commented on.
  • Look for units with thermoelectic cooling instead of a compressor. This feature is offered in both the freestanding and built-in refrigerators. Because there are no moving parts they have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance than a compressor based unit. Small fans are placed in the interior of the fridge for even, consistent cooling.
  • Avoid buying a discontinued or one with limited availability as service may be harder to obtain.
  • Visit the manufacturer’s site on each model. Here, you can find additional details.
  • Consider buying an extended warranty if there is one, especially if the fridge has a compressor. Typically, when a refrigerator stops working, it’s because its compressor has died.


The pros and cons of one type over another are very much apparent. Which type you choose depends on what you plan to store in the refrigerator and how much you are willing to spend on a new unit. Finally, you must consider the total amount of space you have for this appliance and if a portable unit is more suitable than a stationary one.