Having an outdoor refrigerator is a must in the heat of summer. There’s nothing worse than going for a refreshing sip of your favorite beverage and ending up with a lukewarm swig. Now you have to trek through the house for a fresh one? Ugh. If you’re enjoying the pool or your backyard patio, making back and forth trips inside or lugging a cooler is inconvenient.
An outdoor refrigerator reduces trips to and from the kitchen and keeps ice-cold beverages at your fingertips all season long. However, not all outdoor refrigerators are built equally and using a fridge designed for inside doesn’t have the necessary power and is unsafe to be left in the elements, especially in the harsh Texas climate.
Consider these 3 points before buying an outdoor refrigerator:
Built to Withstand the Outdoor Climates:
Your new refrigerator’s exterior, components and electrical need to be able to hold up in the hottest of weather and be safe to run in wet conditions. Look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal of approval. UL is an accredited standards developer in the US and Canada that addresses both the safety and sustainability of a product. All outdoor refrigerators must pass a series of tests to ensure they work safely in wet environments.
Most outdoor refrigerators will be made of stainless steel because of their weather-proof material. However, some low-end models use a low quality stainless steel that can rust when kept outside. Choose a stainless grade in the 300’s (e.g. 303 or 304) for a long-lasting solution.
Freestanding vs. Built-In
The main difference is how the refrigerator is ventilated. Built-In units are front ventilated refrigerators that can be “built-in” to your outdoor cabinets without any spacing requirements. If you have an outdoor kitchen, and want a seamless look to the area, you’ll most likely want a built-in refrigerator that can be placed under your counter.
Freestanding outdoor refrigerators have ventilation in the top, back and sides and need space around them to work properly. Freestanding refrigerators provide a level of flexibility because they can be placed nearly anywhere and don’t need to be professionally installed. If installed in a cabinet, you should allow at least an inch of space for ventilation. Choose the option that works best for your space!
How big or small your outdoor refrigerator is will depend on your preference and what you’re storing. Consider if you’re just storing drinks poolside or if you use your backyard for
entertaining and need space to fit many drinks, snacks or small kegs.
Most outdoor units come in 18” or 24” width and have many different shelving options to fit the type of storage you might need. For specialty units look for wine coolers, beverage centers or beer dispensers which are different names for outdoor refrigerators. Beverage Centers come in a variety of models and can hold food, wine, regular cans and bottles. Wine coolers differ from beverage centers because they hold only wine and are designed to provide the optimal environment for your wine. Beer dispensers or kegerators keep your beer chilled and ready to drink. As long as they meet the UL standards they can be put outside.
TIP: Look for a lockable outdoor refrigerator if you store alcohol and have small children around.