Outdoor Refrigerator Buying Guide

An outdoor refrigerator is the perfect addition to your outdoor kitchen. Whether you’re looking for a refrigerator just to keep beverages cold, or a UL rated fridge for food, it is extremely important to purchase a unit that is outdoor rated.  Outdoor fridges have to work much harder because of the fluctuations in the temperatures outside.  For this reason, they are insulated for the outdoors and need to be waterproofed so that there is no risk of electrocution.   Use this outdoor refrigerator buying guide to find a high quality outdoor refrigerator that fits your lifestyle.

Technical advice

  • Before you decide on an outdoor refrigerator, think about how it fits into your outdoor kitchen. Location matters for your outdoor refrigerator. Find a place out of direct sunlight to help your refrigerator last longer and conserve energy. If you only have a small area out of direct sun, you may want to choose a smaller refrigerator. Think about your work area and look for a convenient location within reach of your grill.

UL Ratings

  • A UL rated fridge means that it has passed safety testing and certifications to make sure the minimum standards have been met for both food and beverages.   Because the outdoor temperature constantly changes, outdoor refrigerators work harder to maintain their internal temperature.  If storing perishable items in your outdoor fridge, the UL rating is important to ensure the fridge is cool enough to safely store these items.  A UL-rated outdoor refrigerator provides the most versatile options for food and beverage storage.  The rating also ensures that the fridge is weatherproofed so that no one gets electrocuted.  
  • If you’re just wanting a small refrigerator to keep beverages cool, outdoor non-UL rated refrigerators is another option and are usually less expensive.  

Venting

  • As you shop for outdoor refrigerators, you’ll see both rear-vented and front-vented refrigerators. For an outdoor kitchen, a fridge vented in the front is sometimes the easiest option because air flow is driven through the front.  Rear-vented refrigerators need space around the top, sides, and back. As long as proper ventilation is installed, a rear venting fridge is a good option also.

Compressor size and noise level

  • Choose a refrigerator with a compressor designed to properly cool the fridge while maintaining low noise levels. Good insulation and a built-in design helps eliminate high noise levels.

Electrical compliance

  • Most homes use 110/120v electricity, but it’s a good idea to make sure your refrigerator fits with the electrical system in your home before you buy.

Choosing the right design

  • Metal vs. glass shelving
  • You’ll find plenty of outdoor refrigerators with both metal and glass shelving, but choosing one over the other is strictly a preference.  Metal shelving is a great choice for increasing airflow and improving the energy efficiency of your outdoor refrigerator because the air flows between the grates. . However, glass is a great choice for smaller items and storage, especially if you have perishable items in your refrigerator. Both metal and glass have advantages, so consider how you want to use your fridge before you buy. Sliding glass shelves and shelves specifically made for wine are other options.
  • Lighting
  • A well-lit refrigerator makes it easy to enjoy the outdoors after dark. Look for LED lights to avoid creating heat inside your refrigerator. These long-lasting, high-performance lights are the best choice for energy efficiency and long-term use.
  • Drawers
  • Drawer fridges are just another option.  They can be used the same as regular fridges. Some people like storing fresh fruits and vegetables in the drawers because of the depth and capacity of the drawers.  They  are also a great place to store quick snacks if your kids need a treat while they play outside.
  • Brands and design
  • First, decide whether you want just a refrigerator or a fridge and freezer combo. If beverage storage is important, you might want an ice-maker, too! Then, look for companies with high-quality stainless steel that has at least a 304 stainless steel rating. Most brands made in the USA provide high-quality workmanship for an appliance that lasts.  Most outdoor fridges for kitchens are 24 inches high by 34 inches tall.

Installation and maintenance

  • Maximum efficiency
  • After you buy your new outdoor refrigerator, make sure it works perfectly by keeping it fully stocked. Buy a refrigerator that perfectly fits the amount of food you’ll typically store outside to increase efficiency. A fully stocked fridge doesn’t have to cool any extra space, saving energy costs.
  • In addition, leave a 1/2″ to 1″ gap around the entire refrigerator when you install it. Even for built-in refrigerators, this space maximizes efficiency and improves air flow.
  • Maintenance
  • Clean the coils and compressor fan regularly to maintain the sleek look and maximum efficiency of your refrigerator. A fridge with clean coils won’t have to work as hard to maintain the same level of excellence.
  • Long-term non-use
  • If you know you won’t use your refrigerator for a long time, turn it off. For example, you might shut down your outdoor refrigerator during the winter or when you go on vacation. Turn the refrigerator off 24 hours before you leave. Make sure it’s dried out and leave a package of baking soda inside to absorb any odors. When you’re ready to use your fridge again, it’s ready to go!

With so many great options, it’s hard to choose an outdoor refrigerator for your lifestyle. Use this guide to choose the outdoor refrigerator that’s best for you!