Built-In vs. Freestanding Refrigerators: How Do They Differ?

The kitchen is a huge part of all homes and one of the most used rooms in the house. People are cooking, getting drinks, grabbing snacks, and in and out of the fridge all day.

When trying to decide between a freestanding fridge and a built-in fridge there are so many things to decide, and so many things to compare between the two. Built-ins are attached to the wall behind it, while freestanding is not, meaning that it can be moved around.

But what are the other differences between these two common types of refrigerators?

Freestanding Refrigerators

freestanding refrigerator
A freestanding refrigerator is not attached to the wall.

A freestanding fridge is what it sounds like, a fridge that stands by itself. It isn’t attached to the wall or cabinets. Most standard cabinets are 24-inches deep. Most freestanding fridges will jut out past your cabinets because they exceed this depth, but the amount varies between brands and models. There are are freestanding fridges made to only be 24-inches deep so they do not jut out from the standard counters and cabinets as well. They will have less room than those that jut out, but the options are nice to have.

One nice thing about the freestanding fridges is that they are easily movable. This is nice for those that rent or move around a lot because you can take the fridge with you instead of having to buy a new one. Built-in fridges can’t be moved, which is why the fact that freestanding ones can be moved draws people to them.

Another reason people are drawn towards freestanding fridges is because of the price. They are much less expensive than built-ins because they don’t take as much work to install. You put it into position, plug it in, and you’re done. You also have to wait for it to get cool inside before putting much in it. But since the installation is so much quicker and easier, the overall price of freestanding fridges is much less than built-ins.

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One reason people aren’t always a fan of freestanding fridges is that they don’t always match the cabinets in the home. But this article shows that freestanding fridges can still look nice in your home. They can stand out because they don’t match the cabinets, but they can still look nice with the style of your kitchen.

Another thing people don’t like about freestanding fridges is their short lifespan. They will last for a few years, let you move them around, bang them up a bit, but they just don’t hold up the same way as built-in fridges do. Even the most high-end freestanding fridge probably won’t last as long as a built-in fridge.

Built In Refrigerators

built-in refrigerator
A built-in refrigerator attaches to the wall behind it.

A built-in fridge is also what it sounds like. They have to be installed and are attached to the wall behind them. They lay flush with the cabinets, meaning that they won’t stick out. Because of this, they are only 24 inches deep, the depth of most cabinets. Built-in fridges are taller and wider than freestanding ones. This is supposed to make up for the lack of depth by giving you more room in the fridge.

Since built-in fridges are attached to the wall, they can not be moved. This means that if you move from the house, it can not come with you. This isn’t a problem if you are in your forever home, but for those that move around it might be. They are also much more expensive than freestanding fridges because they have to be installed and attached to the wall. However, they are also often made to match the cabinetry of your home. This is one reason why people are drawn to them because they match the rest of the room perfectly.

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Another reason why people are drawn to built-in fridges is because of their lifespan. They are of higher quality than freestanding fridges, partly because they are more expensive, but also because they are attached to your wall. They are difficult to install and difficult to uninstall. That’s why they are made to last longer.

Main Differences Between Freestanding and Built-In Refrigerators

Now that we’ve seen them apart, lets compare them more closely. A big difference between freestanding and built-in fridges is the depth. Freestanding often sticks out from the counters, though some models are made to lay flush with the counters and cabinets. Built-ins are made to perfectly match your counters, so the only option is the same 24-inch depth that is standard for most cabinets. But they are often wider which helps them get back more space.

Another big difference between them is the moveabilty. Built-in fridges are literally built into the house, they are attached to the wall and cabinets. They can’t be moved. Freestanding fridges can be moved since they aren’t attached to the wall. That way you can take them with you if you move instead of having to buy another like you would if it was a built-in fridge.

The overall aesthetic of them is another difference between the two types of fridges. Built-ins are made to match your cabinets, making it look clean and blend in with the rest of the room. Freestanding often don’t match the room, even if they are the same color as the cabinets. They will stand out. But they don’t have to be an eye sore if the right one is picked. Going hand in hand with this is the price of them, yet another huge difference between them. Since buil-ins match the cabinets, they are very expensive, much more expensive than freestanding once. The installation is also another major reason for the big price difference because built-in fridges have to be completely installed by hand while freestanding fridges have a much faster process.

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The last big difference between the two styles of fridges is the lifespan. This is also another reason why the prices of built-ins are that much higher, they have a longer lifespan than freestanding. Freestanding fridges last for right around 8 years, more if you’re lucky. Built-ins can last for much longer than that, which is a good thing considering the price and how difficult they are to install.