What is the Difference Between a Freestanding and a Built-in Fridge?

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Let’s assume that you are trying to remodel your kitchen. The first thing that you will be looking for is a style or design that is beautiful, convenient, and works. Some kitchens were specifically meant to highlight the kitchen appliances. Others, on the other hand, have a design that integrates appliances in the kitchen layout.

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Now, let’s talk about the refrigerator. There are two different fridge styles you can choose from. There are built-in and freestanding refrigerators. Do you know the built-in vs. freestanding fridge difference?

In this post, we will tell you all about these two styles, highlight their differences, then include the advantages and disadvantages associated with each. Read on for more!

Freestanding Refrigerators Overview

Galanz GLR46TRDER Mini Fridge with Dual Door
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What is a freestanding refrigerator? The freestanding, also known as the stand-alone refrigerator, is the more popular of the two types. Many brands produce this type of refrigerator in different styles. When you compare the built-in vs. freestanding refrigerators, you will find that this works better for people who prefer flexibility.

These refrigerators can be moved around the kitchen with ease. They are also more affordable and easy to install.

Also, read: Freestanding Refrigerator Brands to Avoid

Built-in Refrigerators Overview

Monogram - 20.2 Cu. Ft. Side-by-Side Built-In Refrigerator with Dispenser - Custom Panel Ready
View on Bestbuy >>>

What is a built-in refrigerator? If you go to the high-end and luxurious kitchens, you will find some built-in refrigerators. These are refrigerators that are specifically meant to take your entire kitchen to a different level of beauty and convenience. The problem with built-in kitchens is that they will need professional installation and will take up more money.

Many brands have quality, beautiful, and convenient built-in appliances such as Café, Kitchenaid, Viking, Dacor, and Samsung.

The Main Differences Between A Freestanding And A Built-in Fridge:

Now that we know a bit about refrigerators, let’s take a deeper look at the built-in vs. freestanding fridge differences.

Features and Configurations

Built-in fridges, most of them at least, have limited space. For that reason, they will not have adequate space to fit more features and frills as the freestanding refrigerators. You will also realize that the space inside the built-in refrigerator might not be enough for the storage of all your food. It is possible to find yourself in need of another refrigerator.


When you compare built-in vs. freestanding refrigerators, you will realize that they have different styles. Freestanding refrigerators normally feature a wider variety of styles and designs. As for the built-in refrigerators, they are designed to go with the rest of the kitchen. Because they will be flush with your cabinets, there are limitations when it comes to the colors the fridge can have.

It is possible to get a custom-made built-in refrigerator, meant to match the rest of your kitchen.


Most of the built-in fridges are designed so that they match different built-in appliances such as dishwashers and ovens. You will, therefore, feel the need to purchase all of the appliances from a single brand. You might have extra customization expenses too. That means that they will be more expensive.

Free-standing refrigerators are simple and will have few parts. For that reason, they are cheaper.

Repair and Maintenance

These appliances, just like the other appliances on the market, can fail at any moment for different reasons. A free-standing refrigerator will not pose much of a challenge when it comes to repair and maintenance. They are easier to move and that makes it easier to repair them.

For the built-in refrigerators, repairs will be much harder to do. If you decide to make a replacement, it can be a challenge. It is ‘built in the wall’ and getting to the parts that need repair can be a challenge.

Freestanding Refrigerators


  • + Installation is a breeze
  • + You can move them around with ease
  • + Can stand anywhere in the kitchen
  • + Wide variety of sizes and shapes from mini to medium and large.
  • + You can expose the finished sides
  • + Might have water or ice dispensers at the front
  • + If you move, you can move with it.


  • It is always noticeable in the kitchen
  • The front sticks past the cabinets
  • Cabinet doors cannot be added for a blend-in style
  • It makes more noise.

Built-in Refrigerators


  • + Features a seamless and hidden design
  • + It will fit flush with the kitchen cabinets
  • + Installed permanently in cabinetry
  • + You can customize it.


  • More expensive compared to freestanding models
  • Requires cabinet housing, which costs more
  • Removing it for maintenance is hard
  • Need professional installation skills
  • Provides less capacity.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can all refrigerators be built-in?

Answer: No. Freestanding refrigerators cannot fit well inside the housing cabinets. Additionally, cabinet doors cannot be attached to them because it is not designed in that manner.

Regardless, you can use kitchen cabinets to surround the freestanding fridges. That way, it will look more built-in and more integrated into the kitchen. Adding cabinets around a freestanding fridge is a great idea but it will cost you more money and kitchen space.

  1. How long do built-in refrigerators last?

Answer: These refrigerators are meant to serve you for a long time. Unfortunately, they might be made with a material that does not last as long. It is important to notice that the product you purchased and the problems that it has will determine how costly the repair will be.

Regardless, even if these appliances are not necessarily meant to last forever, they will serve you for a long time and they will have great warranties added to them for assurance.

  1. Do built-in fridges need ventilation?

Answer: For proper operation, refrigerators need ventilation. It is an important thing for built-in refrigerators. For this purpose, they will need vents. They should be provided with around 200 cm2 for the top and bottom for proper airflow.


That is it for the built-in vs. freestanding fridge comparison. The truth is, no fridge will not serve you well. The only thing that you will need to consider is what you prefer. You can go for something hidden, sleek, and modern, which is the built-in refrigerator.

You can also choose to get a freestanding model for more storage, or for more features that you would prefer. So, which one will it be?

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Feel free to share your observations with me in the comments section!

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