Freestanding Vs. Built-In Refrigerators: What's the Difference?

by Tom Papageorge
Freestanding or Built-In

Dacor Built-In Refrigerator

Are you building or renovating a kitchen this coming year? One of the most important choices you’ll make during the process is choosing between a freestanding or a built-in refrigerator. We have plenty of options for both in our showrooms, manufactured by a variety of premium brands. Each provides some of the latest refrigeration technologies and a variety of high-end features. If you’re confused, however, about whether freestanding or built-in is best for you, we're here to make the decision easier.

Freestanding Refrigerators

Freestanding refrigerators are the most common refrigeration appliances. They tend to be less expensive than built-in models, and they are designed for easy relocation if you need to move your appliance. Freestanding refrigerators come in full-depth models that will protrude past your kitchen cabinetry, or in 24” depth models that are designed to not exceed your cabinets. One of the advantages of a freestanding refrigerator is this optional depth for homeowners who enjoy having a roomy interior in the fridge.

Freestanding models come in various widths (although the widest available is 36”) and in a variety of door style options (left hinge, right hinge or French Door, for example). This flexibility is appealing, alongside the fact that freestanding refrigerators don’t have to be professionally installed.


There are some disadvantages to freestanding refrigerators when they are compared with their built-in cousins. Although they will work beautifully for many years with the proper cleaning and maintenance, they tend to have shorter lifespans than built-in refrigerators. Some homeowners feel limited by the 36” width, and although freestanding refrigerators do come in 24” models, they won’t end up being perfectly flush with most cabinets.

Built-in Refrigerators

Built-in refrigerators are popular among homeowners who love a seamless, high-end kitchen design. Built-in fridges are generally taller than freestanding models, although they are limited to cabinet depth (24”) so they can be installed seamlessly flush with kitchen cabinetry. They come in many different sizes and can be as wide as 48”. Most built-in refrigerators have the compressors on top (as opposed to the bottom with most freestanding models).


If there are disadvantages to built-in refrigerators, it is that they do tend to cost more than freestanding fridges, and they are not easily moved. They must be professionally installed and affixed to the wall.

Which Is Right For You?

If you are focused on seamless design and a long-life appliance, and if cost is not an issue, you’ll probably want to look at a built-in refrigerator. Depending on the design choices you’ve made for the rest of your kitchen, it is likely to fit in finely. If a flush appearance isn’t as much of a priority for you and you want an appliance that has more interior depth, can be moved easily, and doesn’t have to be professionally installed, you’re more likely to be interested in a freestanding model.

We’d be happy to discuss the options with you further. Stop by one of our showrooms today so we can help you choose the right refrigerator for your kitchen!

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