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How to Choose the Right Counter-Depth Refrigerator

I have been researching and writing about consumer electronics for over 13 years.

The Clean Look of Counter-Depth Refrigerators

The Clean Look of Counter-Depth Refrigerators

A counter-depth refrigerator is merely one that will sit at the same depth as your cabinets and counter, meaning that it won't stick out beyond them. This improves the look of your kitchen and assures the appliance intrudes on your work space less. Refrigerators can be as deep as 36", but a counter-depth model won't exceed 30".

All major manufacturers offer counter-depth refrigerators, and they come in a wide variety of finishes. Some, in fact, require custom panels, which allow you to match your refrigerator to your cabinetry. On this page, you will find tips for choosing a refrigerator.

Buying Tips

Choosing a counter-depth refrigerator involves considering the same things as when buying any other refrigerator.

1. Size

Measure the dimensions (height, width, and depth) of the space you have to place the refrigerator. Subtract 1" from the top and sides to allow for clearance. This will tell you the largest dimensions you can consider for your new appliance. Don't forget to leave enough space for doors to open without hitting a nearby cabinet, wall, or appliance. Split doors such as on side-by-side models tend to require less space.

Consider how much space you will need to store your food. For households with up to 3 people, a refrigerator offering an 18–22 cubic ft. capacity is generally enough. For larger households, a capacity of 22 cubic ft to 26 cubic ft is more typical. Refrigerators should remain 2/3 full at all times to operate efficiently, having a refrigerator that is too large isn't ideal for this reason.

If you do a lot of freezing or consume a lot of frozen foods or ice, then don't forget to consider the capacity of the freezer as well.

2. Storage

As you are considering how much capacity you need, you will also need to think about your storage needs as far as what items will need to fit. For instance:

  • If you drink a lot of canned beverages you may want a special rack, tilt-out bin, or dispenser for these beverages. In addition, if you will have jars, cans, or bottles with liquids, spill-proof shelves can help contain spills.
  • If you want more surface area or want to be able to see through shelves, tempered glass shelves are a better option than coated wire shelves.
  • If you have many different sizes of items or occasionally need to fit in something extra large, adjustable shelves help assure that you can maximize space and fit in taller items. Half shelves can also help in getting just the right configuration.
  • If you want quicker and easier access, pull-out or slide-out shelves can provide this.
  • To better preserve produce or meats, separate bins for them can help control humidity and prevent premature spoilage. You can even find refrigerators that will offer separate temperature controls for these areas.
  • Door bins are important to consider as well. Some offer see-through bins. Some have can dispensers. If you want to be able to put 2-liter bottles in the door or a gallon of milk in the door, you will need to have bins large enough to accommodate them.
  • Consider storage configuration in the freezer as well. Some people prefer slide-out bins or tilt-out bins for easier access. If you use a lot of ice, be sure the ice maker can handle the volume you need.

3. Style

Some counter-depth refrigerators are top-mount models with the freezer on top, others are bottom-mount, and some are side-by-side. Side-by-side models offer doors that don't require as much clearance and are a bit lighter weight. Freezers on top put the freezer at eye level and the refrigerated items lower, while bottom-mounted freezers reverse this, putting refrigerated items at eye level.

There are also a variety of finishes offered which can complement the other appliances and overall decor of your kitchen. For the most flexibility, a counter-depth refrigerator that accepts custom panels is ideal. These allow you to use panels and handles that match your cabinetry.

4. Other Features

One of the most popular features is having ice and water access in the door so that you can get ice or water without having to open the refrigerator door. For the best tasting water, a model that includes a filter for this water dispenser is ideal.

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Of course, there are other features to consider, from easy access doors that allow you to retrieve frequently used items without opening the refrigerator, to televisions built into the door.

5. Cost and Warranty

Certainly, you will need to price shop based on your budget. However, it's important to consider operating costs as well. One way of looking at this is to consider the energy efficiency. Certainly, a counter-depth refrigerator that is Energy Star Qualified is a great indicator of an energy-efficient unit.

However, all appliances should have an energy efficiency label that can allow you to compare the annual energy usage/annual cost easily. For assistance in reading these labels, you can check out the Federal Trade Commission guide for reading the EnergyGuide label.

You may also want to compare the warranty that the manufacturer offers to ensure coverage if anything happens to go wrong.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Christine Mulberry


blog on September 13, 2013:

you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

And Drewson from United States on March 24, 2011:

Very nicely designed Hub! :D

Laura Arne from Minnetonka, MN on March 24, 2011:

This is a great hub. I just got a new fridge and it is flush with my other things in kitchen.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on March 02, 2011:

This is great information. I didn't know they made counter depth refrigerators. I am planning to upgrade soon and always disliked how it stuck out. So now I know what to look for. Thanks. Voted up.

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