Under-counter fridges are called under-the-counter or compact fridges as they take up very little room in your kitchen cabinets. They can easily fit underneath a kitchen cabinet and be ideal for small kitchens.
So, what should be the perfect under-counter refrigerator dimensions and sizes? Are all under-counter fridges the same size?
No, they aren’t! Under counter fridges come in various sizes, but generally, the nominal dimensions are width x depth x height (WxDxH). Traditional under-counter fridge doors open to 90 degrees; the footprint is usually around 600mm (600W) wide by 900mm deep by 700/800mm high.
Some manufacturers offer ‘double door’ models with two shelves, one behind the other, and, therefore, need a broader footprint to accommodate these sides – i.e., 1250W instead of 600W. If you plan to fit under counter freezer drawers, then the usual WxDxH can be doubled since this accommodation type takes up twice the space under the counter.
The Undercounter Refrigerator Dimension and Depth
Another important measurement is the depth of the cabinet so that you can work out if the fridge or freezer will fit under your kitchen cabinets. Note that manufacturers give nominal and actual measurements (also known as external dimensions). Nominal sizes have been rounded up to 1/8th inch, but the actual size may be slightly smaller due to projecting handles, hinges, etc.
Video Credit: ao.com
Most models will fit under standard 700mm high kitchen cupboards, but some ‘double door’ models will need 800mm tall cabinets to accommodate both sets of shelves. In addition, some units come with extrusions for cable management, thus appearing deeper than their listed specification. However, their overall height can often be accommodated if the correct kitchen cupboard depth. The above video will tell you how to measure the dimension and size of an under-counter refrigerator.
Total Volume is the Net Capacity
The net capacity of an under-counter fridge or freezer is the total volume. This will be less than the stated gross capacity since some of this space will be taken up by elements such as bins, crispers, doors, shelves, etc. The net abilities on most units are detailed in customers’ instructions and typically range from 32 to 65 liters for fridges and from 25 to 70 for freezers.
The interior dimensions usually vary due to adjustable parts such as shelves and baskets. Hence, you need to work out which ones fit your requirements before purchasing one – i.e., if a bin/crisper only holds 5/6 bottles, you’ll have wasted money by buying a more extensive model just because it has more storage space.
The type of door hinges
The type of door hinges is also worth considering. Some manufacturers have chosen to use recessed, concealed hinges attached to the inside face of the cabinet. These don’t protrude from the outside and thus make a good choice for under-counter installations since there’s less chance they will snag items in dishwashers etc.
The alternative design, external hinges, protrude from the outside, but most people find them easier to operate and cleaner than recessed ones. Both types are equally secure, though, so it’s just a matter of personal preference as to what you select – i.e., if anything would get snagged on external hinges, it would probably do likewise on recessed ones too!
Before buying an under-counter fridge or freezer, it is essential to ensure that the door seals will fit inside the required dimensions of the space available. Some models are slightly narrower than others, so if you have a specific width, then be careful to choose one with a compatible width, not more or less, since it may be impossible to install in your kitchen. Some manufacturers offer rulers and measuring tape along with each appliance so shoppers can check this out before making a purchase. In addition, also make sure there’s sufficient depth – i.e., 600mm for standard models (600W) – and height – i.e., 700/800 mm for most units but 1200mm for double door ones (1200W).
Larger under-counter fridge-freezers range from 50 to 134 liters and will easily accommodate bottles – see example under-counter fridge freezer specifications here.
Under-counter freezers usually are designed to be installed in the kitchen, dining room, or utility room but can also be fitted in a garage, hallway, or other utility. However, refrigerators would not typically be installed in garages since they tend to get very hot there and are less than ideal for storing food. On the other hand, freezers are more adaptable and will cope with most locations, so don’t rule them out if you’re looking for a space solution rather than an expensive built-in one. One drawback of under-counter units is that they cannot usually be moved around easily due to their weight (typically 35 kgs), so they must be placed correctly in the first instance.
However, if you want to relocate one, it is possible to lift an under-counter fridge or freezer by using two sturdy appliance movers. A set of two usually costs less than £20 and will enable you to shift your kitchen unit without a problem – see illustration below-
Some tips for DIY under-counter fridges:
- Cut holes for shelves with a fine hacksaw blade or use screws instead;
- Measure twice and cut once to prevent mistakes;
- Use wire shelving to provide more storage space but drill pilot holes evenly spaced around each shelf support bar before fixing;
- Fit plastic stops (rubber suction cups that are sold as drawer/cupboard door stoppers) to the top of each shelf to prevent them from sliding out;
- Make sure that shelves are level so fridge/freezer doors can be closed easily – i.e., adjust until they are straight before fixing permanently since once attached, you cannot make any subsequent adjustments;
- Cover any screw holes or scratches with matching paint and varnish afterward (optional). You may also like Kitchen Design Ideas for Compact Kitchens.