Under counter fridges are also called under the counter fridge or compact fridge 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 ideal undercounter refrigerator dimension and sizes? Are all under counter fridges the same size?
No, they aren’t! Under counter fridges come in a range of sizes, but generally the nominal dimensions are given as width x depth x height (WxDxH). Traditional undercounter fridge doors open to 90 degrees and the footprint is normally around 600mm (600W) wide by 900mm deep by 700/800mm high.
Some manufacturers offer ‘double door’ models which have two sets of shelves one behind the other and, therefore, need a wider footprint to accommodate these both sides – i.e. 1250W instead of 600W. If you plan to fit an under counter freezer drawers then the usual WxDxH can be doubled since this type of accommodation 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 there are two measurements given by manufacturers – nominal and actual (also known as external dimensions). Nominal sizes have been rounded up to 1/8th inch but actual size may be a little less due to projecting handles, hinges etc.
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On this basis most models will fit under standard 700mm high kitchen cupboards but some ‘double door’ models will need 800mm high cabinets to accommodate both sets of shelves. Some units come with extrusions for cable management thus appearing deeper than their listed specification but often their overall height can still be accommodated if the kitchen cupboard depth is correct. The above video will tell you how to measure the dimension and size of an undercounter 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 capacities on most units are detailed in customers’ instructions and normally range from 32 to 65 litres for fridges and from 25 to 70 for freezers.
The actual interior dimensions usually vary in size due to adjustable parts such as shelves and baskets so you need to work out which ones fit your requirements before purchasing one – i.e. if a bin/crisper only holds 5/6 bottles then you’ll have wasted money by buying a larger 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 which are attached to the inside face of the cabinet. These don’t protrude from the outside and thus make a good choice for undercounter installations since there’s less chance that 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 looking 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 then it would probably do likewise on recessed ones too!
Before buying an under counter fridge or freezer it is important 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 certain 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. In fact some manufacturers offer rulers and measuring tape along with each appliance so that 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 undercounter fridge-freezers range from 50 litres to 134 litres and will accommodate bottles easily – see example under-counter fridge freezer specifications here.
Under counter freezers are normally 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 normally be installed in garages since they tend to get very hot there as well as being less than ideal for storing food. Freezers are more adaptable though and will cope with most locations so don’t rule them out if you’re looking for 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 really need to be placed correctly in the first instance.
However, if you do want to relocate one then it is possible to lift an undercounter 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:
1) Cut holes for shelves with a fine hacksaw blade or use screws instead;
2) Measure twice and cut once to prevent mistakes;
3) Use wire shelving to provide more storage space but drill pilot holes evenly spaced around each shelf support bar before fixing;
4) Fit plastic stops (rubber suction cups that are sold as drawer/cupboard door stoppers) to the top of each shelf in order to prevent them from sliding out;
5) 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;
6) Cover up any screw holes or scratches with matching paint and varnish afterwards (optional). You may also like: Kitchen Design Ideas for Compact Kitchens.