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Choosing a Built-In Refrigerator

Choosing a built-in refrigerator can be a daunting task. Not only is it a major investment, but there are many considerations and options. Simply categorizing and listing the choices may be of some help so let's break it down.

First, what is a built-in refrigerator? It's a category of refrigerator designed to fit in an enclosure as a permanent part of the kitchen flush or nearly flush with surrounding kitchen cabinetry. We should distinguish between built-in refrigerators and counter-depth refrigerators. Built-in refrigerators are designed to be…well…built-in and attached to adjacent cabinets. Counter-depth refrigerators are versions of free-standing refrigerators, but with shallow depths. Their shallow depths allow them to roll in to a standard refrigerator cut out and fit nicely, only sticking out a few inches from a standard 24″ depth cabinet, but of course, they are not built-ins.

In the past, built-in units have typically been 84″ tall with compressors mounted on the top. Some European brands of built-ins now have compressors in the bottom, but are still taller than free-standing or counter depth refrigerators and are fully-flush with surrounding cabinets.

Built-in refrigerators are available in widths ranging from 27″ wide to 48″ wide. Many built-ins have depths that are 24 – 25″ so that they can be installed to fit flush with surrounding cabinetry.

Built-in refrigerators are available in side-by-side, bottom-freezer, french door, all refrigerator, and all freezer configurations.

Side-by-side built-in refrigerators are the most common configuration of built-in refrigerators. With a 48″ wide side-by-side, the combined refrigerator/freezer capacity is nearly 30 cu.ft. Choices include custom panels or stainless steel, and non-dispenser or dispenser models.

Bottom-freezer models up to 36″ wide have glide-out freeezer bins on the bottom and refrigerators on the top. They are purchased with either right hand or left hand door openings.

French-door refrigerators have become a very popular choice in free-standing refrigerators, so built-in refrigerators are now becoming availalbe in a variety of sizes and brands. KitchenAid and Jenn-Air have the largest, 42″ versions of French Door models.

All refrigerator and all freezer models can be purchased in the top compressor variety, or in the new “columns” available from some European manufacturers. They are often bought in pairs with one having a left door swing and the other a right door swing. Placed next to each other, customers can have as much as a 72″ wide refrigerator-freezer combination.

Some built-in refrigerators are available with external ice and water dispensers. Sub-Zero has recently introduced a model with an internal ice and water dispenser. Since built-in refrigerators are built to fit with surrounding cabinetry many models are built to accept cabinet panels. With a fully flush, fully integrated installation these units become indistinguishable from the surrounding cabinetry and sometimes not even identifiable as refrigerators.

Here are the major brand names available in built-in refrigerators:

  • Sub-Zero
  • Monogram
  • Viking
  • KitchenAid
  • Jenn-Air
  • Electrolux
  • Icon
  • Dacor
  • Bosch
  • Thermador
  • Gaggenau
  • Miele
  • Liebherr

Sub-Zero is a pioneer in built-in refrigerators. They're famous for their two compressor system. The Pro 48 below is one of the most distinctive built-in refrigerators on the market.

Jenn-Air's non-dispenser models accept custom door panels that can be attached to provide a fully-flush, fully integrated installation. A Jenn-Air built-in refrigerator has been rated #1 in the leading consumer reporting magazine for three years in a row.

Call or visit the experts at Universal Appliance and Kitchen Center today for the best selection and lowest prices on built-in refrigerators:

Universal Appliance and Kitchen Center
12025 Ventura Blvd. Ste B-105
Studio City, CA 91604
PH 877 696-2987
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July 22, 2012
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