Comparing Freestanding vs Integrated Fridges
When it comes to buying a new fridge, there may be more to choose from than you first imagined. Fridges now come with added features you will love and in many different styles. They also come in a range of sizes to fit generous spaces or even the tiniest kitchens. So, whether you're looking for a statement fridge, a standard fridge, freestanding or integrated, we have the fridge you need.
One of the biggest differences that modern fridges and fridge freezers have is the option of an integrated or freestanding fridge. Below, we look at the differences and benefits of both. Plus some tips on what to consider before buying a new fridge.
What Is The Difference Between A Freestanding Fridge And An Integrated Fridge?
A freestanding fridge could be described as the classic design. These are the fridges that slide easily beneath kitchen countertops or stand tall at the edge of the kitchen space. The taller of the two is most often referred to as a freestanding fridge - the smaller as an ‘undercounter’. Technically, they are both freestanding fridges.
Unlike freestanding fridges, you won’t see an Integrated fridge in a kitchen unless the fridge is opened. Integrated fridges are designed to be housed within a specially designed housing cabinet and to have cabinet doors directly attached. The cabinet door then becomes the fridge door, keeping the style of the kitchen sleek and uniform. Kitchens with integrated fridges generally have all large kitchen appliances hidden (integrated) similarly.
Buying a Freestanding Fridge
Freestanding fridges, tall and small, are the standard fridge type that every home had before integrated kitchens became popular. Freestanding refers to the fact that these fridges don’t require any special casing or fitting. When you buy a new freestanding fridge all you need to do is plug it in.
Modern freestanding fridge designs come in a range of styles and sizes, with heights between 84cm to 130cm and up. The smaller freestanding fridges (84cm) are designed to slot beneath a kitchen countertop. Taller versions often have a reasonably sized freezer with two shelves, whereas smaller ones often have only an ice box.
There are also American Style Fridge Freezers, a firm favourite with Irish homeowners looking for stylish food storage. American Style Fridge Freezers are double the width of a standard fridge and have at least two doors. Most often they come with built-in accessories such as water filters and ice makers. These are the type of kitchen appliances that double as a statement piece for your home. Not only are they practical but they are designed to wow.
The storage capacity of freestanding fridges varies, depending on size. American Style Fridge Freezers have the largest capacity - around 400 litres, enough for more than 20 bags of fresh produce. Small freestanding fridges have a capacity of around 60 litres and taller ones have around 98 - 180 litres of space. Storage in a freestanding fridge is a combination of glass shelves, vegetable drawers and bottle balconies.
One of the benefits of a freestanding fridge is that it is easily moved and removed. So, if you need to clean behind it, move it to a new house or replace it, you can do it easily. With an integrated fridge, you would need to have a kitchen expert remove the fridge on your behalf.
The price range for freestanding fridges is between €300 and €1600. The upper end of the scale tends to be for the double-size American Style Fridge Freezers.
Buying a Integrated Fridge
Integrated fridges are preferred by homeowners looking for a seamless kitchen style. Whatever the style of your kitchen, an integrated fridge will fit in flawlessly with your existing integrated cabinets. If you don’t already have an integrated-style kitchen, it is possible to buy a standalone fridge housing cabinet. However, options are limited so you might not find one to match your other cabinets.
With integrated fridge models, you can choose between just having a fridge or going for a fridge-freezer option. The fridge-only options are sometimes referred to as ‘integrated tall larder fridges’. They offer considerable storage space for fresh produce with a capacity of 300 litres or more. That’s roughly the equivalent of 10 to 15 bags of groceries.
As integrated fridges need to fit into, sometimes preexisting, cabinets, it stands to reason that they are a standard size. The vast majority of integrated fridges and fridge freezers stand 177 cm tall and 54cm wide. There is a very small handful of larger sizes, so double check when buying. You will also find that integrated fridges are all white as they are hidden so don’t need to match any kitchen colours.
If you prefer a mix of fresh and frozen food storage options fear not as there are also integrated fridge freezers. With an integrated fridge freezer, you can expect between 80-100 litres of freezer space and 150-190 litres of fridge space. This is a standard fridge freezer size with the benefit of being able to fit within integrated cabinets.
For the best of both worlds (and extra freezer space) you might instead prefer to consider a separate integrated freezer. Integrated freezers are upright freezers of a similar height to the integrated fridge models (177 cm). Generally frost-free, an upright freezer in an integrated kitchen can have a capacity of 200 litres or more. Ideal for bigger households and bulk-buying frozen foods or even batch-cooking meals to freeze.
Many tall integrated fridges come with added features such as built-in wine racks and salad bins. There is an average of five glass shelves and also four fitted on the inside of the door. Added features in integrated fridges include antibacterial filters which help prevent bacteria and smell.
It is also possible to buy integrated undercounter fridges. As standard, these smaller integrated options stand 81/82 cm tall and 59.5 cm wide. One or two integrated fridges come in taller (122 cm) and slimmer (54cm) versions. Smaller integrated fridges are ideal for compact kitchens that are small in size but still want to look chic.
The price range for integrated fridges is between €400 for undercounter sizes and €800.
Is An Integrated Fridge The Same As A Built-In Fridge?
Often confused as the same thing, integrated and built-in fridges are actually two different things. Where an integrated fridge is camouflaged within your kitchen cabinets, as we covered above, built-in fridges are somewhat visible. Unlike integrated fridges, the doors and handles of built-in fridges are clearly visible in the kitchen.
The confusion happens because freestanding fridges are sometimes built-in with cabinets above and around them. This is a popular kitchen style for American Style Fridge Freezers for example, as it creates an eye-catching display.
What To Consider When Buying A Freestanding or Integrated Fridge
Size vs space
Before you commit to buying an integrated or freestanding fridge, measure the space you have available.
What storage capacity do you need?
Every home and household is different. Think about how you shop for groceries and how you cook for an idea of the capacity you need. Also, ask yourself what you liked about your old fridge for an idea of what you want to look for.
Do you need a separate freezer?
Some people like to stock up on frozen produce and need big freezer spaces. If you need a big fridge too, you might think about a separate freezer for optimal storage.
Your kitchen style
Freestanding fridges come in a few different colours. Mainly white, black, silver and Inox. There might be a colour that compliments your cabinets, tiling and decor better than others
If you’re looking at integrated fridges then does your kitchen already have a fridge housing cabinet? If not, you will need to have one fitted or even redo the whole kitchen for a fully integrated experience.
Your other appliances
If you are going for a freestanding fridge, consider what colour your other kitchen appliances are. Most people like to keep the same appliance colour throughout the kitchen. For integrated fridges, this isn’t an issue but maybe there is an appliance brand you prefer.
Do you need reversible doors?
It’s the little things in life that make a difference. Like having a fridge door that opens the right way for your needs and available kitchen space. This is where reversible fridge doors come in. These doors can be switched to open from either side. So, for example, if you have a kitchen island that prevents the door from opening fully, you can switch sides.
Shop Freestanding and Integrated Fridges At Irwins Megastore
Our experienced home appliance experts are on hand to help you choose the best fridge for your kitchen. With our generous range of integrated, freestanding and built-in fridges, you will find your perfect fridge at Irwins Megastore. You will only find the fridge brands you can trust online at irwinsmegastore.ie and instore at our Cork and Waterford branches. Right now, our fridge range includes Powerpoint, Nordmende, Samsung, Whirlpool and more. When it comes to fresh food storage, Irwins has everything you need.