All beverage fridges aren’t created equal. But you can place them in two different categories: indoor or outdoor. These fridge categories aren’t interchangeable. Yet, stories of people using their beverage fridge in both indoor and outdoor spaces aren’t unheard of. It’s a common misconception that beverage fridges are built to live anywhere—under the kitchen cabinet, on the back patio, or next to the grilling station. But this isn’t the case. If a beverage cooler isn’t installed in the right place, then homeowners risk damaging the longevity and functionality of their appliance.
The first thing to consider, then, is whether you need an indoor or outdoor beverage fridge. Will it be a permanent fixture in your home bar? Or, will it round out the features of your outdoor kitchen? This post will highlight the differences between and indoor and outdoor beverage fridge. It will also tell you how to get the most out of your beverage cooler and help you pick the correct model for your needs.
Indoor fridges are built to live in a consistent temperature zone (US households generally stay between 60-80F). This means they cannot handle, and aren’t built for, the fluctuating temperatures that occur between seasons and between day and night.
To avoid burning out the compressor system in your indoor fridge, make sure it is always kept inside. It won’t have to work overtime to regulate the internal temperature when external weather conditions change drastically.
Unlike an indoor fridge, outdoor fridges can maintain a consistent internal temperature in highly unstable environments. Ask the following questions when shopping for an outdoor model to make sure your cooler is up for the task.
Is it outdoor rated?
The most important factor you should look for when purchasing a fridge for your outdoor kitchen or entertaining space is its ETL, UL or CSA certification. These certifications are only given to products that pass a series of outdoor tests, like outdoor performance, leak testing, or safety trials. Check the product description or packaging of an outdoor fridge. Both should include either a verbal mention or the certification approval stamp to indicate that the fridge is safe to use outside.
What material is it made from?
Almost all fridges—indoor and outdoor—are made from stainless steel. But the food grade of stainless-steel differs between the two categories. The higher the grade, the higher the resistance against rust and corrosion. An outdoor fridge needs to be 304 food grade stainless-steel or higher in order to resist rust in wet weather conditions or environments. Anything below a 304-food grade will be more susceptible to rain, snow, heat, or debris.
Outdoor fridges tend to come with other weatherproofing features that indoor fridges don’t have. If a fridge comes with door and bearing seals, then you can guarantee it is more durable than others and able to withstand tougher conditions. Combine these weatherproofing features with the proper high-grade material and you have a reliable outdoor fridge.
Indoor and outdoor fridges come with a myriad of additional features to consider. Not all are necessities, but they are worth keeping in mind if you want more beverage fridge benefits. Look out for the following features while on the hunt for your cooler:
- Lock and key Indoor and outdoor models can come with a security lock and key. However, it may be more of a must-have for your outdoor fridge. If you are keeping food and beverages in your fridge overnight, or going out of town for the weekend, a lock and key will give you peace of mind—you’ll know your stuff is always safely stored.
- Digital thermostat Indoor and outdoor models can come with digital thermostats. Digital thermostats are intuitive to use and give you the control to set the precise temperature you want. Whether it is an indoor or outdoor fridge you are seeking, a digital thermostat will add to its value.
- Built-in or Freestanding Indoor and outdoor fridges come as either built-in or freestanding. Built-in units can be installed into the standard cabinets of your indoor or outdoor kitchen. Freestanding can be moved from room to room or from patio to fireplace (depending on if its an indoor or outdoor fridge).
Location, Location, Location
The location of your beverage fridge is everything. Now that you know which features to look for, you can make a confident purchasing decision for your home. You also know what it takes to keep a fridge working to the best of its abilities for years to come.