Freestanding vs Integrated Fridge – Which Is Better?

Deciding whether to get a freestanding or an integrated fridge is a common dilemma for many home appliance buyers. Both fridges come with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The refrigerator you decide to settle on can change your kitchen’s whole look and layout.

Freestanding fridges are more affordable, can be placed anywhere, and are easier to maintain. Integrated fridges are expensive, can’t be moved, and are costly to install and maintain, but look better and have a longer lifespan. The decision comes down to design and budget.

Deciding between a freestanding and integrated fridge is really a question of design, not performance. When it comes to the appliance’s performance, durability, and power consumption, that would depend on the brand and the model. This article will help you find the refrigerator that checks all your boxes and makes your life better. 

What Is a Freestanding Fridge?

As the name aptly suggests, a freestanding fridge is an appliance that can stand freely on its own, unattached, and does not need to be fitted into a specialized cabinet. The freestanding fridge has completely finished doors and sides that do not need concealing. On the contrary, its integrated equivalent needs to be installed into the cabinetry.

Freestanding fridges are the most common refrigerator appliance, perhaps because they tend to be the more affordable option and are available at various price points. They are ideal for modest to mid-range homes. In general, freestanding fridges offer flexibility that integrated fridges do not. 

A freestanding fridge doesn’t require professional installation and can be positioned anywhere in the kitchen where it can fit and can be plugged in. You can put it against cabinets or against the wall—whichever placement is convenient for you. You can also move it anywhere in the house if you need to make room for a newer one in your kitchen.

People whose work requires them to relocate to different parts of the country from time to time tend to settle for a freestanding fridge because it is practical for moving and causes less hassle to take for maintenance or repairs. 

The freestanding fridge is always in plain sight, so you might want to pick a color and style that blends well with the rest of your kitchen’s design. Freestanding fridges are available on the market in a wide range of sizes and can either have a single door or double door design.

Some brands offer freestanding fridges that can be built-in. However, this requires special modifications to your kitchen that will incur additional expenses. Freestanding fridges have certain design features that integrated ones don’t, such as ice cube dispensers. 

What Are the Advantages of a Freestanding Fridge?

If you are on the fence about whether to get a freestanding or integrated fridge, you’ll want to know the advantages of each one of them. Here are the advantages of the freestanding fridge. 

  • Affordability. Freestanding fridges not only have lower price points, but they cost little to nothing to install. You won’t need the services of a professional. 
  • Easy installation. As previously mentioned, the only thing you need to place a freestanding fridge is space. All that’s left to do is plug it in. 
  • Convenient to move. If you need to move the fridge or relocate altogether, you only need enough pairs of hands and perhaps a trolley to get the job done. 
  • More size options. Freestanding fridges come in a wider range of size options. In contrast, integrated ones come in a pretty standard size that only fits the standard cabinetry of this kind of fridge.
  • Can Include Additional Features. A freestanding fridge can come with extra features such as a water dispenser or an ice cube dispenser.
  • Easy To Access For Maintenance & Repairs – Freestanding fridges are unattached to cabinetry, making them easy to access and transport for repairs or maintenance work. 

What Are the Disadvantages of a Freestanding Fridge?

There are also disadvantages to having a freestanding bridge that you will need to factor in before committing to getting one. In most cases, these aren’t deal-breakers, but if you’re worried about your kitchen’s interior design, you may want to take a look at them. Here are some of those disadvantages:

  • Always On Display. A freestanding fridge is on full display at all times, unlike the integrated fridge. If well chosen, an integrated fridge will blends seamlessly with your kitchen’s interior design. 
  • Protrudes Beyond Cabinets. There are freestanding fridges that can be put into a special nook to give it an almost integrated look. However, this requires alterations to be made to your kitchen. Also, most standard-size fridges protrude beyond the cabinet, which might seem unsightly to some people. Some variants allow the refrigerator to align with the cabinet, with the sacrifice of reducing capacity.
  • Cannot Be Customized. Customizations, such as attaching cabinet doors cannot be done to make the freestanding fridge “blend in” with the kitchen design. 
  • Noisier Than Integrated Fridges. Freestanding fridges are louder than their integrated equivalents due to the fact that the hum of the machinery isn’t insulated by a cabinet.

What Is an Integrated Fridge?

An integrated fridge is built into a fridge housing or the existing cabinetry of your kitchen. This type of fridge becomes a permanent fixture in your home. Cabinet doors are attached to the doors of the fridge to make it appear identical to the rest of your kitchen cabinets, giving your kitchen a modern, streamlined look. 

The integrated fridge is popular for homeowners who want a contemporary or a high-end kitchen style. It conceals the fridge from view and blends seamlessly with the kitchen’s interior design. The housing of the integrated fridge also serves to insulate against the noise of the fridge’s machinery. This lends an extra touch of sophistication to the ambiance of the kitchen. 

Aside from the modern aesthetic, you are also investing in a long life span for your appliance. Integrated fridges generally outlive their freestanding equivalents because they are built for longevity. You won’t have to worry about going through the tedious process of needing a replacement anytime soon. 

Besides having higher price points, integrated fridges also require the services of a professional to get installed, which will cost from $2,900 to $6,100. Suppose the existing cabinetry is not intended for the model of the fridge you have your eyes on. In that case, you will need to spend even more to have modifications made to the cabinetry to achieve the correct fit. 

Integrated refrigerators come with more width options as they usually have to compensate for the decreased depth that enables them to fit seamlessly into the cabinetry. They also tend to be taller than your standard freestanding fridge.

Bear in mind, however, that integrated fridges do not have other convenience features such as water dispensers or ice-cube dispensers. These have to be sacrificed to achieve the concealed fridge aesthetic. 

What Are the Advantages of an Integrated Fridge?

An integrated fridge comes with numerous advantages that can be quite persuasive to some buyers. Although not as common as the freestanding types, integrated fridges definitely have a market, owing to the many design and performance perks they offer. 

  • Seamless Design. The seamless design of the integrated fridge is perhaps the most common reason homeowners are willing to shell out big bucks to own one. For the price tag, you are, after all, not only paying for functionality but for aesthetics as well. 
  • Customizable Doors. For an integrated fridge to blend into the kitchen’s design, its doors need to be customizable.
  • Permanently Installed. While its permanence is considered a disadvantage to some, many homeowners consider it an advantage.
  • Longer Lifespan. Integrated fridges are superior to freestanding fridges where longevity is concerned. They are known to last longer than freestanding fridges. 
  • More Width Sizes. Integrated fridges are available in a variety of width sizes. When it comes to fridges, the critical dimension is width, as increased depth means things will be harder to reach in the back. With integrated fridges, depth is capped at 24-30 inches. To compensate for the reduced depth, appliance brands offer more width options.. 

What Are the Disadvantages of an Integrated Fridge?

Integrated fridges may be rockstars in the world of interior design, but when it comes to economics and practicality, they fall a little short. 

  • Costly Market Price. Integrated fridges are more expensive to buy compared to freestanding types. The disparity in price point has little to do with mechanical systems or the superior performance of the appliance. They are simply more expensive because of how they look. The customer pool for integrated fridges is a small but luxury market willing to shell out money for a premium price tag. 
  • Costly Installations & Customization. Installation services can rack up a bill in the thousand in US dollars. Overlaying cabinet panels to make your fridge harmonious with the rest of the kitchen’s aesthetic will also lead to even more costs. 
  • Difficult to Move. Once the fridge has been integrated into its housing, it’s not going anywhere unless you take the cabinetry apart and pry it out with much huffing and puffing. At this point, it is a permanent fixture. If you ever decide to move to a new home, you’ll probably opt to put the house on the market with the fridge and buy a new one where you are going. 
  • Difficult to Access. Because of its integration into the cabinetry, it is harder to conduct maintenance and repair work. 

Can a Freestanding Fridge Be Integrated?

A freestanding fridge can technically be integrated, but there are a few things to consider. Removing the integrated freezer to replace it with a freestanding one will require several structural changes to the cabinetry. Other considerations when integrating a freestanding fridge are:

  • Size of Freestanding Fridge. The freestanding fridge has to fit into the space vacated by the integrated fridge, but there should be some allowance around the sides to allow the doors to swivel open. 
  • Cabinet Adjustments. Most integrated fridges are taller than freestanding fridges. Placing a freestanding fridge in the space of an integrated fridge might leave an unsightly gap at the top. To fix this, you may need to have a cross-over cabinet custom-made to fill up the gap. You may also need to add a decorative trim around the housing of the fridge to make it more aesthetic. 
  • No Longer Seamless. Manage your expectations when integrating a freestanding fridge. It cannot be overlaid with customized cabinet panels to achieve the seamless look of the integrated fridge. Also, remember that most freestanding fridges measure more than counter-depth, which means they will protrude beyond the cabinet.  

Which Is More Expensive?

Integrated fridges are more expensive. Their starting price is $5,000, but the installation and modifications to the kitchen cost thousands of dollars.

Integrated fridges have higher price points because they cater to a luxury market that has no qualms splurging on a premium price tag.

This is evident when you consider that the performance of the two fridge designs is essentially similar. Although the integrated fridges are known to last longer, they both pretty much achieve the same function—keeping perishables cold.

When you total the cost of the unit, the installation, the customizations, and the running costs, the price point disparity between integrated and freestanding fridges only widens. It is no wonder the average buyer opts for the freestanding types over the integrated ones. 

Integrated fridges usually start at a price point of $5,000 and can only be expected to get higher from there, with some brands ranging from $7,000 to $9,000. On the other hand, you can get a top-of-the-line freestanding fridge for $2,000. 

A freestanding fridge is a bargain if you don’t have luxurious tastes. They usually look pretty high-end and stylish at a price point of $2,000. If you want to achieve the feel of an integrated fridge, you can have it built into cabinetry housing, although the doors cannot be overlaid.