Best Outdoor Fridges

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
272 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best outdoor fridges

Last Updated September 2019

If you regularly host barbecues or backyard picnics, an outdoor fridge can save you several trips to the kitchen and keep you in the middle of the action. Outdoor fridges come in different sizes and offer a range of features, so choosing the right tool for your needs is the key to many successful backyard gatherings.

Are you looking for a fridge only, or a fridge with a freezer? How much food do you need to store? Are you looking for a fridge to install permanently or a model you can roll out of the garage and tuck away when it isn’t needed? Outdoor fridges may be compact or full-size, and their storage capacity and configuration often varies. It’s also important to find a fridge well-equipped for the temperature changes in your area to keep your food fresh and safe to eat.

A fridge may be a simple appliance, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require careful consideration to find the perfect model for you. There are many aspects to consider when shopping for an outdoor fridge, and even small fridges can be expensive. Our shopping guide will help you navigate the purchasing process and take your outdoor events to the next level.

An outdoor fridge is a great way to complete your patio kitchen and keep you in the middle of the party.

Key considerations

Before you begin your search for an outdoor refrigerator, you should ask yourself what food you will keep in your fridge, how much space you need, and how often it will be used. A beverage fridge may be compact to medium-sized, and it may or may not need a freezer depending on the types of beverages you plan to store. If your fridge will hold supplies for cookouts, a freezer is essential.
 

Dimensions

The size of your fridge (which is different from but may be related to its storage capacity) should be appropriate for your patio, porch, or garage. Take careful note of the footprint of the refrigerator, as well as its height, width, and depth. This is particularly important if you plan to install your fridge in an island cutout.
 

Storage capacity

Manufacturers typically list the storage capacity of a fridge measured in cubic feet. In general, 20 cubic feet or more is necessary for a family of four — but this estimate is for a traditional indoor fridge used as your primary place of food storage.

For an outdoor fridge, you may only need 3 cubic feet for storing a handful of beverages. However, some outdoor fridges offer up to 6 cubic feet of storage.
 

Fridge-only or fridge-freezer combo

If your outdoor fridge will be used for keeping beer cool and nothing else, there’s no need for a freezer. But if you plan to keep frozen meat or ice in your fridge, you will need a freezer compartment. Freezers may be on the bottom, top, or either side of the unit. Consider where your fridge will be placed and which setup will offer the easiest access to frozen goods.
 

UL approved

If you plan to store meat in your fridge, it is imperative that the fridge maintains temperatures low enough to prevent your food from spoiling. A fridge that has been UL rated for outdoor use means that it has been tested for safely storing food and beverages.
 

Built-in or freestanding

Some outdoor fridges are designed to be built into a wall or island. Most models, however, are freestanding and require a certain amount of space on all sides of the fridge for ventilation. You should have a clear idea of where your fridge will be kept and whether a built-in model is right for your outdoor space.

DID YOU KNOW?

While outdoor fridges can use a significant amount of power, they can reduce air conditioning costs of your home since you are less likely to go in and out to get food or beverages.

Features

Once you have narrowed down your search, you should consider what additional features will be convenient or necessary. Some fridges are wheeled, while others are designed to be permanently installed. The configuration of the shelves can affect just how much you can store in your fridge. Extra features like interior lighting can also be useful.
 

Wheels/permanent installation

Some outdoor fridges may have wheels that allow you to easily and safely transport the fridge. This is a good option if you only want to have your fridge out and accessible when it is in use and need a way to easily move it from your garage to your patio or porch.

Many outdoor fridges are designed to be permanently installed. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when searching for an appropriate outlet for the unit. Also take note of how much space the fridge needs for proper cooling and ventilation.
 

Front/rear ventilation

Most outdoor fridges have front ventilation, which requires less space around the fridge since air is pushed out of the front of the unit. Rear ventilated units need more space and usually cannot be installed in an island. If you have the space, however, rear ventilation works just as well as front ventilation.
 

Shelving configuration and materials

While a manufacturer may boast a certain amount of storage, the shelving configuration often limits the actual storage of the fridge. Take note of the setup of shelves and drawers and read customer reviews to get an idea of the actual amount of usable space in a fridge.

Glass and metal are both common materials for shelving. Metal has the advantage of allowing greater airflow and efficiency, but many people prefer the look and feel of glass shelves.
 

Interior lights

Interior lights are common in larger fridges and allow you to easily see the contents of your fridge, even at night. Since most modern fridges use LEDs, the lights are unlikely to burn out.
 

Noise level

The compressor of a fridge is responsible for most of the noise it makes. Take note of the noise level of the compressor (usually measured in decibels, or dB). Expect your compressor to work a bit harder in hot weather, thus producing more noise.
 

Weatherproofing

While your outdoor refrigerator should be kept under cover, that doesn’t mean it won’t be exposed to the elements at all. Compared to indoor fridges, outdoor fridges often have more rugged designs and corrosion- or rust-resistant exteriors. If you intend to leave your fridge outside for the season, look for a model with proper weatherproofing.
 

Kegerators and wine coolers

Some outdoor fridges may be designed specifically for your beverage of choice. As with other outdoor fridges, their size and storage capacity can vary. If you are looking for a kegerator, be sure that it can accommodate the keg size you intend to store.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some outdoor fridges have glass doors that allow you to see what beverages are available without opening the door and wasting energy.

Price

Inexpensive: Compact outdoor fridges typically cost $100 to $300 and may have storage capacities of 3 cubic feet or less. Fridges in this range rarely have built-in freezers, though they may have a small freezer compartment for a single ice cube tray.

Mid-range: Mid-range outdoor fridges that may be built-in or freestanding usually cost between $300 and $600. Some larger models of around 4 cubic feet are available in this range, and some models may feature freezers or interior lights.

Expensive: High-end outdoor fridges available for $600 and above are often designed for permanent installation and may have larger storage capacities of 5 cubic feet or more.

Outdoor fridges are either built-in or freestanding in design.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • If possible, put your fridge somewhere shady. Direct sunlight will only make your fridge work harder to keep food cool and may shorten its lifespan.

  • The storage capacity of your outdoor fridge should be appropriate for the amount of food you intend to store. Otherwise, you are using energy to cool empty space — or you may find that you do not have enough space to store all of the food you need to access.

  • A UL rated outdoor fridge may not be necessary if you’re just looking for a smaller fridge to store a few drinks.

  • Consider a locking outdoor fridge to keep alcoholic beverages away from children.

Other products we considered

While we stand by our top recommendations as some of the best outdoor fridges on the market, there are a few other units worth mentioning. One popular fridge is the Midea Stainless Steel Fridge, which features a separate freezer compartment. While it is not designed specifically for outdoor use, its compressor is powerful enough to handle higher temperatures. Customers love this freestanding refrigerator for its extremely quiet performance and large storage space of 2.2 cubic feet, despite the relatively small size of the fridge. If you are looking for a built-in fridge for your outdoor kitchen, consider the Whynter 24” Built-In Outdoor 5.3 cu. Ft. Refrigerator. Though it can be installed in an island or wall, it comes with optional casters if you prefer a freestanding fridge. Though this fridge is expensive and it can get noisy, it offers plenty of storage and a sleek stainless steel design.

Most outdoor fridges are fairly compact, making them easier to move and install than traditional fridges.

FAQ

Q. Can’t I just use a regular fridge outside?
A.
Not if you don’t want your food to spoil. Outdoor fridges have compressors designed specifically to handle the higher temperatures of summer weather and rapid fluctuations in temperature.
 

Q. What should I do when my fridge isn’t in use?
A. 
Turn the fridge off and allow it to air out. Consider wiping down the interior surfaces to collect any additional moisture. If you plan to store your fridge for a long period, consider putting it in your garage or basement so it is not exposed to the elements unnecessarily.
 

Q. How do I know if my outdoor outlets can power my fridge?
A. 
Compare the voltage requirements of your fridge with the output of your outlets. Most homes have 110 or 120V outlets, which should support most outdoor fridges.

The team that worked on this review
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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