Dispelling Myths about Outdoor Design #3 – The Outdoor Refrigerator Reality

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Do You Really Need an Outdoor Refrigerator?

When envisioning the perfect outdoor kitchen, the idea of an outdoor refrigerator often pops up. It sounds like a convenient, luxurious addition, right? Well, it’s time to chill the fridge frenzy and consider whether you really need one.

An outdoor fridge requires electrical service- usually through pavers or concrete- and is hidden inside an outdoor kitchen cavity. Always call a professional when adding outdoor electrical services and outlets.

Myth 1: Outdoor Refrigerators are Cool

  • Performance Under Pressure: Outdoor fridges struggle to keep up in the heat unless they’re shaded or covered.
  • Installation Costs: Running electrical outdoors for a fridge isn’t just a plug-and-play affair; it’s an investment.

An outdoor refrigerator might seem like a cool idea, but it often sweats under the pressure of outdoor conditions. Unless perfectly shaded or covered, keeping your drinks and snacks chilled becomes a battle against the elements. And don’t forget the cost and effort of running outdoor electrical wiring – it’s not a small feat. A refrigerator works well inside because there are constant small temperature differences to keep food and drinks cold. Outside, the temperature differences can be extreme. Don’t forget that your outdoor fridge can also easily become a critter and rodent magnet. They will soon learn where all the good treats are stored.

Myth 2: A Cheap Dorm Fridge will Work Great Outside

  • Indoor vs. Outdoor Fridge: A dorm fridge won’t cut it outdoors, and a true outdoor fridge can be a costly affair.
  • Noise and Nuisance: Outdoor fridges work harder, which means they’re noisier and more power-hungry.

The dream of having a handy fridge outdoors often leads to a rude awakening. People gravitate towards cheaper indoor fridges only to find they can’t handle the heat. And when you opt for a proper outdoor fridge, be prepared for the constant hum and higher energy bills. Don’t forget the initial cost of the fridge, which can easily top $2K. Coupled with high installation costs and high energy bills, you are going to pay through the nose for a proper outdoor fridge. It may be what you need in your space- but be sure it is right before spending money that could be used to enhance other areas in your outdoor living space.

Smart Alternatives to Outdoor Refrigeration

  • The Ice Bin Solution: For drinks, a large ice bin or cooler often trumps the fridge. It chills quickly and keeps beverages cold for days.
  • Temporary Fridge Use: Consider turning on the outdoor fridge only when needed, like a day or two before a party.
A rolling ice chest is usually a better option than an outdoor refrigerator.
Rolling ice bins and beverage carts come in many styles.
Your guests will appreciate a well stocked beverage center.

Instead of a permanent fridge humming away on your patio, why not go old school? A big ice bin or cooler is often more efficient for parties and gatherings. It’s low-tech but high-performance, keeping your drinks frosty without the fuss. It will cool warm drinks faster, and it can handle people going in and out of the container without losing its cooling power. Outdoor fridges can’t chill drinks quickly. Furthermore, they struggle to keep their cool when guests are constantly opening the door and grabbing beverages. An ice bin really excels in chilling and keeping large amounts of beverages cold for long periods of time. My outdoor ice bin holds ice for days.

Smart Uses for Outdoor Refrigeration

  • Occasional Convenience: Outdoor fridges are great for short-term food storage during parties, but think twice about continuous use.
  • Lock It Up: If you do opt for an outdoor fridge, a lock is a must – both for keeping out neighborhood critters and curious teens.

We covered why outdoor fridges are usually not good for their most imagined use- beverages. But, an outdoor fridge can be effectively used for food storage. In fact, using an outdoor fridge for temporary food storage will allow you to only turn it on when needed. It won’t be constantly “raided” by guests getting drinks, thereby helping it keep its cool. By having the fridge outside, you can keep snacks, appetizers, and grill ingredients cold until ready to serve. Since parties are usually held in the evening, you can probably get away with buying a cheaper model than one that must fight he heat of the sun day in and day out. Just be sure not to store food outside over long periods of time.

While an outdoor fridge can be handy for storing perishables during a get-together, regular food storage outside isn’t always practical. And if you do go down the fridge route, make sure it’s secure. You don’t want rodents and critters hanging around.

Rethink the Refrigerator in Outdoor Design

In the grand scheme of outdoor kitchen design, an outdoor refrigerator isn’t always a necessity. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons, considering alternatives that might be more practical and cost-effective. Remember, the best outdoor kitchens are about seamless function and ease, not just about having all the appliances. Only incorporate an outdoor fridge if you will use it daily during your outdoor patio season. If you will only use it occasionally or only for rare gatherings, it may not be worth the hassle and expense. If you will use it daily, then it may be the best purchase for your backyard. At Cornerstone, we help you make informed decisions, ensuring your outdoor kitchen is perfectly equipped for your needs, fridge or no fridge. Whether it’s a built-in ice bin or a seamlessly integrated fridge under a covered patio, be sure to choose the features that fit your needs and lifestyle- not someone else’s.

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