Integrated vs Freestanding Fridge Freezer – Everything You Need To Know
Integrated vs Freestanding Fridge Freezer. It’s a popular talking point with my clients and an important design decision to make as it can change the whole look and layout of a kitchen.
However, many times my clients aren’t quite sure about the differences, how they can impact the design and which is the right choice for them.
In this post, I’ll explain the difference between an integrated and freestanding fridge freezer, their pros and cons as well as answer some common questions I often get asked around the topic. Just to be clear, this post is about full-height (tall) fridge freezers, not under-counter fridges and freezers.
Let’s get into it!
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What Is An Integrated Fridge Freezer
An integrated fridge freezer is built into a kitchen cabinet and has cabinet doors attached to the front of the appliance. It requires a fridge housing cabinet to be installed into and can’t be fitted freestanding.
Integrated fridge freezers blend in with the rest of your kitchen cabinets and appear hidden as they are behind a cabinet door. This makes them a popular choice for contemporary-style kitchens or anyone that wants to achieve a clean and streamlined look.
There are two installation types for integrated fridge freezers. ‘Fixed’ or ‘Sliding’ hinge models These installation types are to do with the way the cabinet doors are fitted to the appliance and housing cabinet. These will determine how the appliance sits in the cabinet and how the cabinet doors are attached to the appliance.
Most fridge housing cabinets are designed to accommodate both models. However, it’s always a good idea to double-check with your cabinet manufacturer if there is a preferred installation option before purchasing the appliance.
Are Integrated Fridge Freezers A Standard Size?
Yes and No.
From the outside, the standard width of an integrated fridge freezer is 60cm.
Integrated fridge freezer appliances have a standard width of around 54-55cm. This is because they are designed to fit inside a 60cm wide housing cabinet. The housing cabinet is 60cm wide externally. So, depending on the thickness of the cabinet sides, the internal gap is around 55-56cm to fit the fridge freezer.
The depth of an integrated fridge freezer tends to be pretty standard as well. Usually between 54-55cm. Again, this is because it has to fit into a standard kitchen cabinet which is normally around 56-58cm deep (not including the kitchen cabinet door).
Although the width is a pretty standard size the height of an integrated fridge freezer can vary quite a lot. You can get lower ‘midi’ height models around 130cm tall as well as extra tall models around 190-200cm tall. However, the common height is around 170-180cm tall.
The other consideration to take into account is the door split. You can get a 50/50 split, where the fridge and freezer sections are the same sizes as well as 60/40 or 70/30 splits in favour of more fridge space (rather than freezer space).
Make sure you check that the overall height and the door split of the fridge freezer model you want can be accommodated by the cabinet housing and cabinet door sizes. You don’t want anything to be misaligned!
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Advantages Of An Integrated Fridge Freezer
- Provides a hidden and seamless design
- Fits flush with other cabinets
- Customizable to match the kitchen style and colour
- Permanently installed in the cabinetry
Disadvantages Of An Integrated Fridge Freezer
- More expensive than freestanding fridge freezers
- Needs a housing cabinet to install into (extra cost)
- Difficult to remove/access should it need any maintenance
- Less capacity than their 60cm freestanding counterparts
- Requires professional installation (at least good DIY skills)
What Is A Freestanding Fridge Freezer
A freestanding fridge freezer doesn’t need any kitchen cabinets to be fitted into. It stands by itself (freestanding) on its own feet and has its own finished door fronts, so doesn’t need cabinet doors fixed to the front of it.
Freestanding fridge freezers can be positioned anywhere in your kitchen (assuming they physically fit in the room) as their front and sides are finished there are no exposed unfinished elements to have to cover up.
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Are Freestanding Fridge Freezers A Standard Size?
No. There are many different sizes of freestanding fridge freezers available. However, there are some popular and more common width choices. These are 60cm wide for a single-door fridge freezer and 90cm wide for a double-door (American-style) fridge freezer.
There are also narrow (slimline) freestanding fridge freezers around 50cm wide. Extra-wide single-door fridge freezers are around 70-80cm wide as well as extra-wide American fridge freezers around 100cm wide.
The height of a freestanding fridge freezer will vary too but are typically between 170-180cm tall. Likewise, the depth will vary from anywhere between 60-80cm. This may or may not include the handle depth as well. This is why freestanding fridge freezers will often stick out past any kitchen cabinets it may be next to.
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Advantages Of A Freestanding Fridge Freezer
- Typically more affordable than a similar-sized integrated model
- Easy to install
- Can be placed anywhere
- More choices/sizes available
- Can include a water/ice dispenser on the front
- Finished sides can be exposed
- Easy to move/access for any maintenance
- Can bring it with you if you move house
Disadvantages Of A Freestanding Fridge Freezer
- On show all the time
- Usually, stick out past the kitchen cabinets
- Can have unsightly gaps around or down the side of the appliance
- Can’t have kitchen cabinet doors attached to ‘blend in’
- Often noisier as it doesn’t have a cabinet or cabinet doors to help insulate the sound
Can You Use An Integrated Fridge Freezer Freestanding?
Not really. An integrated fridge freezer doesn’t have the same finished sides and doors as a freestanding model. This means its exposed sides are unfinished and would not only be unsightly but could have sharp or unfinished edges.
As well as this, it will be difficult to open the doors as they will not have a handle built into them. An integrated fridge freezer needs a kitchen cabinet door and handles attached to them to open the doors properly.
While technically an integrated fridge freezer left outside a housing cabinet and ‘freestanding’ will still work. It is not practical or safe to do so. Plus, it just won’t look very good.
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Can You Replace An Integrated Fridge With A Freestanding Fridge?
Yes, you can replace an integrated fridge freezer with a freestanding one. However, there will be several things to take into consideration.
Firstly, make sure the freestanding fridge freezer will fit into the new space. An integrated fridge freezer will be 60cm wide (including the cabinet). If it is positioned between kitchen cabinets you’ll need a freestanding model a little less than 60cm to fit in the gap. If it’s at the end of a run then you may have more space for a larger freestanding model.
Removing an integrated fridge freezer will also mean removing the tall housing cabinet it fits into. Again, depending on where this is in your kitchen design you may need to make more alterations.
Such as adding/removing end panels, removing any fillers or adding a bridging cabinet above the freestanding fridge freezer if it’s between cabinets and you want to create a surround for it. Especially if the freestanding fridge freezer is shorter than the housing cabinets on either side.
You’ll also need to cut and remove the plinth from under the integrated fridge freezer to make room for the freestanding model. This could leave cut (exposed) edges to your plinth that could get damaged. Especially if wet. So you may want to get some new plinth.
Lastly, you’ll need to check that your flooring goes all the way back to the wall. Otherwise, you’ll see the unfinished floor at the bottom of the freestanding model. You may also have difficulty getting the appliances in/out and level if the floor is not the same all the way back.
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Can A Freestanding Fridge Be Integrated?
Sort of but not fully.
A freestanding fridge freezer won’t be able to fit inside a housing cabinet, nor can it have kitchen cabinet doors attached to it – it’s just not designed to.
However, you can create a ‘surround’ using kitchen cabinets to help make a freestanding fridge freezer look more built-in and part of a run of cabinets. Rather than just being on its own at the end.
You could use tall cabinets or tall end panels on one or both sides with a bridging cabinet above to create the surround. (Example below)
Some models of freestanding fridge freezers will be able to sit tighter to the cabinets on either side and more flush with the cabinet doors at the front. This will depend on the depth of the appliance and the way the fridge doors open.
Some doors are chunkier than others and need a gap to be able to open and some are designed to hinge in on themselves slightly as they open, so they don’t need an opening gap and can be fitted tighter in their surround.
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Are Integrated Fridge Freezers More Expensive Than Freestanding?
Yes. Generally speaking, integrated fridge freezers will be more expensive than their freestanding equivalent. Not only are the appliances themselves more expensive but you also have to factor in the cost of a fridge housing cabinet and the kitchen cabinet doors needed to make the appliance integrated with the rest of the kitchen.
However, keep in mind that if you want to create a surround for a freestanding fridge freezer you may also need to buy tall end panels and a bridging cabinet. While probably still not as expensive as everything you need for an integrated fridge freezer it can increase the cost. It all depends on how you are designing your kitchen.
There you have it! Everything you need to know when deciding between an integrated and freestanding fridge freezer.
There’s no right or wrong answer. It really comes down to personal preference. If you’re going for a sleek modern kitchen and prefer everything hidden away then an integrated fridge freezer is the best option.
If you’re looking to maximise your fridge freezer storage or want a water and ice dispenser as part of your fridge freezer then opting for a freestanding model will be the better choice.
So, will you go integrated or freestanding for your next fridge freezer?
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.