Ready to elevate your outdoor kitchen? Choosing the ideal outdoor refrigerator involves navigating through various options and considerations. In this guide, we'll explore the key aspects you need to keep in mind when selecting outdoor refrigeration appliances. Whether you're in the market for a compact refrigerator, an ice maker, or a kegerator, we've got you covered. Let's delve into the factors that will help you make an informed decision, ensuring your outdoor space is equipped with the ideal chilling companions.

Indoor vs Outdoor Refrigeration

These terms may appear self-explanatory, but there’s more to it. Most personal refrigerators have what is called a compressor and it is the heart of the appliance. Its job is to kick in when the internal temperature rises above the thermostat setting. Temperatures inside the home tend to stay steady, allowing indoor refrigerators to work less to stay cool. Outdoor refrigeration units, however, must weather greater adversity: wider climate ranges, sudden temperature swings, high heat, freezing temperatures, and the elements of being outdoors. Since these appliances work harder to stay cool in hotter weather, they require larger compressors, which can be louder. Refrigerators struggle when the outside air is colder than inside the cabinet, tricking the compressor into thinking it doesn't need to activate. This won’t damage your fridge, but it can affect the temperature and lead to spoiled food. Some models can handle freezing temperatures thanks to built-in warming units or multiple thermostats. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how best to prepare your unit for winter weather.

Another difference is the rating. To be certified for outdoor use, the unit must pass rigorous durability and performance tests by Underwriters Laboratories. 'UL Rated' products meet the standards for outdoor operation, maintaining internal temps above 100°F and enduring outdoor elements. Buying UL Rated gives your refrigerator the best chance of surviving outdoors. Placing a non-rated unit in your outdoor kitchen may void the warranty, so check your owner’s manual for specific information.

Finally, most outdoor refrigerators are freestanding, but many can be converted to built-in, requiring front-venting, proper clearance, and exhaust.

Outdoor Refrigeration Benefits


Have whatever you need, when you need it, where you need it, at whichever level of ice-cool chill you desire. Outdoor refrigerators do all that and more.

Longer, Larger Parties

Keeping your fridge fully stocked with beer, wine, ice, and extra food means the party can host even more friends and keep going all night long.

Less Waste

Outdoor kegerators, beer and wine dispensers, and ice makers create less waste than individually bought cans, bottles, and bags.


Refrigeration with outdoor ratings and food-safe certifications gives you the confidence to store food and drinks outside, no matter the climate.

Undercounter vs Freestanding Outdoor Kitchen Refrigeration

Stainless steel undercounter outdoor refrigerator with door open

Undercounter Refrigeration

These models are designed to be built into an outdoor kitchen island and require front-facing ventilation and proper clearances to evaporate condensation. Ice makers and freezers will require drainage to operate. The type of ice maker you'll need for an undercounter installation depends on how close you’re installing it to an existing drain. Gravity drains work for adjacent placement, but any greater distance requires a drain pump. Always be sure to check your owner's manual for ventilation and drainage guidelines and consult a licensed plumber for any alterations you might need for drainage.

Shop Undercounter Refrigerators

Stainless steel freestanding outdoor refrigerator with kegerator tap

Freestanding Refrigeration

Stand-alone refrigeration models work wonders in indoor or outdoor spaces wherever guests tend to gather. Ventilation requirements aren't as strict, but you'll still want to leave an inch of space around the unit to prevent it from overheating. One of the major benefits of a freestanding design is mobility. Unplugging and moving is helpful when cleaning, especially with the rolling casters available on several models. This is also beneficial as a secondary, mobile storage place for food and drinks

Shop Freestanding Refrigerators

Outdoor Compact Refrigerators

Skip the trips back and forth inside—enhance your outdoor cooking experience with the convenience of outdoor compact refrigerators. These specialized fridges provide a robust solution for keeping meat, condiments, refreshments, and more right by your grill. Ensure your outdoor compact refrigerator is reliable and safe by opting for NSF-certified models. This certification guarantees the unit can maintain temperatures below 40°F, ensuring your food and beverages stay perfectly chilled.

Most outdoor compact refrigerators are crafted with efficient water vapor condensation and evaporation systems, doing away with the need for a drain. This not only adds convenience but also makes finding the perfect spot for installation a breeze.

For those looking to give their outdoor kitchen a winter break, consider winterizing your compact refrigerator. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines and ensure proper insulation to protect the appliance during colder months. Explore a diverse range of outdoor compact refrigerators from top brands like Blaze, Perlick, and Summit Appliances.

Shop Outdoor Refrigerators

Types of Outdoor Refrigeration

Built-in outdoor ice maker with door open to show bin full of ice

Outdoor Ice Makers

With outdoor ice makers, the ice never runs out and the party never stops. It’s the perfect companion piece for your outdoor refrigeration collection. Ice makers are simple machines with few differences between models, but they are essential for every backyard host. Each machine creates 1 of 4 types of ice, each with its own aesthetic and specific benefits. To learn more, read our Ice Maker Buying Guide.

Built-in luxury outdoor wine cooler

Outdoor Wine Coolers

Outdoor wine coolers make those evenings under the stars even better. Not only are all your favorite wines right by your side saving you a trip indoors, but it’s a must-have for every backyard barbecue host and wine enthusiast alike. These coolers are made to not only withstand the elements of the outdoors but to keep your wine at the perfect temperature, too. Our Outdoor Wine Cooler Buying Guide will help you find the best one for you.

Purple Hestan Outdoor Kegerator built into a Hestan outdoor kitchen island

Outdoor Kegerators

An outdoor kegerator will save you money and space over buying cans or bottles and best of all you’ll always have your favorite brew right at your fingertips. They come in several options and sizes so to find your perfect match, check out our Outdoor Kegerator Buying Guide.

Built-In outdoor beverage cooler with bottom shelf pulled out to display drinks

Outdoor Beverage Coolers

Too warm to safely store food, and too cold to properly store wine—beverage coolers are the perfect home for all your canned beverages. Their operating temperature ranges from the upper 30s to 50°F , making them a welcome companion for any outdoor kitchen. With a variety of features and capacity options to choose from you can find the one that works for your space. Popular options include Blaze, Perlick, and Zephyr.

Built-in outdoor freezer with door open to show ice cream stocked inside

Outdoor Freezers

These heavy-duty appliances work best for long-term food storage. They operate best at 0°F which is what FDA guidelines specify for food safety. Outdoor freezers are great for frozen treats or popsicles for kids. Try one in a bar setting with an outdoor ice maker and enjoy cocktail mixes, frozen fruit, chilled liquors and more. It is important to note that drain access is necessary to ensure proper defrosting. Popular options include Perlick and Summit Appliances.

Outdoor Refrigeration Classes

We asked our experts to break down the different types of outdoor refrigeration into easily definable classifications based on quality, performance, and features. Below you’ll find a brief overview of each of the 3 distinct classes: Luxury, Premium, and Standard to help you streamline your search.

Lynx Luxury outdoor refrigerator drawers in an outdoor kitchen

Luxury Refrigeration

  • Stainless steel exteriors provide excellent longevity and protection from the elements.
  • Some units carry 6-year warranties on sealed systems to protect your investment.
  • Glass paneled doors and colored LED internal lights provide serious wow-factor.
  • The lowest operating temperatures available, and automatic defrost comes standard.
Coyote outdoor refrigerator built into an outdoor kitchen with the door open

Premium Refrigeration

  • Stainless steel doors and exteriors enhance durability and longevity.
  • Most models are outdoor rated to hold steady temperatures in any weather.
  • Longer warranties than models in the Standard class let you purchase with confidence.
  • Zero-clearance, undercounter units allow for easy installation in outdoor kitchens.
Summerset standard compact outdoor refrigerator built into sleek white outdoor kitchen island

Standard Refrigeration

  • Not all are outdoor rated which means you can’t fully rely on them in an outdoor environment.
  • Painted metal exteriors won’t hold up long outdoors, as reflected in limited warranties.
  • Interiors are typically plastic, with wire or plastic shelving to hold your food and drinks.
  • Cold-plate refrigeration is cheaper upfront and uses less electricity than forced air.

Shop All Outdoor Refrigeration

Other Considerations

Cleaning Your Outdoor Refrigeration

You should clean your indoor fridge every now and then, so the same goes for your outdoor appliances. We recommend you clean all outdoor refrigeration units at least yearly except for kegerators. These should be cleansed each time you add a new keg due to the beer lines and taps that would taint the flavor of your beer if not cleaned out.

Before cleaning any refrigeration appliance, be sure to empty all its contents, unplug it from the power source, and allow it to come to room temperature. Use cleaners, like baking soda or vinegar, if possible, because they pose no threat to your ability to safely store food. Feel free to wipe down your appliance with stronger cleaners, but make sure you let the unit air out until there’s no lingering cleaner smell before restocking. In fact, it’s a good idea to give your appliance a full day to rest unplugged, so the compressor isn’t subjected to a buildup of pressure from being plugged back in too soon.

Weight of Outdoor Refrigeration Products

It’s no secret that refrigeration units are incredibly heavy. When fully stocked, these appliances filled to the brim with bottles can weigh a ton! No matter the appliance, you should ensure your planned installation site can support its weight when full. This is true for indoor freestanding units and outdoor kitchen undercounter units alike.

Got more questions? Our outdoor experts have answers. Give them a call at 1-844-975-1520 to consult on all your refrigeration needs. Our free Outdoor Living Design Service is another place worth checking out to see how you can plan your perfect backyard.