By: BBQGuys StaffThe Skinny:
- New-and-improved, high-efficiency cooling system thrives longer in the elements
- Can be used outdoors without voiding the warranty, unlike several competing fridges
- 304-grade stainless steel front panel brings premium quality at an agreeable price
- Dial thermostat lets you precisely program temperatures for customized cooling
- White LED interior lighting clearly illuminates the fridge contents at night
Blaze has long been a leader in premium grilling and outdoor living, so it came as no surprise that the brand’s outdoor refrigeration units live up to that lofty standard. Case in point: the new Blaze 20-inch, 4.4-cubic feet compact refrigerator, a cost-effective and space-saving unit that pushes the possibilities of what a non-outdoor-rated refrigerator can do in the elements. With higher-grade materials than price-point competitors and a redesigned cooling system that brings greater efficiency, Blaze outdid itself yet again.
Need proof? We put this Blaze refrigerator through rounds of objective testing and observation to gauge every facet of its quality, performance, and features. Our findings form the basis of this Blaze 20-inch compact refrigerator review, giving you a complete and unbiased snapshot of the unit to help you in your purchasing journey. We’ll walk through each section, referencing hard data while explaining how the Blaze stacks up against similar refrigerators.
- Durable stainless steel front panel is primed to look great for years
- Warranty covers outdoor use without the hefty price tag of an outdoor rating
- Blaze’s record of outstanding customer service means peace of mind for consumers
The first thing that stands out about the Blaze 20-inch refrigerator is its stainless steel front panel, as confirmed by our XRF analysis of the metal’s composition. That’s commercial-grade material in a Standard-class refrigerator, a strong indicator that this unit will resist corrosion far longer than the competition.
Not to be outdone, our analysis found the trio of interior shelves to be powder-coated steel — a much sturdier material than the wire shelving typically used in Standard compact refrigerators. The interior material turned up as plastic, the industry standard for outdoor refrigeration units at any price point. Blaze offers a 1-year, limited warranty, coverage that’s in line with the rest of the class except for one key detail: despite not being outdoor-rated, the unit can be used outdoors without voiding the warranty. That’s a rarity in the industry, and one that gives consumers an outdoor refrigeration solution without requiring them to spend big on the outdoor rating.
- Upgraded cooling system keeps contents cold without running up the bill
- Forced-air technology provides more consistent temperatures than competing units
- Dial thermostat makes temperature control accurate, intuitive, and easy
When Blaze designed its newest compact refrigerator, the company’s engineers sought to further improve the high-efficiency cooling systems of past models. After observing the unit’s responsiveness and accuracy, we can say it’s a smashing success. Much of this is thanks to Blaze’s insistence on using fan-forced cooling, a system that naturally performs better than the cold-plate technology found in other Standard-class compact refrigerators. Fan-forced systems treat air in a space outside the cabinet, then circulate it throughout for even cooling of the contents from back to front; the cold-plate method uses a rear element to extract heat from the cabinet instead, but this older technology takes much longer to cool the entire unit and is often inconsistent.
Blaze made further enhancements from there, manufacturing this 20-inch compact fridge to have a 3-year failure rate of just 1%. (For comparison, the average 3-year failure rate of fridges in general sits around 3%.) We weren’t able to collect data to confirm that claim — you’d have to circle back in a couple years — but everything we observed in the short term suggested long-lasting performance. Even on hot Louisiana days, the fridge’s internal temperature stayed on track with the dial thermostat setting, which has a range of 32°F–50°F. And, again, that was without an outdoor rating driving up the price tag.
- Nighttime interior LED lights are brighter and more efficient than the competition’s
- Cabinet and door shelving provides ample storage space for drinks and more
- Locking door can be set with a left or right hinge, further customizing the unit
The Blaze 20-inch compact refrigerator offers the best suite of features for a Standard-class unit, starting with the interior lighting. Bright, efficient white LEDs illuminate the entire cabinet, and we had no problem seeing all its contents past sundown. Speaking of the entire cabinet, it totals 4.4 cubic feet of space and includes 3 shelves that we used to store drinks and condiments without issue. The fridge door features additional shelving, including convenient holsters for 12-oz. cans.
In terms of installation, the door hinge is field-reversible, meaning it can open left or right depending on your needs. (If you’d prefer a different aesthetic, check out the left-hinged Blaze 20-inch compact refrigerator with towel bar handle.) The unit is also rear-venting and requires 5” of space in the back and on the sides to allow for proper airflow, the common clearance at this price point. We were happy to see a locking mechanism on the door — ensuring children and critters can’t access its contents or accidentally leave it ajar — along with a 3-prong power cord that’s compatible with standard outlets. Add it all together, and it’s clear that the new 20-inch Blaze represents a step forward for Standard-class outdoor refrigeration.
About the BBQGuys Staff
Being in business since 1998, we’ve assembled a group of experienced experts to evaluate every product in our growing inventory. Whether it’s our product trainers, R&D team, or the legendary Chef Tony himself — lucky you! — you can rest assured that BBQGuys Staff reviews are conducted by an authority in the field with years of industry knowledge.