The Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Beverage Refrigerator
Having an ice-cold drink readily available can be pure bliss. But trying to fit beverages alongside food in your regular fridge often means warm sodas and skunked beer. The solution is investing in a specialized beverage refrigerator designed to store drinks at optimal temperatures.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything to consider when selecting a beverage refrigerator. Learn about the different types like freestanding, built-in, and dual-zone models. Discover key features that enhance convenience and preservation. Get tips on ideal placement locations to integrate the fridge seamlessly. Compare top brands like Danby, Kalamera, NewAir, and more. Read maintenance recommendations for maximizing the appliance’s lifespan. Let’s chill those drinks to perfection!
Types of Beverage Refrigerators
The first decision is selecting the style of beverage refrigerator. Models come in a variety of setups:
Freestanding beverage refrigerators function as stand-alone appliances. They aren’t incorporated into cabinetry or counters. Many feature finished cabinet exteriors, handles, and can roll on wheels or casters. Great for mobility and arranging anywhere in a space.
Built-in beverage refrigerators are designed to integrate flush into surrounding cabinetry or counters. The front ventilation is adjusted for zero clearance. Built-in units blend seamlessly into an existing layout. Require custom cabinetry.
Compressor vs. Thermoelectric Cooling
Compressor cooled beverage fridges use the same technology as full-size refrigerators. A refrigerant compressor circulates cooled air. Most energy efficient and provides very stable temperatures.
Thermoelectric coolers utilize electric currents and metal plates for cooling. No compressor needed. Allow more placement flexibility since no rear ventilation is required. Less energy efficient than compressor models. Low cost option.
Multi-Zone and Dual-Zone
Many multi-zone beverage refrigerators offer two, three, or even four independent temperature controlled compartments. Keep various drinks at ideal temps in one unit.
Dual-zone models have separate sections for upper and lower zones to chill at different presets. Great for both white and red wines.
Specialized for Wine or Beer
Wine refrigerators hold bottles gently at the proper humidity and temperature. Optimize conditions for preservation. Feature slide-out wooden racks. Units designed just for wine storage.
Beer refrigerators cool brews to optimal drinking temperature without freezing. Interior lighting shows off the contents. Can organize cans on adjustable shelving. A party pleaser.
Outdoor beverage refrigerators allow placing a fridge on decks, patios, or outdoor kitchens while protecting contents from the elements. Durable and weather resistant. Requires grounded electrical outlet.
Sizes and Storage Capacity
Next, consider the dimensions and interior capacity needed:
- Height – Undercounter, freestanding, full-height options. Measure space allowances.
- Width and depth – Ensure adequate clearance for any doors and ventilation.
- Total bottle storage – Volume ranges from small dorm fridges to 300+ bottle capacity. Figure 1 wine bottle ≈ 5 12oz beers/sodas.
- Can storage – Some models cater to cans with removable bins and racks. Check capacity in number of 12 or 16oz cans.
- Interior layout – Shelving, sliding racks, and containment optimize storage. Flexible components allow rearranging.
Think about the mix of what you’ll chill – mostly wine, lots of beer cans, glassware, other. Select adequate capacity and interior fittings.
Undercounter beverage fridges around 24-inches wide are sized great as built-ins. Larger freestanding units work well for dedicated spaces. Mini fridges provide modest storage. Make sure to account for any clearance requirements.
Key Features and Functions
Here are some nice-to-have features and functions when comparing beverage refrigerator models:
Temperature Range and Zones
- Temperature range – Upper and lower bounds for cooling. Look for units that reach down to 34-35°F for coldest drinks.
- Adjustable thermostat – Dial or digital controls allow customizing temperature to your exact preferences.
- Zones – Dual or multi-zone fridges isolate compartments at different presets.
- Adjustable humidity – Wine fridges allow tweaking moisture to balance cork health. About 50-70% relative humidity is ideal.
- Locks – Electrically enabled locks protect fine vintages or keep kids out. Provides security.
- Interior lighting – Display contents proudly with lighting. Some include theater-style LED lighting for ‘wow’ factor.
- UV tinted glass – Protects against ultraviolet light that damages beer and wine over time.
- Noise rating – Measured in decibels. Quieter models allow integrating in living spaces. Under 42 dB is very quiet.
- Temperature alarm – Alerts if interior temps fluctuate outside programmed range. Prevents spoilage.
- Door ajar alarm – Sounds if door is accidentally left open. Saves electricity and chilling.
Consider the convenience features that suit your priorities – like lockable security for fine wine collections or multiple zones to chill both beer and wine. Adjustable shelves and storage options add flexibility.
Ideal Placement Locations
Beverage refrigerators can be located pretty much anywhere:
Conveniently access chilled drinks where you entertain. Fits seamlessly:
- Freestanding against wall or island
- Slide undercounter for subtle built-in
- Nearby electrical outlet recommended
Add a conversation piece:
- Built-in with cabinetry or furniture
- Freestanding unit blends with décor
- Plug into nearby outlet
Dedicated Bar Space
Perfect for basement bars and man caves:
- Anchor piece of the room
- Near sink/prep area
- Display vibrant lighting schemes
Garage or Outdoors
Chill drinks without taking up prime real estate:
- Garage entertainment space
- Outdoor kitchen integration
- Weather resistant models
- Requires grounded electrical outlet
Consider existing utilities, traffic flow, ventilation needs, and clearance when deciding on placement. An affordable beverage refrigerator lets you conveniently chill drinks almost anywhere at home.
Review of Top Brands and Notable Models
Here is an overview of some of the top beverage refrigerator brands and the key models they offer:
Known for: Affordable prices with decent quality
- Silhouette DBC050A1BSS – 50-can built-in unit under $300
- Silhouette DBC70A2BSS – 70-can dual zone built-in model around $500
- Diplomat DBC120BLS – Freestanding 53-bottle fridge under $400
Known for: Stylish wine, beverage, and beer fridges
- KRMF706SSLH – 70-bottle dual zone wine fridge under $1500
- KRMA50SSLH – 49-bottle single zone wine cooler around $900
- KRM158SSB – 58-can freestanding beer cooler under $400
Known for: Specialized beverage storage like wine, beer, and outdoor
- NewAir NEBULA NBF300 – 29-bottle dual zone wine fridge for under $300
- NewAir NEBULA NBF126SS01 – 126-can freestanding beer fridge around $400
- NewAir AW-181E Space Saver – 18-inch wide undercounter wine fridge for built-ins
Known for: Reliable midrange brand good for basics
- FFBC4622QS – 95-can counter unit with glass door around $350
- FFZS2224L – 22 bottle built-in unit for under $900
- FFPH2323MS – 92 can counter height fridge for around $400
Do your research to find models best matching your budget, capacity needs, and feature preferences. Hundreds of options are available from quality brands.
For longevity, be sure to regularly maintain your beverage refrigerator:
- Clean interior – Wipe down shelves and boxes with mild cleaner. Vacuum dust from vents and grill.
- Clean door gaskets – Use non-abrasive cloth and baking soda solution to clean seals. Prevents mold.
- Clean condenser coils – For compressor models, vacuum coils on back/underneath per manual. Critical for optimal cooling.
- Check temperature – Monitor temps with thermometer to ensure they’re optimized as contents change.
- Calibrate if needed – Adjust thermostat accordingly if temps are off. Replace if cannot accurately hold temp.
- Check door alignment – Confirm door seals properly all the way around with consistent gap clearance.
Following the manufacturer’s maintenance guidance keeps the fridge looking and running like new. Don’t forget regular upkeep!
FAQs About Beverage Refrigerators
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about beverage refrigerators:
How long should a beverage refrigerator last?
Around 10-15 years is typical for quality units. Invest in reputable brands and properly maintain to maximize lifespan.
Which is better: thermoelectric or compressor cooling?
Compressor is more energy efficient and holds very stable temps. But thermoelectric works anywhere without ventilation needs.
Do locks come pre-installed or need adding?
Locks are often an add-on accessory. Many units have doors pre-drilled for easy DIY handle and lock installation.
What temperature is ideal for wine?
Long term 55°F is ideal for both reds and whites. Short term, chill whites to 45°F and reds around 60°F for proper serving temp.
How much undercounter clearance is needed?
Most 24-inch models need just 24” opening. But confirm clearance required for any ventilation or hardware.
Can I place a beverage refrigerator in non air-conditioned space?
It depends. Compressor models recirculate internal air and may be fine in spaces up to 90°F. Thermoelectric units rely on cooling the surrounding air, so very hot ambients can reduce performance.
A beverage refrigerator provides convenience and great entertaining options. Spend time considering the size, placement, and features that best suit your space and drinking preferences. Then relax and enjoy ice cold beverages anytime!