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Can You Put a Refrigerator Outside?

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For households with big families, having a second refrigerator is a dream come true—especially if you like to entertain outside. Nothing beats having an icebox stocked with food and beverages right on the patio or next to the barbecue. Is it, however, safe to take the fridge outside?

In general, typical indoor refrigerators aren’t built to survive the environment or be rust-proof, so it’s not recommended to use this outdoors. However, a refrigerator designated for outdoor usage can be used outside if the proper safety precautions are taken. 

If you’re new to outdoor refrigeration, it might be a bit confusing knowing where to keep your fridge. We’re here to address some of your frequently asked outdoor refrigerator questions. Let’s go more into the topic of using refrigerators outside and find out what’s safe to do and what isn’t.

Can You Use an Indoor Refrigerator Outside?

An outside refrigerator appears to be an excellent idea. It’s a terrific way to add more storage space for chilled food, and if you have an outdoor kitchen or grill, it’s convenient to have food and drinks nearby while you cook.

However, it’s a frequent misconception that refrigerators of any sort are constructed to withstand any weather condition. If your refrigeration appliance isn’t installed correctly, you risk your safety as well as the operation and longevity of the fridge.

Typical indoor refrigerators aren’t built to survive the weather, and they’re considerably less safe outside. So, what distinguishes an outdoor refrigerator from one in your kitchen?

What Is the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Refrigerators?

Outdoor refrigerators can work reliably across a wider temperature range. They’re also made of durable, weather-resistant, and rust-resistant materials. Because water and electricity are never a good mix, outdoor refrigerators must also be UL certified to ensure the appliance’s safety.

While the basic science is the same whether you’re inside or outside, each refrigerator is designed for a specific environment. Different temperature ranges necessitate different cooling solutions.

Residential temperatures typically range from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Outside of this temperature range, indoor refrigerators lose efficacy, which means you’ll probably have some problems in the hotter and colder months.

There’s a reason why patio and garage refrigerators are typically kept for drinks. If the temperature falls below freezing, your refrigerator may seize and stop working altogether. Its outdoor equivalent has a greater range and better insulation to protect both the food and the mechanics.

Things To Consider When Picking a Fridge for Outdoor Use

Even if you’ve chosen an outdoor refrigerator, you may still take precautions to ensure that it runs well and stays running as long as possible. Here are some pointers to help you get there.

  • Flexibility: Outdoor refrigerators are intended to function at a considerably broader range of ambient temperatures than interior refrigerators. As a result, a refrigerator designed for outdoor usage will also work well indoors.
  • Finish: A regular refrigerator can rust due to constant exposure to the weather; however, an outdoor model is made of rust-resistant materials such as grade 304 stainless steel.
  • Construction: An outdoor unit is substantially more insulated to limit the impact of temperature variations, protect the contents, and reduce the strain on system components such as the motor and compressor.

You’ll also want to think about budget, space, and length of stay. Outdoor refrigerators are ideally suited to locations without harsh winters. When the external temperature falls below that of the refrigerator’s interior, the device will no longer be able to manage the temperature and may shut down.

How Much is an Outdoor Fridge?

An outdoor refrigerator/beverage cooler can cost anywhere from $550 to $1,200, while an indoor under cabinet refrigerator costs roughly $200.

An outdoor refrigerator costs more to manufacture and is composed of higher-grade materials. Your indoor fridge, for example, does not have to be made of 304-grade stainless steel or have UL-certified watertight components. A regular indoor fridge, on the other hand, does not have all that extra insulation.

Tips For Using a Fridge Outside

Investing in an outdoor fridge can take a chunk out of your pocketbook. While it’s not possible to control the weather, there are some things you can do to help your refrigerator withstand those harsh elements outdoors. 

Regularly Inspect and Clean Your Fridge

Keeping a fridge outside exposes it to extra dust, dirt, and potential damage. It is crucial to examine and clean the appliance components regularly to keep your refrigerator working.

Examine the refrigerator from the inside out, paying careful attention to any sections that show signs of damage. Inspect the interior and outside of the refrigerator for dents and scratches.

It’s also essential to inspect the coils. Failure to clean your refrigerator’s coils might cost you a lot of money. When your refrigerator’s coils become blocked, it has to work harder to accomplish the same activities. If the appliance is working harder, it will create extra wear and tear, and you will eventually need to replace the fridge. 

Provide Cover for Your Outdoor Refrigerator

Excessive exposure to rain, sun, and wind may expedite the demise of any appliance, even if it is intended for outside usage.

To safeguard and extend the life of your new outdoor fridge, we recommend finding the best location for it. A covered patio helps keep the worst of the rain off, as well as the blistering direct sun heat. If you don’t have a covered patio, installing a pergola or other type of roof over your outdoor kitchen will allow you to enjoy it more often and help keep your outdoor appliances protected.

Put Thought into Placement

While an outdoor refrigerator can withstand higher temperatures than an indoor one, it is advisable to keep them to a minimum to improve the unit’s function and durability. Keep the refrigerator away from direct sunlight and away from the weather, and keep the space around it clear of plants and garbage.

A sufficient movement of air around an outdoor fridge is also required to not burn up the motor. Make sure there is enough space for air to flow all around all sides. Clear the space surrounding it of fallen leaves and other debris.

Bottom Line

It’s not a good idea to use an inside fridge outside for safety reasons. Prices for outdoor refrigerators have come down significantly the last few years making them more affordable.

Having an outdoor refrigerator in your outdoor kitchen offers great convenience. Whether you’re storing meat before firing up the grill, entertaining friends or simply when you want a cold drink without having to go back and forth inside every time.

If you’re looking at adding an outdoor kitchen to your backyard patio or deck, we have several articles detailing what size for an outdoor kitchen, how much should an outdoor kitchen cost with 6 examples and what countertops are best for outdoor kitchens. Good luck with your outdoor kitchen project!

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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