Beverage Refrigeration Basics

What is the difference between a refrigerator, a beverage cooler, and a wine cooler?
A wine cooler is set to a higher temperature range than a refrigerator or beverage cooler because wine should not be stored as cold as other products. A beverage cooler and refrigerator are similar, but beverage coolers often do not have the adjustable shelves or door storage that a refrigerator will, and they often have glass fronts to display the contents. Typically, a solid door refrigerator will be able to achieve overall lower temperatures than a glass door beverage cooler. A combination wine and beverage cooler has a wide temperature range so it can be used for either, but keep in mind if you want to store both at the same time you will either have too-cold wine or too-warm drinks.

What is the difference between a freestanding and an under counter unit?
A freestanding unit is designed to stand alone while an under counter (also called a zero clearance or built-in) unit can be built into existing counters and cabinetry because it is vented in the front. The under counter units are usually more expensive because of this feature.

Can I build in a freestanding unit?
You may place a freestanding unit into cabinetry but will need to leave 2-3 inches of space around the sides and top of the unit and 3-4 inches of space in the back so that it may vent properly. If you do not allow for this venting space your unit will most likely overheat and fail to operate as designed. You also run the risk of invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty by operating a freestanding unit in a built-in space. Keep the extra space needed in mind when building your cabinetry or shopping for a new unit to go into existing cabinetry.

Can I use my refrigerator outside?
If you wish to locate a refrigerator or beverage cooler outdoors you should purchase a unit that includes an “outdoor use” designation from the manufacturer. A unit designed for outdoor use will include additional insulation as well as better shielding of the electronic components from the elements. The additional insulation will allow the unit to cool without overworking the internal compressor as the unit will be located in what is typically a warmer outdoor environment. You also run the risk of invalidating the unit’s warranty since indoor rated models are not designed for outdoor use.