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Answering Your Common Outdoor Refrigerator Questions [FAQ]

by Bill Welles

Not all refrigerators are created equal. First and foremost, refrigerators are broken up into two separate categories: indoor and outdoor. These are not interchangeable appliances, yet people will still make the mistake of using an outdoor beverage fridge in both indoor and outdoor spaces.

It's a common misconception that refrigerators of any kind are built to live in any condition, but if your refrigeration appliance isn’t installed in the correct location, you’re risking safety, as well as the functionality and longevity of the fridge.

If you’re new to the outdoor refrigeration space, it can be a tricky concept to grasp at first. So, if you’re wondering how it works, we’re here to answer some of your common outdoor refrigerator questions.

reaching for cold drinks in a cooler

Outdoor Refrigerator Benefits

Before we dive right into the Q&A, let’s briefly discuss the benefits of an outdoor refrigerator. The first one that comes to mind is durability. Whether your outdoor culinary space is used daily or during special family barbecues, you want to rely on your refrigerator to keep your favorite snacks and beverages perfectly chilled at all times.

We've never experienced a host who looks forward to serving warm drinks or sprinting back into the house every time someone needs an extra condiment or a few additional ice cubes—an outdoor fridge provides a level of convenience for any homeowner to contain all their culinary essentials in one central location.

Whether you have a compact outdoor fridge, an under-cabinet outdoor fridge, or even an outdoor freezer or ice maker, you’ll never have to leave your own celebration to stock up on supplies. They provide all the food storage you could need, and more premium outdoor fridge models even come equipped with interior LED lighting, see-through glass doors, and auto-locking panels.

If you’re an aficionado of adult beverages, some outdoor kegerators can store up to 165 beers at the perfect frosty temperature. Need we say more? Simply put, an outdoor refrigerator will instantly enhance any backyard gathering. Even though they are oftentimes overshadowed by their full-size indoor counterparts, an outdoor fridge is the fuel that keeps any party running.

outdoor fridge stocked with water, appetizers, and dips

Frequently Asked Questions

Before the anticipation becomes too much to bear, let’s discuss your common outdoor refrigerator questions.

1. Can you put a refrigerator outside?

Yes, a refrigerator labeled for outdoor use can be used outside if the proper safety precautions are established. Outdoor refrigerators have safeguards in place that protect against problems commonly found with indoor fridges. An outdoor fridge has a wider range of temperatures that the appliance can reliably function at. They are often made of durable materials that can withstand the elements. Because of this, certain outdoor refrigerators can be known to cost more than an entry-level indoor fridge.

2. Why are outdoor refrigerators so expensive?

This is an interesting question. When purchasing any outdoor appliance, it’s more about the value that the appliance brings to your outdoor kitchen rather than the exact purchase price. However, there are a few elements to an outdoor fridge that can drive up the cost. For example:

  • Weatherproofing: All electrical components need to be safeguarded from wet conditions to avoid damage.
  • Rust resistance: High-quality stainless steel is often used to resist rust in wet or humid environments.
  • Insulation: It’s hotter and colder outdoors than it is indoors, so your appliance will require extra insulation to keep the contents inside cool.
  • Advanced compressors: The mechanical parts of the fridge must be designed to work overtime to keep everything cool in warm conditions. Insulation alone won’t do the trick.
  • UV protection: If the sun is beating down on your fridge, this can raise the temperature and damage the surface of your appliance.
  • Ventilation: If your outdoor fridge is built into a kitchen island or countertop, it will require additional venting space to function properly.

outdoor refrigerator drawers

3. What is the difference between an indoor and outdoor refrigerator?

Beyond the obvious difference that one is built for indoor use and the other is built for outdoor use, the first main difference is ambient range. A refrigerator needs to work to keep everything inside cold despite the outer temperature. The average temperature inside an individual’s household might be somewhere around 60 to 75 degrees; whereas, outdoor temperatures can reach extreme highs and extreme lows from blazing hot to piercing cold.

Outdoor temperatures change dramatically from sunrise to nightfall, and an outdoor fridge must maintain a consistently cold temperature regardless of an unstable environment, requiring additional insulation and powerful compressors to keep everything operating smoothly.

Secondly, outdoor fridges require specialized weatherproofing for the electrical compartments. Even if you’re fridge is built into a cabinet, it can still be exposed to rain and other elements. Water and electricity go together like oil and vinegar, so unique design precautions are taken to reduce the chance of fires or electrocution.

beverage dispenser outdoor fridge

4. Can a refrigerator sit outside in the winter?

As you’re well aware, we’ve got some harsh winters here in the Pittsburgh area, so protecting your appliances in extreme climates is crucial. If installed properly and kept away from rain or snowfall, your outdoor fridge can withstand the winter.

However, with some outdoor refrigeration appliances, if the outdoor temperature drops below the interior temperature of the fridge, it may affect the regulation of the appliance. The compressor kicks in when the internal temperature rises or drops too far, and winter weather can trick the compressor into thinking it doesn’t need to activate to chill the contents of the fridge.

5. How do you prepare an outdoor fridge for winter?

A fridge that is rated for outdoor use is weatherproof and more equipped to withstand winter conditions; however, the compressor still faces a difficult test during extreme weather. It isn’t so much about preparation as it is investing in a product to handle your local seasons.

An outdoor fridge requires 304-grade stainless steel to be considered weatherproof. This high-grade material resists rust and corrosion caused by inclement weather. Most outdoor fridges also come equipped with additional weatherproofing features like door and bearing seals to protect against rain, snow, heat, or debris.

outdoor fridge stocked with fruits and beverages

Opt Outside

An outdoor refrigerator provides the same conveniences in a durable and compact model built to withstand the rigors of our Pittsburgh climate. Your entertainment capabilities are unlimited, you’ll create less waste from stocking up on individually bought cans or bottles, and an outdoor fridge acts as a tremendous display piece to add a serious wow factor to your outdoor kitchen. It's a no-brainer for any host.

If you’re ready to invest in an outdoor fridge for summer or you’d like more information on any of our outdoor kitchen appliances, visit one of the 10 Don’s Appliances locations in the greater Pittsburgh area, or shop online today!