What is a Counter-Depth Refrigerator?

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Updated June 27, 2022

One of the best kitchen appliances around is the refrigerator.

It’s a simple enough question, “What is a counter-depth refrigerator?”. In short, it’s a refrigerator in which depth matches the width of the kitchen’s countertops. But it can be a bit more complicated than that, so keep reading to get a better handle on the differences between standard and counter-depth refrigerators. Also read about the best refrigerator brands while you are here.

What is the Difference Between a Counter-Depth and Standard Refrigerator?

Standard Refrigerator Depth
Standard-depth refrigerators will protrude from most cabinetry

It’s likely that while growing up your parents owned a standard refrigerator. You know the style: a freezer on top with a single swinging door on the bottom. Or perhaps, if your family was a bit more well-off, you had a side-by-side with top to bottom doors, one for the freezer and the other for the refrigerator compartment.

Counter-depth refrigerators have grown in popularity over the course of the past two decades or so, as they blend into standard-depth kitchen counters and leave finished kitchens with a nice customized look. So how deep is a counter-depth refrigerator?

Plainly put, counter-depth refrigerators are as deep as the cabinets they’re installed with. Counter-depth refrigerators are shallower than most others (usually between 24 and 26.5 inches deep), but make up for less depth in width. Conversely, standard refrigerators measure roughly 31 to 36 inches in depth (including door handles) and are not intended to blend in to kitchen cabinets and counters. Buyers might want to make a statement with the refrigerator, or perhaps install the appliance separately and away from kitchen cabinetry if it isn’t a counter-depth machine.

What Type of Refrigerator is Right for Me?

Counter Depth Fridge
Both popular styles of refrigerators (french door pictured here) come in counter-depth variations

Buyers have several distinct styles to choose from when buying a refrigerator. Aside from depth, consumers will need to compare the look and utility of a new refrigerator. Standard, French door, and side-by-side are the primary options available.

As stated above, standard refrigerators have a freezer on the top and a single door refrigerator compartment on the bottom. French door refrigerators feature side-by-side doors on the top two-thirds of the fridge, and have a slide out freezer compartment on the bottom (a counter depth French door refrigerator is a favorite among buyers).

Side-by-side refrigerators have full-length, double doors and utilize one for the freezer section and the other for the refrigerator section. Refrigerator design and functionality should be carefully considered when buying to ensure that your refrigerator nicely matches the style you’re looking for.

Counter-depth refrigerator dimensions need to be considered and compared with your specific cabinetry to ensure that depth is indeed the same.

A common misconception is that all counters have the same depth. While most average homes in the United States have counters that measure 24 inches in depth, some larger homes (especially those with custom-built kitchen cabinets) feature much deeper storage spaces. Always measure before you buy.

What Else Should I Consider?

Be Careful: Just because a refrigerator’s depth is the same as counter-depth refrigerators, doesn’t make it a counter-depth refrigerator (try saying that five times fast). If you’re shopping for a counter-depth fridge, make sure the models you’re looking at are marketed as counter-depth. Design aspects like door hinging and measurement information may take counter integration into account while non-counter-depth units might not.

Other Appliances: Take into account the overall look of your custom kitchen. Do other appliances fit flush against cabinets? You may want to consider buying other appliances designed for counter installation too.

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