A small undercounter fridge is often among the best options for a small apartment, and it can be equally valuable in a large kitchen as a way to store overflow items or for quick and convenient access while cooking. Some models are specifically focused on cooling beverages, while others can keep wine at the perfect temperature. They may also suit those with physical limitations, and many are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.
Given the huge variety available, it can be frustrating trying to find one that offers the right combination of performance and value. It’s also important to understand which are true undercounter models and which small fridges might cause unexpected issues. This article provides key information that shoppers need to know and offers our picks for some of the best undercounter refrigerators on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: GE Compact Refrigerator
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Maxximum 5.2 Cu. Ft. Mini Fridge
- BEST FOR BEVERAGES: Insignia 165-Can Built-In Beverage Cooler
- BEST WINE FRIDGE: Newair 15-Inch, 29-Bottle Dual Zone Wine Fridge
- BEST DUAL-ZONE: Kalamera 24-Inch Wine and Beverage Cooler
- BEST STAINLESS STEEL: EdgeStar 142-Can Stainless Steel Beverage Cooler
- BEST OUTDOOR: HCK 5.12 Cu. Ft. 161-Can Indoor/Outdoor Refrigerator
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: Arctic Air Double-Door Undercounter Refrigerator
- BEST DRAWER: Café 5.7 Cu. Ft. Built-In Dual-Drawer Refrigerator
How We Chose the Best Undercounter Refrigerators
When researching the best undercounter refrigerators, we looked at two dozen manufacturers and more than 70 models. Some brands have been around for decades and have well-established reputations for reliability. With those that are less well known, we cross-checked claims with feedback from those who bought from leading refrigerator retailers.
Our aim was to find solutions for as wide a variety of needs as possible. We looked at physical size and internal capacity. We checked the interiors to assess versatility. Where products had a more specific function, like an undercounter beverage fridge, for example, we carefully considered features like shelf layout and temperature control.
Price is always important, and our list ranges from budget-friendly undercounter refrigerators to high-end options. Energy savings is another key feature, and while the U.S. government’s Energy Star guidance is well known, foreign manufacturers might use equally valid certification from their own region. We have mentioned these where relevant.
Our Top Picks
The following represents what we believe to be some of the best undercounter refrigerators on the market right now. Organized by category, the list can help shoppers quickly identify those models that are most likely to fit their needs.
Few brands have a longer positive reputation than GE, and this 24-inch undercounter refrigerator is a fine example of its high quality and excellent design. It’s a popular size because it’s the same width as many standard kitchen cabinets, yet GE makes better use of the space than many competitors. The 5.6-cubic-foot interior includes a useful, and somewhat rare, 0.49-cubic-foot freezer compartment.
Further versatility comes by way of adjustable glass shelves and door compartments that include a can rack. There’s also a crisper for fruit and vegetables and two ice cube trays. For added convenience, the stainless steel door can be mounted for left or right opening.
The GE Compact Refrigerator is Energy Star certified and ADA compliant. While there is little to criticize, the temperature control is quite basic, and the fridge does have to be defrosted manually. Also, GE does not provide a decibel rating.
- Size: 34.125 inches high by 23.625 inches wide by 23.75 inches deep
- Capacity: 5.6 cubic feet
- Energy rating: Energy Star certified
- This energy-efficient model can be used undercounter or freestanding; ADA compliant
- Spacious and versatile interior includes a small freezer compartment with ice trays
- Reversible stainless steel door has recessed handles and can open left or right
- There is no automatic defrost program; the job must be done manually
GE is among many manufacturers who do not provide decibel (dB) ratings for their refrigerators
Get the GE undercounter refrigerator at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or GE Appliances.
Often with low-cost appliances, there are sacrifices in terms of performance or features. That’s not the case with the Maxximum undercounter refrigerator. The 24-inch unit has a competitive capacity of 5.2 cubic feet. While there’s no freezer compartment, there are adjustable shelves, a crisper drawer, and flexible door storage that includes the ability to hold commonly sized gallon containers.
Other bonuses that might not be expected on a budget-friendly undercounter fridge are a reversible door and full auto defrost. The Maxximum fridge is Energy Star certified and ADA compliant. Temperature adjustment is basic, but that’s true of many more expensive models. A decibel rating is not provided. While most owners found the sound level acceptable, some thought it was a little noisy.
- Size: 33.5 inches high by 23.5 inches wide by 24.25 inches deep
- Capacity: 5.2 cubic feet
- Energy rating: Energy Star certified
- Despite the low price, it offers flexible storage and auto defrost
- Is Energy Star certified for low running costs and is ADA compliant
- Can be freestanding or built in and has a reversible door
- No decibel rating is provided; some owners feel it is a little noisy
- As is often the case, this model does not have a freezer compartment
Get the Maxximum undercounter refrigerator at Lowe’s.
One of the key features of an undercounter beverage fridge is typically capacity, and few undercounter fridges can hold more 12-ounce cans than the Insignia, which can fit 165 cans inside. While that amount will prove attractive to many drinks fridge shoppers, the three wire shelves also can be moved to different positions to accommodate bottles and containers of many shapes and sizes.
Temperature range is anywhere from 34 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can be adjusted precisely thanks to an easy-to-use electronic touch panel. Automatic defrost is provided, and a door-open alarm is also included. The door itself is reversible, so it can be mounted on the left or right.
This beverage fridge is not Energy Star certified. Unfortunately, it is not ADA compliant, either.
- Size: 34.3125 inches high by 23.4375 inches wide by 23.3125 inches deep
- Capacity: 5.3 cubic feet
- Energy rating: None
- Has an impressive capacity of 165 standard 12-ounce beverage cans
- Adjustable wire shelves can accommodate a variety of different containers
- An electronic touch panel allows easy and accurate temperature adjustment
- This model is neither Energy Star certified nor ADA compliant
Get the Insignia undercounter refrigerator at Best Buy.
Although temperature is critical for the proper storage of wine, it’s equally important to avoid fluctuations. Newair’s slender 15-inch wine fridge addresses both these issues. It has dual zones that allow for reds, whites, rosés, or sparkling wines to be stored at different temperatures. It also has triple-tempered glass that insulates the contents and protects them from harmful ultraviolet rays. Whatever the atmosphere outside, the wines inside get the care they need. Digital control provides fine-tuning between 40 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
Five adjustable beechwood shelves provide storage for 29 bottles. The door can be locked, but it’s not reversible. Although we couldn’t find Energy Star certification for the Newair wine fridge, it is rated under the U.S. Department of Energy as a low-consumption device. It is not ADA compliant.
- Size: 33.75 inches high by 14.8 inches wide by 22.6 inches deep
- Capacity: 3.2 cubic feet
- Energy rating: U.S. Department of Energy
- Smart, slimline appliance that can be fitted as an undercounter cooler or used freestanding
- Dual temperature zones allow for cooling of different types of wines
- Triple-tempered glass protects wines from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays
- Although a high-quality appliance, it does come with a premium price tag
- The door only opens from the right, which may impact positioning
Get the Newair undercounter refrigerator at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Best Buy.
There are plenty of undercounter wine coolers or beverage fridges, but the Kalamera is the only model we found that combines both. On the left is a wine fridge with a capacity of 20 bottles and a temperature range of 40 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit. On the right is a beverage cooler that can hold 78 soda cans and has a temperature range of 38 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Seamless stainless steel doors and blue-lit glass provide a contemporary appearance. Temperature control is digital, and a temperature-memory feature means that the Kalamera will return to its previous settings in the event of a power cut. At 45 decibels, it is quite quiet, too.
The Kalamera is a high-quality unit, but it does require a substantial investment. Although energy consumption of 90 watts is fairly low, it has not been independently certified. It does not appear to be ADA compliant.
- Size: 34 inches high by 23.5 inches wide by 22.5 inches deep
- Capacity: 5.3 cubic feet
- Energy rating: None
- This model is specifically designed to accommodate both wine bottles and can beverages
- The unit can be installed as a built-in or left freestanding
- Memory function will return temperature to previous settings if there is a power outage
- Although consumption is quite low at 90 watts, there is no independent rating
- Available temperature ranges mean this fridge is not designed for food use
Get the Kalamera undercounter refrigerator at Amazon.
Some things never seem to go out of fashion, like stainless steel kitchen appliances. The EdgeStar Stainless Steel Beverage Cooler has that ever-popular solid stainless steel door and handle, measures at a convenient 24-inch width, and will hold 142 standard 12-ounce cans. The door is reversible, and it has a factory-fitted lock.
Shelves are tempered glass rather than the usual wire racks. These are easier to clean and won’t sag when fully loaded. Temperature range is from 38 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and is digitally controlled. The EdgeStar also has auto defrost.
We were unable to find independent energy ratings, and it is not ADA compliant. While it is well made and usually reliable, we have seen a few reports of eventual compressor failure.
- Size: 33.75 inches high by 23.5 inches wide by 22.875 inches deep
- Capacity: 5.49 cubic feet
- Energy rating: None
- The solid stainless steel door gives a sleek, contemporary appearance
- It comes with accurate digital temperature control and auto defrost
- Tempered-glass shelves are easy to clean and provide better support than wire racks
- No Energy Star or other independent rating; not ADA compliant
- While the vast majority seem reliable, there have been reports of compressor failures
Get the EdgeStar undercounter refrigerator at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Lowe’s.
One potential use for undercounter refrigerators is in outdoor bar or barbecue areas, but it isn’t a good idea to use an indoor model in the yard or garden. Most are simply not designed to put up with bad weather, but the HCK Indoor/Outdoor Refrigerator is outdoor rated. It is constructed from highly durable corrosion-resistant 304 stainless steel and tested as water-resistant to the internationally recognized IPX4 standard.
The HCK can hold up to 161 standard 12-ounce cans, and there is a digital control between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is also suitable for food. Three removable shelves offer flexible storage. The door is reversible and lockable. It also has auto defrost.
While there is no ADA compliance, the HCK beverage cooler does meet both the U.S. Department of Energy and European CE energy-saving standards. The temperature controls are inside, but at the back where they are awkward to reach when the cooler is full.
- Size: 34 inches high by 23.5 inches wide by 23.5 inches deep
- Capacity: 5.1 cubic feet
- Energy rating: U.S. Department of Energy and European CE
- Made from highly durable 304 stainless steel for outdoor use
- The exterior is independently rated as water-resistant to the IPX4 standard
- Precise digital control and built-in sensors maintain constant temperature
- In-line with most outdoor refrigerators, the HCK fridge is quite expensive
- Digital controls are awkward to reach when the fridge is full
Get the HCK undercounter refrigerator at Amazon.
Those who work in commercial food preparation need products with a high capacity and robust build, and the knowledge that appliances meet food hygiene standards. The Arctic Air undercounter refrigerator does all these things. It is made from hard-wearing but easy-to-clean stainless steel both inside and out. Capacity is an impressive 10.1 cubic feet, and it meets the international NSF7 standard for open food storage.
An electronic thermostat and digital controls provide consistent temperature anywhere from 33 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Removable epoxy-coated wire shelves offer flexibility. Locking castors are fitted for those who need to move the fridge around, and the Arctic Air has its own heavy-duty work top. Doors are self-closing with magnetic gaskets.
Undercounter refrigerators of this size and quality are expensive, though the price of the Arctic Air is very competitive.
- Size: 35.625 inches high by 48.25 inches wide by 30 inches deep
- Capacity: 10.1 cubic feet
- Energy rating: Energy Star certified
- Meets the international NSF7 standard for food storage and hygiene
- Durable, easy-clean stainless steel inside and out with epoxy-coated racks
- Locking wheels offer mobility, and it has its own heavy-duty work top
- It is taller than most, so it’s important to check countertop clearance carefully
- Not surprisingly, an undercounter refrigerator of this size requires a significant investment
Get the Arctic Air undercounter refrigerator at Amazon or Appliances Connection.
Kitchen cabinets with drawers rather than doors are becoming increasingly popular. High-end appliance brand Café has picked up on this trend with its super-stylish stainless steel dual-drawer undercounter refrigerator.
Because of the need to position the compressor at the back of the unit, lower undercounter refrigerator drawers always lose a little space. The same is true of many ordinary fridges and freezers. It has little impact on the Café, which has a class-leading capacity of 5.7 cubic feet. Precise temperature control ranges from 34 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, suiting both fresh food and beverages. The drawers offer flexible dividers, are deep enough to hold upright bottles, and have silent closures.
While the Café refrigerator is Energy Star certified and is the only undercounter fridge we found to offer a Sabbath Mode, it is not ADA compliant. It’s also worth noting that stylish quality like this comes with a hefty price tag.
- Size: 33.875 inches high by 23.875 inches wide by 23.75 inches deep
- Capacity: 5.7 cubic feet
- Energy rating: Energy Star certified
- The Café looks great, is well made, and offers class-leading capacity
- Adjustable dividers provide flexible storage, and bottles can stand upright
- The soft-close drawers glide shut without making a sound
- Although undoubtedly of high quality, this model is very expensive
The Café 2-drawer refrigerator is not ADA compliant
Get the Café undercounter refrigerator at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Best Buy.
What to Consider When Choosing an Undercounter Refrigerator
Our top picks give detailed information on some of the best undercounter refrigerators currently available. In the section below, we provide an overview of the key issues that will likely impact most shoppers’ choices.
Built-In vs. Freestanding
Unfortunately, some undercounter refrigerator reviews contain information that can be misleading. It’s common to find a mix of built-in, freestanding, and mini fridges described as undercounter models. While it isn’t impossible to fit a freestanding model (and many are dual-purpose) under the counter, great care needs to be taken.
Most small freestanding fridges are not designed to fit under countertops. Many are simply too tall. It only takes a fraction of an inch difference in height, and they won’t go under. However, the main problem is much more concerning. The majority of freestanding and mini fridges vent at the back. Once enclosed between kitchen cabinets, there is nowhere for the expelled hot air to go. As a result, they are likely to overheat. It is possible to provide sufficient space, but large gaps mean the appearance is not usually what people expect from an undercounter fridge.
Unless there is a very good reason for doing otherwise (and frankly we can’t think of one), we strongly recommend a model that is clearly defined as a built-in undercounter refrigerator.
Size and Capacity
Undercounter refrigerators are usually defined by their width in inches and their capacity in cubic feet. The width indicates the physical space required for the unit to fit between cabinets. It is not usually recommended to put a fridge alongside another appliance, such as a dishwasher, because of potential problems with heat transfer.
The most compact undercounter fridge we included is just 15 inches wide. The largest is 48 inches wide, so there is a lot of choice to suit different kitchens. Dimensions are typically rounded up; for example a fridge that is actually 23.625 inches wide will often be described as 24 inches wide.
Capacity is usually between 5 and 6 cubic feet, though the two-door professional model we feature will hold 10.1 cubic feet. With a drinks refrigerator, the size is often given as the number of bottles or 12-ounce cans it can chill.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends food be kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and many undercounter fridges run in the 33 to 38 degree Fahrenheit range. A choice of settings is usually provided. Some allow precise digital adjustment, though many have a dial marked from 0 to 6, for example, rather than including actual degrees.
Temperature range may be different for an undercounter beverage cooler, or a wine fridge that often offers accurate settings, and may run as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Dual-zone undercounter refrigerators, as the name suggests, can set two areas independently.
Undercounter fridges are frequently used as an overflow for an upright model with its own freezer compartment or in addition to a full-size freezer. As a result, it can be challenging to find an undercounter refrigerator freezer or undercounter refrigerator-freezer combo.
The door on an undercounter fridge has an impact on both its appearance and its function. Many styles are available. Stainless steel is always popular, as are glass doors that allow the contents to be seen. Some undercounter fridges are panel ready, meaning they can accept a panel of the same design as the kitchen cabinets. Drawers are another option that some people find more convenient, and those that provide a temperature display tend to be popular, too.
Which side the fridge opens can also be a big issue, affecting where the fridge can be positioned. Many have reversible doors (can be either left or right opening), but that’s not always the case, so it’s worth checking this feature.
A noisy fridge can soon get frustrating, and putting one under a counter can actually amplify the sound levels if it echoes through the cabinets on either side. While this is seldom a major problem with modern units, it is still worth consideration. Like many items, the noise from kitchen appliances is measured in decibels, and most small fridges are in the 35 to 45 dB range.
To give some real-life comparison, the CDC says that 30 dB is approximately the same as someone whispering, 60 dB is the equivalent of normal conversation, and 95 dB is similar to the sound of a motorcycle engine.
Unfortunately, some manufacturers don’t make this information readily available, so finding noise levels for a specific model can be difficult.
Tips for Installing an Undercounter Refrigerator
Installing an undercounter refrigerator is usually fairly straightforward as long as there is a convenient electrical outlet or if buyers have had an outlet already installed for this purpose. Hardwiring the unit is another possibility, but it’s often not convenient. Many DIYers are capable of doing this themselves, but we always recommend the use of a professional for anyone who isn’t confident of the process.
- If fitting under an existing countertop, check the countertop clearance carefully. Many are 25 inches, some are 24 inches, and other sizes are possible.
- Most undercounter refrigerators vent to the front and have a predefined width, but it’s still important to check the space requirement behind the fridge. If the power outlet is back there, check that there is space for the plug.
- If choosing a panel-ready undercounter refrigerator, checking sizes is even more important or the finished unit may not align properly and can spoil the overall appearance.
Remember to check which side the door opens. Some models are reversible, while many are not.
While researching for this article, we found a few questions about under-the-counter refrigerator installation that may be important to most potential buyers. Check out the answers to the most frequently asked questions below.
Q. Can you put a fridge under a counter?
Yes, you can put a fridge under a counter, but it’s important to choose one designed for the purpose. Simply putting in a small stand-alone fridge will often lead to problems with overheating. Undercounter fridges vent to the front.
Q. What is the main purpose of an under-the-counter fridge?
The main purpose of an undercounter fridge varies. It is often used as an overflow for a full-size refrigerator or a convenient place to keep food close to preparation areas that are outside of the kitchen. They might also be dedicated to beverages or wine. Often they are worth considering for the space they might save in small homes and apartments or the convenience they offer for those with disabilities.
Q. How long should an undercounter refrigerator last?
If installed correctly, an undercounter refrigerator can last from 10 to 20 years.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Researcher and product specialist Bob Beacham has been writing consumer advice articles for national publications for more than a decade. He covers a wide variety of home and garden-related subjects and is known for providing information that is thorough yet easy to understand.