The idea of having an outdoor refrigerator may seem somewhat foreign to many people, but there has actually been some astonishing development in recent years. Whether you’ve got a full outdoor kitchen set up, a BBQ pit, patio, or a poolside, a quality outdoor refrigerator is a perfect alternative for keeping snacks cool and refreshments cold without having to trek all the way back into the house every time.
Here at The Backyard Pros, we’ve decided to do a deep dive into the 10 best outdoor refrigerators for your backyard this year.
What to Consider When Buying an Outdoor Refrigerator?
One of the very first things you’re going to have to consider is the overall size, and dimensions of the item. It is vital that you pay attention to size when choosing an outdoor refrigerator because some models are specifically designed to hold products for a small number of people (1-2). While others may offer more room, as well as ‘built-in’ features to help conserve space.
Most popular models are small enough to tuck underneath your kitchen counter or be hidden in a narrow cabinet, without compromising the overall capacity of the unit (5 Cu.ft. on average). To give you an idea, the average outdoor refrigerator is around 23” (D) x 23” (W) x 34” (H). However, larger refrigerators are closer to 6’ high, with the width and depth staying (roughly) the same.
It’s also important to remember that the ideal fridge temperature is between 37°F and 40°F, and some that have a freezer will come with certain markings that indicate their temperature ranges. For example, 1 star means a maximum low temperature of 21.2°F, in which case the food can be stored for up to 2 weeks. 2 stars means the internal temperature will drop to 10.4°F, so that the food can last for up to 3 months. And 3 stars means that the temperature will sit at -0.4°F, allowing you to store the food for up to 1 year. This is why it is paramount that you take the time to understand what (exactly) you’ll be using the fridge for (and for how long).
Another important consideration is whether or not a freezer is included with the unit, and what the model’s defrosting measures look like. Having a freezer built-in to your refrigerator can help save time, energy, and cost in the long run (depending on how much you use it). Modern outdoor refrigerators will typically come with one of three different types of freezing mechanics; thermoelectric, absorption, and compressor. Generally, thermoelectric designs are the most silent, while the compressor designs are the noisiest.
Likewise, defrosting can also be one of three types; mechanical, drip, or automatic (‘no frost’). Mechanical is the most economically friendly option, but also the most complicated. While the drip type works by allowing the moisture to flow down the walls into a pallet located above the compressor. Modern technology is gradually moving away from the mechanical controls towards the electronic-type of control due to the increased accuracy and reliability. Although, fridges without freezers are far more energy-efficient, so there are some benefits to be gained regardless.
The Overall Quality
The final point that you’re going to want to consider is the overall quality of the item of discussion. Specifically, pay close attention to what materials are being used for the shelving, since leading brands will offer glass and metal modifications, while others will have wire perforated shelves. These are considered to be the best because they provide proper air circulation, which helps to keep your food fresh for longer.
Also, consider the quality of the compressors used for the refrigerator. Oftentimes, refrigerators with one compressor are smaller and less expensive but are also more prone to malfunction. This is why it’s generally thought that two-unit compressor refrigerators are cheaper in the long run (plus, you can just turn off one compressor and only use one part of the fridge if necessary).
10 Best Outdoor Refrigerators for Your Backyard Space
1. Bull Outdoor Products 11001 Stainless Steel Front Panel Refrigerator
The Bull 11001 Stainless-Steel Front Panel Refrigerator is easily one of the best outdoor refrigerators today due to the industry-leading reliability, and efficiency that come with Bull products. This Bull model is far more compact, and lighter compared to other models on this list, and can perfectly fit into any outdoor kitchen space. It can easily hold up to 7 12oz cans of your favourite drink, and features a reversible 304 stainless-steel door and a mechanical thermostat.
The interior of the model also features 3 removable wire coated shelves, a full width door with storage racks and a storage/drip tray. Also, the weight of the unit is just over 60 lbs, so it’s very easy to maneuver or relocate if need be. Bull refrigerators typically come with outstanding customer reviews, and the same can be said with this model. It’s without a doubt one of the best outdoor refrigerators for backyard use.
2. Blaze Blz-Ssrf-40D Outdoor Refrigerator
Another exceptional option is the Blaze Blz-Ssrf-40D Outdoor Refrigerator, a remarkable design that comes fully wrapped in 304 grade stainless steel, and features front venting quick and easy installation. Also, with over 4.1 Cu.ft. of storage space, you should never have an issue keeping your drinks or condiments cool in the hot summer months, and the temperature controls can also be adjusted anywhere from 35°F-64°F, to allow for full flexibility.
It also comes with an automatic defrost function, a powerful internal fan, a built-in lock system, and a digital thermostat for easy and accurate temperature control. This reliable unit also comes with a reversible door, meaning that you can swing it open from the right or the left side, allowing for even more convenience and functionality. As well as 3 adjustable wire shelves, and a ‘soft’ LED light on the inside of the unit. The Blaze Blz-Ssrf-40D Outdoor Refrigerator has been UL-approved to meet all standards for outdoor use, and remains one of the best options for any backyard arrangement in 2021.
3. EdgeStar CBR1501SSOD Outdoor Refrigerators
Sliding into our third spot on the list we’ve got Edgestar’s CBR1501SSOD model that comes loaded with innovative features, and industry-leading reviews. This sleek design comes with a reliably integrated fan, and is enclosed with a durable stainless-steel exterior. The temperature range for this model can be anywhere between 38°F-50°F, and features digital temperature controls, and a convenient auto-defrost function.
The EdgeStar CBR1501SSOD model also comes with an integrated door lock system (with two keys), blue LED lights for ‘soft illumination’, and 3 removable tempered-glass shelves. This unit also sets itself apart as one of the few that can function as either a freestanding or built-in application. Unquestionably one of the best outdoor refrigerators for any backyard in 2021.
4. Danby 4.4 Cu.ft. DAR044A6BSLDBO Outdoor Refrigerator
The Danby DAR044A6BSLDBO Outdoor Refrigerator has 124 liters of storage space, and illustrates one of the more efficient, and eco-friendly alternatives on the market. The exterior of this unit is entirely waterproof, scratch-resistant, and is UV-protected. It also comes with a spot-resistant stainless-steel finish along the frame of the door, as well as a built-in lock for additional security.
This exceptional Danby outdoor refrigerator is capable of holding a food-grade waterproof ice bucket, and features a convenient auto-defrost function, and an efficient CanStor beverage dispenser. Also included in this outdoor fridge is an up-to-date mechanical thermostat, more LED lights for ‘soft illumination’, and 3 durable shelves made of tempered-glass. Plus, there’s also a clear vegetable crisper included in the base of the model.
5. Bull 24” 4.9 Cu.ft. Premium Outdoor Rated Compact Refrigerator Series Ii (13700)
The Bull 13700 Series is one of the best units on the market hands-down, with over 4.9 Cu.ft of storage space, and a state-of-the-art sleek aesthetic. It’s masterfully constructed with a durable 304 stainless-steel exterior, and 3 sturdy wire shelves (2 of which can be adjusted). You can also adjust the temperature from 32°F-50°F, and it is ETL, doe, and CE-approved for outdoor use. The Bull 13700 Series is fully-equipped with a built-in lock, automatic defrost, and two front venting fans (internal/external), as well as a self-closing stainless-steel door. This exceptional model easily presents some of the most value amongst outdoor refrigerators in 2021.
6. Thor Kitchen TRF2401U Outdoor Refrigerator
The Thor Kitchen TRF2401U Outdoor Refrigerator is certainly one of the more unique designs on the market, but nonetheless extremely spacious, durable, and convenient. Not only is the exterior of the fridge amazingly durable (304 stainless-steel), but it’s also surprisingly easy to maintain. With this model being from ‘Thor’, you can expect no frost or cleaning issues, and its 5.3 Cu.ft storage space capacity is extremely competitive. This model also features blue LED lights on the interior, and front ventilation to allow for easy and convenient maneuvering. The unit also carries a temperature range of 32°F-50°F, and is ETL, CETL, DOE, and ROHS-certified.
7. Summit SPR627OS Outdoor Refrigerator
The Summit 24” 4.6 Cu.ft. is another incredibly efficient, and reliable option, specifically designed for outdoor use, and carries the ability to withstand any sort of weather conditions. This remarkable outdoor refrigerator comes with 3 adjustable glass shelves, soft LED interior lighting, a digital thermostat, and a built-in door lock.
It’s also EnergyStar compliant and comes with tremendously flexible features such as the front venting, a reversible door, and a 304 stainless-steel finish. The Summit 24” 4.6 Cu.ft. model’s eco-friendly and easy-to-clean design, as well as its luxurious jet black interior, make this unit one of the better alternatives in 2021. It’s also ETL-certified for commercial use, and meets DOE standards for home use.
8. Avallon 3.3 Cu.ft. 15” Outdoor Refrigerator
The Avallon 3.3 Cu.ft. 15” Outdoor Refrigerator is another fantastic option for anyone in need of a durable, convenient, and reliable outdoor refrigerator. More specifically, this unit is perfect for people who want (or need) the additional storage space, or prefer the mobility provided from attaching the optional casters. It also comes with a sturdy stainless-steel handle, a stainless-steel front vent, and the unit carries a temperature range of 34°F-50°F.
Also, included is a carbon filter, as well as internal LED lights that can alternate between blue and white. Inside the fridge you will find 3 sanded glass shelves, as well as a tough control panel, and auto defrost function. This is the ‘right-hinged’ version, but there is also a left-hinged version available as well (AFR151SSODLH). Undoubtedly one of the better alternatives in 2021.
9. Whynter BOR-326FS Outdoor Refrigerator
The Whynter BOR-326FS Outdoor Refrigerator is an amazingly compact design that takes up much less space compared to other models on this list, while still offering up substantial storage room. This unit carries a substantial temperature range between 35°F-50°F, and features reversible door hinges, a reliable door locking system (with key), and soft LED lighting.
The model can be freestanding or built-in your outdoor (or indoor) kitchen counter due to its front-venting design. Plus, this unit is approved for outdoor use, and ETL certified. With over 3.2 Cu.ft. of storage space, 3 adjustable yet durable wire shelves, and a variety of incredibly convenient features. The Whynter BOR-326FS model is without a doubt one of the best outdoor refrigerators on the market in 2021.
10. RCS Grill REFR2 23” Stainless-Steel 5.6 Cu.ft Outdoor Refrigerator
RCS rounds out our top 10 with their REFR2 model which features a gorgeous 304 stainless-steel exterior, as well as over 5.6 Cu.ft of storage space, and a secure door locking system. This unit also comes with a convenient LED adjustable thermostat, 2 wire shelves, 1 wire drawer, and a temperature range between 33°F-43°F. It’s also UL rated for outdoor use, and is backed with a reliable 5-year warranty. With raving customer reviews and innovative features, The RCS Grill REFR2 model is absolutely one of the best outdoor refrigerators this year.
Outdoor Refrigerators FAQs
Are Outdoor Refrigerators Worth It?
All in all, whether or not outdoor refrigerators are ‘worth it’ is going to depend entirely on the individual, and the situation at hand. For example, we’ve mentioned in another one of our articles how indoor refrigerators can be used outdoors, but only under certain conditions. If you will only be keeping it outside for a minimal amount of time, and can protect it from the sun/weather conditions. Then you should be fine. However, under almost any other conditions, you’re going to need a legitimate outdoor refrigerator. Outdoor refrigerators are absolutely worth it if you plan on spending a lot of time outside because they provide a great convenience in the summer and most are built to last for several years.
Why are Outdoor Refrigerators so Expensive?
Outdoor refrigerators are typically more expensive than indoor refrigerators because they are made with higher-grade materials, and likely carry more convenient features. Indoor fridges are built to live in a consistent temperature zone (typically somewhere between 60°F-80°F), which means that they cannot handle fluctuating temperatures. Making it next to impossible to use them outdoors for an extended period of time.
However, outdoor fridges can maintain a consistent internal temperature for longer, and in far less stable environments. Also, the materials used to make both indoor and outdoor fridges are entirely different. Almost all fridges (indoor or outdoor) are made from stainless steel, but not all stainless steel is made the same. An outdoor fridge has to be 304 stainless-steel (or higher) in order to avoid rust or corrosion from being exposed to extreme weather conditions.
Outdoor fridges tend to feature these sort of weatherproofing features, which help to make the unit far more reliable, but also far more expensive. Not to mention all the other features like lock and key systems, digital thermostats, and built-in/freestanding functionality. All of which will only further drive up the price of the unit.
Are There Any Outdoor Fridges I should Avoid?
Even while there are some exceptional options for outdoor refrigerators, we would be remiss if not to mention some of the ‘less than desirable’ units on the market. One of the top models that’s received quite a lot of criticism is the ‘Sunstone Grills SUNFR401 Outdoor Refrigerator’. Even though the unit is made with 304 stainless-steel material, and has over 4.1 Cu.ft. of storage space. Multiple customers have reported issues with the sturdiness of the shelving, as well as the overall price of the fridge (way more expensive than its competitors).
Also, Blaze is a company that has garnered a pretty big reputation in the industry, and for mostly positive reasons. However, their Blz-Ssrf130 20” 4.5 Cu.ft. model has not been so lucky. The pros of this model are that it has over 4.5 Cu.ft of storage space, 3 wire shelves, and a built-in locking system. However, the issue with this unit is that it promotes itself as a ‘stainless-steel’ outdoor refrigerator, and yet it doesn’t feature a UL rating, meaning that it could easily rust if left outside. A bit of a problem for an ‘outdoor refrigerator’.
In conclusion, an outdoor fridge is one of the best appliances you can add to your outdoor kitchen arrangement, and there are a lot of amazing outdoor refrigerators on the market in 2021. And even while they are on the expensive side of things, they are well beyond worth it for the ‘outdoorsy-type’.
Now that we’ve provided you with a decent idea of the best outdoor refrigerators for your backyard, all that’s left to do is get out there, and pick the right one for you!
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.