How To Extend Your Outdoor Refrigerator’s Life

outdoor refrigerator next to outdoor kitchen island

There are 4 basic things you can do to maintain your outdoor refrigerator for a longer life, and optimize your investment.

Even though these appliances are specially engineered to hold up in outdoor conditions, you can still extend the lifespan of your outdoor refrigerator, with a little extra attention and care.

Each refrigerator's manual will have instructions for the best way to care for, and get the most out of your outdoor refrigerator, but here are a few general guidelines:

Keep your outdoor fridge dry

1. Keep It Dry

Just because it's an “outdoor” refrigerator doesn't mean it's “all-weather” — that it can withstand rain, snow, and hurricanes. Keep it covered from the rain, and away from the pool, sink, and other sources of water.

If it's not built-in to your outdoor kitchen island, bring it inside when it's wet outside. This is especially important if the electrical components are not properly weatherproofed and UL rated for outdoor use.

keep your outdoor refrigerator out of direct sunlight

2. Avoid Direct Sunlight

We all know that sunlight will heat things up. But, we assume that because the sun is not shining on the inside of our refrigerator, the contents are safe from the extra heat.

Refrigerators work by pulling heat from inside, and releasing it into the air outside. If it's too hot on the outside, the heat won't be released properly.

Also, heat gets transferred through the metal and other parts of the fridge. If the insulation is not thick enough, it will let some of the heat inside to your food and drinks.

You can build it into (or store it under) a cabinet or kitchen island that will keep it out of the sunlight. Or, you can keep your fridge covered and in the shade.

However, if you cover it, be sure that you also…

ventilate your outdoor fridge

3. Keep it Ventilated

As I just mentioned, refrigerators need to release the heat from the inside into the air around it. If there is no air around it, or if the air isn't properly refreshed, then the heat can't escape, and the contents don't get cold.

The so-called “built-in” refrigerators have a vent on the front to make sure hot air can get out of the fridge even if you install it snugly into an outdoor kitchen island, or a cabinet of some kind.

“Freestanding” refrigerators do not have an vent on the front, and need to have the top, back, and sides exposed to some air in order to release the heat.

Built-In Outdoor Refrigerator
A “Built-In” Outdoor Refrigerator with vents on the bottom front
Freestanding Outdoor Refrigerator
A “Freestanding” Outdoor Refrigerator has no additional vents

*NOTE: This doesn't mean that a Built-In outdoor fridge can't be used freestanding, nor that a Freestanding outdoor fridge can't be built-in to your outdoor kitchen island.

It just means that the Freestanding designs need to be built in with at least an inch or two of space around it so that the heat can escape.

Read your outdoor refrigerator manual carefully

4. Read the Manual — CAREFULLY

All this information about how to make the most of your fridge is written out for you in your refrigerator's installation manual or owner's guide — but most people simply don't read this stuff.

Look out for things like:

  • What kinds of environments and temperatures in which the refrigerator will work properly.
  • What kinds of protection you'll need to provide for.
  • How much space will you need to leave around your fridge if you build it into a cabinet or island.
  • Best ways to clean it, and what cleaners are safest to use.

That's why I include links to the manuals in all my outdoor refrigerator reviews here on Outdoor fridge manuals are almost always available online.

You should read them carefully to be sure the fridge is a good fit for your space and your entertainment needs — before you make your purchase!

Take Care of Your Outdoor Refrigerator

It doesn't matter how much you've spent on your outdoor refrigerator. A little care and awareness will help you get the most out of your investment, allowing you to entertain for years to come.

If you're still shopping around, take a look at some of my other articles on this site about outdoor refrigerators:

Do you have an experience to share about maintaining your outdoor refrigerator? A question about your fridge?

Put your questions or suggestions in the comments below, so we can all benefit from each other's knowledge.

Happy Outdoor Living! Thanks for reading.

~ Scott

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