My Backyard Hangout

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Let’s say you’re hosting a party for family and friends. To keep your drinks cool (because there’s nothing worse than hot beer, right?) you decide to use a cooler and ice. It may not keep everyone’s drinks at exactly the temperature they like, but it works. At least until someone forgets to close the lid and the ice melts. But, if you use your outdoor bar often enough, you’ll start to realize how inconvenient this method can be. Instead, you might consider installing an outdoor fridge. If you’re not sure what to buy, keep reading. Below, you’ll find some considerations to help you decide what the best outdoor fridge is for your bar.

Indoor vs Outdoor Fridge

A question many people ask is, can you use a classic mini fridge or something similar? As it turns out, there are a few key differences between refrigerators and coolers that are intended for indoor use versus outdoor use. For example, outdoor refrigerators need extra protection from the elements. This comes in the form of more insulation, better compressors, and high-grade stainless steel (304 or above). They also have an electrical setup more suited to outside. For example, they often have more insulation around the wires.


If you’ve already done some research, you know that any outdoor fridge, let alone the best outdoor fridge, isn’t cheap. They tend to cost anywhere from around $500 to well over $1000. Given this, many people attempt to use a regular mini fridge instead. My suggestion is to stay away from that option. As noted above, indoor refrigerators aren’t built for outdoor use. Doing so will put extra strain on the machine, which likely means you’ll need to repair or replace it much sooner. If you’re still not convinced that these repairs will amount to the cost of buying an outdoor fridge, you should consider the safety. Since they don’t have the same electrical safeguards, using an indoor unit could be more likely to lead to an electrical fire.

What Are You Going to Store in it?

Another reason you may not want to try substituting an indoor for an outdoor fridge is what you plan to store in it. Since they aren’t rated for outdoor use, an indoor fridge isn’t going to be as efficient at keeping things cold. If you plan to store food in it at some point, you’ll need a fridge that can maintain a lower temperature range (below 40℉). If you or your guests prefer wine, you might consider investing in a wine fridge. These have a slightly warmer range than a typical outdoor fridge and are designed to account for factors like vibration and humidity.

Covered vs Free-Standing Outdoor Fridge

After you decide how you plan to use it, the next step in determining the best outdoor fridge is deciding where to install it. You can store it beneath a counter. Or leave it out in the open, as a free-standing option. No matter which you choose, you’ll need to consider some basic requirements. An optimal location is somewhere with access to an electrical outlet and good ventilation and drainage. It will also need some protection from the elements. Even if you choose a free-standing fridge, it should still be beneath a roof or an overhang. If under a counter, make sure the vents are facing the front so that it can breathe. You also want to make sure it sits in a well-drained area so that it’s never submerged in water after a storm, etc.

What’s the Best Outdoor Fridge to Buy?

There are many outdoor refrigerators that cost over a thousand dollars. But there are some basic options that aren’t quite as expensive. The HCK outdoor beverage refrigerator is one example. It’s a free-standing fridge made with a 304-grade stainless steel exterior and a lockable door. It also has a temperature minimum of 32℉, so it is suitable for any type of refrigerated product. It’s currently $619.

Another good option, by HCK, is the commercial-grade model. It has several of the same perks, such as a lockable door and a 32-52℉ temperature range. For around $800, it has a more sleek design and a digital thermostat in the interior. It also has front-facing vents so it can easily be stored beneath a counter.

A third option is this one by Bodega. It’s similar to the HCK commercial fridge, with front-facing vents and an internal thermostat but has more space. It’s currently around $1,160.

Winterizing Your Outdoor Fridge

If you live in an area with harsh winters, you might be wondering how to winterize your fridge. If it’s a fridge rated for outdoor use, there isn’t a lot of extra care involved. Once you’re done using it for the year, unplug the appliance. Then, clean the inside with soap and water, letting it dry completely. If it’s connected to a water source (those that include ice makers, etc.) then you’ll want to drain the water lines. Otherwise, they may burst after the temperatures drop below freezing. You can also buy a cover for extra protection.


Adding a fridge can make a great addition to your outdoor bar. Despite costing more upfront, it’s important to choose a fridge rated for outdoor use. Choosing not to could cost you more in repairs and even become a safety concern. To determine which fridge to buy, you should first consider what you use it for. For example, a wine fridge would not be suitable to store food. Second, you should determine where you can place the appliance. Depending on your setup, you might purchase either a covered or a free-standing unit.

Want to read about other outdoor products? Click here.


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