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Counter Depth Refrigerator vs. Standard: What's the Difference?

Learn the pros and cons of both counter depth and standard fridges. Discover which style is best for your kitchen.

Getting Started

Refrigerators offer a variety of features that homeowners can choose, including door configurations, finishes and built-in technology like touch screens to allow you to follow your favorite cooking shows.
But when purchasing a new refrigerator, the main decision to make is what size appliance to get. More specifically, whether you want a counter depth refrigerator or standard depth refrigerator.
The decision comes down to two factors: aesthetics and space. Do you want a clean, flush look between your countertop and appliances, or do you prefer to have a deeper unit with increased storage space?

Depth Comparison

Counter depth refrigerators offer a seamless design and custom look that resembles a professionally installed built-in model, but at a more affordable price. The refrigerators doors will be flush to your cabinetry and counter, not jutting out awkwardly. Counter depth refrigerators work wonderfully for smaller apartments and condos, or narrow galley kitchens.
By shaving off a few inches, counter depth refrigerators offer a shallower build than their standard depth counterparts. However, the disadvantage to this is that you lose some interior space and will have less storage capacity for food items.
To be able to open and close the refrigerator’s thicker, insulated doors, they have to extend out a bit. Typically, a refrigerator’s doors extend by a few inches, which is barely noticeable to the naked eye.

So how deep exactly is a counter depth refrigerator?

Counter depth refrigerators measure around 24 inches in depth, not including the doors. Add a few inches more for the door, and you'll get a total depth of around 27 inches.

And how deep exactly is a standard refrigerator?

From the back of the door to the back of the unit casing, standard depth refrigerators are approximately 30 inches deep. Again, the doors do add some thickness to this number, making it more like 35 inches. You can expect a standard fridge to stick out about six inches past the edge of the counter.
While it doesn’t seem like much, these six inches can be just enough to disrupt the kitchen work triangle. If you have a kitchen island in front of your fridge, these six inches can mean a lot of space.

Capacity Comparison

Using the standard 36-inch width of a refrigerator, let’s go over the capacity of both a counter depth and standard depth refrigerator.
A counter depth refrigerator may range anywhere between 20 to 24 cubic feet. Some brands differ, and there are also some fridges that simply make better use of space, so this may not matter much to you.
A standard depth refrigerator typically ranges anywhere between 22 to 30 cubic feet–again, depending on the brand.
So as you can see, while the counter depth refrigerator is more streamlined, the standard depth refrigerator offers more interior space for perishables. Some homeowners may have the additional garage space or a basement to accommodate an extra fridge, eliminating this problem.
However, if you are limited on storage space, a standard depth fridge may be the way to go. This is especially true for larger families or those who bulk shop. In general, the food and freezer compartments will be tighter on a counter depth, which means you might find yourself stuffing longer items like celery into the crisper tray.

Pros and Cons

Still need help deciding? Here’s an easy breakdown:

Counter Depth: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Cleaner, more aesthetically-pleasing appearance 
  • Provides more open space on your kitchen floor 
  • Not as deep, but usually wider, allowing big trays and platters 
  • Able to reach back of the fridge for buried items 

Cons

  • Typically more expensive
  • Smaller capacity and storage

Standard Depth: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • More affordable than the counter depth
  • More models and options
  • Larger storage capacity

Cons

  • Juts out from cabinets
  • Takes up more kitchen space
  • Disrupts workflow

So...Counter Depth or Standard Depth?

A refrigerator is a major appliance, so it’s an important choice to make in the overall workflow and design of your kitchen space. Counter depths offer a clean, sophisticated look that can even be accessorized with front panels to coordinate with the cabinets. And standard depths are a more affordable option, allowing more internal capacity to store food and drinks.
If you’re building a home or remodeling a kitchen, make this choice before installing countertops and cabinets. You can customize your fridge’s space to suit its size perfectly, allowing you to fully integrate it into your kitchen.
From Samsung to Whirlpool, explore Abt Electronics’ Refrigerator Buying Guide and take a look at all we have to offer.

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