Integrated vs Built-In Refrigerator: What’s The Difference?

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When deciding between an integrated vs built-in refrigerator it’s hard to make a wrong choice. Both provide a more seamless look than freestanding refrigerators and are available through multiple high-end brands. So what’s the difference between integrated and built-in refrigerator designs? The answer lies in how much you want your refrigerator to blend with the rest of the kitchen. Use the following guide to learn more about these two luxury refrigerator options.

How to Choose Between an
Integrated vs Built-In Refrigerator

Are your kitchen design preferences more modern? Do you want your refrigerator to stand out or disappear into your cabinetry? These are just some of the questions to ask yourself when choosing between an integrated vs built-in refrigerator. Our guide discusses the hallmarks of each design, their pros and cons and the best brands that offer them.

What is an Integrated Refrigerator?

An integrated refrigerator is installed inside an enclosure so it sits completely flush with its surroundings and the counter. The doors are often inset so that even the handles don’t protrude and most are panel-ready to essentially camouflage the refrigerator with cabinetry.

What is an integrated refrigerator storage capacity? While they’re often more shallow than built-in or freestanding models, integrated refrigerators are available in a variety of widths. This makes stored items more visible and accessible and increases customization options. 

What is a Built-In Refrigerator?

What is a built-in refrigerator design? Built-in refrigerators are also installed in an enclosure, blending in with the counter and cabinets around it. However, built-in refrigerators don’t sit flush with its enclosure or the counter, protruding outward by 1-2 inches. While many offer a panel-ready option, the door handles are prominently visible so the refrigerator doesn’t completely camouflage with its surroundings.

Is There a Difference Between Integrated vs Built-In Refrigerators?

The pros and cons of integrated vs built-in refrigerators can best illustrate the difference between the two designs.

Integrated refrigerators


  • Sleek, modern design: Integrated refrigerators sit flush with cabinetry and counters, seamlessly integrating into any kitchen design.
  • Enhanced customization options: Panel-ready options and inset doors allow for wider versatility when customizing the refrigerator and designing kitchen layouts.
  • Better visibility: Wider depth options provide enhanced visibility and make stored items more easily accessible.

what is an integrated refrigerator

Image Courtesy of Sub-Zero


  • Require professional design and installation: Custom cabinetry or kitchen design assistance is required to accommodate integrated refrigerators and customize their look.
  • More expensive: Given their size and design requirements, integrated refrigerators are usually more expensive to purchase and install.

Built-in Refrigerators


  • Sleek, space-saving design: Built-in refrigerators can also sit inside an enclosure, saving space and blending into kitchen design when compared to freestanding models.
  • Less expensive: Though more expensive than freestanding refrigerators, built-in models are less pricey than integrated designs while still offering a modern look.
  • Can accommodate most kitchens: Standard sizing means built-in models can fit most kitchen spaces and existing cabinet enclosures without the need for professional installation and design.

what is a built-in refrigerator

Image Courtesy of Sub-Zero


  • Protrude from cabinetry and counter: With protruding handles and doors, built-in refrigerators don’t offer the camouflaged, seamless appearance of integrated models.
  • Limited size options: While built-in refrigerators offer considerable depth, they don’t provide as many options for width as integrated models. This can also limit the visibility and accessibility of stored items.

What Are The Best Integrated and Built-In Refrigerator Brands?

One of the biggest differences between high-end vs regular refrigerators is that high-end brands offer more integrated and built-in options.

The following brands provide some of the best refrigeration technology and modern appeal between the two designs.

  • Sub-Zero: This American, family-owned company pioneered built-in refrigeration in the 1950’s and is world-renowned for its advanced refrigeration capabilities. Sub-Zero’s latest integrated models in their Designer Series allow you to mix and match different refrigerator and freezer configurations in one seamless design.
  • Thermador: Not to be outdone, this American company gives Sub-Zero a run for its money when it comes to refrigerator technology and luxury appeal. The brand’s modern aesthetic is evident in their integrated refrigerator designs that have a patented handleless, push-to-close door.
  • KitchenAid: While KitchenAid doesn’t offer integrated refrigerators, their high-end built-in models can rival any brand for their modern look and superior cooling. Their side-by-side refrigerators can go up to 48″ in width with flat panel doors that minimize any protrusion.

Whether you choose an integrated vs built-in refrigerator, both will likely require a repair during its lifetime. When that time comes, choose Tiger Mechanical for the best built-in refrigerator repair Scottsdale!

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