Overlay vs. Built-In vs. Integrated Refrigerators: What’s the Difference?

Overlay vs. Built-In vs. Integrated Refrigerators

Refrigerators are one of the most important pieces of equipment you need in your kitchen. The low temperatures help preserve your perishables for a long time.

Whether you want to revamp your existing system or simply want completely new refrigeration, there are various considerations you need to make. The refrigerator you go for should seamlessly marry with the design of your cabinets. Secondly, you need to find a good designer who will give you just what you need. And finally, you also need to know the different types of fridges out there and meaning to different models that are coming up in the industry every day.

For example, if you love high-end kitchen designs, you need to know what overlay, build-in or integrated refrigeration mean. If you don’t, this article is for you.

This post will help you understand the three terms that describe the top-of-the-line refrigerators out there.

A quick look into overlay, built-in and integrated refrigerators

  • Built-in refrigerators

These ones are popular among the people who love high-end kitchen designs. Built-in refrigerators are limited to a depth of 24’’ but are taller than the freestanding refrigerator models. As such, they can easily and seamlessly be installed (built-in a housing) flush with kitchen cabinetry. The refrigerators come in different sizes. Sometimes they can be as wide as 48’’.

Unlike the freestanding models that have compressors at the bottom, the built-in refrigerators have their compressors at the top. Built-in refrigerators have two main disadvantages though; for one, they are not easily moved. Secondly, they usually cost more than their freestanding counterparts. For a stellar job though, make sure you have hired a professional to install and have them fixed to the wall.

  • Overlay Refrigerators

Overlay refrigerators are also known as panel-ready refrigerators. By “overlay” it means that the nature of these fridges facilitates the installation of a cabinet panel that is designed to match the rest of the kitchen design. Just like build-in refrigerators, overlay refrigerators are also build-in only that they designed in such a way that they can be fitted with a panel that matches the design of your cabinet.

  • Integrated refrigerators

Integrated refrigerators are the new go-to fridges targeted at upscale refrigeration. They come with a variety of features, aesthetic preferences, and a service “life time”. As the current energy demands blow of the roof and the standards are becoming more stringent, the need for integrated refrigeration keeps growing.

What makes integrated refrigerator different from the overlay refrigerators is the design. The latter is designed to “match your cabinet design,” while the former is designed to “blend into your cabinet design.” However, both of the refrigeration models are paneled.

 But here is the difference. All overlay units have their doors protruding out of the cabinets once they are opened. Besides, the refrigerator compressors vent through the top end of the fridge. As a result, it makes it easy to see where the fridge is located in your kitchen.

On the other hand, the integrated refrigerators are completely camouflaged. That means it isn’t easy to see where they are located. They don’t have any visible compressor vents when installed. They are built with an inset door and have no visible compressor vents.

And that makes it hard for anyone to see the integrated fridge in your kitchen. When you close it, it will look like any other cabinets in your kitchen. That is why these models are becoming more popular especially when it comes to professional kitchen designs.

Summing It Up

In a nutshell, built-in refrigerator is a term that encompasses different models of high-end refrigerators. But all the models don’t come with the same features. For example, both the integrated and overlay refrigerators accept panels.

But, unlike the integrated models, the overlay units have a visible vent at the top of the unit. Besides, the integrated models’ door usually protrudes out of the cabinets. That makes it easier for anyone to see where they are located.