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Indoor Refrigerators vs Outdoor: Is There a Difference? (We Find Out)

You love your outdoor barbecue, but don’t want to spend all that time running back and forth to the indoor refrigerator. Maybe you’ve been eyeing an outdoor refrigerator for your new kitchen. Is there a distinction between indoor and outdoor refrigerators?

It is such a relief to have your food and other perishable items kept for much longer or to have a cool glass of fruit juice on a hot summer day. A functional refrigerator is a piece of essential household equipment and is critical for cooking and kitchen management.

Refrigerators are electrical household appliances that keep food items fresh by maintaining them at an optimum temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius or freezing point. They function by reducing bacterial activity to prevent putrefaction and preserve the integrity of organic substances.

Whether it is for the family or for outdoor cooking, food preservation remains indispensable. As a result, choosing between an indoor and outdoor refrigerator is very critical. However, is there any difference between both types of refrigerators? Read on to learn more about indoor vs outdoor refrigerators.

What Are Refrigerators?

Refrigerators are electrical household appliances that keep food items, perishables, and other organic substances fresh by reducing bacterial activities through freezing.

Essentially, they preserve organic items by maintaining a closed system of about 2-8 degrees Celsius or freezing at absolute zero. That way, food items, and other perishables can keep longer to make life easier and more comfortable.

Refrigerators are made to function by the action of a liquid refrigerant through a closed system that vaporizes and draws heat from the items within. The freezing action of the fridge is due to the latent heat generated as the freezing liquid called the refrigerant is pumped actively through a set of coils, usually behind the refrigerator.

Types of Refrigerators

We can group refrigerator types according to function, structure, or design. Essentially, various kinds of refrigerators exist. However, for the purpose of this article, we will focus on outlining the four major types of refrigerators according to design and then further group refrigerator types according to usage (indoor vs outdoor). 

Below are refrigerators according to basic types and structural designs; they include:

  • The Top Mount Refrigerator
  • The side-by-side refrigerator
  • The bottom freezer refrigerator
  • The French door refrigerator, and
  • Mini fridge.

Now that you know the four major types of refrigerators, it is time to gain a little information about each of them before moving on to differentiating between indoor and outdoor refrigerators.

The Top Mount Refrigerator

They are the most common and readily available type of refrigerators for the home and most kitchens. They come in a variety of colors and shapes with a basic structure to suit any kitchen. One of the perks of using this type of refrigerator is its ability to fit into small spaces while being energy-efficient. As a result, it is the perfect choice for a small family or a single-use. 

A top mount refrigerator.
One of the perks of using this type of refrigerator is its ability to fit into small spaces while being energy-efficient.

The Side by Side Refrigerator

The side-by-side refrigerator is a slim model with a vertical freezer and fridge that sit side by side, hence the name. It is very budget-friendly and does not occupy much space- a perfect fit for kitchens with limited surface area and doors. However, the slim, vertical design makes little room for more storage space.

The Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

As the name sounds, the bottom freezer refrigerator has its freezer compartment reversed to mainstream designs. One of its beneficial features is that it is energy-efficient and does not take up much space in the kitchen. 

A bottom freezer refrigerator.
It turns out that the bottom freezer refrigerator can easily suffice for an outdoor service.

Also, the freezer compartment is much more in use because of its eye-level position. It turns out that the bottom freezer refrigerator can easily suffice for an outdoor service, provided all other precautionary measures are taken.  

The French Door Refrigerator

The French door refrigerator is one of the fanciest refrigerators in vogue and offers more versatility to users. It is also pretty pricey, and only a select few people can afford to keep such a refrigerator in their homes. 

It is sometimes considered state-of-the-art because of some fancy additions like touchscreen embedded doors and smart home connected features- like virtual Assistant-enabled features. Essentially, its outstanding features also include many door and drawer combinations that offer more compartmentalization. 

Also, the top fridge section has a split door which minimizes how many doors you open at a time. As a result, in power outage situations, you can preserve the chill for much longer.

The Mini Refrigerator

It is also known as the mini-fridge and is perfect for those on a tight budget and those who do not want a full-sized fridge. Most mini-fridges are no different from their full-sized counterparts as they provide the same chilling power, only in a smaller size. 

A mini refrigerator.
One of the perks of using this type of refrigerator is its ability to fit into small spaces while being energy-efficient.

The mini-fridge is an excellent choice for students and private offices or suites. Many mini-fridges exist in several designs and structures ranging from single doors, double doors, freezer compartments, etc.  

Indoor Refrigerators vs Outdoor Refrigerators

What Are Indoor Refrigerators?

Indoor refrigerators are the kind of refrigerators that we use inside the house or room. They are not designed for external use, making them perfect for domestic or family use. Such refrigerators should not be kept outside because of their specific design (minimal insulation), making them hazardous if exposed to environmental elements.

What Are Outdoor Refrigerators?

Outdoor refrigerators are solidly designed to withstand changes in the environment without negatively affecting their functionality. They are usually bigger and adjust quickly to external changes in atmospheric temperature due to their heavy insulation. As a result, they are also more expensive in comparison to the indoor refrigerator.

How Indoor and Outdoor Refrigerators Differ From Each Other

Both classes of refrigerators differ from each other according to structure, function, and pricing. Here are a few bases for differentiating them.

Structure and Function of the Refrigerator

While outdoor refrigerators are heavily insulated against fluctuations in environmental temperature, indoor fridges are not and are better suited for the interior.

Functional Flexibility of the Refrigerator

Most outdoor refrigerators function between 55 to 80 degrees – a wide temperature range to accommodate any irregularities. As a result, most outdoor refrigerators can double as indoor appliances, while the indoor fridge is exclusively designed for the interior where the temperature is a lot more stable.

Structural Durability of the Refrigerator

The outdoor fridge is structurally designed to withstand rust due to constant exposure to environmental elements. As a result, the outdoor design is made of rust-resistant materials like grade 304 stainless steel. In contrast, indoor models are made of more suitable materials since they are a little bit protected from harsh environmental conditions.

Refrigerator Pricing

While indoor models might be quite affordable because of their ready availability and minimal insulation, the outdoor counterpart is quite pricey since they have much more potential damage to deal with. As a result, the outdoor fridge is made of superior stainless steel to protect it from exposure to wear and tear.

Now that you know the criteria for differentiating outdoor from indoor refrigerators, suppose you plan on having a vast picnic or outdoor event. All you have is an indoor refrigerator; are there chances that you can use your indoor model outdoors? Here is where we find out.

Can You Use an Indoor Refrigerator Outdoors?

The fact that an outdoor fridge sometimes doubles as an indoor fridge makes you wonder if you could reverse the case with the indoor model. However, there are certain factors to consider before deciding on the possibility of using an indoor refrigerator outdoors.

Type of Refrigerator Model

Certain indoor refrigerators are of an exclusive model, which makes it somewhat problematic to use outdoors. As a result, it would be best to check the manufacturer’s manual of your indoor fridge to know whether or not it is of an exclusive design. 

A black mini refrigerator.
It would be best to check the manufacturer’s manual of your indoor fridge to know whether or not it is of an exclusive design. 

That way, you save yourself from subjecting your indoor fridge to quick damage resulting from overexposure to extreme environmental conditions.

The Duration of External Exposure

The duration of external exposure has to do with the length of stay during which the indoor fridge will be outside. If you have to use your indoor fridge outdoors, then you also need to take precautions to ensure that the indoor fridge does not have to spend a long time outside. 

Alternatively, you can also provide a suitable shade for the extreme temperature. The reason is that hot temperatures can unnecessarily stress the indoor appliance by ruining its internal temperature regulation.

The Weather Condition

Before deciding whether or not to use your indoor fridge outside, you need to consider the atmospheric state of the environment. The reason is that outdoor refrigerators are better suited for extreme environmental conditions like high temperatures and harsh winters.

A old refrigerator not used.
Outdoor refrigerators should likewise not be intentionally exposed to extreme temperatures.

 Essentially, a decline in the atmospheric temperature below the interior of the fridge or freezer can damage the temperature-regulating unit of the equipment. Because keeping the fridge in the open makes it harder to maintain its internal temperature, it is best to keep it in the coolest corner of your yard. 

Outdoor refrigerators should likewise not be intentionally exposed to extreme temperatures even though they are designed to withstand fluctuations in environmental temperature.

Worst-Case Scenario: Tips for Safely Using Your Indoor Refrigerator Outside.

Sometimes, life happens, and there might be no way for you to get an outdoor refrigerator for your event. As a result, you may have to make do with what you have. 

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you minimize the damage to your indoor refrigerator if you really have to use it outdoors.

  • Ensure that your indoor model is strong enough to withstand environmental challenges
  • Always provide an adequate shed to protect the indoor refrigerator from environmental elements.
  • Ensure that there is an adequate flow of air, which is essential for cooling the fridge unit.
  • Regularly inspect the indoor fridge for early detection of any fault and provide prompt attention.
  • Keep your household appliance (refrigerator) clean at all times and the space where you place the refrigerator to minimize operational damage due to dust and dirt.
  • Remember to actively seek tech support whenever something goes wrong and on time.

In the end, you will be able to maintain your fridge, whether outdoors or indoors, in good working condition when you use them with care.


While some people may prefer to have both models of refrigerators (indoor and outdoor), the choice to use your indoor refrigerator outdoors is not an easy one, especially when you consider the cost of purchasing and maintaining your indoor or outdoor fridge. 

However, it is a lot easier to take such a critical decision when you know the difference between both models of refrigerators. That way, you can make more informed choices and understand what operational precautions to take. As a result, it helps to always go through the manufacturer’s manual to ensure that you have all the relevant information to make the right choice. 

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