Pantries are designed for shelf-stable food storage, while refrigerators obviously need power to chill items.
At first glance, putting a refrigerator in a pantry seems questionable. But for some homeowners, installing a fridge in the pantry is a clever solution for small or awkward kitchens.
So, Can You Really Put a Refrigerator in Your Pantry? Let’s explore the pros, cons, requirements, and alternatives for putting your refrigerator inside the pantry.
Why Would Anyone Want a Pantry Fridge?
Here are some reasons why locating a refrigerator in the pantry appeals to some homeowners:
Lack of Kitchen Space
In a kitchen with limited layout options, the pantry may be the only spot with enough space for the fridge, especially in older homes.
Situating the fridge in an open pantry near the kitchen provides convenience. Items are still accessible without cluttering the main kitchen.
Creates a Pantry “Command Center”
A fridge paired with pantry shelves or cabinets centralizes refrigerated foods with shelf-stable items for efficient meal prep.
No Need for Standalone Fridge
Built-in pantry fridges allow discretely incorporating the fridge without needing a standalone unit taking up kitchen space.
Pantry fridges offer extra refrigerated storage in addition to the primary kitchen fridge.
For many homeowners, frustrations with cramped, outdated kitchens make pantry fridges seem like an ingenious hack. But what about the practical considerations?
What Are the Requirements for Putting a Fridge in the Pantry?
Turning your pantry into a fridge requires some strategic planning:
A nearby grounded outlet with enough load capacity to handle the fridge is essential. Running new wiring can add costs.
Like other appliances, fridges release heat and need airflow. Integrating vents into the pantry design avoids overheating issues.
Accessible Water Hookup
For fridges with ice makers/water dispensers, installing water lines in the pantry walls simplifies hooking up water supply.
Floors must support a fully loaded fridge’s heavy weight, usually over 300 pounds. Sturdy vinyl, wood or concrete floors work best.
The pantry doorway must be wide enough to accommodate moving the refrigerator in and facilitating future removals for repairs and replacements.
While some pantry fridges are designed for garage/outdoor use, indoor units work best. Temperature and humidity extremes can damage refrigerators over time.
With careful planning, a pantry fridge can be executed successfully. But what about downsides of this unorthodox approach?
Potential Drawbacks of Putting a Fridge in the Pantry
Pantry fridges involve some limitations and disadvantages to consider:
Opening the pantry door to access refrigerator contents allows more cold air to escape, potentially decreasing efficiency.
Lack of Humidity Control
Pantries are designed for dry goods storage and may not regulate humidity optimally for a fridge with crisper drawers.
Fridge noises, like compressor hum, are more noticeable with the unit in a small enclosed pantry versus the open kitchen.
With shelving still needed in the pantry itself, actual space for the refrigerator compartment may be constrained.
Resale Value Concerns
Unconventional pantry fridge setups may impact future resale value if buyers dislike the layout.
Installing a fridge in the pantry has functionality challenges. For long-term success, careful selection of the right refrigerator model and design is crucial.
What Kind of Refrigerator Works Best in a Pantry?
If you’re set on pantry fridge life, choose an appropriate refrigerator style:
Compact units like college dorm fridges are well-suited for small pantry spaces. Just match the capacity to your household needs.
Built-in Drawer Fridges
These undercounter drawer-style refrigerators integrate seamlessly into pantry cabinetry for a flush look.
Rugged garage fridges designed for workshop spaces typically handle higher temperatures and humidity in home pantries too.
Bottom Freezer or Side-by-Side
These configurations save space with a smaller footprint compared to fridges with upper freezers.
Opt for fridges with panels or doors that cover unattractive exteriors and seamlessly blend into pantry cabinet aesthetics.
Carefully selecting a refrigerator well-suited for pantry conditions can help this unusual placement succeed in your home.
Clever Alternatives to Pantry Fridges Worth Considering
If you’re having second thoughts on pantry fridges, other functional options could work instead:
Incorporate a Wine Chiller
Integrate a wine storage cooler into custom pantry cabinetry for convenient access without a full-fledged fridge.
Install a Mini Wet Bar
Include a small beverage center, sink or ice maker in the pantry for refreshments away from the kitchen.
Build a Butler’s Pantry
Adjoin a shelved staging pantry to the kitchen to expand prepping space without forcing the fridge to compete for room.
Create a Breakfast Nook
Turn the pantry into a cozy breakfast zone for casual meals, and keep the fridge in the central kitchen.
Getting creative with built-ins tailored to your family’s needs can often maximize your pantry’s potential better than squeezing in a fridge.
In the End, Choose What Works Best For You
At the end of the day, there’s no right answer on pantry refrigerators. If your heart is set on it and you address the operational considerations, go for it!
Otherwise, think about alternative functional uses for that underutilized pantry space instead.
Whichever route brings you a more livable, joyful kitchen is ultimately the right choice. Follow your needs and instincts (not just social media trends!) to create a home perfectly customized for you and your family.
The refrigerator police aren’t going to come after you based on where you choose to install your fridge!
Do what makes your home function best, even if unconventional. A lived-in home bursting with your family’s personality beats pristine perfection any day.
People Also Asked
Doesn’t a pantry fridge increase my energy bills?
It can slightly increase energy usage since opening the pantry allows more cold air to escape compared to opening a fridge right in the kitchen. However, keeping the pantry door closed as much as possible, using an energy efficient model, and filling it conservatively can minimize the energy impact.
What about cleaning and maintenance?
Basic fridge cleaning and maintenance doesn’t change; it just may be a little less convenient depending on pantry layout. Pull the fridge out carefully to access the back and condenser coils for deep cleaning.
Is it a building code violation?
As long as the electrical and ventilation requirements are properly addressed, most residential building codes allow refrigerators in pantries or closets. Commercial codes may be more restrictive though, so verify regulations if it’s not a private home.
Which is better – top or bottom freezer?
For pantry fridges, bottom freezer models utilize the space better since accessing frozen items is less frequent. But side-by-side units can also fit well since the overall footprint is narrower. Ultimately choose based on your family’s usage needs.
Can I add custom panels to match my cabinets?
Yes, many midsize refrigerators designed for freestanding kitchen use can accept custom panels to create a built-in look. Just be sure to get matching size panels from the manufacturer or a third party.
Is a garage refrigerator a good choice?
Garage-ready refrigerators are insulated to handle temperature fluctuations and humidity. They are a cost-effective option well-suited for pantries. Just watch out for potential size limitations.