Counter-Depth, Standard Depth, Panel/No Panel: Pass the Straightjacket

Hey Appliance Fans,

I’m guessing that if you’re visiting the blog, you’ve already decided to re-do your kitchen.  You’ve probably done a ton of research on a ton of appliances and consider yourself pretty savvy.  This week I’m going to pretend that you’re dumb (I said pretend– don’t get all offended) and discuss some fundamental aspects of free-standing refrigeration.  It can make a sane person crazy and since I’m already insane, I’m the perfect guy to write the article!  I’ll discuss built-in options at a later date.

Standard Depth Refrigeration:

A great angle shot of a standard depth unit next to a counter-top.

This is probably the size of refrigerator that you grew up with and you probably have this design in your kitchen now (although MANY homes are switching to counter-depth).  Standard depth models are deeper than your counter top (counter tops are 24″).  Typically the cabinet portion of a standard depth refrigerator (without the doors & handles)  is about 29″.  Keep in mind that every manufacturer is going to have slight differences, but this is a good number to go off of.  When you add the doors and handles to the equation, the refrigerator can have a depth of 35-36″.  Again, every manufacturer is different so give me a break if my numbers aren’t exact.

So what does this mean?  Well the refrigerator would stick out roughly nine inches from your counter top (counting the handles).  Depending on where your refrigerator is located, that’s not a bad thing, it’s just the reality of a standard depth refrigerator.  If you’re going for a built-in look without spending built-in prices,  then counter depth is for you.

Benefits of a standard depth refrigerator:

  • Price Point (less money than counter depth and built-in designs)
  • Bigger Capacity
  • Replacing an old standard depth model
  • Colors: Stainless, Black, White, Bisque
  • French Door, Side By Side, Top Mount, Single Door Bottom Mount

Counter Depth Refrigeration:

A fantastic example of a counter depth unit put in a cutout to give the illusion of a built-in model.

If a standard depth refrigerator isn’t for you, but you don’t want to spend the money on a built-in unit, then you have just entered the realm of counter depth refrigeration.  Counter depth provides a sleeker look and in some cases the illusion of a built-in model.  The cabinet portion of the refrigerator is going to match the depth of your counter top: 24 inches.  Because the depth is shallower, the capacity of counter depth refrigeration is less than standard depth.

The doors of a counter depth refrigerator will ALWAYS stick out of the cutout.  They have to because of the way the hinges are designed.  If you installed this refrigerator with the doors flush with the counter top, there wouldn’t be enough clearance for the doors to open.  Last time I checked, having doors that open is pretty crucial when dealing with refrigeration.

Panel Ready Counter Depth Units:

Every now and then, I have a customer who asks me about panel ready, counter depth units.  Yes they make them.  But it’s SUPER important to understand how they look. From the front, they look great.  REMEMBER though that the doors of the refrigerator have to stick out in front of the cabinetry for them to open.  So if  a panel is put on the refrigerator, the doors will be exposed from the side.  You can’t get a flush look with a free-standing counter depth model.  Many customers don’t realize that and in most cases, it becomes a deal breaker.  If you want a flush design, you’re going to have to look at built-in units (which I’ll cover on another day).

Paneled on the front, exposed on the side.

Benefits of counter depth refrigeration

  • Gives the illusion of a built-in model
  • Fits nicely next to counter tops
  • Side by Side, French Door, Bottom Mount styles
  • Colors: Stainless, Black, White, and Bisque

I hope I’ve cleared up some of the confusion between standard vs. counter depth refrigeration.  To get all of your questions answered, stop into our showroom and talk with one of our sales people.  I’ve commanded them to help you.  :)

6 comments on “Counter-Depth, Standard Depth, Panel/No Panel: Pass the Straightjacket

  1. I am looking for a refrigerator w/ top freezer that has a maximum depth of 29 inches including handles & 29″ wide.

    • Hi Doris,

      Check out the GTN16BBXWW from GE. It’s 28″ wide and 29 1/8″ deep. The measurements that you provided really narrow your options, but there are some products out there. Concentrate your search to top mount freezers and you should be ok. Hope this helps!

      - The Kieffer’s Guy

    • Hi Tlvjr,

      I’m not sure if I’m understanding your question entirely, but let me take a stab at it:
      The depth without handles usually takes into account the cabinet of the refrigerator AND the doors of the refrigerator. Depth with handles would include the cabinet, doors, and handles of the refrigerator. Some handles might bow out so the depth with handles would factor the depth of the refrigerator from the back of the unit to the farthest point that the handle reaches. Typically, manufacturers will provide a downloadable PDF listing the specific measurements of the appliance from different points (i.e. height of the unit including or not including hinges, depth of just the cabinet, depth with doors, depth with handle, etc.). Hope this helps, if not, shoot me an email at kieffersguy@kieffers.com. Thanks!

      • Yep, you answered it. ” Some handles might bow out so the depth with handles would factor the depth of the refrigerator from the back of the unit to the farthest point that the handle reaches.” This was the part I wasn’t sure about, but now I am. Thanks!

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