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    Types of Wine Coolers

    Freestanding Versus Built In Wine Coolers

    When it comes to buying a wine cooler, the biggest decision you will need to make is whether the cooler will be a freestanding wine cooler, built in wine fridges or integrated wine fridge.

    The type you choose will depend entirely on your personal preference and the available space in your home. Once you have made this choice, you will be able to approach the market with a better idea of what you need.

    With this being said, it can be difficult to know exactly which wine cooler is the better option for you.

    In this article, we will take you through the features of both freestanding and integrated wine coolers.

    We will weigh up their pros and cons, outline their differences and discuss which is cooler is best suited to which environment. Whilst we can’t tell you exactly which wine cooler will work best for you and your home, we will give you all the information you need to make the right decision.

    Freestanding Wine Fridge

    Freestanding wine coolers are designed to stand alone, away from other appliances and units. Due to the placement of their vents, freestanding wine coolers are required to be positioned somewhere with adequate space around their sides and back.

    We stock a range of wine bottle capacities here at Expert Wine Storage including 20 bottle wine fridges.

    In order to allow for sufficient air circulation, there should be a minimum of 3-5 inches of space left around the units, which is why these coolers are commonly placed in large rooms such as spacious kitchens or garages.

    Due to the way the cooler dissipates heat from the back, freestanding units cannot be positioned in the same way an integrated unit would be. If, for example, a medium sized freestanding wine cooler was enclosed, it would be susceptible to over-heating and eventually, burning out.  


    • Wider choice of freestanding wine coolers on the market
    • Easy to install and doesn’t usually require the help of a professional
    • Provides great flexibility in terms of where they can be positioned
    • Easy to access the power source, ventilation window and water outlet
    • Generally cheaper than integrated wine coolers
    • Easy to manoeuvre if you decide to move or switch furniture around


    • Tend to be a lot bulkier than integrated wine coolers
    • Difficult to seamlessly integrate into your home 

    Why should you buy a freestanding wine cooler?

    A freestanding wine cooler would be a fantastic option for anyone looking for an instant, effortless solution to storing their wine. If you are struggling for space for a kitchen wine cooler, you will benefit from a freestanding wine cooler as you will have the freedom to position it in several different locations.

    The beauty of the freestanding wine cooler is that it is easy to install, low-maintenance, generally cheaper than built-in and completely versatile in terms of where it can live.


    There is an enormous variety of freestanding wine coolers available on the market, designed to suit all sorts of homes, preferences and budgets. Typically, freestanding wine coolers feature internal shelves and a glass door.

    Related: Our collection of glass fronted wine coolers

    Generally, they are capable of having wider and taller dimensions than built-in models and have the capacity to hold upwards of 150-200 bottles.

    Many freestanding wine coolers will have 4-6 shelves to hold the bottles, whilst others will have 10-15 shelves. If you have an especially large wine collection, you should consider opting for the taller freestanding wine coolers.

    You will also see freestanding wine coolers that are equipped with drawers. These drawers allow for the cooling of much more permanent items that don’t necessarily require shelf space.

    Some freestanding wine coolers will also be equipped with reversible doors that allow you further versatility in terms of where the unit can be installed.

    Positioning and location

    What’s great about freestanding wine coolers is that they are extremely versatile in terms of where they can be installed. Essentially, they can be positioned anywhere in the home, providing the correct ventilation requirements are met.

    As mentioned before, these coolers require a minimum of 3-5 inches of space around their back and sides in order to prevent the unit from overheating.

    Some common locations to install freestanding wine coolers include kitchens, garages and utility rooms. Similarly to integrated wine coolers, you will need to ensure that the unit is out of direct sunlight, free from vibrations and positioned away from doors in order for the wine to be completely protected.

    Built In or Integrated

    Built In orintegrated wine coolers are engineered to literally be ‘built-in’ to any cabinet, counter or space within your kitchen.

    There is a huge variety of integrated wine coolers on the market that are designed to accommodate arrange of cabinetry setups.

    Integrated wine coolers can also be positioned independently if preferred, like a freestanding model.

    As integrated wine coolers dissipate heat from the front of the unit rather than the back, they can be installed virtually anywhere, as long as they are out of direct sunlight and free from vibrations.


    • Won’t disrupt the design and aesthetic of your kitchen 
    • Looks sleek, stylish and extremely modern
    • Offers great flexibility in terms of choosing your power source
    • Extremely convenient in terms of location when hosting
    • Can use built-in as freestanding wine coolers (but not the other way around)


    • More expensive than freestanding wine coolers
    • They do not have the largest bottle capacity so not the best option for those with exceptionally big wine collections

    Why should you buy an integrated or built in?

    Integrated wine coolers are known for giving that really sleek, seamless finish to a kitchen. They are perfect for those who are planning to or are in the process of building a new kitchen. Because of their front-facing ventilation, front venting wine fridges are ideal for being completely integrated into cabinets or under counter tops. Integrated wine coolers are perfect for those looking for a subtle or discreet model that will not disrupt the décor of your home.


    The design of integrated wine coolers differs greatly from freestanding wine coolers. With an integrated wine cooler, it can easily be disguised behind pre-existing cabinets to seamlessly match the décor and style of the room. With this being said, integrated wine coolers can also make a wonderful, unique design feature. 

    Integrated wine coolers are available in a range of sizes, shapes and styles. You will find integrated wine coolers which are panel ready so you can install cabinet doors over the top, reversible doors, storage drawers and many wine fridges without handles.

    These coolers are also often found with either clear glass doors or solid doors. When it comes to choosing your integrated wine cooler, it is extremely important to keep your kitchen’s design and aesthetic in mind, to find a unit that is perfectly suitable.

    Positioning and location

    The beauty of integrated wine coolers is that they are designed to blend seamlessly within your home. As long as you have the adequate space to do so, you could install your integrated wine cooler underneath a kitchen counter or within existing cabinetry.

    You could also opt for a slimmer, taller model to install alongside other appliances and cupboard which would give your kitchen a really sleek, modern look.

    Whilst the most common place for an integrated wine cooler to live is the kitchen, it is also not unusual for the cooler to be installed in a lounge as a decorative feature or in the utility room.

    We will say, that if you are planning to install your integrated wine cooler within your kitchen or in your utility room, you will need to ensure that the unit isn’t positioned in too close proximity to appliances such as a tumble dryer, washing machine or dishwasher. This is because these appliances tend to move and vibrate when operating, and these vibrations can be extremely harmful to wine.

    The cooling technologies of freestanding and built in / integrated wine coolers

    Both freestanding and integrated wine coolers are found with two different types of cooling technologies: compressor and thermoelectric. Compressor wine coolers use very similar cooling equipment to regular refrigerators, which includes a compressor, an evaporator, condenser coils and a refrigerant.

    The cooler will start when the compressor kicks in and pressurizes the refrigerant. The refrigerant then transforms into a liquid which raises the temperature. Compressor wine coolers are a lot more powerful than thermoelectric wine coolers and are more able to resist fluctuations to ambient temperatures. On the other hand, thermoelectric wine coolers function via a process called the ‘Peltier Effect’.

    The Peltier Effect works by transferring heat from one side of a device to another. When the cooler is turned on, an electrical current is applied across the unit, which creates a cool temperature throughout the space.

    Thermoelectric coolers are renowned for being a lot more energy efficient than compressor coolers and they have much lower noise output. This is because they require less energy due to their lack of moving parts.  

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I install my wine cooler on the carpet?

    Wine coolers are not suitable to be placed on the carpet because if the cooler was to leak, there will be a risk of mildew developing. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a danger hazard, it is best to position your wine cooler on a flat, stable surface so that it not only stays completely level but so that there is no risk of ruining your carpets.

    How do I install my wine cooler?

    Freestanding wine coolers are renowned for being extremely easy to control. Typically, all you will need to do is find an adequate, safe space for the unit to be installed, plug it in and switch it on. With this being said, you should always check the instruction manual of the wine cooler beforehand to follow their instructions. When it comes to installing integrated wine coolers, it can be a little trickier.

    Depending on how ‘built-in’ your wine cooler will be, you may have to contact a professional to help with the installation process. With this being said, if you are simply slotting the wine cooler in amongst other appliances, more often than not, you will be able to do this yourself. In order to do that, you should follow these simple steps:

    1. First of all, you will need to ensure you have a tape measure, a spirit level, a screwdriver and if your particular model does not come readily equipped with adjustable feet, scrap wood.
    2. Next, you will need to check your power supply and make sure that your cooler is positioned within close proximity to a plug point. You should avoid using extension leads as they can lead to electrical hazards.
    3. You should then use your tape measure to measure out the space in which you are planning to install the cooler and ensure that no vents will be blocked and that there is enough room for the door to open properly. After you have done this, you can position your wine cooler in the prepared area.
    4. You can then plug it in, without switching it on and then you can fasten the unit to the wall or cabinet for extra security and stability.
    5. You will then need to use the spirit level to ensure that the cooler is positioned completely flat. If the bottles are slightly lopsided or rolling over, you will need to readjust the unit’s feet or use scrap wood to level it out.
    6. Finally, you should leave the cooler for approximately 2 hours to ensure that the cooling substance has fully settled before it is safe to switch the cooler on.

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    Final Thoughts

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    philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
    Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin