Why Are Built-In Refrigerators So Expensive? (Find Out Now!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

When I went to a friend’s home, it became very clear that he had a lot of money to play with. How could I tell? Simple. Inside his luxury condo was a built-in refrigerator. Those aren’t exactly cheap to come by, even if you are in a well-off circle of friends. Did you ever wonder why built-in refrigerators cost so much?

Built-in refrigerators are expensive because they are considered to be luxury fixtures. Built-in certifications are harder to service, produced in smaller batches, and may also require custom fittings. Lower demand also drives up the price.

Whenever you are dealing with a luxury item, you are going to have to expect a higher price tag. It’s time to take a closer look at everything.

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How Much Does A Built-In Refrigerator Cost?

The best way to answer it is, a lot. The bottom level of built-in refrigerators will cost around $5,000 with the possibility of additional fees for installation for overlay or integrated models. If you want to get a fully customized refrigerator, you will have to pay $20,000 or more.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Built-In Refrigerator?

It’s also important to remember that you may need to modify your cabinetry to fit these in your home. This can add even more fees. Installation fees can run between $100 to upwards of $3,900 for more complicated installs. Most people will pay around $200 to $350 if the installation doesn’t come for free with the fridge.

How Much Does It Cost To Repair A Built-In Refrigerator?

We’re hoping you pick a fridge with a hefty, high-end warranty. If you want to have it serviced, you will almost always have to pay a premium price. What may cost $250 to fix in a freestanding fridge may cost as much as $500 or more for a built-in model.

Why Are Built-In Refrigerators So Expensive?

It’s pretty shocking to hear how high the price tags can get on those fridges, isn’t it? These refrigerators are a hefty purchase. The reasons for that price, though, may surprise you a bit.

  • Built-in refrigerators are considered to be luxury items and therefore are priced that way. Luxury items embody the “pricey for the sake of pricey” attitude. That’s why people buy them. It’s a subtle way to show that you have money.
  • They are also not made in large quantities. The more of a product you make, the lower the price of production per unit will be. These refrigerators are considered to be niche items, so demand isn’t high. In the cases of custom-built units, you might have to pay for all the labor of the item being made by hand.
  • Repairs also cost more because removing the refrigerator can be a pain. This actually is part of the price of the fridge when you buy it, too. Installation can be pretty arduous and may require a professional.
  • Moreover, they tend to have better amenities. Integrated wine refrigerators are a thing. So are specialty culinary-grade refrigerators that have unique timing methods.

Are Built-In Refrigerators Worth The High Price Tag?

If we were being honest, the truth is, they are not worth it for most families. They look great and can be easier to clean, but that’s where the actual benefits stop. Built-in refrigerators are harder to repair and can cost a huge amount of money to replace.

The damage a bad refrigerator can do is also magnified for built-in units. If they break and leak, you might also end up with more damage to your walls and cabinetry than you would see with a regular freestanding fridge.

When Does It Make Sense To Buy A Built-In Refrigerator?

While most people won’t want to get a built-in due to the price alone, there are some situations where it could make sense. If any of the following statements are true, you might want to get one:

  • You have a lot of money and just want something that looks nice. Hey, if you have the money for it, there is nothing wrong with making your home look the way you want it to. The seamless look of a built-in fridge is definitely a nice perk to enjoy in the morning.
  • You’re trying to do a luxury fix n’ flip. While these are not commonly installed in a person’s forever home, there is something to be said about using them in a flipped home. People love having a built-in fridge and it can increase your home’s value by quite a bit. It’s worth a shot.
  • You already have a nook for the fridge. If you had a built-in before, it makes sense to replace the old fridge with one that looks almost identical. Going from built-in to freestanding is going to make your kitchen look a lot more awkward.
  • There are people you want to impress. Trust me when I say I understand the lifestyle that certain industries involve. I get it. If you want to show that you have money and know how to style a kitchen, this is a good way to do it.
  • You have a culinary bent and you want to have an industry-style kitchen. People like Gordon Ramsey would often try to make their home kitchens look a little more like work. It’s both a matter of comfort and a way to make sure that you have a good setting for any professional kitchen broadcasts you do.

Do Built-In Refrigerators Come With Warranties?

Like most other appliances, built-in refrigerators tend to come with warranties that protect buyers from defective materials and parts. A typical built-in refrigerator will have a warranty for at least one or two years. This is similar to most freestanding appliances on the market, too.

Custom-built refrigerators might have a longer warranty, simply because they’re made by hand. It’s always smart to check in advance!

How Long Does A Built-In Refrigerator Last?

This depends on the workmanship and maintenance that you do on the refrigerator. According to the Department of Energy, a typical refrigerator will last for at least 12 years before it needs replacement. This statistic will remain true for both built-in refrigerators as well as standalone models.

Anecdotally speaking, you might see a higher lifespan in built-in refrigerators simply because they tend to be built better. So, you might see that lifespan stretch to 15 years or so.

How Much Does A Built-In Refrigerator Add To A Home’s Value?

Yes! Out of all the upgrades you can add to your kitchen, an integrated refrigerator is one of the fastest ways to add value to your home. More specifically, it tends to have the highest ROI of all appliances. This is why they are popular for flipped homes. I mean, it’s not like you can take something like a built-in fridge to your new home.

These models tend to do well as a major selling point, especially if you live in an area that is prone to gentrification. So, if you want to drum up a little extra business, this is a good way to make it happen.

Can Every Kitchen Have A Built-In Refrigerator?

Technically, the answer is yes. In practice, the answer is no. A built-in refrigerator is going to require a lot more space than a typical refrigerator will. These models are wider, and they also will have to have extra space for the encasement they’re placed in.

If you have a very cramped home, a built-in refrigerator may seem like a good idea. However, your installer may point out that it isn’t feasible. If you are not sure whether your fridge doors will be able to open fully in a built-in unit, it may be time to look at freestanding models.

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Related Questions

What are the three types of built-in refrigerators?

There are many different types of built-in refrigerators. The most common include integrated refrigerators, panel-ready refrigerators, and standard built-in refrigerators. Out of all these, integrated refrigerators tend to be the most expensive.Panel-ready refrigerators are made to match the panels of your cabinetry. Meanwhile, integrated refrigerators are meant to be totally flush with the cabinetry around them. If you have a generic built-in, then it’s considered to be a “traditional” model. They’re usually the most affordable of the bunch.

Can a built-in refrigerator be freestanding?

If you have a fridge that was meant for built-in use, then it is usually best to leave it as a built-in. However, that doesn’t mean you have to assume that it’s going to be a matter of choosing amenities. Many companies make the same refrigerator in both built-in and freestanding versions. So, you can still have the fridge you want!

Can you take a built-in fridge with you to your next home?

Nope. Built-in refrigerators are strictly permanent installations in your home. Once it’s there, it really cannot be removed without causing serious damage to your home. This means that they are considered to be actual home fixtures rather than simple appliances that can be moved from space to space.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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