It's easy to go wrong when installing integrated refrigeration and if you do then you may well have problems
It is absolutely staggering how many integrated fridge, integrated freezers and integrated fridge freezers that we come across that are not installed correctly.
It seems to us at times that installers either don't bother to read the installation instructions or, just choose to ignore them.
So long as they're in, they cool things or freeze things and look good, it's all okay. Well, it often isn't all okay if the refrigeration units are not installed correctly in line with the manufacturer's instructions and it could cost you a lot more in the longer term if the installation is wrong.
If this seems like a bit of finger wagging, it partly is. We see so many stupid things being done to appliances and then people (including retailer and kitchen installers) still expecting them to work correctly.
If you are reading this as you are looking to buy new appliances please see our buying integrated appliances article before you do for more general advice on integrated applainces.
Integrated Refrigeration Airflow
Probably the single biggest thing that kills integrated or built in refrigeration is the lack of proper airflow and, it can be a slow process that can take months or even years to become a problem. Often by the time the problem is discovered, it's too late, the fridge or freezer is already beyond repair.
You need to consider this very carefully when planning and installing a new kitchen especially or replacing old appliances with new ones.
Airflow for refrigeration products is absolutely critical to the efficiency and longevity of the units.
Any fridge, freezer of fridge freezer is essentially a heat exchange unit, it draws cool air from the surrounding environment and by way f a heat exchange process makes the air inside the cavity of the fridge or freezer cold. If it cannot draw cool air in, it won't work.
Therefore, airflow and a good supply of cool air from the room is imperative and, after this process takes place the air that is heated must be expelled somehow.
Ordinarily the cool air will be drawn in at the bottom of the unit through a grill at the front and the warm air expelled through holes at either side of each adjacent unit towards the very back of the cavity where the fridge or freezer is fitted. This is on integrated under counter fridges and freezers.
For built in fridges, freezers and fridge freezers especially that are mounted in a column the warm air rises through a "chimney" at the back of the kitchen cabinet and is safely expelled.
If the vents are blocked or, as is often the case, not even cut out, then heat will build up inside the unit leading to longer running time (costing you much more money in electricity use) as well as slowly overheating and cooking the compressor and possibly adversely affecting the insulation. In other words, it is not good news on any level.
Our advice is very simple, read the installation manual carefully and follow the instructions as if the unit is improperly installed any failure will not be covered by your warranty. And, it may well lead to the early death of your appliance, even some years down the road.
Placement Of Integrated Refrigeration
Whatever you do, don't ever place a fridge, freezer or fridge freezer next to another appliance if you can possibly avoid it, with the exception of course of under counter fridges and freezers designed to be installed this way. Again, consult the instruction manual or contact the manufacturer for specific recommendations.
Putting an integrated or built in fridge or freezer next to an oven is, to be blunt, just plain stupid.
We see it, people and even kitchen designers do it. And, for good measure we'll say it again, this is just completely stupid.
Think about it, it's common sense, you're putting an appliance designed to get very hot right next to one designed to keep things cold, what do you think the results will be?
In case you can't guess, the air around the fridge of freezer will heat up, especially so in an enclosed kitchen cabinet space forcing the refrigeration unit to run longer and work harder which will place the unit under duress and cost you a fortune in electricity as the unit works longer than it should have to.
From an oven or cooker heat "bleeds" warping door seals and so on as they're made from a plastic, letting air into the unit causing ice build up and making the unit run even harder. This problem gets even worse when it's an oven or cooker where grilling is carried out with the door open.
The same applies to plinth heaters, we've seen them mounted under integrated fridges and freezers, just complete stupidity.
It really is common sense.
Don't place any refrigeration unit next to or close to a heat source, you'll kill it.
Integrated Fridge And Freezer Doors
This hasn't been so much of an issue in recent years, apart from with the cheap Chinese integrated fridges and freezers that have hinges that appear to be made from tin foil.
What happens is that nobody thinks to check if the hinges on the fridge, freezer or fridge freezer are suitable for the weight of the kitchen door that is being fitted to it.
Often leading to a "DOH!" moment as the door falls off.
Yes, there are limitations on what can and cannot be fitted and no, not every fridge or freezer is designed to carry the weight of a heavy fridge door and all the bottles and cans stuffed into the fridge door. All this weight strains the door hinges and, eventually, they will stress and break.
Again, it's common sense.
Check the hinges on the integrated appliance that you are buying are suitable for the door that you are fitting before you buy is our advice as, after you fit it, it's too late.
When you are buying a new integrated fridge, freezer or fridge freezer look for the door being fitted with decent hinges such as the Ingol hinges from Coni such as the one shown in the image with replacements hinges available in our store. There are loads of Chinese copies out there now but they really aren't very good quality and this is one way that costs are cut on cheaper units.
Integrated Refrigeration Installed Correctly
Installed correctly and with the above taken into account an integrated fridge, freezer or fridge freezer is no more or less reliable than a normal freestanding unit but, it has to be installed correctly and this is the very first thing that you should ensure is correct.
If you or your installer does something that we consider to be stupid, chances are the fault will not be covered by your warranty, so that's not good.
You may well also experience extended running times, not good for your electricity bill.
In other words, it's not worth the hassle and potential expense of not installing these appliances correctly in the first place.