UPDATED JULY 2017
Most refrigerators manufactured today are too short and too deep to adequately serve the needs of the people buying them
The vast majority of refrigerators that are manufactured today, both in the economy category, and well into the upper price ranges are just about the same height, or slightly shorter, than the average North American citizen, male or female. They also protrude about 5 to 15 inches from the face of the base cabinet. As a kitchen renovator/ remodeller, I constantly encounter people that complain about the depth of the average refrigerator because of their inability to access the cabinet above, as well as food products getting lost in the back of their fridge. As well, an issue that comes up less often, but is intimately linked with the depth issue is that of height. Most people, if given the option, would give up some space above the fridge if they had an option to buy a higher fridge, simply because the cabinet above is practically inaccessible. A counter depth (24″) fridge (example pic above) completely solves the cabinet inaccessibility issue caused by the standard fridge, thus allowing the consumer to consider the relative importance of these two types of storage. When asked to choose between a higher fridge to obtain extra fridge storage, or maintaining the storage cabinet above the fridge, the answer is always clear; extra fridge storage is always the clear winner. What I have concluded, is that the average fridge buyer thinks mainly about cubic storage area in the fridge and seldom considers the benefits of packaging that same cubic area into a higher and shallower box. This is likely because the reasonably priced offerings in the marketplace never had these dimensions. The refrigerator manufacturers have decided that these “features” are reserved for their premium priced models, even though it is clear that there is little extra cost to manufacturing a fridge that is taller and shallower.
Although, up to this point, I have only discussed the problem with most refrigerators currently available. Don’t fret, because there are some reasonably priced reasonably tall and shallow fridges out there. Here is a link to some high “counter-depth” fridges offered by a major retail chain. This is a good cross section of brands and prices, but there are of course, much more expensive ones out there. With the power of the internet at your fingertips, all the options are not too hard to find. As you can see, even the cheapest of these refrigerators are not “economy” fridges by any means, running only as low as around $1,200 to $2000. The “high-end” refrigerators with these dimensions start at around $4,000, with only a few choices at this price. The rest are still higher in price, some with no significant differences to justify their large price tag. I am really baffled that refrigerator manufacturers don’t make fridges extending up to 84″ (a 12″ compressor vent at the top doesn’t count). I know of a considerable number of people that would buy a fridge with a door that would come close to matching the height of their upper cabinets. With no counter to reach over, this height would prove very useful for those people that are of average height. Practically speaking, a fridge of this height would have a band at the top to make room for the insulation and/or a small compressor vent. This would bring the top shelf to a maximum height of just around 6 feet, which is still a reasonable storage height. Oh well……. I guess consumers will have to be a little more discriminating (and firm) with retailers about their preferences for taller and shallower refrigerators, for this dysfunctional trend in fridge design to come to an end. Meanwhile, happy fridge shopping!