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Best Affordable Panel-Ready Counter Depth Refrigerators (Reviews / Ratings / Prices)

Rick Medeiros  |  August 29, 2016  |  3 Min. Read

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Custom paneling a refrigerator is a great style for a new kitchen. Have a look:

House in Sonoma

Unfortunately, the price tag can be $10,000 or more for a Sub-Zero and other upscale brands. You can, however, buy a decent looking paneled refrigerator for a fraction. I will show you three solid options.

But first let's look at the different styles of these type of refrigerators.

What's the Difference Between Counter-Depth, Professional, and Integrated Refrigerators? [Video]


Counter Depth Refrigerators

Integrated, professional and regular are all counter depth refrigerators, which do not protrude into your kitchen.

Integrated is flush to the cabinet. Professional has the commercial style compressor on the top, and regular is just a less deep refrigerator. The door on the professional and the regular will protrude.

In this article, we will look at regular and integrated refrigerators.

Best Affordable Panel Ready Refrigerators

Fisher & Paykel

Fisher & Paykel is based out of New Zealand. They were mostly known for their innovative double drawer dishwasher. We sold the first few in the US, and let’s say they have improved considerably since then.

However, they have a whole suite of stylish and modern looking products. Refrigeration is now their number two category with their stainless steel, bottom mount 33" wide refrigerators and this new 36" panelled French door refrigerator.

Fisher & Paykel RS36A772J1 - $3,800



  • 36" French Door
  • ActiveSmart™ technology
  • Removable
  • Spill-safe cantilevered glass shelves
  • SmartTouch
  • LED lighting
  • Frost free freezer
  • Adaptive defrost
  • Humidity control system
  • Sabbath mode
  • Internal ice making

They have a two year warranty (three years on parts) and ActiveSmart technology, which monitors your use of the refrigerator and adapts the temperature as well as humidity for the optimum environment.

This new product is intriguing, because of the price and integrated look. It is a great look at ⅓ the price of most integrated refrigerators.

One word of caution, installing the panels is not easy.


Thermador is part of BSH Home Appliances Corporation, a fully owned subsidiary of BSH Bosch since 1998. Did you know they are the third largest appliance manufacturer in the world? Founded in 1916 in California by William E. Cranston, and began as a manufacturer of electric items, most notably portable and built-in heaters.

Notable personalities such as Julia Child used Thermador ovens in her critically acclaimed PBS TV series, and Alice from The Brady Bunch cooked with Thermador appliances.

Thermador T36IR900SP Integrated Refrigerator - $7,249 (panels extra)


Thermador is a great brand. Their refrigerators feature dual compressors and dual evaporators. Their 36" French door refrigerator with pull out freezer is one of the most popular integrated products.

You are probably thinking this is not affordable. You would be technically correct except there are free dishwasher and hood promotions along with other purchases.

KitchenAid KRFC302EPA - $2,999

kitchenaid panel ready refrigerator krfc302epa

KitchenAid has the least expensive refrigerator with a panel, but be carfeful.

Over the years I’ve had people coming in asking for this for two reasons. The easiest to point out is the price of $2,999, which when compared to a $8-$10k built-in looks sweet.

However, the freestanding models do not have zero clearance or tight hinging. The doors need to be able to clear the cabinetry or will hit cabinets or not open all the way. I have seen photos online of it looking almost flush or recessed. But I can promise you it’s not the proper installation as you need a 1 inch clearance on all sides.

You will also see the black color of the doors unlike the above integrated models. The price is great on this unit, but it has to be in the right application.

Things to Consider

So now you have three viable options for refrigeration without spending a small fortune. Counter depth refrigerators do cut down the cubic footage, so be careful if you have a large family or need capacity.

Installing panels is not easy either. We have built a whole installation department around placing panels on refrigerators. Make sure your contractor is familiar with the unit and the application.

Additional Resources

Want to learn more about counter depth refrigerators? Get the Yale Counter Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide with features, specs, illustrations and detailed profiles of all the brands like Sub-Zero, Thermador, Liebherr, Jenn-Air, Viking and more. Over 175,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

View our counter depth refrigerator buying guide

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A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Rick Medeiros

Rick Medeiros has over 10 years of appliances sales experience and is in the appliance sales department at Yale Appliance + Lighting. He enjoys travelling, live music and learning to play the guitar.

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A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.

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