It will be frustrating to buy a 30-inch counter-depth refrigerator.
The prices vary between $1,500 to over $13,500. Then you have different types like freestanding (what I call regular), built-in with the compressor on the top, integrated or seamless to the cabinet, and all refrigeration, also known as a column.
In this article, you will learn the differences between every kind of counter-depth refrigerator and the best to consider for 30-inch counter-depth refrigeration.
Let's get started.
Since the end of 2020, availability has been poor. You may wait 12-14 months for a refrigerator from some manufacturers.
Availability will most likely be an issue until 2024. So, be careful when choosing a refrigerator. Sometimes the best 30-inch counter depth is the available one, especially if you are in a hurry.
You have plenty of choices. Let's characterize them as expensive, over $7,000, and less costly, under $7000.
- More Expensive: Sub-Zero, BlueStar, Monogram, Miele, Bosch, Thermador, Viking, Liebherr, and Fisher & Paykel.
- Less Expensive: Beko (Blomberg), Liebherr, and Miele
Two manufacturers are in both categories, but that is style-related, whether freestanding or built-in.
What's the Difference Between Freestanding, Built-In, Integrated, and Column Refrigerators?
Freestanding Counter Depth Refrigerators
Counter-Depth Refrigerators at Yale Appliance in Hanover
There is a stark difference between looks, features, and price. A freestanding or regular counter depth refrigerator is simply a less deep refrigerator.
It is much less expensive than the other three categories.
The features are surprisingly good as well. Many of these refrigerators now have twin evaporators and several distinctive styles and configurations.
The problem is selection. Many brands do not manufacture freestanding counter-depth refrigerators like GE, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and Bosch. So, you have a limited selection which means you will probably be spending more than you think.
Sub-Zero Built-In Refrigeration
Built-in refrigerators have compressors on the top to emulate the professional restaurant look. You will pay over $8,000 for a built-in refrigerator.
Sub-Zero dominates this niche. Their product is good. Of course, their biggest competition, Thermador, abandoned built-ins years ago to focus on integrated refrigeration.
Like freestanding, you have a limited selection for built-ins as well. Sub-Zero, Monogram, and Viking are the only manufacturers.
Integrated Refrigeration (left) compared to Built-In Refrigeration (Right)
Integrated refrigerators fit inside a 25-inch cabinet, so the refrigerator is indistinguishable from the cabinet. These refrigerators are the most expensive per cubic foot, even more than $8,000 built-in.
You have a surprising amount of brands building-integrated refrigerators such as Sub-Zero, Thermador, JennAir, Miele, Gaggenau, and Bosch amongst others.
You will like the look of an integrated refrigerator, especially with better cabinets. However, it is the most expensive refrigerator per cubic foot.
Sub-Zero Column Refrigeration
Every company has a column Sub-Zero, True, Viking, Monogram, SKS, Fisher & Paykel, BlueStar, among many others. So, before you buy one, read this section for a little clarity.
Columns have become an industry term for all refrigerators or freezers. Most people assume that a column is also integrated, but that's not the case.
True, BlueStar, and Viking all manufacture built-in column refrigeration. Thermador, Bosch, Miele, and Gaggenau manufacture integrated column refrigeration.
Sub-Zero manufactures both styles for column refrigeration.
Some people assume an all-refrigerator or freezer should be less expensive, but the Viking tops off the list at $13,679 per column. Make sure to pay attention to pricing when choosing column refrigeration.Short on time? Get our free Counter Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide
Are Counter-Depth Refrigerators Reliable?
Refrigerators are the least reliable appliances in your kitchen as a percentage. A part should be attributed to design changes due to governmental regulation for energy efficiency. New refrigerators will save you money on your energy bill but may have more problems.
Two common issues are ice makers and general installation.
It's not a bigger problem leaving you without a refrigerator like compressor failures. However, there is more maintenance (like cleaning your compressors).
Just be aware of the problem and find a reputable service agent before buying it. The appliance industry is notorious for its lack of technicians. This problem is even worse for refrigerators because you need a more specialized technician.
Best 30-Inch Counter-Depth Refrigerators for 2022
Sub-Zero Built-In Refrigerator CL3050U/O ($10,400) and Sub-Zero Integrated Refrigerator DET3050RID ($10,130)
Sub-Zero is the best known and best-built refrigerator. It is manufactured in the U.S.
Sub-Zero and Beko are the only refrigerators with an air scrubber. This feature "scrubs" the gases of foods in the refrigerator, so food stays fresher for a longer time. They have an advanced water purifier. Sub-Zero also has a better seal on the door and crispers to keep air out and food fresh longer.
The DET3050RID has an interior water dispenser and two freezer drawers. When paneled, the fridge sits flush with your cabinets.
If you are looking for a "Pro" type with the compressors on the top, they manufacture the BI-30. It has a commercial look, but the door and handles will protrude.
You can't mention Sub-Zero without mentioning Thermador as a good alternative.
Thermador was first with smart functionality. They also have an all-stainless interior with more customized bins on the door. Thermador is less expensive and has a free dishwasher promotion as well.
Sub-Zero has a better seal, magnetized crispers, and an air scrubber, all designed to keep food fresh for a longer.
Fisher & Paykel is an interesting company. You probably know their unique double-drawer dishwasher. They are now owned by Haier, the giant Chinese appliance manufacturer, and GE's owner.
Their refrigerator has an internal water dispenser and ActiveSmart technology adjusting temperature based on how you use the refrigerator.
What's interesting is they employ an inverter compressor. Inverters have fewer parts and run more quietly than any other refrigerator.
LG pioneered the inverter and then settled a class action suit in 2019. Yet LG was by far the most reliable refrigerator sold last year, so it's great as long as it works.
Miele has the most features if a refrigerator can be feature-oriented other than cooling. The refrigerator offers six shelves and five adjustable door bins.
You also have the cool "MasterCool" technology, precisely controlling the crispers. Without question, Miele is the best-looking freestanding counter-depth refrigerator.
Right now, you could be depressed thinking you have to spend $7000 plus for a refrigerator. However, Beko is an excellent alternative. They produce the lowest-priced yet decent counter-depth refrigerators in many small sizes like 24, 27, 28, and 30-inch widths.
The product is good even at a fraction of the price of the others. You have two evaporators to keep the air separately in the freezer and refrigerator to end taste crossover like the others on this list.
They feature "BlueLight" technology to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer in your refrigerator, along with their gasketed EverFresh + crispers.
Blue lights emulate sunlight on the Kelvin scale, so it tricks plants into staying fresher for a longer time.
We tested Beko in our "Project Produce" of keeping fruit and veggies over four weeks. They were the best of the freestanding units.
Beko also features their Ion Generator sending negative ions to neutralize the positive ions of odors, so your refrigerator smells fresher. I didn't think odors had ions.
Of course, the best part is the price of $1,549.
Best 30-Inch Counter-Depth Refrigerators: Key Takeaways
You finally have plenty of choices, unlike in years past. Just not available options. You may have to plan a year or longer for some of the better brands.
For super-premium refrigerators, Sub-Zero is still the best. The seal, filter, air scrubber, compressor, and crisper bins are all designed to keep the air in its proper compartment or out of your refrigerator. You will keep food fresher for a longer time.
Thermador and Fisher & Paykel are decent alternatives. Miele is just a beautiful product if I can ever say that about a refrigerator.
However, at $1,549, you can feel good about buying a Beko. It has decent features for an affordable 30 inches counter depth refrigerator.
Lastly, inquire about the service. You will need it within five years, and good refrigerator techs are hard to find.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the most reliable counter-depth refrigerator?
Every refrigerator is less reliable than the mean average for appliances. Samsung, LG, and Whirlpool are better than most.
2. How deep is a counter-depth refrigerator?
It depends on the counter-depth style. Freestanding and built-in refrigerator doors protrude 3-5 inches. Integrated refrigerators fit inside the cabinet and do not protrude.
3. What's the difference between standard depth and counter depth refrigerators?
Depth of 7-10 inches. Standard refrigerators will add 3-5 cubic feet. However, the sides will stick out in your kitchen.
Download the Yale Counter Depth Refrigerators Buying Guide with features, specs and inside tips to every counter depth refrigerator. Over 1 million people have read a Yale Guide.
Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.
Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.
A Note About Pricing