If you are remodeling a kitchen and going high end, you may be asking yourself: What is a panel ready refrigerator, and are they a good choice? If you want that really modern, high-end integrated look, a panel ready refrigerator may be a good choice for you. (For more tips on choosing a new fridge, check out our refrigerator buying guide!)
Panel ready refrigerators allow you to have your cabinet maker design a panel for the refrigerator doors that will match your cabinets, including the hardware like the handles. Panel ready refrigerators are typically only found in larger side by side or French door models and can be a bit more expensive than traditional models. They are usually purchased for very expensive homes along with other high end appliances or as part of a designer kitchen remodel.
An Introduction to the Panel Ready Refrigerator
A panel ready refrigerator is a type of built-in refrigerator. Like a built-in model, they sit flush with your cabinetry and are designed to be surrounded on either side with cabinets or a custom opening.
An "overlay refrigerator" is the same thing as a panel ready refrigerator, so you can use these terms interchangeably. However, they're not the same as an "integrated refrigerator." A panel ready model's doors will usually extend about 2" out from the cabinetry, while an integrated model's doors will be completely flush with the surrounding cabinetry. You can find panel ready integrated refrigerators if this design appeals to you! Bosch, Summit, Marvel, and Fisher & Paykel are a few brands to look at that offer integrated refrigerators.
It is especially important to pay attention to the dimensions of a panel ready refrigerator if you're aiming for a built-in look. How much the door sticks out from the body of the refrigerator will impact how flush the appliance sits compared to your cabinetry and will help you decide how deep you need a custom cavity to be. You'll also need enough width in the cavity to accommodate the door swing.
When it comes to panel ready appliances, you want a contractor or other professional who is experienced with creating and installing custom panels and crafting a custom cavity as well. A professional will take into account factors like the space required for water lines and plugs to create a custom cavity for the appliance. The installation can add to the overall cost of the appliance but can be worth it to get that perfectly streamlined look!
Panel ready refrigerator pricing starts at about $4,000 on average and can range up to $10,000 or more with upscale brands like Sub-Zero. We'll review a top rated panel ready refrigerator model below, a French door refrigerator model from KitchenAid.
The KitchenAid KBFN502EPA is a 24.2 cubic foot built-in panel ready French door refrigerator, priced starting at around $8,399. It's also available in black stainless steel and stainless steel built-in styles - learn more about black stainless steel appliances in our article on the topic! This Energy Star rated model includes KitchenAid's Platinum Interior Design, featuring a sleek silvery-gray metallic interior with LED lighting throughout.
The intuitive controls allow you to precisely adjust the temperature of the refrigerator and freezer cavities and are up-front for easy access. The adjustable, spill-resistant glass shelves feature nano-etched finely textured edges to help contain spills while allowing you to use the entire shelf from edge to edge. The crisper drawers have the SatinGlide System with Soft-Close: ball bearing rollers provide an effortless opening and closing of the drawer no matter how packed it is. The refrigerator interior includes four adjustable half-width shelves, plus spacious gallon door bins.
Refrigerator capacity: 17.75 cu. ft.
Freezer capacity: 6.42 cu. ft.
Energy Star rated
Automatic ice maker
Hidden door hinges for a seamless look
Humidity-controlled crispers with FreshFlow produce preserver
Preserva Food Care System - independent cooling systems and FreshFlow air filter
SatinGlide System provides a smooth glide to every drawer
Bright, energy-efficient LED lighting
Depth Closed Excluding Handles: 25.1"
Click here to read over 10 real customer reviews of this product!
When dealing with high end products, it is critically important for you to speak with an experienced salesperson and look at a model in-person if you can. For more information about the panel ready refrigerator design and the entire refrigerator buying process, feel free to download our free buyer's guide, linked above! It is packed with information to help educate you so that you can make a great purchase.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully we've helped educate you about panel ready refrigerators. We hope you enjoyed! You can explore more built in refrigerator models here. You can also check out the specialty brand Summit for a variety of integrated and/or built-in refrigerators and other unique styling options.
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Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in December of 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy as of the publication date noted above.