Outdoor Refrigerator Buying Guide

7 Critical Features to Look For in an Outdoor Appliance

Outdoor kitchens demand a higher level of durability, reliability and performance from the appliances chosen for the strenuous job, and not all appliances rise to the call. You need a sentinel built to last, specifically designed to grapple with inclement weather and keep your food and beverages evenly cold without missing a beat – or straining your energy bill.

Here’s an expert guide of what to look for in an outdoor kitchen appliance and why quality matters just as much as its looks.

outdoor refrigerator buying guide
Outdoor Kitchen Featuring Marvel Outdoor Refrigerators


Is it certified for outdoor use?

Mother Nature is a fickle environment of fluctuating temperatures, intense UV exposure and ever-changing weather conditions. Therefore it is vital to confirm the appliance you’re buying is UL or CSA certified for outdoor use to endure elements like rain, corrosion, high humidity and temperatures. This makes all the difference between an outdoor refrigerator that lasts a few years and one that lasts for the long haul. And, most importantly, it protects you from risk of electrical shock from an indoor unit being improperly installed in an outdoor environment without the proper safety implements.

Marvel’s engineering director Jim Holland explains the distinction, “Marvel Outdoor appliances are tested against the rigorous demands of the UL 471 commercial product certification for power cord insulation, UV exposure and rain testing – the most difficult test to pass, but the most critical in regards to safety.”

Educated buyers can be assured that Marvel Outdoor models will perform even in high humidity environments and temperatures up to 115° F, in addition to its hard-earned certification for outdoor use. Each product is built with a durable stainless steel exterior to resist corrosion and commercial-grade power cord for safe performance in outdoor kitchens.

Buyer Tip: Look for outdoor-use disclaimers in warranty details to determine whether a model is truly intended for outdoor installation.


Will it keep my perishables evenly cold without temperature swings?

Not all cooling systems are created equal. Let’s explain the differences between the cooling technologies available on the market.

Cold Plate vs. Forced Air

A cold plate is a frigid surface located in the refrigerator storage compartment that statically cools via natural convection through contact with the air. The major drawback of this method is that contents may obstruct cool air flow and colder air falls, creating temperature stratification inside the unit, meaning your food and beverages will not be cooled as evenly or effectively as forced air technologies.

Forced air actively recirculates compartment air multiple times per cooling cycle, delivering more consistent cold air circulation throughout the cabinet. The best type of forced air cooling you can find is Marvel’s Dynamic Cooling Technology™, which offers the industry’s most precise temperature stability and rapid cooldown, in some cases even twice as fast as other outdoor refrigerator models.

Buyer Tip: Ask your dealer to explain the cooling technology of the models you’re considering and compare performance.


Will my utility bill go through the roof?

By nature of operating in often extreme outdoor conditions, efficiency becomes more difficult to maintain, nevertheless certain manufacturers have mastered the balance of cooling performance and energy consumption. For example, Marvel Outdoor Refrigerators cost on average less than $25 per year to operate, compared to their competitive counterparts that can cost upwards to 50% more to operate.

Buyer Tip: Reference product energy guides to compare annual energy costs among outdoor models of the same cubic feet capacity.


Will I have to service it often or replace it later?

Don’t let lower price models fool you – economy is best determined by longevity. Consider this math to compare models: amortize the total cost of an outdoor unit by its projected longevity and annual operating cost. If you need to service a lower quality unit more frequently – or worse yet, replace it – then you haven’t gained any savings overall. In fact, it can cost you more time, money and headaches.

Lower-priced refrigerators are often made from vinyl-cladded steel or a ferrous, stainless-steel look-alike susceptible to corrosion. Premium outdoor refrigerators are built to last longer than cheaper counterparts on account of durable construction and higher quality materials, refrigeration technology and parts. Be sure to also explore warranty coverage, too.

Buyer Tip: Invest for the long-term, and you’ll be glad you did.


Does it offer the volume and depth to store larger items?

Did you know that not all outdoor models are capable of storing an extra-large pizza box? Marvel models are unique in that they have 20% more depth than competing models, which means you can store extra-large platters and pizza boxes for entertaining large crowds.

Got your eyes on an outdoor kegerator? Marvel Outdoor Beer Dispensers are the only outdoor keg cooler that can fit a half barrel – and mobile models are available to take the party with you wherever you go.

Buyer Tip: Measure (or bring) the largest item you anticipate storing to confirm it fits inside the outdoor model you want. You might be surprised at how your eye can trick you into thinking there’s more space than there actually is.


Can it change with me as my storage needs change?

Think of the items you’ll want to store now, and also later. Inevitably, your storage needs will change over time, and you’ll need an outdoor refrigerator that adapts with you over time. Adjustable cantilever shelving is an important feature to customize the interior to your needs.

Certain outdoor kegerators, like Marvel Outdoor Beer Dispensers, feature stow-on-board shelves to convert the unit to a full refrigerator when you’re not storing kegs.

Buyer Tip: Have your dealer show you how to adapt the model to other storage configurations, so you can gauge its versatility.


Does the door lock?

Look for outdoor appliances with security locks to ensure the safety of curious children and also protect inside contents.

Buyer Tip: Some manufacturers like Marvel Refrigeration offer door locks as a standard feature rather than an extra option with added cost.

Recommended Marvel Outdoor Refrigerator Appliances



Incredible Outdoor Kitchen with Bar, Custom Fire Table and Fireplace with Flat Screen TV



Designer Showcase: Decked Out Outdoor Kitchen Stocked with Marvel Twin Tap Beer Dispenser

This Charlotte outdoor kitchen went from modest to magnificent thanks to the talented team at Fine Edge Landscape Design, who expanded the outdoor living space to include a full granite top kitchen with bar amenities, including a Marvel Outdoor Twin Tap Beer Dispenser. A nearby custom fire table mirrors the granite top and stone base of the dining ledge and adds warmth and mood to the entertaining experience.

And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the team also constructed a massive stone fireplace wired during construction with electrical and audio/visual cables for a flat screen television, creating a cozier, more intimate version of a drive-in movie theater.

Featured Designer: Fine Edge Landscape Design
Style: Granite and Stone Outdoor Kitchen
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina


How to Get Your Outdoor Refrigerator Ready for Summer

After a long, cold winter, it’s almost that time to get your outdoor kitchen up and running. And if you properly winterized your outdoor refrigerator, there are just 4 simple steps to wake up your Marvel Outdoor Refrigerator for the glory days of summer.

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Wipe down the outside of the unit with a stainless steel-safe cleaner (don’t use any abrasive cleaners or a scouring pad!). Pay particular attention to any crevices that may have accumulated dirt and debris.

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Connect the unit to electrical power.

touch control icon

Turn on and confirm your desired control settings.

24-hour icon

Wait 24 hours for the unit to stabilize before filling up with your favorite summer beverages and food.

That’s it! Now if only planning all those summer parties was that easy.


Looking to Build or Update Your Outdoor Kitchen?
Check Out Marvel’s Outdoor Series

Small Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Outdoor Dining with Friends and Family

5 Clever Ways to Design an Outdoor Kitchen with Limited Backyard Space

True to the adage, fresh air and sunshine are good for the soul. Simply stepping outside does wonders to lift your mood, and it’s no surprise more homeowners are electing to take entertaining outside to make the most of warmer months. Whether you like to host summer parties or practice yoga on the patio, adding an outdoor kitchen certainly awards you with more personal fulfillment in your free time.

If you’re challenged by limited backyard space, it doesn’t mean this wistful outdoor experience is unattainable. You just have to work smarter! These five tips will help you plan an outdoor kitchen small in size but big on features.

1. Choose Compact, Space-Efficient Outdoor Kitchen Footprints Marvel-Outdoor-Kitchen-Footprints

To evaluate the possibilities in the space you do have, first consider the must-have fixtures for your ideal outdoor experience, such as a grill or cooking area, outdoor refrigeration for cold beverages, food and ice, perhaps a built-in dispenser for cold draft beer, or maybe a plumbed sink and prep counter.

Then determine the optimum location to accommodate your wish list. We suggest staying close to the house – it grants easier access to inside conveniences, less steps away. Consider nestling the footprint into a corner, against a house wall or opt for a modular kitchen island for additional food prep space.

Need ideas? These four outdoor kitchen layouts (at right) will help you maximize outdoor space.

2. Select Adaptable Outdoor Refrigeration Storage

Your outdoor appliances often determine your overall kitchen size. mo24rf-popChoosing a refrigeration solution that accomplishes many things and occupies minimal space is wise for small spaces. It’s also critical to select reliable, high-performance appliances specifically built to weather the elements.

Marvel Outdoor recently introduced an all-in-one outdoor appliance solution, CSA certified for outdoor use, the first and only of its kind. The new 24″ Marvel Outdoor Refrigerator and Freezer centralizes the best features of a refrigerator, freezer and ice maker into one dynamic 24” footprint, a new advancement ideal for small outdoor kitchens.

Engineered with Dynamic Cooling Technology, it cools rapidly and provides precise temperature stability even on the hottest days. And its durable, low-maintenance stainless steel exterior is tested to endure harsh sun, rain, corrosion, humidity and extreme temperatures.marvel-outdoor-new

3. Look for Portability

Rather than committing to bulky fixed pieces, consider more flexible options that can be stacked, folded or tucked away to maximize space. For example, stacking or folding chairs can be brought out or put away to match your guest list count. Kitchen carts on wheels can provide you with more food prep space or double as a serving station. And, Marvel Outdoor Single Tap and Twin Tap Mobile Beer Dispensers are built on sturdy casters to follow the party, whether it’s tailgating parties at home (homegating) or on the go. The only beer dispenser capable of housing a full keg with 4-in-1 storage configurations, these outdoor kegerators are versatile enough to not only fit multiple keg sizes but also convert to a full refrigerator.

MO24BSSMRS Marvel Outdoor 24" Mobile Single Tap Beer Dispenser

4. Give the Illusion of Spaciousness

There are tricks of the trade that’ll have your eyes convinced your outdoor kitchen looks larger than it is. Lighting will be your best friend, especially task and accent lights to brighten the space, enhance mood and improve visibility. Another technique is bringing in reflective high-gloss surfaces or positioning a decorative mirror to reflect natural light and beautiful elements in your backyard.

Visual optics will give the appearance of greater length and width, so use lighter monochromatic colors, clean lines and flooring patterns to your benefit. Streamline storage with built-in solutions and employ multi-functional pieces to remove clutter. Look for small-scale versions of the fixtures you want, such as a slim work island and lightweight seating.

5. Add Shelter

Considering you’ve taken the steps to invest in an outdoor kitchen, it would behoove you to also ensure you can enjoy it the most days of the year. Adding a pergola, overhang or even a simple umbrella offers cool shade from the hot rays of the sun, protecting you and your guests from sunburn. With shelter, you can languish in the refreshing smells of a calm summer rain without getting drenched. And, more practically, it helps extend the longevity of your outdoor kitchen.

Note: Professionals recommend adequate clearance between a grill and the structure’s ceiling and designing for proper ventilation.

Marvel Outdoor RefrigerationWith these savvy techniques to magnify the utility of a small space, and a little ingenuity, you can create a beautiful outdoor living area that packs quite a punch!

Related Articles:
• High-Efficiency Outdoor Kitchens
• How to Winterize an Outdoor Refrigerator