Wine Savvy on August 18, 2011 12 Comments Question: Can a freestanding wine cooler be installed as a built-in unit? This is, by far, the most frequently asked question about wine refrigeration. And the answer is no. A freestanding wine refrigerator should never be installed under a counter. If a wine fridge (freestanding or built-in) were to be placed in a hot garage, it would put a strain on the system because it would have to work much harder to reach the low temperature needed to store the wine and maintain that temperature. The same thing happens when a freestanding unit is placed under a counter. Freestanding wine fridges are designed with the vent on the back of the unit. When you place it under a counter with cabinetry on each side of it or directly up against a wall, that heat is unable to dissipate. Eventually, the heat will build up to the point where it starts affecting the temperature inside the wine fridge and could cause the unit to overheat and stop working all together — ruining the wine inside of it if left there. Then, to top it all off, the manufacturer will probably tell you that the warranty for the unit is void because it was not used properly or the way that was intended. (The wine fridge will almost definitely give out before the warranty is up. It might not last more than a couple of months.) Built-in wine fridges have vents on the front of the unit, so when it is installed under a counter all of the heat is able to dissipate into the air leaving the wine and wine fridge unharmed. They do cost more than freestanding models, but after you calculate the cost of the wine you might lose, the cost of the freestanding wine cooler and the cost of the wine cooler you’ll have to buy to replace it, you’re much better off getting a built-in unit to begin with.