Project Guide

How to Measure a Refrigerator

1
Measure Your Kitchen Space
Drawing showing the length and width of a refrigerator.

Refrigerator sizes vary from model to model and between brands. Although it may seem like there is a standard refrigerator size, it is not safe to assume exact dimensions. A side-by-side refrigerator will naturally be taller than a top-mount freezer refrigerator, and a French door refrigerator will take up more room front to back than a counter-depth refrigeratorTo ensure that you have an accurate measurement of your available kitchen space, you must measure several points:

  • Measure width of space at the upper cabinet, at the countertop level, then at the base
  • Measure height from the floor to the lowest point on the upper cabinet, in the front of the space and at the back. The two measurements should be equal, but if they are not, consider the smaller of the two measurements the space you have to work within.
  • Measure the depth from the back wall to the front edge of the abutting countertop.  
2
Door Measurement
Woman standing in front of a French door refrigerator with an open door.
  • Be sure to take the angle of the door outswing and the drawer path in a bottom-freezer refrigerator into account. You'll need to be sure there is enough room in front of the fridge to accommodate the unit when it is open.
  • Notice your body position as you open and close the refrigerator or freezer. Is there enough space for you to stand in front of the unit with the door open?
  • If there is an island in your kitchen, make sure it won't obstruct the doors when open.
  • Be sure the doors will clear the cabinet on either side.
  • Door hinges add height - up to an inch or more - above the fridge. Can the hinge operate without scraping the wall or cabinet? You may need to pull the unit farther out from the wall to be sure the hinges have clearance.
3
Ventilation Space
Top view of a refrigerator showing the space between fridge and wall.

Air has to be able to circulate around the box to help the refrigerator run efficiently and last its full life span.

  • Minimum clearances: 2 inches between the back wall and the back of the fridge, 1 inch above the fridge, 1/8-inch along either side of the fridge.
  • Subtract the minimum clearance from initial space measurements to find the maximum dimensions of the refrigerator models you can consider.
  • Always check the manufacturer's recommendations on breathing space for the model and adjust your measurements accordingly.
4
Delivery Path
Two men delivering a refrigerator.
  • Before you finalize a purchase, map out the best path from where it will be unloaded from the truck outside to the spot where the new refrigerator will be installed.
  • Try to find the most direct route, avoiding obstacles like stairs, tight turns or doorways whenever possible. A longer route with the fewest obstructions is preferable to a shortcut with a lot to work around.
  • Measure any doorways to be entered from jamb to jamb. Doors may need to be removed to bring the refrigerator in. Check with the delivery service to be see if they are responsible for this step.
  • Measure the width of any hallways along the path to ensure the refrigerator can pass through safely. Be prepared to remove furniture, decor and rugs to make the hall more easily passable and prevent damage.

No matter the size of refrigerator you choose, you'll need to know how to operate it to keep it at its best. Get more out of your refrigerator by checking out our guides on properly defrosting the refrigerator, how to install a refrigerator water line and how to organize your fridge.