How Much Space to Leave Between the Side Wall and the Fridge

A refrigerator is a heavy appliance, so you probably want to put it in a place where you don’t have to move it again. But because a kitchen often provides limited space, it can be troublesome to find the perfect space where a refrigerator fits well. 

Other than the actual space the refrigerator consumes, you also need to consider the gap between it and the side and back walls. Even the door needs to be considered, especially if it hits a wall. A pro tip would be to allow half an inch to an inch of space between your fridge and the side and back walls.

How to Measure the Alcove

Because of the new designs and modifications in refrigerators, there is no longer a standard-sized fridge in the market. Some new models may be taller, wider, and deeper than their predecessors. Many brands now offer a top freezer, a bottom freezer, counter-depth, side by side, and French door refrigerators.

Refrigerators are commonly placed in kitchen alcoves, next to countertops and cabinet storages. Some cabinets may also be on top of the alcove, which means you need to measure the shallow, recessed alcove to determine the best refrigerator size to buy. 

Measure the alcove’s height, depth, and width using a tape measure. Be sure to note all the available space and when you buy a fridge, use the smallest dimension as it determines the maximum-sized fridge that could fit in the space.

Mind the Gap Between the Side Wall and the Fridge

Before buying a new fridge, you need to consider the gap between your fridge and the surrounding space. For instance, you should leave a half-inch to an inch gap between the refrigerator and the side walls, as well as the top cabinet. The refrigerator’s gap from the back wall should be bigger than the rest, about two inches. That clearance provides sufficient ventilation for the compressor. 

If you have an old kitchen but want to buy a modern refrigerator, you might have a hard time finding one that fits. Still, you should always consider clearance when getting a new fridge.

Avoid putting your refrigerator next to a dishwasher, oven, or stove since the additional heat can put a strain on the fridge’s cooling capabilities. When that happens, your refrigerator might have a shorter lifespan, and you’ll be needing a new one before you know it. In addition, follow manufacturer recommendations on the fridge’s proper temperature and clean and declutter it regularly. 


Be sure to properly measure your kitchen’s available space for your new refrigerator. Buying the wrong size is a huge problem, and forgetting to leave a gap between the fridge and the walls shortens the lifespan of your new appliance. 

If you have a tight space, you may want to explore side by side or French door refrigerators that are narrow and don’t require too much room to open the doors. However, they may be wider than your average refrigerator. When in doubt, leave more space and buy a smaller refrigerator.

Pixel Fridge is a blog dedicated to providing readers with the best refrigerator reviews, advice, tips, analysis, and recommendations. You’ll find quick guides on keeping your refrigerator clean, cooling hacks, and the best new releases of refrigerator models. If you’re wondering whether you can put a mini fridge on carpet or place it directly beside the wall, we’ve got the answers for you! Visit our blog to read more refrigerator tips!

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