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Rhine brand bar fridge with the door open and showing drink capacity including wine bottle racks

Bar Fridges Guide | From A to Z

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Welcome to the Complete Bar Fridge Guide: Tips and Maintenance for Optimal Performance! Whether you're setting up a home bar, a cozy entertainment area, or a dedicated outdoor space, having a reliable bar fridge is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about bar fridges, from important features to maintenance tips that will ensure your fridge stays in top condition.

We hope this will help you to make an informaed decision into both buying and taking care of your bar fridge. The guide will explore important topics like energy consumption, sunlight exposure, noise levels, ingress protection ratings, and stainless steel surface protection. Get ready to enhance your bar experience and ensure your beverages are always at the perfect temperature with our expert tips and maintenance advice.

Sunlight Exposure

When it comes to bar fridges, direct sunlight can have a significant impact on their performance. Exposing a glass door fridge to direct sunlight is not recommended as it can cause the internal temperature to rise significantly. In tests conducted, some units reached over 65°C inside the fridge after just an hour of morning sun, which is not ideal for keeping beverages cool.

However, if the fridge is placed in an area that receives secondary sunlight, such as through a clear UV blind shade or roof, it may be able to handle short periods of exposure. It's important to consult with experts to determine the best installation approach for your specific situation.

Solid Door Units for Exposed Alfresco Areas

  • Undercover Installation: Solid door units can be suitable for alfresco areas that have overhead coverings, even if the sun passes over the fridge.
    • Positioning the fridge in a way that avoids direct sunlight is key.
    • Consider the IP rating of the unit, especially if it may be exposed to rainwater.
    • The GSP Rhino range offers a high IP rating, allowing the unit to withstand water spray from all directions.
In the below image the outdoor, solid door bar fridge (and other stainless steel cooking equipment) are facing north to south in an uncovered outdoor area. The set up is 5 years old at this point and the stainless steel has suffered only slight ware.
    outdoor bar fridge in an exposed outdoor area with no covering

    Glass Door Fridges with Secondary Sunlight

    • Open Alfresco Areas: Glass door fridges can be used in fully open alfresco areas, provided they are not directly exposed to sunlight.
      • Position the fridge away from direct sunlight and rely on tinted UV windows to limit sun exposure.
      • Consider the IP rating to protect the unit from rainwater, particularly in areas with heavy rainfall.
      • Seek advice from staff to select a fridge with the appropriate IP rating for your installation.

    In the below image, a double door glass bar fridge is used in a covered area where the fridge is not exposed to direct sunlight but gets reflected light or sparing light for limited periods of time during the day.

    outdoor bar fridge with a glass door in a covered area

    LOW E Glass and Sunlight Exposure

    LOW E Glass: When it comes to bar fridges with glass doors, it's essential to consider the effect of sunlight and the type of glass used.
    • Heat Reflection:
      - Units equipped with LOW E glass are specifically designed to reflect heat rays 70% more effectively than standard glass.
    • Significance of Direct Sunlight:
      - Even with LOW E glass, the benefits become insignificant when the fridge is exposed to direct sunlight.

    Careful consideration is crucial during the design process to ensure that your glass door bar fridge is positioned in a location that remains 100% shielded from direct sunlight. This precautionary measure will help optimize the effectiveness of LOW E glass and maintain the desired performance of your bar fridge.

    low-E glass information image explaining what Low-E glass is

    Ingress Protection Ratings

    Electric and electronic devices are susceptible to damage or malfunction when exposed to water or dust. To address this, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has established ingress protection (IP) ratings. These ratings assess the resistance of device enclosures against the intrusion of liquids and solids, providing a standardized measure of protection.

    We have a more complete guide on IP ratings, including the full ratings and their breakdown, which can be viewed or downloaded from the guide link here.

    Maintaining Stainless Steel: Tips for Care and Protection

    Stainless Steel Grades and Maintenance

    • Stainless Steel Components:
       - Your Bar Fridge is equipped with Stainless Steel components, typically using grades 304, 201, 430, or 418. It's important to note that all Stainless Steel grades require a certain level of care and protection to preserve their appearance.
    • Corrosion and Maintenance:
       - Contrary to popular belief, Stainless Steel is not immune to corrosion, and regular maintenance is necessary to prevent oxidation and other corrosive issues. Even the highest marine-grade 316 Stainless Steel can rust without proper care.

    Brushed Finish and Regular Cleaning

    • Modern Aesthetics:
       - For an Alfresco Bar Fridge or BBQ, Stainless Steel with a brushed finish is often preferred. This finish is achieved by subjecting Stainless Steel sheets to an abrasive process that removes the mirror-like shine, resulting in a brushed appearance.
    • Frequency of Cleaning:
       - Brushed finish Stainless Steel requires frequent cleaning to maintain its quality appearance. Without adequate care, signs of corrosion can develop over time.

    Recommended Care Practices

    • Initial Application of Olive Oil:
       - After installation, it is recommended to apply a thin layer of Olive Oil to all exposed Stainless Steel areas using a clean rag. This protective layer should be polished in and buffed off with another clean rag to achieve a non-oily finish. This process helps shield against dirt, corrosive contaminants, and makes subsequent cleaning and fingerprint removal easier. It is advised to repeat this process every 3-4 months.
    • Dealing with Surface Rust:
       - In some cases, surface rust, also known as "tea straining," may appear. This can typically be wiped off using hot drinking or tap water and very fine steel wool if necessary. After cleaning, ensure the surface is thoroughly dried with a clean cloth and reapply the olive oil coating.

    Maintenance Considerations

    • Additional Costs and Time:
       - It's important to factor in the added costs and time required for periodic maintenance when purchasing Stainless Steel products. Properly caring for Stainless Steel surfaces will help ensure their longevity and keep them looking their best for years to come.
    • Stainless Steel Passivation:
       - Stainless steel can be passivated using a nitric acid or citric acid solution. This can "refurbish" the stainless steel and is especially useful after the removal of surface rust or where pitting, scratching, or other exposure has occured in the stainless.
       - Always refer to an expert before passivating stainless steel (especially when using nitric acid)
       - Never use hydrochloric acid of any type, as the chlorine will cause extensive rust and ruin the stainless steel.
       - For an in-depth explanation of passivation read our extensive guide here!

    By following these care and protection guidelines, you can maintain the visual appeal of your Stainless Steel components, safeguard your investment, and enjoy their durability for many years of use.

    Energy Consumption

    Understanding the energy consumption of glass door fridges is crucial when making a purchase decision. Surprisingly, two fridges that may appear identical can have up to six times the difference in power consumption. Unfortunately, the classification of glass door drinks fridges as "commercial" exempts them from energy consumption labels, making it challenging for consumers to compare power usage accurately. Unless units undergo MEPS testing and publish the results, there is no standardized way to advertise power consumption. MEPS testing is typically reserved for fridges used to store food and can be costly. However, fridges marketed solely as "drinks fridges" are not subject to MEPS requirements, allowing anyone to import and sell fridges without adhering to energy consumption standards. Consequently, numerous units on the market consume excessive energy without the average consumer being aware. 

    energy rating image showing the rating energy of a bar fridgeAn empty 1 door Rhino bar fridge display image

    The major power-drawing components in a fridge are:

    • The Compressor,
    • Lighting,
    • and Fans.

    By focusing on these elements, it becomes easier to assess energy consumption based on their quality. Generally, brand name parts tend to have better ratings compared to cheaper, generic alternatives.

    LED lighting, in particular, is:

    1. highly efficient,
    2. long-lasting,
    3. and commonly used in many fridges.

    While components play a significant role, the overall design and refrigeration balance of a unit also impact energy consumption. A well-balanced fridge will chill quickly and require less energy, whereas a poorly designed one will need to run for longer periods to reach the desired temperature. Cheaper units often struggle to handle higher ambient temperatures and may use excessive amounts of energy in the process. Our own tests conducted in our certified test room revealed alarming results for some market units, shedding light on this issue.

    With over two decades of experience, we have learned that many factories in China still lack a thorough understanding of how to optimize fridge systems by matching compressors and appropriately sized parts. It is common to find commercial fridges from China with compressors operating outside of factory specifications. Therefore, it is essential to recognize that there are significant differences between fridges that may appear similar. Look for units that have proven their ability to efficiently cool in higher temperatures, as this saves working time for parts, reduces energy consumption, and ultimately saves you money.

    To help you compare different units on the market, we have created a quick chart based on testing conducted in our certified test room. This allows us to evaluate various factors and continuously improve our own fridges. We want to emphasize that we do not aim to be negative about other brands but rather believe it is crucial for consumers to understand energy consumption levels when making an informed decision.

    In our tests, we evaluated units at 25°C and 40°C to demonstrate the effects of heat on energy consumption, using a guide of 0.35c per Kw. Each unit was set to 2°C, and the tester placed the thermometer on the top shelf, typically the warmest position.

    A comparison of a range of bar refridgerators showing energy costs

    Remember, when considering energy consumption, it is important to choose a fridge that not only suits your needs but also operates efficiently, ensuring optimal performance while minimizing energy usage.


    Understanding condensation is crucial when purchasing a glass door fridge, especially in areas with high humidity. Condensation not only affects the appearance of the fridge but can also lead to water damage on hardwood floors or create dangerously slippery conditions on tiled floors. With the growing popularity of glass door fridges in home renovations and alfresco areas, it's important to be aware of this issue.

    Let's explore some key points about condensation and how different features can help mitigate its effects:

    Normal Dual Glazed Glass:

    • Standard market practice for glass door fridges.
    • Condensation typically starts at around 50-55% humidity.
    • Excessive condensation occurs at 65-70% humidity.

    Triple Glazed Glass:

    • Offers improved performance compared to dual glazed units.
    • The third layer of glass reduces the coldness of the front pane.
    • Condensation usually begins to form at around 60-65% humidity.

    LOW E Glass:

    • Features a special coating that reflects heat rays 70% better.
    • Helps maintain a colder interior and keeps the outer glass warmer.
    • Condensation typically starts at 70-75% humidity.

    Argon Gas Fill:

    • A gas layer inserted between the panes of glass.
    • Provides additional insulation, reducing the cooling effect on the front glass.
    • Increases the threshold of humidity for condensation by at least 5%.

    Heated Glass:

    • The most effective solution to eliminate condensation on the glass.
    • Utilizes a low-voltage electrical charge (around 50-65W) to heat the glass.
    • Energy consumption is significantly increased, usually doubling or tripling.
    • Can also prevent condensation on the body or door frame of the fridge.

    Condensation on Body and Door Frame:

    • Common issue in cheaper units, especially those with poor foaming processes during insulation.
    • Coldness from the fridge can transfer to the door frame and sides, leading to condensation.
    • Proper insulation techniques and hot pipe placement can help combat this problem.

    It's important to be aware of these condensation factors, particularly in areas with consistently high humidity levels like North of Sydney, the Gold Coast, and Far North Queensland. By considering the glass type, additional features, and insulation quality, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a glass door fridge.

    The below images show the difference between a normal glass door, a LOW-E glass door and a heated glass door during similar conditions.

    normal vs heated glass at 90% humidity showing the difference in condensation
    comparison between normal glass and LOW-E glass on fridges with respect to the condensation at 70% humidity

    Noise Levels - A Comprehensive Overview

    When it comes to glass door refrigeration, one of the most common complaints is noise levels. With the increasing popularity of glass door fridges for home applications, it's important to understand the noise levels associated with these units. However, noise perception varies from person to person, making it challenging to explain noise levels accurately. To help you gauge the noise, we use a metric called Decibel Rating (dB), which allows for comparisons with other household appliances.

    Understanding Decibel Ratings:

    • A rating of about 25 dB is nearly silent.
    • Household fridges typically range from 36 to 43 dB.
    • A microwave operates at around 55 dB.
    We compiled a chart based on basic household items in different homes to provide a medium reference point. See the image below.

    a noise level chart comparing a range of items adn theri db levels

    Reducing Noise Levels:

    • Quiet Fans:
       - We offer specially fitted 12V quiet (silent) fans from an Austrian company, which run at an impressive 20-29 dB. We also provide commercial-type quiet fans that operate at 39 dB, compared to standard commercial fridge fans at 55 dB. The difference between 39 dB and 55 dB is substantial.
    • Compressor Considerations:
       - The main compressor also contributes to noise levels. Depending on its type or size, noise levels can range from 39 dB to 55 dB. Even with quiet fans, there may be periods of higher noise during compressor run times.
    • Room Conditions:
       - The room where the fridge is located can impact noise levels. Hard rooms with wooden floors tend to amplify noise more than soft, carpeted rooms. Simple measures like lining the rear wall with foam or placing the fridge on a rubber mat can make a difference.
    • Triple Glazed and Solid Door Units:
       - These units effectively contain inner noise, providing better noise insulation.
    • Space and Cavity:
       - Units with ample space in front of them tend to be slightly quieter than those placed in tight spots or surrounded by other objects.
    • Alfresco Fridges:
       - Outdoor fridges work harder in hotter temperatures, resulting in increased heat build-up during cycling. This requires larger fans to expel the excess heat efficiently. As a result, alfresco fridges generally produce more noise. While we can modify fan systems for quieter operation, it may slightly increase energy consumption.
    • Commercial Units:
       - Quick chilling functions are preferable for units subjected to frequent door openings and high usage in harsh environments.

    Considerations for Your Purchase:

    • While we strive to make units as quiet as possible and offer various options, it's essential to consider these factors before making a significant investment.
    • Understand that achieving quieter operation may affect energy consumption.
    • We are dedicated to finding the right balance between noise levels and performance for your specific needs.
    • For a guide on how to choose the right bar fridge read here

    Remember, noise levels are subjective, and what may be acceptable to one person may be bothersome to another. By understanding the factors influencing noise levels and considering your specific requirements, you can make an informed decision and find the right fridge for your needs.

    Proper Installation of Built-in Bar Fridges

    Building fridges into cabinetry requires careful consideration to ensure optimal performance and longevity. To guide you through the process, we've broken down the relevant details to help you achieve a seamless and efficient installation. Here are the key points to keep in mind:

    Front Venting Compressor Units:

    • These units have a front grill and are typically installed under a bench.
    • Ensure that the unit is fully front venting and can be built in without compromising ventilation.
    • Maintain a gap of 5-10mm around the sides and top for sufficient airflow.
    • The rear section has a fan that draws in room temperature air and expels hot air.
    Front venting compressor units image for bar fridges

    Non-Front Venting Compressor Units:

    • These units require room for air circulation around the sides and top.
    • Consider creating a "chimney" effect by providing additional venting at the rear if possible.
    • Allow a minimum of 30-50mm around the unit and 100mm at the rear for proper ventilation.

    Integrated Installation with Another Door:

    • For Front Venting Compressor Units
      • Integrating a cabinet door in front of the fridge requires careful planning.
      • For front venting compressor units, ensure the grill area can still breathe.
      • Consider integrating the grill into the skirting or adding a matching grill to the cabinet door.
    Integrated Into Cabinet with Another Door in front of fridge
    • For non front venting compressor units
      • Non-front venting compressor units and hotel/motel mini bar units require a special installation to achieve proper ventilation.
      • Install vents with a minimum size of 200cm² (20cm x 10cm) for effective airflow.
      • Note that rear floor area vents may require a hole clearance of up to 8-10cm depth to accommodate the working parts of the fridge.
    non front venting compressor units typically used indoors

    By following these guidelines and ensuring proper ventilation, you can enjoy optimal performance and extend the lifespan of your built-in bar fridge.


    We hope this Complete Bar Fridge Guide has provided you with valuable insights into various aspects of bar fridges. From understanding the impact of sunlight exposure and mitigating condensation to evaluating energy consumption and noise levels, we've covered important considerations to help you make informed decisions when purchasing and maintaining a bar fridge. By applying the tips and recommendations shared in this guide, you can optimize the performance of your bar fridge and ensure that your beverages are always at the perfect temperature. Cheers to an enhanced bar experience!

    Bar Fridge FAQ:

    Q: Can I place a glass door fridge in direct sunlight?

    A: It is not recommended to expose glass door fridges to direct sunlight, as it can significantly increase the internal temperature. However, if the fridge is placed in an area with secondary sunlight or under a clear UV blind shade or roof, it may handle short periods of exposure. Consult with experts to determine the best installation approach for your specific situation.

    Q: Can I use a solid door fridge in an alfresco area?

    A: Solid door units can be suitable for alfresco areas with overhead coverings. Proper positioning of the fridge away from direct sunlight is crucial. Consider the IP rating of the unit, especially if it may be exposed to rainwater. Rhino's GSP range offers a high IP rating, providing protection against water spray from all directions.

    Q: How can I reduce condensation in my glass door fridge?

    A: Various factors can help mitigate condensation. Triple glazed units and LOW E glass offer improved performance compared to normal dual glazed glass. Argon gas fill between the panes and heated glass can provide additional insulation and prevent condensation. Additionally, ensuring proper insulation of the body and door frame and considering the humidity level of your location are essential.

    Q: How do I choose a bar fridge with low energy consumption?

    A: Energy consumption varies among different bar fridges. When considering energy consumption, focus on the power-drawing components such as the compressor, lighting, and fans. Brand name parts tend to have better ratings. LED lighting is energy-efficient and long-lasting. Opt for a well-balanced unit that chills quickly and efficiently, and consider the ambient temperature capabilities of the fridge.

    Q: What is the impact of noise levels in glass door fridges?

    A: Noise perception varies among individuals. Decibel ratings (dB) can be used to compare noise levels. Quiet fans and proper compressor selection can help reduce noise. Room conditions, such as the type of flooring, can affect noise amplification. Triple glazed and solid door units offer better noise insulation. It's important to find the right balance between noise levels and performance based on your specific needs and preferences.

    Q: How do I maintain the stainless steel surface of my bar fridge?

    A: Stainless steel surfaces require regular care and protection to maintain their appearance. Brushed finish stainless steel is commonly preferred for outdoor bar fridges and BBQs. To care for stainless steel, it is recommended to apply a thin layer of olive oil after installation and repeat this process every 3-4 months. This protective layer helps shield against dirt and corrosive contaminants, making subsequent cleaning and fingerprint removal easier. Surface rust can be wiped off using hot water and fine steel wool if necessary, followed by reapplication of the olive oil coating.

    Q: What are IP ratings, and why are they important for bar fridges?

    A: IP ratings, or ingress protection ratings, assess the resistance of device enclosures against the intrusion of liquids and solids. They provide a standardized measure of protection for electric and electronic devices. IP ratings are important for bar fridges as they indicate the level of protection against water and dust. It is crucial to consider the IP rating of a unit, especially if it may be exposed to rainwater or harsh environmental conditions.

    Q: What are the benefits of LOW E glass in a bar fridge?

    A: LOW E glass, which stands for low emissivity glass, is designed to reflect heat rays more effectively than standard glass. It helps to maintain a colder interior and keeps the outer glass warmer. However, it is important to note that even with LOW E glass, direct sunlight exposure should be avoided for optimal performance. Careful consideration of the fridge's positioning in a location shielded from direct sunlight is crucial.

    Q: Can I use a glass door fridge in an open alfresco area?

    A: Glass door fridges can be used in fully open alfresco areas as long as they are not directly exposed to sunlight. Positioning the fridge away from direct sunlight and relying on tinted UV windows or other forms of sun protection can limit sun exposure. It is also essential to consider the IP rating of the unit to protect it from rainwater, particularly in areas with heavy rainfall.

    Q: How can I reduce noise levels in my bar fridge?

    A: Noise levels in bar fridges can be reduced by opting for units with quiet fans. Specially fitted 12V quiet fans or commercial-type quiet fans can significantly decrease noise levels compared to standard commercial fridge fans. Proper positioning of the fridge, room conditions, such as flooring type, and insulation quality can also impact noise levels. Triple glazed and solid door units provide better noise insulation, and having ample space in front of the fridge can help reduce noise as well. It's important to consider these factors when selecting a bar fridge to find a balance between noise levels and performance.

    Q: Are there any additional maintenance considerations for bar fridges?

    A: When purchasing a bar fridge, it is important to factor in the additional costs and time required for periodic maintenance. Proper care and maintenance are necessary to ensure the longevity and visual appeal of stainless steel components. It is also worth considering stainless steel passivation using nitric acid or citric acid solutions to refurbish the stainless steel surface and prevent corrosion. However, it is always recommended to consult with an expert before attempting any passivation process.

    Author Bio Image

    Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright is a chemical engineer and metallurgist with a passion for outdoor living. He has an ongoing love for research and is well experienced in whole animal spits, fire pits, and parrilla grilling.

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