The entire point of having a man cave is to create a self-sustaining space in your home where you can escape and be your own guy for a while. So if you need to keep popping out to grab a beer from the main kitchen fridge, then what’s the point?
That said, you should know that having a mini fridge in your man cave is an essential part of independence. Not only does it give you a place to keep your special stash of beer and fave snacks away from grubby fingers from the rest of the fam, it also helps make sure you won’t have to keep waiting for commercials during the big game to grab a drink to go with your food.
But how do you even start the process of choosing the right man cave mini fridge? Well, that’s exactly what you’re about to learn.
Types of Fridges
The most common categorization for mini fridges is size. Depending on the amount of space you have, your budget, and the amount of beer you want to keep cold, it’s important to consider the three main types of mini fridges available to you based on their size.
1. Cube Fridge
As the smallest type, the cube fridge is the most affordable type of mini fridge you’re likely to find. They weigh just around 25 pounds, and are small enough to place on top of tables or other appliances.
A common feature you’ll find on many cube fridges is the locking door mechanism. This can come in handy if you know that other people might enter your man cave and have a sneaky beer or two. Cube fridges may also come with a very small freezer compartment that’s often only large enough to fit a tray of ice cubes. For that retro look, the Igloo Retro Compact Refrigerator certainly has the look. The built-in bottle opener is also a handy addition.
2. Mid-Sized Mini Fridge
The mid-sized mini fridge is slightly larger than the cube fridge, and they cost slightly more. What sets them apart from cube fridges is the fact that they usually come with an adjustable thermostat that also makes them far more energy efficient. Some of the more advanced models may have an automatic defrost feature that helps reduce the need for maintenance and cleaning. The Danby 120 Can Beverage Center will keep a few cases of beer chilled and has the look with a glass door and lock.
3. Counter High Mini Fridge
As the largest mini fridge design, a counter high mini fridge can make a suitable substitute for a main fridge. These designs typically come with all the features you would expect in a standard refrigerator, including a crisper, interior light, and a drink dispenser. They’re usually the most expensive, and they eat up quite a bit of space. The Avanti Counter-Height 2-Door Refrigerator will keep all of your beer, wine and snacks cold. Just be sure you have the space for this one!
Bet you didn’t think there would be a door situation when buying a mini fridge for your man cave? Well, there are three distinct types of fridge doors, which – when you think about them – will pose a question of preference and convenience when you deliberate your choices. Find out how each one might affect your satisfaction so you can make the right choice on that mini fridge.
1. Glass Door
Glass doors are exactly what they sound like – clear, glass that allows visibility into your fridge. Most mini fridges for drinks will feature a glass door since drinks don’t really need that much cold to maintain freshness. On the upside, glass doors can really add to your man-cave aesthetic especially if you’re storing nothing but beer. But since glass is prone to smudging, they can be tedious to maintain and clean.
Glass Door Pros:
- Visibility can aid in the man cave aesthetic, and also makes it easier to see what you’ve got in stock.
- More affordable than other choices.
- Tend to be lightweight, allowing you to move them around without the need for a helper.
Glass Door Cons:
- Lack of insulation limits the types of food you can store since they can’t maintain such cold temperatures.
- Cleaning and maintenance can be a chore, especially if you usually have greasy fingers.
- Not the most energy efficient choice.
2. Stainless Steel Door
The most popular door type is probably the stainless steel door which you’ll find on a variety of refrigerator models. These feature a solid, stainless steel facet that keep everything nice and secure. While they can be more expensive, stainless steel doors are also better at energy efficiency, so they won’t bump up those monthly bills too noticeably.
Stainless Steel Door Pros:
- Better insulation can allow users to store different kinds of food
- Easier to clean and maintain since they’re not prone to smudging or stains
- Beefier build doesn’t risk breakage.
Stainless Steel Door Cons:
- Cost more than glass doors
- Often compound the size and weight of a fridge, making it eat up more space
- No visibility of fridge contents
3. Concealed Door
There’s just something about a concealed door that screams James Bond. It’s fun to be able to surprise guests by pushing on a panel to reveal a fully packed fridge. It’s equally beneficial if you really want to keep your stash of food and drinks away from hungry intruders. Although they’re far less common, concealed doors are quickly becoming a trend thanks to the unique appeal they have for secretive man cave dwellers.
Concealed Door Pros:
- Guaranteed security against people who might visit your cave when you’re not around.
- Doesn’t take up floor space in your cave.
- Makes you feel like a secret spy which is definitely a major plus.
Concealed Door Cons:
- They need to be custom made
- Definitely far more expensive than other types of doors
- May require more prep for walls and finishes to make sure they don’t end up damaging the structure of your cave with heat and moisture
There’s a lot more to choosing a fridge than just whether or not it makes you feel like a spy. Certain factors can make or break your satisfaction, and may even cause you to pull the plug on your fridge all together if you’re not careful to consider all the angles.
1. Energy Consumption
Let’s face it – your fridge might be the second most powerful energy hog in the house (next to your HVAC.) Even just a small one can make quite a bit of a blip on your energy consumption, so it’s important to consider how much power it uses to make sure you stay within that monthly budget.
Certain factors – like the type of door, the size of the fridge, and the features it has – can have an effect on the amount of energy it needs. Generally speaking, fridges with better insulation tend to use less energy because they don’t overwork their mechanism to maintain internal temperatures.
If you’re worried about power usage, you always have the option to use your fridge only when necessary. For instance, there are some guys who only plug in and pack their fridge if they’re expecting guests or a big game.
Condensation happens when warm air cools and causes moisture to form. You’ll notice that this happens when you leave your fridge door open for too long. Condensation can become a problem because moisture can easily damage surrounding structures, like floors and walls.
This becomes particularly problematic if you’ve chosen a built-in or concealed fridge that might cause moisture damage on wooden panels and wall materials. Generally, you should want to look for a fridge with some sort of moisture management feature. Keeping the appliance cool and dry while it’s turned on can help minimize the damage that it causes to other things inside your man cave, or the cave itself.
If it turns out that your fridge produces more condensation than you deem safe for your space, call in an expert. These guys can fashion a vent to manage warmth and they can seal off cracks and gaps that might be seeping into your fridge space to cause the problem in the first place.
You’d be surprised how noisy those little mini fridges can be. If you make the mistake of choosing the wrong fridge, you might find your brain being hummed out by its monotonous groaning. This can be especially annoying if you’re man cave is just a small enclosed space, like a converted garage that will tend to amplify the noises that a refrigerator makes.
Fridges that use less energy – like those that leverage Inverter compressor technology – are known to be far less noisy than their older counterparts. Don’t be fooled by their sizes – even the smallest fridges can make lots of noise. Be sure to look into the kind of technology they use. Often, newer, more advanced models will be designed to emit far less noticeable sounds.
4. Space Considerations
So you’ve got a 20 x 20 inch space. Surely a 20 x 20 inch cube fridge should make the ideal purchase, yes? Not quite. According to manufacturers, you should allot some space for ventilation since cramped, tight spaces with no flowing air can cause a fridge to overheat.
Often, the specifications for ventilation will depend on the type of fridge you’re buying. If you don’t plan to cram the thing into a cavity in the wall – that is, you just intend to stand it up against one of the walls – then you may not need to consider a space for ventilation.
On the other hand, if you want to build it in so that the door is continuous with your walls, then it’s vital that you leave some space along the sides, the rear, and the top of the fridge to prevent overheating. Read the user manual to find out the ideal specifications for your specific fridge model, or reach out to customer support to get the necessary details.
Let’s not overlook the aspect of size. Often, a buyer will check out a fridge, learn about its features, and then pay for it without thinking about the inconvenience of the size they’ve chosen. It can be tough to really visualize yourself using an appliance, and all the little issues might make themselves known once it’s already in your home.
To avoid that, try to get a better idea of the kind of food you want to put in your fridge. This often ties into the stuff you like to eat while you’re in your man cave. For dudes who survive off of chips and drinks, then even the smallest fridge might be more than enough to keep their stash nice and fresh. But for dudes who like having a variety of food to choose from – like cakes, pastries, and even condiments for meals – then it might be important to purchase something that’s a little more sizable.
6. Reversible Door
With a reversible door, you can switch the hinge to either side of the fridge, giving you more flexibility in terms of where you can place the fridge and how it can be opened. This can be particularly useful if you have a small or oddly-shaped space in which to store your beer fridge, or if you want to place it in a specific location that requires the door to open in a particular direction.
In addition, a reversible door can also be helpful if you plan on moving the fridge to a different location in the future. It can make it easier to adapt the fridge to different spaces without having to worry about whether the door will open properly.
7. Air Flow
Air flow is very important in a beer fridge. Proper air flow helps to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the fridge, which is critical for keeping beer fresh and flavorful.
When air doesn’t circulate properly in a beer fridge, hot and cold spots will develop. This can cause some beers to become too warm, while others are too cold, leading to inconsistent flavor and quality.
Good air flow is also important for preventing the build-up of moisture in the fridge. When moisture accumulates, it can lead to mold and bacterial growth, which can spoil beer and create an unpleasant odor.
Our Top Pick
Our overall favorite fridge has to be the hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler - 120 Can Mini Fridge with Glass Door. It ticks so many boxes: large volume, stainless steel trim, LED, lock, adjustable shelves and low energy consumption. This fridge won’t look out of place in any man cave. This fridge also cools down to 34°F, and features a reversible door.
- MODERN ELECTRIC BEVERAGE COOLER - This 3.2 cubic feet, free standing beverage refrigerator features an elegant see through, left hinge glass front door with a stainless steel frame for you to view your wine, beer or soda at a glance. Its white LED interior light illuminates for easy, nighttime selection of your favorite chilled drink
- LARGE CAPACITY BEER & WINE CHILLER - Under counter beverage cooler with large, internal storage design is equipped with 3 adjustable and removable chrome shelves. Drinks organizer conveniently holds up to 120 standard sized soda or beer cans, or several bottles of wine
- ADVANCED TEMPERATURE CONTROLS - Single zone beverage mini refrigerator has an easy touch temperature control that cools down to 34°F, and large digital display for quick monitoring and setting of any temperature. Its memory function automatically restores the preset temperature of the cooler in case it becomes unplugged, or in the event of a power outage
Your man cave should feel like a bar within your home, and as we all know, the heart of any home is the kitchen. Sure, it might not be possible to cram an entire kitchen into your cave, but you can have a fridge.
Buying a fridge can be a major investment, but only if you take the time to consider every aspect that could affect your satisfaction. Don’t just dive into a purchase without thinking it through. Keep these pointers in mind so you can make the right decision. The perfect man cave starts with the right mini fridge.