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What Is the Difference Between a Cooler and Refrigerator?

What Is the Difference Between a Cooler and Refrigerator?

Choosing between a wine cooler, a beverage cooler, and a standard refrigerator for your drinks can be a bit overwhelming. If you're new to this, you're likely wondering what the differences between the three are.

The only thing they have in common is that they keep their contents cool. Nonetheless, the way they look and operate differs in terms of temperature, humidity, and vibration. They are developed and constructed to serve a variety of purposes. First, let's discuss their differences and understand what they're designed for.

Wine Coolers vs. Refrigerators vs. Beverage Coolers

Wine coolers

wine cooler

Wine coolers keep red wines, white wines, and other bottles of wine chilled at their optimal serving temperatures. The temperature range of a wine cooler is higher than that of a refrigerator or beverage cooler. The temperature of a wine cooler, in general, does not fall below 46°F. Therefore, wines should not be stored as cold as other beverages in a beverage cooler or refrigerator if you don’t want to ruin their flavor.

There are so many varieties of wine coolers out there. Built-in wine coolers are installed into cabinets or under counter, designed to guarantee optimal ventilation. In contrast to the built-in ones, free standing wine coolers must not be recessed into any cabinetry. And lastly, side by side wine coolers, which often have multiple temperature zones and have double doors.



A standard refrigerator or fridge is designed to keep food and drinks cold and dry with an average temperature of 40°F. They have various compartments, glass shelves, and bulky trays to store a variety of perishables such as salads, fruits, milk, and meat. A top freezer or bottom freezer can also be found in refrigerators.

Refrigerators are available in a range of styles. You can choose from top and bottom mount refrigerators to french door refrigerators, side-by-side refrigerators, mini-fridges, and more. They have interior lights inside, similar to the beverage cooler, but it goes off when the door is shut.

Beverage coolers

beverage center

A beverage cooler, also called a beverage center or beverage refrigerator, is designed to store beverages of all kinds. They have temperature control that allows you to set the temperature between 39°F and 65°F. They also come in different compartments to accommodate different types of beverages.

Unlike a regular fridge, the LED lights inside are always on, illuminating the beverages, and has a transparent door making it visible from the outside.

A beverage cooler has two installation options: you can leave a freestanding beverage refrigerator in your kitchen, or you can have it built-in to cabinetry or under counters – if you have a home bar or man cave, this is the best choice. If you want to maximize your beverage storage, go for a side-by-side beverage fridge.

Can You Use a Regular Refrigerator or Beverage Cooler to Store Wines?

A beverage cooler and refrigerator are similar to each other, but beverage coolers frequently do not offer the adjustable shelves or door storage that a refrigerator often does, and they often have glass doors to display the contents.

A wine and beverage cooler can be adjusted to a wide range of temperatures so it may be used for either, but keep in mind if you want to store both at the same time you will either have too-cold wine or too-warm drinks depending on how you choose to set the internal thermostat.

A regular fridge is designed to escalate temperatures quickly and dry out humidity. It may seem logical to store wine in the refrigerator, but the quick answer is an emphatic "No."

Many hazards are lurking about your traditional fridge that can adversely affect your wine's quality. If left in the same space too long, it's possible to get a hint of General White or Red meat in your Pinot Noir. Why does this happen?

If the cork in a wine bottle shrinks and becomes overly porous due to insufficient humidity levels, the odors from the bread, bologna, beer, and whatever else you're storing can seep inside and contaminate your wine. Remember, regular refrigerators are engineered to suppress humidity, not sustain it.

Wine coolers are crafted to maintain an ideal humidity level so that your wine cork stays impermeable and moist, not allowing outside air to intrude the bottle and spoil your wine. You also won't be as tempted to store your leftovers in your dedicated wine cooler, meaning there's even less of a chance of the two ever meeting outside of a meal.

The answer is simple: your wines should never be kept in a standard refrigerator or beverage cooler.

When Should You Use a Wine Cooler Instead of a Regular Refrigerator When Drinking White Wine?

If you are a wine lover, you may one day wish to convert your love for wine into a notable collection that reflects your personal tastes and passion for the hobby. However, even from that very first bottle in your collection, you want to make sure you're storing your wine properly.

For those not fortunate enough to have a wine cellar in which they can store their collection (at the proper humidity level and temperature, no less), the ideal way to keep your wine at the optimal 55°F is to purchase a high-grade wine cooler.

While many may be tempted by the size and space offered by your average fridge, a conventional refrigerator just won't cut it.

Keeping Your Wine Cool

Aside from keeping your wine chilled to serve at the ideal temperature all year long, a wine cooler's purpose is to protect your collection from environmental changes, including fluctuations in humidity.

A wine cooler will gradually lower temperatures and maintain a high and effective humidity level at all times. The temperature in a traditional refrigerator and beverage cooler is inconsistent because it is being opened throughout the day. Whether you want to serve your wine at the perfect temperature with dinner or store it for a longer period, a wine cooler ensures an even temperature throughout, always.

wine cooler

Another enemy of your beloved wine is vibration. All-purpose refrigerators vibrate because they run on a compressor. This vibration can disrupt a wine's natural maturation process, causing it to age and degrade faster.

You don't want to disturb the sediment present in the bottle, but it also causes complex chemical reactions which are less visible. Vibration over time will agitate a wine causing a reduction in esters, which dulls flavors.

Although some wine fridges are also powered by compressors, they have a unique vibration absorption system that greatly reduces the impact of tremors and noise, allowing your wine to quietly and adequately mature.

There are also thermoelectric wine refrigerators that don't vibrate at all but are better suited for already cool environments.


wine cellar

 For wine lovers, the optimal way for wine storage is within a cellar or wine cooler, not in the fridge or a beverage center. With changing temperatures, noisy vibration, pesky odors, a lack of features, and bottle capacity, your wine will be much better off in a dedicated wine cooler.

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