Be it a cheap beer, a can of the best sparkling water, or just an ice-cold bottle of plain old water, there are few things in life as simply satisfying as cracking open and gulping down a crisp, chilled beverage when you’re thirsty. If this is one of those little pleasures that you enjoy on a daily basis, then a dedicated beverage cooler is one of the best things you can add to your kitchen or home bar – especially if you find yourself going through a lot of cans or bottles of your favorite drinks.
A beverage cooler, also commonly known as a beverage center, is basically a beefy mini-fridge that’s designed solely for chilling drinks. What set a beverage center apart from a basic refrigerator are design touches like stainless steel construction, glass doors, and LED lighting, plus more powerful refrigeration capabilities (usually some sort of compression system similar to what you’d find in a full-size refrigerator) with precise degree adjustments within specific temperature ranges.
Many people also opt to install a beverage cooler under a kitchen or bar counter, so these refrigerators are typically built more like heavy-duty home appliances than your standard dorm room mini-fridge. These things can get expensive and this niche market is surprisingly crowded, but if you’re serious about your hydration situation and want the best bang for your buck, then read on: We’ve done the research to bring you the best beverage centers available right now.
The best beverage cooler for most people is this one from Homelabs, for the simple reason that it ticks all the boxes at a reasonable cost. It’s sized right, it’s priced right, and it keeps your drinks cooled down to temperatures as low as 34 degrees Fahrenheit (the coldest of any of our picks) via a compression system which you can control with a push-button adjustable thermostat. Its LED-lit interior has a capacity of 3.2 cubic feet, giving you enough space for 120 cans or 60 wine bottles with removable shelves for some customization.
The Homelabs beverage cooler is a freestanding design, but at just over 33 inches tall, it’s the standard height for an under-counter unit. What this means is that you can place it just about anywhere where it can draw power (i.e. near an outlet), including under a kitchen or bar counter if you want to so long as there is some clearance around the unit for ventilation. At $280, it’s also one of the best values to be had in a high-grade beverage center.
For something a bit more affordable and a little more compact, this beverage cooler from Danby is another top choice. With its 2.6 cubic foot (or 95-can) capacity, the Danby fridge would be a great addition to a dorm room, bedroom, or another area where a full-sized beverage center might be too bulky, but it still has the nice stainless steel and glass aesthetics along with blue LED lighting. It’s a little weaker than our top pick, though, with a cooling range of between 43 and 57 degrees, and its mechanical thermostat isn’t quite as convenient or nice-looking as the digital push-button controls seen on more expensive models.
At only 27 inches tall, the Danby beverage cooler is a bit too short for an under-counter unit, so you’re better off with some of our other picks for that. For a simple and reasonably priced alternative to the more costly beverage centers on our list, however, the Danby cooler offers a lot of value for less than 200 bucks.
One of the most popular applications for drink coolers is chilling wine, and there are a lot of beverage centers made just for this purpose such as this excellent 18-bottle unit from Ivation. The main differences between the Ivation wine cooler and a standard beverage cooler is that the Ivation lets you keep things at higher temperature ranges (between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, since you don’t want to over-chill most wines), and this wine cooler naturally features racks specifically made for larger wine bottles rather than flat shelves for soda and beer.
In fact, you’ve actually got two options for shelving: Metal wire racks on the standard Ivation, or an upgraded wood shelf model which creates a nice “wine cellar” vibe. There’s also aavailable which gives you two cooling zones for storing separate wines at different temperatures.
If you want to go even more compact – maybe you’re specifically looking a countertop beverage cooler, for instance – then the Costway drink refrigerator is a very capable little machine. Measuring just 19.5 inches tall and about 18 inches wide with 1.6 cubic foot capacity, this drink cooler has enough room for 60 cans and punches above its weight in terms of refrigeration with a wide cooling range of 39 to 61 degrees.
Like the Danby beverage cooler, the Costway has a manual thermostat – no fancy digital displays or push-button controls here. But for just under $200, this small but mighty beverage center gets the job done in a compact package that’s perfectly sized for spaces that are too small for larger freestanding and built-in coolers.
All of our aforementioned picks are freestanding beverage centers, and while they can still be positioned under a counter, these refrigerators require some clearance around the sides to keep them ventilated and working properly. That’s why if you’re looking for a beverage cooler that’s specifically designed to be a permanent addition to your kitchen or bar, a built-in design like this unit from EdgeStar is what you need.
This beverage cooler has its ventilation positioned at the bottom facing outward, which allows you to place it underneath a counter with no need for clearance around the sides. The EdgeStar beverage cooler also boasts a 142-can capacity, compressor-based cooling with a temperature range of 38 to 50 degrees, a digital push-button thermostat (located inside the fridge), and sturdy steel construction right down to its stainless door. It’s a little expensive, but at $799, the EdgeStar beverage center is actually priced quite reasonably compared to similar built-in models.
If you want an all-in-one built-in beverage cooler for wine, beer, and soda, this is it. The Lanbo wine and drink cooler features two compartments, giving you two separate compressor-cooled temperature zones. The left zone keeps things cooled to 41 to 64 degrees (ideal for wine), while the right zone has a cooling range of 39 to 50 degrees for drinks like beer and soda. Both zones have their own digital control panels for their thermostats, and the shelves (which are steel wire on the soda/beer side and wooden on the wine side) slide out as well.
The Lanbo beverage cooler is 33.9 inches tall and has its ventilation system on the bottom like the EdgeStar fridge, so you can install it as a permanent built-in unit if you want. Need to size up? Lanbo also offers this dual-zone beverage cooler with a(note that this one is the same height but is wider, measuring 29.5 inches across the front). Both sizes ring in at less than a grand.
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