As the name implies, built-in or integrated appliances are installed so they become part of your kitchen, placed inside units or cupboards. In the case of a fridge, dishwasher or washing machine, the door of the appliance is cleverly fixed to a cupboard door so the device is completely hidden from view. With cookers, the oven door is visible so you can easily see your food, but the oven can be set at eye level in a run of units.
This is a common misconception – it’s not actually true. Built-In models are specifically designed to be used in enclosed space, so they have slightly different dimensions and specifications. However, you can usually get the same features whichever you choose, so there’s no reason to think you’ll lose functionality if you buy an integrated version.
Basically, a freestanding appliance isn’t built-in; it stands on its own and doesn’t need to be attached to the structure of your units. While these appliances can often be slotted under your worktop, they are clearly visible and must be placed on the floor.
Freestanding models are great if you want extra flexibility. As long as they are located near the correct power source (whether an electrical socket or gas outlet) they can be placed wherever you like. This is especially useful if you move house often or simply want something that’s easy to install. Freestanding models are often less expensive to buy, as well.
Built-in or integrated versions are great if you want to give you kitchen a sophisticated, stylish look. Although there are some incredibly well designed freestanding models on the market these days, a lot of people prefer the seamless aesthetic offered by built-in versions.
With built-in ovens and hobs, there is the additional advantage that it’s easier to mix and match electricity and gas. With an all in one freestanding cooker, you are usually limited to one or the other.
The only major disadvantage of a freestanding appliance is that you must have it on show. This is much less of a problem these days than it used to be, as designs are improving all the time. Black washing machines are becoming more common, so white and silver are no longer the only options.
The downside with built-in appliances is that once they’re in position, they’re difficult to remove. You will often need to get an engineer to install the appliance (especially if it’s a gas cooker), and you can’t move it easily to clean or tackle leaks or other problems. However, as the machine is enclosed, it’s likely there won’t be much dirt back there anyway.
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