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ADA Compliant Refrigerators Tips - Chef's Deal

ADA Compliant Refrigerators

ADA compliant refrigerators are designed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. The act states that all electronics must be accessible to disabled individuals. Revised and released by the Department of Justice in 2010, these standards have shaped many different industrial product types. Refrigeration producers are among those who need to adhere to ADA requirements. ADA-compliant refrigerators are constructed in line with the guidelines and meet its demands of it in terms of height, width, placement, and ergonomic designs. 

History of ADA and Overreaching Implications of ADA Compliant Refrigerators

While the subject here is ADA-compliant refrigerators, ADA is a far-reaching act that ensures inclusivity in many different areas of life. While the official signing took place in 1990, the struggle for inclusivity and the fight against systemically ableist structures date back further. Disability rights movements bore results in 1988 and presented ADA to congress, and within two years, the act was signed. Since then, ADA has become a shaping force in industrial production and day-to-day life to enable individuals with disabilities to live and move freely.

The guidelines are updated and refined with the passing years, but the sentiment remains the same as stated in the original text itself: 

  1. To provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities,
  • To provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities,
  • To ensure that the Federal Government plays a central role in enforcing the standards established in this chapter on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

Thus, ADA compliant refrigerators as a concept have further implications than the machine itself. While it is a small aspect of the big picture, awareness regarding the subject can alter the world for the better. 

What are ADA-Compliant Refrigerators?

ADA compliant refrigerators-True TUC-27F-ADA-HC~SPEC3 27"ADA Compliant Solid Door Undercounter Freezer- Chef's Deal

ADA Compliant Refrigerators are specific pieces of equipment that adhere to ADA standards. Kitchen appliances, including commercial kitchen environments, must be easily available to disabled individuals. Brands are obliged to produce machinery that meets the testing standards and establish inclusivity in line with the regulations and law. Whether it is for your home or your workspace, you can find such refrigerators. Businesses of certain sizes are legally expected to have equipment that can accommodate individuals with different ability sets.

Guidelines for ADA Compliant Refrigerators

ADA compliant refrigerators-Summit SPR196OSADA 19" One Section Outdoor All-Refrigerator, ADA Compliant- Chef's Deal

There are several principles producers need to abide by to create ADA compliant refrigerators. Check to make sure your products live up to the standards. There are two main aspects; the structure of the fridge and the placement and design of the control panels. While there can be nuances for specific equipment, ADA compliant refrigerators are generally expected to carry the following features.

  • The entire fresh food area needs to be below 54 inches
  • Half of the freezer area needs to be no higher than 54 inches
  • The force required to activate the machinery cannot be higher than 5 lbs

For panels or operable parts:

  • Controls must also be operable with a force of 5 lbs or less.
  • The placement of the panel should be suited to parallel approaching with a wheelchair.
  • Controls should not be placed higher than 48 inches or lower than 15 inches to allow easy access to individuals in wheelchairs.
  • The controls should be usable with one hand and should not require complicated wrist movement, twisting, grasping, and likewise. 

These rules are valid for many products, such as top freezers, bottom freezers, side-by-side refrigerators, and various kinds of refrigeration products. 

FAQ for ADA-Compliant Refrigerators

What does it mean to meet ADA compliance standards?

ADA compliance standards are as varied as the appliances in our lives. Based on the guidelines of the act, each type of product has requirements to meet. Once they do so, they are considered in line with the disability act, which means they are inclusive and carefully designed for individuals of different ability sets.

Are all refrigerators ADA compliant?

No, not all refrigerators are ADA-compliant. ADA compliance is required of many businesses, and thus, it is very common. However, refrigerators for home use or very small businesses are not expected to be ADA-compliant. So, it is possible to acquire such refrigerators too.

How do I know if my appliance is ADA compliant?

ADA compliance is certified by the Department of Justice. After a written request by the manufacturer, the certification process is set in motion to determine whether the products meet or exceed the requirements. Once the product is granted certification, you can rely on that authority to know it is ADA compliant.

What is ADA height for a refrigerator?

ADA does not set a height limitation for the refrigerator itself, but it requires you to have the entirety of fresh food space and half of the freezer space below 54 inches.

What makes an undercounter refrigerator ADA-compliant?

Undercounter models need to comply with the requirements set for counters. Counters are allowed to be as high as 36 inches off the ground. This brings the undercounter height limitations down to 34 inches at most.


ADA compliant refrigerators are meant to eliminate discrimination in workspaces and make kitchens as accommodating as possible. With ADA-compliant refrigerators and other forms of products, you can transform your house or commercial kitchen to adhere to the rules set by the disability act and create an environment where everyone is welcome. 

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