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Pros and Cons Of A Refrigerator Water Dispenser: A Full Guide

Are you looking for a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser built in? Not sure if it's better or worse than just ordinary tap water?

Pros and Cons of a Refrigerator Water Dispenser

We have a complete guide on integrated ice and water dispensers in refrigerators and why you should consider them for your next purchase or skip them.

We'll also discuss how they work and whether they're worth the extra purchase price that you'll have to shell out when buying them.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Refrigerator Water Dispenser?

What are the Pros and Cons of a Refrigerator Water Dispenser?
© Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt

You might be wondering what the advantages and disadvantages of buying a refrigerator with a built-in ice and water dispenser feature are. Here are your main considerations.

Advantages of Ice and Water Dispensers

Buying a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser offers great advantages that you should consider. Most are related to offering convenience and better integration into your daily life.


The single most significant advantage to having ice and water dispensers in your refrigerator compartment is how convenient and quick they are to integrate into your lifestyle.

Imagine you're hosting a party, and people need fresh ice or crushed ice for their drinks. If they're parched, they'll probably need some water too.

Without a dispenser, you'll need to fill pitchers beforehand to keep their thirst quenched.

Advantages of Ice and Water Dispensers

Source: Times of India

An integrated ice maker and water dispenser will allow for easy access and make it convenient for you to keep refilling.

No need to grab ice from the freezer every time someone needs it. You won't have to scramble to place a new batch of water to freeze, hoping it gets cold on time.

Even if you're home alone and prefer to drink plenty of cold water, you only need to get ice and water from the automatic ice maker and the door-mounted water dispenser.

Improved Taste and Smell

Since most water dispensers tend to be equipped with refrigerator filters, filtered water tastes and smells better than ordinary tap water.

Improved Taste and Smell

Source: Fred's Appliance Academy

Who doesn't prefer a clean, cold glass of water that you can easily place ice in using the in-door ice maker? You wouldn't want to go back to a lukewarm, bad-tasting, unfiltered glass from the tap after your first sip.

It also has the added benefit of being safer because the filters can remove dangerous contaminants like lead and mercury.


If you plan to sell your home or apartment unit in the future, having a newer refrigerator that has attractive features like a refrigerator water dispenser will help raise the property value.

Prospective buyers will love to see a new refrigerator in their future home to help their own family stay hydrated, which can positively affect their buying decision.

Disadvantages of Ice and Water Dispensers

However, there are external water dispenser cons that you should also keep in mind before going out and outright buying a refrigerator with a built-in water dispenser and ice maker.

Only Available in Expensive Models

Buying water and ice dispensers in your refrigerator can cost up to $200 more than refrigerators without any internal water dispenser.

This means that most refrigerators with water and ice dispensers have a higher initial appliance cost that you'll have to pay upfront.

Pricey Operation Cost

Aside from the initial cost, you'll also have to deal with the higher annual operating cost. You'll have to spend on replacement filters, extra electricity, and increased water supply concerns.

This includes the electricity bill and the $50-$100 cost for replacement filters.

The annual operating expenses can vary depending on the type of refrigerator and what dispenser model they have.

Routine and Filtering Mechanisms Maintenance Required

Routine and Filtering Mechanisms Maintenance Required

Source: Appliance Repair

Aside from changing out filters, you'll have the added hassle of needing more routine maintenance for the external dispenser or internal dispenser.

This includes swapping out the filters and even turning off the refrigerator to thaw the water line when it gets frozen.

Typical Mechanical Issues

Many models of refrigerators with water dispensers also tend to have more issues than standard refrigerators.

You will most likely have to invest in an appliance repair service contract or service plan so that you don't have to pay every time you make a service call.

Fun Fact

Many refrigerator models with dispensers have lock-out buttons and are put through a torture test to make them childproof.

Reduced Fridge Capacity

The housings in many refrigerators that store the water dispenser and the mechanisms needed for it are usually stored on the top shelf.

This reduces the overall storage space or storage capacity that you have to store other items you'll need.

How Refrigerator Water Dispensers Work

After reading about the advantages and disadvantages of a water and ice dispenser in your refrigerator, you might want to learn how they work to complete your education.

Connecting the Refrigerator and Plumbing Lines

On the user's end, all you can see is the external water dispenser poking out. Inside, it is connected to a cold water pipe located somewhere near the refrigerator.

This pipe is usually a copper or plastic supply tube connected to an external water supply.

Internal vs. External Water and Ice Dispensers

While they both connect the same way to an external water supply, external and internal water dispensers look different from the outside. Here are the main differences.

How to Access Them

Internal vs. External Water and Ice Dispensers

Source: Lowe's

An internal water dispenser can only be accessed by opening the refrigerator door. This has the advantage of looking more minimalistic outside but letting cold air out.

External dispensers have a slot on the refrigerator door to release chilled water and ice. This doesn't look as seamless but is easier to use overall. You won't need to open the refrigerator door.

Storage Capacity

One extra disadvantage that external water dispensers have over internal dispensers is that they take up more freezer space than internal dispensers.

This is a common disadvantage, especially on a side-by-side refrigerator, which is the most common model that has a drinking water dispenser.


If you want more freezer space, try getting a standalone mini freezer.

What Types of Refrigerators Use a Water and Ice Dispenser?

Here are the different types of refrigerators that dispense ice and drinking water:

  • Side-by-side refrigerator
  • French Door refrigerator
  • Single Door refrigerator (less common)

The reason for the side-by-side and French Door refrigerators being the fridges of choice when installing drinking water and ice dispensers is because of their two-door design.

They're also sleek and can come in standard or counter-depth refrigerator sizes to blend in more seamlessly with your kitchen.

It allows for the dispenser to be attached to the freezer door side, which is where the dispensing mechanism is.

Refrigerator Water Dispenser FAQs

  • After learning more about how refrigerator ice and water dispensers work and their pros and cons, you might still have questions about them.

    We’ve answered the most commonly asked ones below.

  • Is Fridge Water Better than Sink Water?

    In terms of taste, smell, and safety, refrigerator water is better than water from your kitchen sink. This is because of the filter that they use. However, it isn’t as safe as bottled water.

    This is because the water in water bottles goes through multi-stage filtration systems instead of the simple single-stage filters on fridges.

  • How Do I Fill My Fridge Water and Ice Dispenser?

    Each refrigerator has a different way of filling the water dispenser and ice maker. Look at the instruction manual that comes with the refrigerator to verify the instructions.

    Many models will have a water tank that can be found on the refrigerator side, where you will refill the water. Some also use the water from this tank to use for the ice maker.

    Many water tanks cannot take hot water, drinks that use hot water like coffee or hot tea, and anything except room temp water. Adding this might damage your refrigerator.

    Therefore, you should get either an electric kettle or a gas stove kettle to make drinks that require hot water.

  • Does a Fridge with Water and Ice Dispensers Require Plumbing?

    Again, this depends on the make and model of the refrigerator that you’re getting. The dispensers that only put out water don’t need any plumbing.

    For ice makers, some models use the same tank as the water dispenser and don’t need plumbing.

    However, other models use a separate water line that needs plumbing. Check your instruction manual to see which connection type your specific refrigerator uses.

  • Conclusion: Is a Fridge Water Dispenser Worth the Money?
    © Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt

    Conclusion: Is a Fridge Water Dispenser Worth the Money?

    Many of the best refrigerators have integrated water and ice dispensers. While they can be pricey in both upfront cost and maintenance, they add convenience to your lifestyle.

    We recommend getting a dispenser if you can afford it. The convenience of just getting cold and clean water and customized ice on demand is definitely worth the money.