Built-in appliances in cabinets

Appliances in cabinets  
Most appliances need to be built into cabinetry in a particular way to ensure that they conform to Australian building regulations. Image by ASKO.

For full functionality in the kitchen, many people opt to integrate their appliances into their cabinetry. This is not only done for aesthetic reasons - it also saves a considerable amount of space, and allows you to properly create 'zones' in which to carry out different types of tasks (washing up, for example).


How much space is needed around refrigerators?

Fridges come in all different shapes and sizes. It's important to measure your fridge before you buy it, especially if you have existing cabinetry.

Refrigerators require a minimum of 20mm side clearance and 50mm of clearance above the fridge - having said that, however, it's always a good idea when you're buying a fridge to ensure that you check the manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.

Unless otherwise specified, if the refrigerator is being integrated into cabinetry, there must be a minimum 200mm gap behind any cabinets above the refrigerator for ventilation.


How much space is needed around a range top or cooktop?


All cooktops must be installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications and relevant statutory requirements. The minimum clearances between a gas cooktop element or burner component as deemed by Australian Standards AG601 and AS5601 are:

  • 600mm vertical clearance to combustible surfaces and 200mm horizontal distance to a vertical surface
  • 600mm to a rangehood
  • 750mm to an exhaust fan - or according to the manufacturer’s specifications.


Cooktops built into benches require a minimum 50mm clearance from the front edge of the benchtop, to the cutout for the cooktop and from the back edge of the cutout for the cooktop to the wall.

For safety purposes there needs to be a 50mm minimum clearance between the underside of the benchtop and the in-bench cooktop safety barrier for electrical connections. There must also be a 100mm minimum clearance between the underside of the benchtop and the in bench cooktop safety barrier for gas connections.

A nominal ventilation gap is also needed at the front of the safety barrier and a 150mm minimum ventilation/access gap between the rear of the safety barrier (where installed) and back cabinetry.

This may seem complicated, but your builder is likely to be aware of these regulations when installing your kitchen.


How much space is needed around ovens?

You'll need to decide where you'd like to place the oven - will it be built into existing cabinetry in the wall, or be an ‘under-counter’ oven? The manufacturer can advise you on whether it's designed for the purpose you have in mind.

When fan-assisted chassis venting is not incorporated in the oven unit, your builder should allow an air gap between 50mm and 90mm behind the cabinet above the wall oven to allow for hot air ventilation from the oven.


How much space is needed around dishwashers?

It's vitally important that the electrical connection's done properly when your dishwasher's being installed. Powerpoints and protruding pipes must not be built within the dishwasher void. These must be installed through an adjacent cabinet. To do this, a small hole is cut through the base of the cabinet and kickboard into the void. The hole should be approximately 150mm x 100mm.

Virtually all dishwashers are 24" (about 610mm) wide and designed to fit under a standard height kitchen countertop - having said that though, it's always better to check the size of your dishwasher with the available space before you put any money down!


How much space is needed around microwaves?

Microwaves are somewhat tricky - and the ventilation spaces they require can vary significantly between different models depending on the type of microwave you intend to buy and how it's configured. Some microwaves require up to 20mm of clearance above the unit, and may stop working if they overheat. Check with your builder and with the appliance retailer before you make any commitments!