Buying a refrigerator: Which style is best for you?

If you’re looking to buy a refrigerator, the last time you researched your options likely was years ago. Well, a lot changed in the last decade.

Before, most refrigerators for sale were just the standard top-freezer refrigerator. Now, there are four major styles to choose from, not to mention refrigerator drawers, columns and compact options — which I’ll save for another post.

Top Freezer Refrigerator

The classic top freezer refrigerator remains  among one of the most popular styles in the market place today. The freezer is at eye-level, which is good if you use frozen food most often. Plus, the refrigerator has wider shelves than a side-by-side refrigerator, making it easy to store large trays of food and allow easy access to things stored in the back of the refrigerator.

If you have space constraints, you’ll likely end up with a top freezer, because some models in this style fit a smaller footprint. And from a budget perspective, top freezer refrigerators are an affordable style that boast convenience features such as factory-installed icemakers, chilled water dispensers (on some models) and glass shelves. Plus, top freezers are the most energy-efficient style, and are rated to last the longest.

Side by Side Refrigerator

On a side by side refrigerator, two compartment doors wing out from the center; the freezer compartment is located on the left side and the refrigerator compartment on the right.

If your kitchen has a narrow walkway or an island, you’ll like the side-by-side refrigerator’s smaller door swing clearance.

Many side by side refrigerators have the option for a filtered ice and water dispenser. And if you’re looking for lots of storage, most side by side refrigerators are
23-26 cu. ft., which is more overall cooling space than most top freezer refrigerators.

Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

The bottom freezer refrigerator is the most popular refrigerator style. Heck, I have one!

Because most people access the refrigerator compartment 9-10 times more often than they do the freezer, bringing the refrigerator section up to waist or chest level offers the most accessibility.

Many brands offer a choice of either a swing-door freezer or pull-out freezer drawer. The drawer design allows for easier access to the back of the freezer by minimizing the amount of bending and crouching needed. From a budget perspective, bottom freezer refrigerators are becoming more affordable as most brands now make them.

French Door Refrigerator

French-door refrigerators (I’ve also heard them called “3-door refrigerators”) combine the best of both worlds.

The refrigerator compartment is at waist and chest level like a bott0m-freezer, but the refrigerator has French doors (side-by-side) opening from the center, which means symmetrical styling and less door clearance is needed if a walkway or island is involved.

But the two doors open to the same, sole refrigerator compartment so you still have wide refrigerator shelves to accommodate large party trays or oblong dishes. Similar to the bottom freezer style, French door refrigerators feature a freezer drawer design. Many models also offer the option of an ice & water dispenser on the freezer door or an internal water-only dispenser.

Cabinet depth refrigerators


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2 thoughts on “Buying a refrigerator: Which style is best for you?

  1. I have at home bottom freezer, it is fine with me, it helps me keep my food and drinks cold as I want them so it is ok, and the space in my apartment is limited.

  2. We have a side by side. it came with the house, but I find the freezer side too narrow. Of course not it’s summer the ice maker has stopped working.

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