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Refrigerator Styles - Which Fridge is Best for Your Kitchen?

Nov 22, 2016

A good variety of refrigerator styles are available today and it can be very difficult to decide which type of fridge will work best for your kitchen and family. While installation constraints and capacity needs often dictate how large a model you should buy, how that refrigerator is designed (style) also matters.

 

The style of fridge can impede or enhance your kitchen workflow, making for more efficient (or not) meal prep and that easily translates into saving time and energy. For a busy household, this can make a significant difference in your day. Maybe even in how your day starts.

 

So refrigerator style doesn't only relate to shiny finishes, bells and whistles (how it looks), but how the overall design of this appliance functions in your kitchen. These will help you to consider options and eliminate the styles that are not good choices, to narrow down the best style for your particular needs. Then, you'll be ready to start shopping for a fridge.

 


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All Refrigerator

 

This is usually the most economical model

Looks similar to an upright freezer

Not too many frills; least features on this style

You can better organize all your cooled foods

Easy access to top half for items you use often

Provides the largest refrigerated capacity (no freezer compartment)

Best for homes that also have a freezer which is conveniently located near the kitchen

Good choice for a spare or second fridge

These are often manual defrost. Confirm the type of cleaning before buying.

Less capacity choice for this style of fridge; more compact models

Single-door Refrigerator With Freezer Capacity

 

This style has a freezer compartment, but there's only one refrigerator door, not a split door.

Economical to buy

Less features, capacity or choice of exterior finish

Less energy efficient. Every time the door is opened warm air can cause the freezer temperature to rise and energy is needed to cool down again.

Freezer compartments are usually small and inadequate

Single door swing; allow sufficient space for door opening

Usually available in smaller capacities

Good choice for the budget minded, small spaces, or as secondary unit

Best if there's also a freezer in the home

Top (Freezer) Mount Refrigerator

 

Most popular model; ideal for smaller kitchens

This style has the freezer on the top with a separate split door

Economical and traditional model

Freezer temperature remains more constant with a separate door

Freezer compartment sizes vary per model

Good choice of finishes, features and capacities

Allow room for full door swing

Best choice for those who do not have the space for a French door or side-by-side model

Bottom (Freezer) Mount Refrigerator

 

Freezer compartment is on the bottom with a separate door or drawer

More expensive than a top mount refrigerator

Freezer compartment capacity varies  

Good choice of finishes, features, racking

Good variety of capacities and models available

Various freezer configurations; shelving or pull-out basket with a door or pull out freezer drawer

Usually has a larger refrigerated section

Refrigerated items used most often are at eye level

More bending for some to easily access the bottom freezer; harder to organize contents

Before buying, review the freezer access for convenience

Side by Side Refrigerator

 

More expensive than traditional top or bottom mount

The freezer is typically on the left side; refrigerated on the right

Models range from 22cu.ft. and up

Capacities vary depending on height, dephth and width

Available with or without water and ice makers/dispensers

Optional water or ice dispensers require plumbing set-up costs

Less refrigerated capacity, but more freezer capacity than a top mount

Freezer convenience for organizing and retrieving foods

Odd-sized trays or items may require creative positioning due to reduced food storage width

Allow space for (short) door openings on each side; less door swing than top or bottom mount refrigerators

Good variety of features, finishes and capacities

Good choice for small kitchens because of the shorter door swing

Ideal for those who want to eliminate the need for a separate freezer

Easier freezer access for some, compared to the bottom mount model

Read more about a side-by-side refrigerator style

French Door Models

 

Most expensive, but most convenient especially for food trays

Split doors with largest refrigerated capacity

Freezer is on the bottom; configuration can vary

Good choice of features, adjustable racking, bins

Some models have four doors or additional deli drawer

Not available in under 20 cubic ft refrigerator models

Optional water/ice dispensers - requires plumbing set-up

Best for storing odd and bulky items

Best use of refrigerated space

Popular units for storage convenience, stylish looks, choice of finishes and short door swing

Steps to Making a Refrigerator Style Decision

 

Start by taking dimensions of the space where the refrigerator will be installed, including the allowable height, if you have overhead cabinets. Allow sufficient width for door swing(s). Though we often like to think in terms of food storage needs (capacity) first, the available space will have the final say on the size of fridge you settle on. So, keep your expectations within your space and budget considerations.

 

Refrigerator models can be counter/cabinet or full depth and that affects space and capacity. Learn more about refrigerator depth options to further narrow down your model choices. If you'd like a model with onboard water and ice, know that this feature will reduce the overall capacity. It will also require a plumbing connection.

 

Next, do you want a freezer compartment and where would you like it to be: on the side (side-by-side), on the bottom (bottom mount) or on the top (top mount). Maybe, you already have a standalone freezer nearby and you'd prefer an all refrigerator model. That will save money, but you'll have less model variety to choose from.

 

Each style of refrigerator has its convenience level. Features, shelving and humidity controls vary per model and of course will influence the bottom line. If you've nailed down your choices to a French door model, you can help to keep costs down by getting only food storage features that matter to you. Costs for this popular fridge style can be considerable, so choose wisely. For more refrigerator buying tips, see my Refrigerator 101