What style of fridge is best?
September 25, 2010 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Help us decide what type of refrigerator to buy.

We are in the market for a new refrigerator- our current one is a side-by-side, which we really don't like because the shelves are both narrow and deep- over the years many food items have gotten lost in the back.

We've decided we prefer wider shelves, so we were going to buy the standard freezer on top, fridge on bottom model, but we're seeing more models with the fridge on top and the freezer on the bottom, and we think we like that style better.

Any advice? I'm wondering if the fridge on top is better than the fridge on the bottom, and if so, is it better for the fridge to have just one door, or two (without a wall in the middle, as we really do want wider shelves)
posted by shelayna to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Freezer on the bottom is more energy efficient, in part because you're less tempted to open it just to see what's in there if you hvae to bend over.

My next fridge will be a bottom-freezer, single-door model.
posted by catlet at 11:52 AM on September 25, 2010

We have one that is close to this model in general style -- we love it. Our previous refrigerator was a bottom freezer as well, but with a single door. The kitchen in our current house didn't have enough space for the single door to open easily, so we went with the two door model with a freezer on bottom and think it is great.

The reason I love freezer on the bottom is we just don't use our freezer as often as our fridge. We are in the fridge all day long (perhaps too often?) but the freezer just every once and a while (an ice cube when the coffee is too hot, ice cream on a Friday night, etc).

Another refrigerator we had was a freezer on top model, and I really disliked having the produce down by the floor. This model keeps the fruits and veggies in a easy to access spot (and the clear drawer fronts remind me to grab an apple instead of whatever I originally opened the door for!)

We have nice wide shelves that aren't terribly deep (so we don't lose stuff in the back) and good door storage as well.
posted by hilaryjade at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2010

As far as I'm aware the top mount freezers use the least amount of energy due to cold air sinking.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:10 PM on September 25, 2010

We currently have a freezer-on-the-bottom french door fridge from Maytag. Because we access the fridge part the most, it's very nice to be able to access that area while standing instead of bending over. Other than that, there's not that much of a difference from our days with a freezer-on-top fridge.

I'm not entirely crazy about the french doors. In theory, you only need to open one if you want to reach in and grab something -- usually I just open both because I don't always know where the item is. I can't say that I would prefer a single door, though, because I imagine it would be heavier and a pain to open and close anyways. Another minor annoyance is that both doors need to be open in order to access either of the veggie/fruit drawers (this might be specific to our brand). I still run into the problem of losing things in the back, especially on the top shelf. Not a big deal, though.
posted by puritycontrol at 12:16 PM on September 25, 2010

We just bought the standard freezer on top, one door fridge on bottom. My mom has the freezer on bottom, but I can never see what is in those big drawers! I would never ever use what was on the bottom of the drawer if I couldn't see it or remember it was there. I'm a stack it and see it kind of person. So it may be that your organizational preferences come in to play on this decision.
posted by LilBit at 12:36 PM on September 25, 2010

I'm not-so-secretly hoping the repair people can't fix mine come Monday, so I've been researching this very question. My next fridge will be the Samsung 4 door. It's got a split veggie drawer so you only have to open one door at a time, ice/water dispenser and a cool little drawer (the 4th door) that you can set to chill, super chill and freeze (very cool that, for frequently grabbed stuff like juice boxes or fruit). The LED lighting looks great too. The freezer has an inner drawer system that makes viewing and accessing all of your ice cream cartons a breeze. Of course, I don't actually own one yet, but the user reviews look pretty promising.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:26 PM on September 25, 2010

Previously had a split freezer left/fridge right model, as you did. We now have a French door fridge on top, freezer drawer on the bottom. Love it. I don't find the freezer on the bottom to be a problem. It has a main drawer and a second drawer. Nothing stacks too deeply and it is fairly easy to see everything. With the pull-out drawers, I get much more light on the contents than I every did with the full-height freezer. As a shorter person (5'1"), I don't think I could stand to have the freezer on top.

Best of luck!
posted by Agatha at 2:01 PM on September 25, 2010

As far as I'm aware the top mount freezers use the least amount of energy due to cold air sinking.

That is the argument for bottom mount freezers. With cold air falling, you want the coldest thing on the bottom.
posted by Brockles at 2:35 PM on September 25, 2010

My experience with freezer on the bottom models is that things always get buried, lost and forgotten under piles of frozen items.

We just got a side-by-side and I love it - having drawers/shelves on the freezer door is a necessity for me, so convenient for keeping my small containers organized (for example, I peel and cut ginger root into smaller chunks and freeze it so I can pull out as much as I need whenever I need it. Having the bag of ginger right there in front means grab it without having to root through everything else). If you have a similar cooking/organization style, this is something to consider.
posted by illenion at 2:43 PM on September 25, 2010

I don't know what's available near you, but I love my fridge. It's from Sharp, and it has the freezer in the middle, and a bottom refrigerated door for storing large bottles and packaged goods. The freezer is pretty large, but the best part is the refrigerator door, which opens from either side. It seems so piddling, but it's really, really convenient, and I don't think I'd ever buy a one-way-opening door again.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:13 PM on September 25, 2010

I'm considering using a chest freezer as my next fridge. It takes 1/10th the energy, and even the nicest fridge-sized chest freezer will run you just $400 new -- significantly less than an upright fridge.
posted by vorfeed at 5:12 PM on September 25, 2010

I have loved my freezer on bottom model, as has everyone I've known who's gotten them. The things I use most (fridge items) are conveniently up where I'd look for them, see them, and won't bury them. The drawers on the freezer help me Not bury things too deeply so that they get used. It's more efficient. It's not Narrow like a side-by-side.

Whether or not you get a French Door system is more a matter of preference and the set-up in your kitchen. Doesn't work in mine, but many friends have them and love the lessened swing distance.
posted by ldthomps at 6:07 PM on September 25, 2010

I'm considering using a chest freezer as my next fridge. It takes 1/10th the energy, and even the nicest fridge-sized chest freezer will run you just $400 new -- significantly less than an upright fridge.
posted by vorfeed

We have two of these. One is 5 cubic feet (about the size of a dishwasher), and that's the one in our kitchen. The other is 7 cubic feet, and it's in our basement. We also have a 12 cubic foot chest freezer in the basement, it is our only freezer.


-All three chests together use less than half the electricity of a single upright fridge.
(Yes, really. Yes, I've had them tested.)

-Cheap. The 12 cf cost $350, the 7 cf cost $200, and the 5 cf cost $140. The two external thermostats that we needed cost $50 each. At less than $700, that's a great deal for 24 cubic feet of cooling.

-So, so, so easy to clean. They have little rubber stoppers in the bottom corner. So you unload the fridge, put a low sided cookie sheet under that corner, pull the stopper, spray the sides, wipe, then clean the hanging baskets and reload. Our old fridge took me an hour plus to clean well, I can do both the chests in 20 minutes, including wiping the food containers.

-You keep produce toward the top (where it's warmest) and the produce keeps better.

-Freezers tend to be better insulated, and with the cold air not rushing out at every opening, it's very easy to keep the temperature constant, even in hot weather.

-Can use the lid as brief staging area, if need be.

-Once you are used to the system, it forces you to be neater.


-No freezer in the kitchen. This isn't a big deal for us, as we have a big one close by, but not everyone has a basement/garage.

-You can't use food wrap. You need to use Tupperware, mason jars, etc., to ensure no spills.

-You need plastic baskets, preferably the kind that stack. We have condiments in the bottom, dairy in the middle, and produce on the top. As you may have guessed, taking things out and putting them in is like elementary Jenga. The pieces are bigger, and the game is easier, but it's still a bit more challenging than an upright fridge.

-Somewhat less space for liquids, since they usually sit on the little shelf created by the compressor case.

-If you need extra hanging baskets (which you will, since you are using it as a fridge), they can be tough to find.

-This is the biggie. We have a family, and cook from scratch pretty intensively. I would not have just one chest fridge unless I lived alone. We need the basement one, too, to relieve congestion, have a place for cases of beer, and/or thawing meats. A single larger model wouldn't do it, they need to be relatively small because of the spill factor.

If a chest fridge in the kitchen isn't for you, I would strongly suggest having one as the extra basement-or-garage refrigerator for beer, pop, and party snacks. You really can't go wrong there. That's what we did. Our first chest fridge was the basement fridge, and we got used to it and made the leap to the kitchen chest fridge.
posted by Leta at 8:27 PM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

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