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Types of refrigerators: advantages & disadvantages

types-of-refrigerators

 

Nobody really notices how important it is to have a refrigerator until the power goes out. If you’ve ever had to go without one for a while, you probably got a quick reminder of how essential these kitchen appliances are. They help us keep food fresh longer. They keep our items nice and cold, even on a hot, sunny day — and free of harmful bacteria.

If you’re in the market for a new refrigerator, you’ve got a world of options. We can help you make your choice and find a fridge that fits your kitchen space perfectly, meets all your needs, and suits your budget, too.

In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of refrigerators you can choose from and the pros and cons of each to help you make the best decision.

 

Side-by-side refrigerator

American homes commonly use side-by-side refrigerators because of their classic finish, sleek design and flexible organization options.

This type of refrigerator has two vertical doors. Inside one door is the fresh food compartment, while inside the other is the freezer space. Both sections can be equal in width, or the freezer might be slightly narrower depending on the refrigerator model you choose. 

This side-by-side design usually provides a higher storage capacity in the freezer than other fridge styles do. The top freezer refrigerator, for example, generally holds less freezer space. 

There are all kinds of makes and models for side-by-side refrigerators to choose from. For example, Samsung offers six variations of the side-by-side refrigerator.

Pros and cons of side-by-side refrigerators

Here are some pros and cons of side-by-side refrigerators to consider before investing in one.

Pros:

  • Easy access to items. Compared to a top or bottom freezer refrigerator, the side-by-side design allows you to view and access all items in your fridge and freezer easily.
  • Smart organization. This refrigerator model gives you ample control over how you want to organize food items. Apart from flexible shelving options, you can take advantage of the two vertical spaces to place everyday-use items at eye level for convenience. This can be better than bending down or reaching up for freezer access.
  • More freezer space. This fridge type usually offers significantly more freezer space than other models without compromising fridge space. This is a big advantage if a stocked freezer is important to you.
  • Less kitchen space. Side-by-side refrigerators are sleek and generally take up less room in your kitchen. Because of this trait, they make a good choice for smaller kitchens. Additionally, they require reduced door-swing clearance, which means this type of fridge needs less room than other types of fridges when the doors are open.
  • Additional features. The best side-by-side refrigerators often include advanced features like a cold-water and ice dispenser so you can easily get a drink by placing your glass under the dispenser.
  • Clean look. This model gives a clean and neat appearance that will amplify the aesthetics of your contemporary kitchen.
  • Flexibility. A freestanding, side-by-side refrigerator can be installed anywhere in your kitchen and shifts easily to another spot if you redesign your kitchen. A built-in refrigerator, on the other hand, might not allow the same flexibility.

Cons:

  • Doors open to either side. Because the side-by-side refrigerator has two doors that open to either side, it might not be ideal for some kitchen spaces. 
  • Possible customization limitations. While some models of this type of fridge offer adjustable shelving, others do not. 
  • No compact design. There is no mini or compact refrigerator option in the market in this style of fridge.
  • Cost. The most advanced and customizable side-by-side refrigerators come at a premium price. 

While carefully selecting the refrigerator model that fits your size requirements and storage needs can counteract these disadvantages, a side-by-side refrigerator can be a pricey buy. If you have a flexible budget and like the idea of side-by-side compartments where you can organize all daily essentials to your liking for easy reach, this type of refrigerator might be ideal for you.

 

Top freezer refrigerator

A top freezer refrigerator features a large, wide-shelved fresh food compartment. The freezer compartment is usually shorter but is just as wide and deep as the main compartment.

This type of fridge comes with full-width doors that you can usually install to open to either side so you can customize it to your kitchen layout.

Top freezer refrigerators have a traditional configuration. The fresh food section is slightly below eye level, and the freezer is on top. 

The biggest benefit of this fridge type is the wide shelving it offers. Wide shelving can mean more storage options. However, there are other factors to consider before you buy.

Pros and cons of top freezer refrigerators

These pros and cons can help you determine if a top freezer refrigerator is right for you.

Pros:

  • Efficiency. This type of refrigerator consumes less energy than other designs, making it a more sustainable choice and saving you money on energy bills.
  • Cost. Top freezer refrigerators are a more conventional model that you can buy at a relatively affordable price.
  • Larger fresh food section. This model is for you if you store more fresh food than frozen items. In this fridge type, the fresh food section is significantly larger than the freezer compartment.
  • Wide shelves. In top freezer refrigerators, the width of the fridge isn’t divided into two halves, so you get full-width shelf size to store items as you please.

Cons:

  • Limited organization options. This type of fridge doesn’t typically come with adjustable shelving, so your customization options are limited. 
  • Design. Top freezer fridges are not the most modern design on the market, and some models might look bulky in your kitchen. 
  • No advanced features. No advanced water or ice dispenser features are available for this type of refrigerator. 

While this refrigerator might not be considered the most visually appealing one on the market, it’s a reliable fridge that’s relatively sustainable and budget-friendly. If you don’t require too much freezer capacity or advanced features, and if you like your fresh food section to be bigger than your freezer, this model is great for you.

 

Bottom freezer refrigerator

Bottom freezer refrigerators are similar to the top freezer kind in that the shelves are wide, and there’s more room for fresh food. As opposed to the traditional configuration of top freezer refrigerators, however, bottom freezers put the fresh food section at eye level. 

The dimensions of the bottom freezer refrigerator are similar to the top freezer refrigerator, with the fresh food section being larger than the freezer space. Freezers on bottom freezer fridges usually come in the form of pullout drawers as opposed to the door design of the top freezer type. Freezers can have one large, deep drawer or two drawers stacked one over the other.

Whether you like your freezer on the top or the bottom, drawer style or door style are simply matters of preference. But there are other pros and cons to consider before buying this type of fridge.

Pros and cons of bottom freezer refrigerators

Bottom freezer refrigerators have several benefits but also a few downsides you should consider before investing in one.

Pros:

  • Modern look. Bottom freezer fridges are a modern version of the conventional top freezer refrigerators, and they present an elegant and luxurious-looking display.
  • Fresh food section at eye level. With the freezer on the bottom, your fresh food section is at eye level, so it’s convenient to reach for everyday items.
  • Various sizes of models available. This refrigerator style offers various space-saving models for small kitchens.
  • Slide-out freezer drawers. Having a drawer-style freezer allows you to maximize your freezer space. Often, these freezers have more than one pull-out drawer, which means you have more surface area on which to store things. 

Cons:

  • Higher cost. Because this is a more modern refrigerator model, bottom freezer refrigerators cost more on average than top freezer ones. They also cost more to operate.
  • Bend for freezer items. Many people store heavier items in their freezers, such as meat. Having a bottom freezer refrigerator would mean bending down and lifting these heavy items, which might not be ideal for some.
  • Concern for children. If you have a bottom freezer refrigerator, younger children might not be able to reach the fresh food section. However, they can access the freezer more easily, which might present a safety concern for some parents.
  • Capacity. This design has a smaller freezer capacity than side-by-side and French door fridges.

Bottom freezer refrigerators are great for people who reach into their fresh food section often and don’t mind occasionally bending down to get something out of the freezer. The convenience of having the fridge at eye level makes this style worth the price hike in many people’s eyes.

 

French door refrigerator

French door refrigerators come in various sizes and models. Usually, this fridge will have two twin doors that open to a full-width, continuous fresh food compartment. Essentially, a French door refrigerator is one large fresh food compartment accessed by two side-by-side doors. Below the fridge section is a full-width freezer drawer. There can be just one large, deep drawer or two drawers stacked one over the other.

French door refrigerators are considered the most luxurious design of the refrigerator models we’ve covered, but is one right for you?

Pros and cons of French door refrigerators

Consider these pros and cons before buying a French door refrigerator.

Pros:

  • Wide spaces. French door fridges are spacious and have wide shelving for storing larger bins or longer trays.
  • Good visibility of items. The layout of a french door refrigerator is usually very intuitive. It allows you to store items in a way that lets you access everything in your fridge easily.
  • Large freezer space. Freezer drawers are deep and have sufficient storage space.
  • Modern features. Many models come with an ice maker and water dispenser. Advanced features like a wine cooler or sections to store beverages, snacks or meats are possible in some models. 
  • Trendy look. French door refrigerators can add a luxurious, aesthetic feel to your kitchen.

Cons:

  • Space. Although you can find the ice and water dispenser features in some French door refrigerators, they have the disadvantage of taking up room that you could otherwise use as fridge or freezer space.
  • Cost. French door refrigerators cost more than other fridge styles.

 

Four-door refrigerator

A four-door refrigerator is like the French door model, with two side-by-side doors opening into a large fresh food section. The difference is that the freezer space also features a side-by-side door configuration instead of drawers.

Essentially, four doors open from the center, two to the fridge space and two to the freezer compartment.

Several built-in organizational features are available within the fridge and freezer compartments, depending on the model you choose. For example, there might be a combination of pullout trays, shelves or drawers to allow you to arrange your items for easy visibility and access.

Four-door refrigerators have a unique look and make cleaning out your fridge easy, since you can do it one quadrant at a time. Should you opt for this design? Check out the pros and cons to help you decide.

Pros and cons of four-door refrigerators

Consider these pros and cons before purchasing a four-door refrigerator.

Pros:

  • Great organizational potential. Because of the built-in storage sections, you can ensure your fridge is tidy, with all items easily visible and accessible. You can use adjustable drawers and shelves to customize your fridge space.
  • Unique freezer organization. Unlike other refrigerators, the four-door model allows you to organize different items in your freezer in separate pullout compartments.
  • Freezer space. The freezer compartment in a four-door refrigerator displays a side-by-side door design, giving you plenty of space to store your items.
  • Easy to clean. Cleaning your refrigerator can be difficult with other models, but four-door refrigerators make it easy. 
  • Large capacity. The four-door refrigerator is sufficiently large with a capacity of 500-800 liters, making it ideal for a family or large group.

Cons: 

  • Large size. The large size of this refrigerator is both a pro and a con. As tempting as the organizational features are, a four-door fridge takes up space.
  • Cost. The advanced features of this type of refrigerator come at a premium price.

Plain and simple, the four-door refrigerator means organization at its finest. While the upfront cost is high-end, the four-door fridge can be worth it if you have a family or a group of four to six people using the refrigerator.

 

Other refrigerator features to consider

Whether your current refrigerator is broken and needs replacement, or you’re on the hunt for a new refrigerator to spruce up your kitchen, here are some modern refrigerator features to look for:

  • Energy efficiency. Look for an Energy Star logo when purchasing a new refrigerator, or simply enquire about its energy efficiency. Newer refrigerators feature an enhanced gasket to prevent cold-air leakage and utilize less power to maintain adequate cooling. This feature can shave $300-$500 off your energy bills annually.
  • Smart features. Wi-Fi connectivity on your refrigerator gives you access to advanced features like smartphone control to keep tabs on grocery lists and expiration dates of the items in your fridge. Additionally, the touchscreen panel on your smart refrigerator lets you play music, view recipe lists and browse the web, among other things.
  • Organization features. Look for built-in or customizable organization drawers and end-to-end shelves to maximize the space inside your fridge.
  • Automatic temperature controls. This system will auto-balance your refrigerator’s temperature and humidity to keep your food fresh for longer.
  • Ice maker and water dispenser. This feature makes it easy to get a cool drink of water or top up ice by placing it under the dispenser.
  • Crisper drawer. A crisper drawer, also called a produce drawer or humidity drawer, is a bin inside your refrigerator specifically made to store fresh produce. Its purpose is to retain humidity, helping vegetables to stay fresh for longer.
  • Space-saving designs. Depending on your kitchen area, you can look for unique space-saving refrigerator designs. For example, counter-depth refrigerators are specifically made to sit flush with your kitchen counters or cabinets. Freezerless refrigerator options are great for people who want a compact fridge but do not need a freezer or prefer to use a separate chest freezer in the garage. 

These advanced features can make refrigerator shopping more exciting, but there’s more that goes into selecting the best refrigerator for your home. Below, we’ll talk about other factors you should consider, such as kitchen space, family size and food habits.

 

How to choose the best refrigerator for your home

Buying a new fridge can be confusing because there are so many factors to consider before you’re confident about the one that’s right for you. Here’s a buying guide to help you narrow down your choices to find the ideal refrigerator for your home.

Measure the space you have available for a refrigerator.

This might be the most crucial step when choosing a refrigerator for your home. Determine the cubic feet available for a fridge after all your cabinetry has been installed, and note dimensions like the width, depth and height. Determining the size of the space you have to work with is your first step to filtering refrigerator options. 

Remember that your refrigerator will have to be slightly smaller than your available space to leave room for ventilation. Be sure to also measure the clearance path from your home entry up to your designated fridge space to ensure the fridge you choose will pass through. This step is also a good time to assess whether you want to opt for a freestanding or built-in refrigerator.

Consider your family size to determine the fridge capacity you need.

Figure out what refrigerator size you need by considering how many people will use it. For example, one adult would find a capacity of 40-100 liters sufficient. A small family, like two adults and a child, would need a capacity of 100-250 liters. Large families or groups may want to select a refrigerator with a capacity of 250-850 liters.

Analyze your food habits.

Analyzing food habits will help you understand whether you need a larger fresh food section or a larger freezer section. If you purchase and store a lot of frozen items and reach for those often, you’ll probably want a fridge with easy freezer access and good freezer storage. If you reach into the fresh food section more often, opt for a fridge that makes the fresh food section highly accessible.

Look at refrigerator door options.

Determine which door design will suit you best based on how you use your fridge. Single-door refrigerators can be ideal if you live alone or with a partner. Side-by-side or French door refrigerators are better suited for families.

Choose any additional features available in your budget.

For example, you can look for humidity-control drawers for your fresh produce, gallon-size door bins to store milk and adjustable glass shelves. Also consider the modern features that appeal to you, like an ice maker, water dispenser or smart refrigerator features.

Check the brand’s warranty. 

Some of the best brands for refrigerators provide a more extended warranty period on new refrigerators. However, most brands offer less. For example, Whirlpool offers a limited warranty for one year when you purchase a refrigerator. 

Before you buy a refrigerator, compare different warranty periods. Alternatively, you can sign up for a Cinch Appliance warranty for your refrigerator to safeguard yourself from unforeseen repair costs.

Select a finish.

When buying a new refrigerator, you can choose to have a black, white or stainless-steel finish. Most people choose based on what matches their kitchen design. Stainless-steel finishes are usually the easiest to wipe clean. 

Once you go through these steps, you should have a fairly clear idea of the kind of refrigerator you need for your home.

What is the most popular refrigerator type?

French door refrigerators are the most popular fridge style today. The modern design complements almost any kitchen layout, and the storage space is sufficient for families of all sizes.

In addition, the storage flexibility options of the best French door refrigerators make cooking more convenient and the fridge easy to clean.

 

How much do refrigerator repairs cost?

The average life span of a refrigerator is 10-15 years. However, regular maintenance is required to extend your investment and avoid expensive repair costs. 

On average, your refrigerator repairs could cost around $200-$300, but depending on the issue, you could spend closer to $400-$1,000. The cost of repairs also depends on the style of refrigerator you have.

If you know exactly what needs fixing in your refrigerator, you can better estimate the cost of repairs for each broken part.

Either way, refrigerator repairs are expensive, and you should regularly clean and run maintenance on your refrigerators to avoid hefty bills.

 

Protect your refrigerator from expensive repairs with Cinch

Refrigerators have a high upfront cost, and any additional repair or replacement costs can burn a hole in your savings. Most companies only offer a limited one-year warranty for refrigerators, meaning you’ll have to bear most, if not all, the repair costs.

Cinch offers warranty options for all your household appliances and built-in systems. No matter how old your appliance is, Cinch’s service pros will help with your covered repairs and maintenance for an affordable monthly fee.

You can also opt for Complete Home warranty with Cinch. This means all the appliances and systems in your home are covered, and you no longer have to worry about expensive repair and maintenance costs.

Get a quote for your home today.

 

Looking to buy a new fridge? This article breaks down the different types of refrigerators so you can pick the one that’s right for you.