Your refrigerator says a lot about you. Top mount, bottom mount, side-by-side; each type is made to suit individual cooking styles & food storage needs.
The variety of models available can greatly add to the convenience, aesthetics and value of your kitchen. From the classic top mount unit all the way to the most professional built-in side-by-side model, your fridge goes a long way to define your priorities in the most important room of the house, your kitchen.
This traditional configuration has been around for years and is the most common type of refrigerator found in homes all around the world. A top mount refrigerator has a freezer located above the refrigerator section. Space is typically very well utilized in this type of fridge. Capacities can range from 15 to 22 cubic feet, with 18 cubic feet being the most popular. A top mount refrigerator is usually 30” wide, making it narrow and easy to fit into traditional kitchen layouts, and also a great choice for use with pre-fab kitchen cabinets.
Because top mount fridges are so common, they are also the least expensive type of refrigerator on the market. You can upgrade from basic white to stainless steel for very little extra cost and achieve a premium look and feel.
The bottom mount refrigerator is an innovative take on the traditional top mount style. By switching the configuration so that the freezer is located underneath the refrigerator section, items inside the fridge are easier to see and reach. Since the refrigerator section is used more frequently than the freezer, you don’t have to bend over to access the items you use most. The freezer door can either swing out as on a top mount, or pull out like a drawer. The pull-out option allows you to see everything in your freezer in one encompassing glance.
Bottom mount refrigerators are also growing in popularity and demand. Traditional bottom mount refrigerators, with a single fridge door, have similar width as your standard top mount and can be from 30 to 33” wide with up to 21 cubic feet of capacity. This makes traditional bottom mount refrigerators a very good alternative for the traditional top mount refrigerator customer.
Some bottom mount refrigerators have French doors on the top section. This configuration is typically wider than your standard top mount and can be up to 36” wide with up to 26 cubic feet of capacity, requiring more room in your kitchen. The narrow doors swing apart, and you have the option to open only one half at a time to access smaller items. Large platters fit very well in this configuration. They are more expensive than traditional top & bottom mount fridges, because of size, styling and added features such as external ice and water dispensers.
The side-by-side refrigerator is very popular for its sleek, professional look and convenient configuration. The freezer and refrigerator are placed next to each other, making both easy to access without much stooping or bending over. These models usually come with external ice & water dispensers, but the mechanism will take up some freezer space. These units are wide, typically 33" to 36” with up to 30 cubic feet of capacity. Be wary, large platters and other bulky items might not fit into this type of unit because of the narrow, vertical freezer and fridge sections.
To achieve the ultimate professional look at home, some people turn to built-in refrigerators. These units blend in with the style of the kitchen, often coming without finished sides. They need to be fastened to the walls and cabinets for support. These units are usually cabinet-depth, meaning they do not stick out past the depth of you cabinets and counters (usually 24”). For an even more high-end look, custom door panels can be applied to match your cabinets.
Built-in refrigerators are wide, anywhere from 36 to 48”, making them better suited for custom kitchens and not pre-fab or existing layouts. Fridges and freezers can be purchased separately and placed next to each other, making the total width of both units up to 72”. When an evaporator is added to the top, built-in refrigerators can stand 84” high. This type of configuration is the most expensive on the market.
Freestanding Counter-depth Refrigerators
Counter-depth refrigerators are also available in freestanding models. Like built-in refrigerators, these models fit flush with your cabinets; however, they have finished sides and do not need to be fastened to the wall. This is an inexpensive way to get the look of built-in for less.
Compact refrigerators, often called mini fridges, can fit into tight space or underneath counters. They can come with or without freezer compartments. The lowered capacity makes compact refrigerators best suited for use as a satellite fridge in a den or bar, where beverages can be stored in the area they will be consumed without taking up valuable space in your main kitchen refrigerator. These fridges are also common in dorm rooms.
For storing wine at an optimal temperature and position (horizontal), you might consider getting a wine fridge installed under your kitchen counter or simply plug one in the basement as your own mini wine cellar.
Depending on the type of wine connoisseur that you are there are three types of wine fridges available:
- Wine Chiller: Small in capacity, 10 bottles or less, designed for quick chill and short-term storage
- Wine Cooler: Mid-size storage, 25 - 40 bottles, designed for short to long term storage
- Wine Cellar: Perfectly designed for your short to long term storage of your vintage wines, 20 - 200+ bottle capacities
To give your kitchen a truly luxurious feel, the relatively new refrigerator drawer might be a good choice for you. Best used in addition to an existing refrigerator, drawers mounted under countertops can be used for extra space or spill-over capacity. For this added convenience, you do pay a premium. Refrigerator drawers are a new innovation and not yet widely used; they give you limited capacity for a large price tag.
Before you start looking for a new refrigerator, make you sure you know how wide, tall and deep your new unit can be. Are you renovating your kitchen or merely replacing an existing fridge? Replacing your fridge during a kitchen renovation means you have free reign to explore wider models, although keep in mind that pre-fab kitchen cabinets often only come in certain set sizes. If you want a cabinet above your fridge, sticking to 30” or 36” standard widths is your safest bet without having to go the more expensive custom route.
Make sure you measure doors throughout your house, including your front door, to ensure your fridge can fit into you home. You don’t want to be disappointed once the fridge arrives. Keep in mind, your doors can be taken off their hinges, although some delivery companies will not do this for you.