When your refrigerator breaks down, you have a few options. You can either fix it or buy a new one. You can hire a professional to get it fixed by searching for “refrigerator repair near me”. On the other hand, if the fridge is too old, you’re in the market for a new one. If that’s the case, the fight boils down to three different styles of fridges – top freezers, bottom freezers, and side-side refrigerators. Let’s check out what’s best for you.
- Installation – When it comes to installation, top freezers are the simplest to install. They usually don’t have features like water and ice dispensers and that’s why they don’t require extra water line connection or additional plumbing. On the other hand, both bottom freezers and side-by-side refrigerators are heavier appliances that will come with higher delivery and moving complexity.
Moreover, even budget models of such fridges come with water dispensers and that means extra plumbing and water line isn’t optional. That’s why the latter options most certainly need the help of professionals.
- Space – This one’s a no-brainer as long as you’re comparing top freezers with the other two options. Top freezers usually have half the capacity of bottom and side freezers. That means they are great for dorms, studio apartments, and other such settings where you live alone. For a single person, top freezers provide plenty of space and then some for leftovers.
However, things get tricky when you’re choosing between the bottom and side-by-side freezers. Both of them offer similar capacities. That means you’ll get a similar volume as long as you’re comparing models in the same budget range. So, you need to dive deeper and assess them with more scrutiny and weigh them against your priorities.
While both those styles of refrigerators offer similar space, that volume is configured very differently. Side-by-side offers plenty of vertical storage. So, you can store plenty of jars, thick bottles, and other such items. However, the narrow design for freezer and refrigerator sections doesn’t allow the storage of wider items like casseroles. That’s only possible in bottom freezers.
Bottom freezers also allow you to stack items on top of each other and store the widest items like pizzas and cookie trays. However, that also means the items at the lower end are more likely to get forgotten and expire over time. Their doors would also take a lot of space to swing open unless you opt for a French door.
- Variable temperature – Most top freezers in the market lack this feature since it’s simply not possible to add it to a budget-friendly regular-sized refrigerator. On the other hand, both bottom freezers and side-by-sides have enough room for multiple evaporators and some very high-end options even come with dual compressors.
This allows manufacturers to equip side-by-sides and bottom freezers with variable temperature zones. Some models even come with sensors that detect the type of food in different zones and set the temperature accordingly. However, side-by-sides have a slight edge here since the vertical configuration allows for more divided sections.
- Water and ice dispenser – Unless you’re buying a very high-end top freezer, you simply wouldn’t get this feature in that style. It requires a dedicated water line, filtration system, and plenty of extra space inside the refrigerator. That’s why you’ll usually find this feature on side-by-sides and bottom freezers that can space the extra room for added complexity. However, this is just a feature and shouldn’t make or break your purchase decision. It’s just one of those nice-to-have features that add a bit of convenience and don’t play a crucial role.
- Aesthetics – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everyone has different preferences. However, there’s something objectively better about the style of side-by-sides and bottom freezers that set them apart from top freezers. Maybe it’s because top-freezers are made with affordability as the number one priority, they don’t come with sleek and industrial designs with a stainless-steel finish.
On the other hand, stainless steel and matte black finish with an aluminum or steel exterior body are very common for both bottoms and side-by-side refrigerators. They also have stylish pull-out drawers and the versions that can be directly built flush into your kitchen look even better. On the other hand, you usually won’t get any counter options for top freezers, and they usually come in bright metallic colors with basic two-door configurations.
- Energy efficiency – Top freezers win out on this one and will continue to do use for many years to come. Top freezers are compact compared to the other options and hence require an appropriately smaller compressor and evaporator. Moreover, top freezers have a compressor at the top and cold air flows from the freezer compartment to the bottom. The compressor sits comfortably away from the heat-extracting components of the fridge.
On the other hand, bottom freezers have the compressor sitting close to the hotter parts of the fridge and have to work harder. They also have to cool a larger space and hence consume more power. Side-by-sides are less efficient than both bottom and top freezers due to the tall and narrow design of freezer and refrigeration sections.
The circulating cold air has to make its way up and down in two sections and the fridge also needs to extract moisture from that tricky space. However, some manufacturers solve this problem with dual compressors. Keep in mind that those models are a lot more expensive.
Top freezers, bottom freezers, and side-by-side refrigerators all have their strengths and weaknesses. However, if you live alone in a small home and affordability is a priority, you should go with the top freezer. On the other hand, if you have a large family with a high requirement for space, you have to choose between a bottom freezer or a side-by-side refrigerator. Alternatively, you can search for “refrigerator repair near me” and choose to get the old fridge fixed.