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Battle of the refrigerator-freezer designs


Fat Guy
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Which is best?

The main choices are:

Side by side

Freezer on top

Freezer on bottom

Freezer on bottom, French door refrigerator

Me, I've really come to dislike the freezer-on-bottom models. We've been staying at a friend's house where the freezer is on the bottom, and it's kind of a disaster area. There's one deep bin and a sliding basket shelf on top. It's comically difficult to get to anything without taking everything else out. The one nice thing about freezer on bottom is that it gives you a nice wide refrigerator all of which you can access without bending over.

I really like side-by-side in theory, but only if it's big and wide. For narrower refrigerators, the freezer on the side-by-side models is so narrow there are too many things that just don't fit.

Freezer on top tends to be the design of the crummiest refrigerators, but I think it's a decent design. If you don't have room for a wide side-by-side this is the design I recommend. Having the freezer at eye level makes it convenient to get stuff out. The fridge does get pushed low, though -- your fruit and vegetable bins will be near the floor.

I'm indifferent to French doors. I guess they're nice.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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*shrug*

I have to choose one by next year. I'm having issues.

In theory I like the bottom freezer models because you can stuff a lot of crap in there, including a bowl to a counter ice cream maker, without a whole bunch of fuss. The point you make about not being able to get anything out really comes down to freezer organization...which, at the moment, I suck at, but I'm getting much, much better.

I'm pretty much stuck with either a French door-bottom freezer model or a side-by-side, though, because of the incredibly small amount of space I have to work with. I don't even know if I could get a normal refrigerator door open in the area where the refrigerator is.

Oh, and I should probably say that the French is winning out due to the fact that I could actually fit a half sheet pan on the shelf in one. Would make retarding any type of sweet rolls or bagels overnight a much simpler task than it is now. Having to break them up onto two trays for refrigeration is just a bother.

Edited by Stephanie Brim (log)
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Given that cold likes to go down, not up, the freezer on the bottom models are the most energy efficient, I believe. French doors are energy sieves. I have a full freezer door on the left and the fridge on the right, and when I open the freezer I can feel the chill billowing out onto my toes.

Freezer on top doesn't work too well with young kids, and I've got two of 'em. Frankly, I would much prefer two dedicated refrigerators and one dedicated freezer, but that's not going to happen, so I can live with what I've got.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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At the cottage, I've gone to a full upright freezer and a full fridge, no freezer in it. I have a lot more space this way for everything. Although I confess, I do also still have a top freezer model, which now holds the beer and martini glasses in the freezer part. :) They aren't side by side, but I'm only in the freezer a couple of times of day so it's easy for it to live in the back room

Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I have a 30 inch side by side and it doesn't make me very happy. The freezer is just a sliver and with the icemaker/water set up I lose even more interior volume. But truthfully, I could live with that freezer because I don't like cooking out of the freezer so it is less important to me. What I really don't like is the narrowness of the fridge. I guess I would gladly go for the French Door Freezer on Bottom option if I was buying a fridge today.

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I've got a normal-sized fridge with a freezer on the bottom and I like it. I use the fridge way more than the freezer, so I don't mind bending down to get to the freezer. And my freezer compartment has a drawer in the bottom half and a shelf/ice maker in the top half. I think the drawer makes food way more accessible than the more traditional top freezer layout. Of course, mine is mostly just full of bagged stuff, which is basically what the drawer is optimized for.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Everybody I know that bought the freezer on the bottom option says that although it's nice to have the wide space, they hate having to bend down and dig, fingers cold, bottom waving in the breeze. Not to mention that the "ice-to-the-door" feature doesn't work as well with the freezer on the bottom. My daughter's husband's parents have one and there is never enough ice when we all get together with the kids and grandkids. They always have to go buy additional ice. They are included in my circle of friends/relatives that say they'll never buy another one.

I've had a large side-by-side for decades. Unless I have the money and space for a separate fridge and separate freezer, I'm sticking with the large side-by-side. I rarely have to bend down really low for anything. Everything is pretty easy to find.

And I raised a family of five with the large side-by-side. The freezer holds a lot. My dad was in the cattle business and often would give us a half-side of beef. I had no problem getting it all into the freezer.

I will say that for a time, a while back, while in a rental apartment, I had a smaller side-by-side.

I grew to absolutely loathe it. As much as any human being can possibly loathe an inanimate object, I loathed that fridge.

Anyone that is dealing with a small side-by-side and thinks that they "don't like side-by-sides" has no idea the difference that the size of it makes.

I hope my circumstances never dictate that I can't have my big side-by-side but, if so, I'd much rather have the old-style freezer-on-the-top fridge than one of those large drawers on the bottom.

______________________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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We have a French door model and HATE it. I do not mind the freezer on the bottom though it is not really that easy to get things out of the top sliding shelf. We only have water on the door and the ice maker is int he freezer. Whenever we pull out the top shelf, ice falls behind the slid out drawer. But that is not why we hate it. The doors have a really bad tendency to not close all of the way. Sure they close enough to fool the sensor that is supposed to warn us about just such a thing, but not enough to turn off the lights. So not only is cold air escaping, but the bulbs have stayed on and cooked food on the top shelf. We have taken the bulbs out. Never again.

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I did a ton of research before buying our new French door, bottom freezer Samsung. So much more room than our side-by-side in the same footprint. A great suggestion is to invest in the extra one or two freezer subdivisions - I love it - my chicken is in one, meats in another, nuts and stuff in a very narrow nother, and misc. in the widest one. This also has the slide out drawer on top of the subdivisions. My only complaint, and for us it is certainly liveable,is that we buy bags of ice for our big parties as the icemaker thru the door is on top in the fridge and apparently can't store enough. But not an issue for day-to-day living. To me, my new fridge is my BMW in my kitchen! LOL

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Unfortunately it is out of warranty. I do think it is a design flaw though, it really only happens if both doors are open together and then not fully shut one at a time. It may just be my model - it is a 5 year old Kenmore.

One other thing, I find that more often than not, we have both doors open. Yes, we all know where the milk is, but beyond that, with 4 sets of hands going into the fridge, things get moved all the time. We always open one side only to open the other in search of items. I think I would rather just have one door.

We have recently added a second smaller fridge in our laundry room for drinks etc. It is a top freezer unit. With this purchase, I would do a side by side in the kitchen. We did the french door thinking it would be great for large platters, which it is, but the addition of the second fridge negates the need in the kitchen.

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I think the ideal arrangement would be a bottom freezer with a swinging door. I have the bottom freezer drawer and it's a mess for all the reasons stated above. When we were shopping for our fridge about six years ago, there was only one model on the market with a bottom freezer with a swinging door and it was unacceptable to me for other reasons. I have no idea why it's not a more popular design.

Even with my messy drawer, though, I really like my bottom-freezer refrigerator. I have a terrible back. I rarely use the freezer, so I practically never have to bend over. My old fridge was a many-times-a-day source of aggravation for me but this has solved my problem almost completely.

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I hate hate hate my side-by-side. Even though it is a large, full-size model, the biggest problem is that because both fridge and freezer sections are narrower, that actually makes it harder to use the *depth* of the fridge. Stuff has a much greater tendency to get lost in the back, because the openings are so much narrower that the stuff in front blocks the stuff in back and you don't get as much of a visual as to what's there... I just don't see what the problem with having to bend down for a bottom freezer is -- otherwise you have to bend down to get to the crisper in a normal top freezer model, and I access the crisper much more often than I access the freezer.

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We have the french door freezer bottom. I prefer the bottom freezer since we don't access the freezer as much as I would the refrigerator and something has to be on the bottom. We have no problem finding stuff in freezer, maybe that's because we have gotten anal about labeling things. So far I have had three french door units and I think the manufacturers have sucked. In our first, the freezer kept icing up - it was frost free. Under warranty and 8 repairs it was finally replaced. The second one did the same thing and they wanted to repair all the same items that didn't fix the problem the first time. We nixed that idea and got a different one from the same store. That model's design was chincy with the latches on the door constantly breaking. So I like the design, smaller swinging french doors and botton wide freezer. Just help me find a good manufacturer.

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My daughter's husband's parents have one and there is never enough ice when we all get together with the kids and grandkids. They always have to go buy additional ice.

Unfortunately to what I've been reading not making sufficient ice is a way of life with all the new energy efficient refrigerators. In order to cut energy usage they had to redesign the ice makers and in doing such they reduced how much ice they can make in a day. That's one of the reasons you are seeing more ice makers for home use being developed.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Unfortunately to what I've been reading not making sufficient ice is a way of life with all the new energy efficient refrigerators. In order to cut energy usage they had to redesign the ice makers and in doing such they reduced how much ice they can make in a day. That's one of the reasons you are seeing more ice makers for home use being developed.

Too bad all of them most of them suck.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I love the French Door, freezer on bottom style. It was the one thing I was determined to get when we designed our kitchen. My freezer is used for longer storage and opened far less than the fridge, so why should it be at eye-level? (Freezer on top) or ridiculously tiny? (Standard Side-by-Side)

I may be in the minority, but I hate the ice/water in the door, and was dead set against it, so maybe I just didn't notice that it didn't work as well in the French door models. The top rack of the freezer is plenty large enough for my various ice-making equipment and chilling all of my cocktail mixing and service pieces. The lower bin is subdivided to make digging as painless as possible. I don't think it's any more complicated than a freezer on top model where if you need something at the bottom you can cause a landslide.

At 6'4", I'm done getting on my knees to get in the vegetable bins...I don't think I could have another fridge that wasn't freezer on the bottom.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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We've had the same full-size side by side for eight years now. I can not get a half sheet in side ways but the fridge is deep enough to fit the sheet in long ways with about 5 inches let on the side. I don't think I would like the freezer on the bottom. I have the side by side organized so that the most used items in the freezer are in the waist to eye level area. But we also have a small upright freezer in the garage that we use for the overflow from stocking up on sales, so the side by side freezer is never overstuffed. Before getting the side by side, we always had the freezer on top type. I'll stick with the side by side.

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Whenever we pull out the top shelf, ice falls behind the slide out drawer.

I've been having this exact same problem all week with our friend's LG.

The doors have a really bad tendency to not close all of the way.

I've been having this problem not with the French doors but with the freezer drawer. The freezer is pretty full and stuff always seems to block the action of the drawer just enough to keep it from making a good seal. A couple of minutes after I walk away, the freezer alarm starts beeping. (Note to self: start topic on how so many kitchen appliances now beep all the time.)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Given that cold likes to go down, not up, the freezer on the bottom models are the most energy efficient, I believe.

I think the cold-goes-down principle is why chest freezers are most efficient. But I'm not sure there's a huge difference in energy consumption between top freezer and bottom freezer. Bottom may be slightly more efficient than top, but both top and bottom are substantially more efficient than side-by-side. I imagine, though, that refrigerator design isn't as important as usage patterns when it comes to power consumption.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hands down, a side-by-side with multiple, adjustable shelves, wide/deep enough to hold a half-sheet pan, plus some drawers and door shelves. You can see everything at a glance, and it is indispensable for pastry making. A freezer, top or bottom (worse because of the back), that is essentially a box is annoying.

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I prefer freezer on the bottom models, but, only if they have regular shelves -not one big basket. I open the refrigerator portion far more often than the freezer and think that it's silly to be bending over all the time to look at my produce drawers.

That said, I dream of one day having a dedicated unit for each. And, I really like some of the commercial units that can be hung like horizontal cabinets on the wall, so that everything is at a height you choose.

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Which is best?

The main choices are:

Side by side

Freezer on top

Freezer on bottom

Freezer on bottom, French door refrigerator

My ideal home kitchen has a full upright freezer on the left and the same-sized fridge on the right. The kind of pair you'd need a six-foot wingspan to open. Fifty cubic feet total, with no stairs, no icy drawers, no trip to the out building or cellar.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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