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Refrigerators have been around for a long time and are an essential part of any household. Most modern homes require refrigerated food so having at least a basic refrigerator is a must.
Today’s best refrigerators are much more than just “basic”, however. While they all work on the same principle, they differ a lot in how they are integrated into your kitchen, how big they are, how they open, how they store food, and all their extra features. So, which are the main types of refrigerators today and which one should you choose for your home?
The different types of refrigerators
Pretty much all refrigerators work on the same principle – they use a refrigerant to keep super-cooling the refrigerator’s coils and thus – keep the inside of the refrigerator cold. If another, better principle is ever invented, chances are that it won’t be called a refrigerator as it won’t use a refrigerant.
Refrigerators do come in a lot of different types and designs, however, so let’s explore the main ones.
As with most other kitchen appliances, refrigerators can be either freestanding or integrated. Freestanding refrigerators are the most popular ones as they can be bought and installed independently of your kitchen and its design. They have their own exterior and you’d do well to pick one that looks good with the rest of your kitchen. Freestanding models give you the freedom to pick a refrigerator based on its functionality and features rather than whether it can fit inside a kitchen cabinet.
On the other hand, integrated refrigerators are installed “inside” your kitchen’s cabinets and are made to look like one. They are for people who find refrigerators ugly and want their kitchen to have a clean and unified look.This does pose the problem of picking a refrigerator for an already finished kitchen, however. Most integrated refrigerators are bought and installed while the kitchen is still being designed and constructed. Having to pick an integrated refrigerator for an already finished kitchen will drastically limit your choices.
Another variation that can be both freestanding or integrated is separated refrigerators. These models can have either a freezer and a fridge in two entirely separate bodies or two separate fridges sold as one separated model.
Mini-fridges, wine refrigerators, beverage centers, under-counter fridges, chest freezers, ice makers, and more
We’re bundling all of these in the same category as they have very similar features – they are extra small and compact, and they are mostly meant for a more specific purpose. They can differ in their designs, extra features, and min-max temperatures, but that’s it.
Refrigerator door types
Aside from the two main types – integrated and freestanding – refrigerators can also differ a lot based on their door designs. The 4 types below can be either integrated or freestanding:
French door refrigerators
French door models have two doors that swing outward. This makes opening the fridge safe a bit of space inside your kitchen because the two doors aren’t as big as a single one. The freezer in French door refrigerators is usually at the bottom and has a single door.
These models look like French door refrigerators in that they have two outward-opening doors. The difference is that the freezer and the refrigerator here are placed side by side and each has its own short door. This type is good for people who want a larger freezer and don’t need that big of a refrigerator.
Single-door bottom freezer
In these models, both the freezer and the refrigerator have just one door each and the freezer is placed at the bottom of the unit.
Single-door top freezer
Top freezer models are reverse to bottom freezer ones – there, the freezer is at the top of the refrigerator.
What should I look for when buying a refrigerator?
So, what are the main factors you’ll need to consider before purchasing a refrigerator?
Freestanding vs integrated (plus size)
The first thing to do is find a refrigerator that can fit where you want it to fit. This means picking a refrigerator of the right size for your kitchen and deciding between freestanding and integrated.
Next, you should try to prioritize the right capacity for your household. The capacity is typically in direct relation with the size but depending on the model this relation can vary a bit.
Refrigerators tend to consume a lot of power. In fact, they are usually the highest-consumption appliances in most homes. So, even a small difference between the power-consumption of two similar models can make a big difference in the long run.
Most refrigerators are designed to maintain certain temperatures deemed standard for the storage of foods. At or below 40° F (4° C) is deemed the standard for a fridge and 0° F (-18° C) – for a freezer. However, if you have more specific temperature requirements, there are models with other temperature settings as well.
Extra features that might be useful
After you’ve chosen the right capacity and size for you, you can explore some of the many extra features refrigerators come with. Relating the initial price with the power consumption is important, for example, but don’t forget about the warranty either – refrigerators are meant to last for decades so they are a truly long-term purchase.
Aside from that, there are various other features such as door-in-door designs where you can have a built-in door within the main door, insta-view doors where you can switch the door between transparent and opaque modes, water filters and coolers built inside the door, touch screen controls, and much more.
- Initial price and warranty.
- Door design.
- The freezer’s position.
- Touch screens.
- Insta-view doors.
- Ice makers.
- Water coolers & filters.
As you can see, the main choices you’ll have to make are the refrigerator’s initial price, size & capacity, and its power consumption. From there on, the rest is a matter of finding your preferred design and extra features.