A refrigerator is a common household appliance that consists of a thermally insulated compartment and a heat pump (mechanical, electronic, or chemical) that transfers heat from the inside of the fridge to its external environment so that the inside of the fridge is cooled to a temperature below the ambient temperature of the room. Cooling is a popular food storage technique in developed countries. Lower temperatures in a confined volume lowers the reproduction rate of bacteria, so the refrigerator reduces the rate of spoilage.
A refrigerator maintains a temperature a few degrees above the freezing point of water. Optimum temperature range for perishable food storage is 37 to 41 °F. The refrigerator is a relatively modern invention. It replaced the icebox, which was a common household appliance for almost a century and a half prior. For this reason, a refrigerator is sometimes referred to as an icebox.
Buying a new refrigerator is no small feat. They’re big, they’re expensive and you use it every day. They also use a lot of energy; in fact, refrigerators use an average of 12 to 20% of household electricity each year. They’re difficult to repair because of their size, complicated electronics and the special tools that are needed. Also, most people don’t think about replacing their refrigerator until it’s on the fritz and you’re already losing lots of money as food spoils and an inefficient refrigerator eats up your electric bill.
Listed below are the popular kinds of refrigerator/freezer combinations. Read about their pros and cons and also special considerations for each type. Remember to bring accurate measurements of the space you want your new unit to fill.
Side-by-Side refrigerator/freezers are the most popular design selling today with lots of makes and models to choose from. They have many advantages that have helped their popularity increase. Side-by-Sides have smaller doors that take up less space when open, allowing them to fit in more shallow areas of your kitchen. Ice and water dispensers are very common features in side-by-sides. And many people are attracted to the idea of having their favorite foods in both the freezer and refrigerator at eye level.
Side-by-sides tend to be less energy efficient than other more classic refrigerator/freezer combinations. It is also difficult to fit extra wide items, like large pizza boxes, in the refrigerator or freezer compartments as they are narrower than standard sizes.
If you’re interested in the convenience of having an in-door water and ice dispenser, make sure to investigate your plumbing situation first. If you don’t have water lines set up and ready to attach to your refrigerator, a plumber will have to arrange that before installation. Also, check into the cost and procedure for getting new water filters for your water and/or ice dispenser. Find out the yearly cost of filters, how easy or difficult it is to find them and whether or not you can replace them yourself to get an accurate idea of the true cost of the appliance.
Refrigerator and freezer combinations where the freezer is on top or bottom are generally very energy efficient. Freezer-on-top models are much more common than freezer-on-bottom models, though most major manufacturers do make each type. If you use your refrigerator much more often than your freezer, it would be very convenient to have your freezer on the bottom and all of your refrigerated items at eye level. The opposite is true if you use your freezer much more than your refrigerator. Some freezer-on-bottom units now offer French door styles on the upper refrigerator, with two narrow doors opening in opposing directions instead of one large door.
The popular external ice and water dispensers are far less common in these types of refrigerator/freezer combinations, though some models do exist. Be sure to keep in mind that the doors are full sized and require lots of room to open completely.
When shopping for this kind of combination, make sure to include the door clearance space when measuring for your new refrigerator. If you do choose a model with an external ice and/or water dispenser, make sure your plumbing is set up to directly connect to your new refrigerator.