General Question

janbb's avatar

What advice can you give me about buying a new refrigerator?

Asked by janbb (58201points) 1 month ago

Now that I’m not getting a new car yet, I’m going to buy a fridge. The space I have to put it in is 30 inches wide. My main questions are: French doors or not French doors (they do make a few 30 inch wides as French doors)? And freezer on top or freezer on the bottom?

Things I do not need and don’t plan to get are: water dispenser on the door and ice cube maker.


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50 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

It’s cheaper than an electric car, but doesn’t move as fast.

I personally like side-by-side, but others may differ. I have always preferred freezer on top because it easier to get to the ice cube tray. I think that three door ones (my daughter has one) are silly.

But so much of the decision is personal choice. And to a degree, how much of a cook are you? How full do you keep it?

chyna's avatar

That makes it easier since you don’t want ice or water. 30 inches was the width I had to get and they didn’t come with ice on the door, however I was able to get water. I don’t use the water as it tastes funny.
I got the French doors with the freezer in the bottom. If you have a wall on one side that the fridge will rest against, you won’t be able to open the door fully and that’s a pain. I finally moved mine to another location without a sidewall and like it much better.

canidmajor's avatar

I did this last June. I went with a top freezer because it cost significantly less than bottom freezer, and although I’m very short I have no problem with a top freezer.
I have, in the past, had a side-by-side, and I didn’t like that the freezer was so narrow.

I’m pretty dull, though, I don’t do fancy appliances any more.

Just a quick ETA, I went with Best Buy and was really pleased with the price and the service, considering it was all done on line.

janbb's avatar

What I was looking at was French doors on the top and the freezer on the bottom.

Or just your basic fridge with freezer on top and one door on the bottom which is what I have now.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Did “French doors” mean freezer on the left, fridge on the right in the 70s & 80s? Those always seemed weird and wrong to me.

I’ve always had a basic freezer on top, one fridge door, but I think the French doors with freezer on the bottom is better. I guess because the thin doors are less in-the-way than one wide one, and the low freezer puts the more commonly accessed fridge shelves closer to reach.

KNOWITALL's avatar

My only advice is to check scratch and dents, totally worth it for 50% off new appliances. Yes I’m a tightwad.

hello321's avatar

I have the two doors at the top fridge with a bottom freezer. All I can say is that I’ve never had a built-in freezer that was big enough. I ended up paying $130 for a 5.5-cu-ft chest freezer, which makes the whole thing work.

Once this antique dies, I think I’d probably get the same thing. Very convenient and the huge door doesn’t swing out into the middle of the kitchen. There’s also no “wrong way” for the door to open.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

@janbb I think that was called a Side by Side

Looking at your Home Depot link I see they still are. Not French doors.

Thi is french doors:

$1500+ ? All the bottom-freezer models are that much. Really?

I change my answer. Get a regular ol’ top-freezer model and use the $100s saved in a good way.

janbb's avatar

@hello321 I have an old upright freezer in the basement that I have been using to great effect during the pandemic. It never seems I can have too much freezer space! And thanks for the advice.

Jeruba's avatar

Last time around, we bought a side-by-side, thinking it would be good to have the door not open so wide. Never again. That makes the freezer too narrow and the rear part of it too inaccessible. We can’t stick a frozen pizza in there, even diagonally, without disrupting all other arrangements. A lot of space is wasted. The whole thing is at best half as useful as the old top-freezer design.

I would go back to freezer on top, one door below. I don’t want to have to bend my aching back every time I want a bag of frozen peas.

janbb's avatar

As mentioned, French doors are different from a side-by-side. Not considering that, I had one in a condo once.

zenvelo's avatar

One thing to consider is traffic patterns in your kitchen: are there any problems with the door(s) open?

Also, make sure you have enough room to fully open the doors so that you can get the drawers out early for cleaning.

And go all electric, gas powered and hybrids don’t work as well.

janbb's avatar

@zenvelo Ha! But should I go for heated seats?

canidmajor's avatar

In my house, two doors would be very awkward, as I often hold the door open with a body part while transferring stuff out.

zenvelo's avatar

@canidmajor Is the body part you use one you are storing in the fridge? I store body parts in the freezer, keeps them longer.

canidmajor's avatar

@zenvelo, I like my body parts fresh!

janbb's avatar

@zenvelo Are you Jeffrey Dahmer’s twin brother?

JLeslie's avatar

I’m going to assume you are putting in stainless steel.

French doors will look more up-to-date and upgraded. It also is probably significantly more money than a tradition freezer top and fridge bottom refrigerator.

French doors you need to open both doors to open an interior drawer that spans the entire width of the fridge. Just something to keep in mind. Your fridge might not have a big drawer like that.

I liked the refrigerator on the top, because I go in my fridge more than my freezer and it’s nice to not bend down. I don’t know how tall you are, but if your top shelf on your fridge is a little high for you that might be a consideration.

The freezer on the bottom has to have a drawer or something that creates a shelf so you aren’t just piling a bunch of stuff on top of each other.

I really don’t mind a tradition fridge with the freezer on top, I think it’s very practical, it just looks “old” I guess.

filmfann's avatar

French doors, with a freezer drawer on the bottom are much more energy efficient.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie No, it will be white to match the rest of my appliances. I’ve never been big on stainless steel.

JLeslie's avatar

In white I would probably get a traditional refrigerator unless your kitchen is updated and modern. The most important thing though is which fridge is best in functionality for you. One swinging door tends to be easier in my opinion, especially since it’s a 30”.

I looked at your link and it does have the wide drawer that will require both doors to be open.

Just in general you need to be sure you can open both directions. If your fridge is next to a wall you can’t get the french doors. I saw @chyna made this point earlier, but didn’t see if it was or wasn’t an issue.

@filmfann Why?

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

@janbb White? Have you considered Avocado Green or Harvest Gold?

I just moved into a 60s/70s era apartment. Tempted to go full-on groovy bachelor pad.

janbb's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay Let me know where I can send you your lava lamps!

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

@canidmajor Orange shag, of course.

@janbb Lava lamps and macrame plant hangers.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I had to replace my side by side and went with french door and freezer drawer in the bottom. (Hope things have improved it took four months before I could order last Fall !)

I was notified when ship from Korea arrived on the West coast, took three weeks after I ordered to get it in my house on the East coast.

janbb's avatar

@Tropical_Willie But do you like ti now that it’s here?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes it works great and I can get big things into freezer and frig. Also went for ice & water in the door.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I personally would choose the traditional 2 door 2 compartment unit with the freezer on top. I would do so simply on the principle that the fewer doors, the less likelihood for insulation sealing failures, hinge or door alignment issues, and logic would dictate you more likely to find a better deal in a device of proven design, and the assumption that simpler design drives manufacturing costs down. I doubt if you’d be interested in the refrigeration system, but I would pay attention to both the rating and manufacturer of the compressor and refrigeration section overall. Though at this date, I doubt if the problems associated with striving for that low power consumption rating remain an issue.

jca2's avatar

When we stay at our favorite hotel, they have a refrigerator with bottom freezer, two drawers. French doors. What I love about the bottom freezer with two drawers is that the stuff in the drawers is easier to see and access. In my freezer at home, everything is pushed in and what’s in the back is not so clearly visible. Also, with the refrigerated section higher up, picking up and putting back heavy things like milk is easier because there’s less bending and leaning.

A friend has a refrigerator with bottom freezer one drawer and because the drawer is so big and so heavy, the handle has become loose from the tugging. As a result, she has a beautiful refrigerator with a dangling handle. That’s another reason why the two drawer is better, in my opinion.

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie: Freezer on the bottom is more energy efficient because cold air drops, hot air rises.

jca2's avatar

My current refrigerator is about 10 years old so I’m going to be needing one in the next few years too. The one I have now is white, traditional with freezer on top. My tentative plan is to get the two drawer freezer, two door, stainless which I know is more money but I really like the two drawer. I wish that kind came in white, because my kitchen is white, plus I like the fact that white is cheaper, but I guess white is for garage refrigerators and is otherwise considered a dinosaur. The new ones are fancier with door alarms, LED lights, etc. The one I have is a basic, old reliable but it’s serving me well for the time being. Not looking forward to spending $1500+. My current was about $500. I had a connection at Home Depot which probably took a little money off the price.

janbb's avatar

@jca2 Some French Doors come in white but I don’t know if they have the two door freezer bottom.

JLeslie's avatar

Only certain brands make two exterior freezer drawers, the almost all have an interior drawer/ shelf. You definitely want at least that so you aren’t digging out frozen food from under a pile of other food.

@jca2 That makes perfect sense regarding the cooler air. I never thought about it.

The fridge I have now (cheap and horrible and the worst fridge I have ever had, I have never before complained about a refrigerator) moves the air between the two compartments and the water sometimes tastes like food. From what I’ve read, more expensive refrigerators have separate cooling for the fridge and freezer.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have a GE Profile French Door with pullout freezer on the bottom. No water dispenser in the door. I use the icemaker spot as additional storage. Since I did not hook up any water to it I removed the water filter that is conveniently located in the refrigeration section and picked up a little more volume. GE Profile.

There are several convenient drawers in the freezer but I noticed there is quite a bit of space between the wall and the basket. I put a couple of water bottles in there to take up space and act as thermal mass if I ever loose power. I also put ice packs (I am blessed with a ton of them.) in the space below the drawer and the freezer floor for the same purpose.

Other than that bit of wasted space I think the design is quite good. I can put a frozen pizza or two in there with no problem and the freezer section on the bottom is quite convenient.

Why do I have so many ice packs? I get them for free at a clinical research center in the area. They offer the packs for free since they cannot reuse them. Any packs not taken are discarded – and you know how I hate waste. I probably have enough thermal mass to chill Pluto. Everyone leaving with Thanksgiving leftovers gets a pack or two in their bag.

jca2's avatar

@LuckyGuy: Is the single drawer freezer heavy to pull out? My friend has a single drawer freezer and it’s heavy – you have to really tug it. That’s why the handle got loose.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@jca2 We had to replace our last frig because it started to ice up, under the bottom drawer, over a half inch thick. The drawer would catch on the ice and make it almost impossible to open.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@jca2 No. It is not difficult at all. It’s not pulling out everything. It only pulls out the bottom drawer which is only about 8 inches deep. Once that is open, the other three drawers are exposed and you can open them separately. It is quite clever.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Tropical_Willie We do not have that problem at all. It sounds like you has another problem,
Is it possible your defrost sensor was not working? Or maybe the drawer was not closing all the way so frost started to build up, which made the drawer not close, which causes the frost to build up, which…etc. If you put a piece of paper between the drawer seal and the drawer, close it and try to pull it out. It should take some effort. If it comes out easily you have a leak.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

We figured it was the drainage for frig and freezer, it was 14 years old. One of the compressors was “wheezing” too.

Response moderated (Spam)
raum's avatar

If you’re thinking about Best Buy/Pacific Sales, DO NOT buy through Best Buy website. Call Pacific Sales and order from an actual person.

I thought it would be the same thing since they are affiliated with each other. But the customer service and rerouting through Best Buy was a nightmare. Pacific Sales was great.

Also don’t just take measurement of the fridge. Take a measurement of the fridge with the doors open. Some of the hinges swing wide.

We got a two door fridge. Bottom drawer freezer. Because of the whole energy saving thing.

It’s kind of funny though. I never thought much of the ice maker taking up room in the freezer in our old two door fridge. (Freezer on one side.)

But it really annoys me how much room the ice maker takes up in our fridge now. :/

LuckyGuy's avatar

@raum I had a 2 door side-by-side fridge with an ice maker function and hated it for a few reasons:
1) The water line was one more thing that could leak and make a mess in the house
2) The line got moldy from condensation.
3) It took up precious freezer space
4) It allowed a constant leak of cold air out of the freezer even when the seal was closed..
5) The seal would occasionally stick open after the cubes were dumped, leaking more cold air.
6) It made a horribly loud noise when the mechanism scrolled and dumped the ice into the bucket.
7) It made more cubes than I could use.and some would sit there for ages picking up freezer smells.

I can make my own cubes if/when I need them. I know the recipe.

raum's avatar

I can make my own cubes if/when I need them. I know the recipe.


janbb's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yes, I’ve never felt the need for an ice maker.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It is difficult to find a unit without a water dispenser and an ice maker. And now LG has a model that features UV sterilzation to kill bacteria at the tap. All that complexity seems like such a waste to me. I’m a simple guy. All I want a roomy refrigerator.that keeps cold things cold, has a quiet compressor, and is energy efficient with good internal insulation. I want it simple to increase the chances of it running a long time.
I don’t need one with Wifi, Bluetooth, LCD darkening glass windows, positraction and dual exhaust.

canidmajor's avatar

@LuckyGuy, oh, me too. I always consider “bells and whistles” to be things that can break. In June I replaced a 25 year old fridge with as close to the same model as I could find. I lack imagination when it comes to appliances.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@canidmajor They tout those functions as a convenience that will make my life easier. “It can tell you if you are low on milk!” “The panel will become see-through so you can look inside without having to open the door.” “That saves energy!” “We access your Wifi to improve your customer experience.”
Um no! Having a layer of good insulation will save energy. I can remember
I do not want another piece of equipment accessing my Wifi and sending unknown information back to who-knows-where. I do not want to give my refrigerator my Wifi password so it can get updates from the manufacturer, which only update the very parts I do not want. I do not want to check “Accept” on a 10 page Privacy agreement before I can use my refrigerator the first time.
I just want it to keep my food cold and last a long time.

Unfortunately there are product designers and engineers who need to come up with the latest whizbang features to keep their product (and their careers) “fresh”. I get it.
I’m not a Luddite. Some products really do get better with the addition of features. But some are only made worse.

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