Types of Refrigerators

May 21, 2022
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A Large Variety of Fridges with A Ton of Different Features to Look For

There are many different types of refrigerators that can be used in a variety of different settings. Here, we cover each refrigerator type - along with the advantages and disadvantages of each refrigerator for your home.

Refrigerator Styles

When selecting a refrigerator style, there are many items to consider:

  • How much refrigerator space is available in your kitchen - and what type of fridge will work best in that space?
  • Do you want your refrigerator to be flush with your counter - or is it ok if it sticks out a little bit?
  • What kind of storage requirements do you have for your fridge?
  • Do you want more of a high-tech refrigerator - or is a more traditional refrigerator more than enough to meet your requirements?

This section addresses each of these questions when it comes to picking a style of refrigerator that meets your needs.

Counter Depth Refrigerator

A counter-depth refrigerator is one that's almost the same depth as your kitchen counters. These refrigerator models give your kitchen a stylish, finished look as it is almost flush with your kitchen counters.

I say "almost flush" because the hinges of the doors on counter depth fridges have to stick out a bit beyond the counters and kitchen cabinets so that the doors can open without banging into obstructions.

Yet another advantage of these counter-depth refrigerators is that they tend to be a bit less expensive than many other refrigerator options - primarily due to their slightly smaller footprint.

Top Freezer Refrigerator

A top freezer refrigerator is one of the more common styles of refrigerators and is characterized by having the freezer compartment located on the top of the refrigerator. This style is typically more affordable than other refrigerator styles and is a good option for those who don't have a huge budget or strict space requirements.

The fact that this style of refrigerator is so popular means that there are a wide variety of colors and surfaces available to choose from. Big box stores like Home Depot offer these refrigerators in a variety of different colors (White, Black, Red and Bisque) and even stainless steel.

While you can get smaller profile refrigerators, the top freezer refrigerators depth ranges from around 24 inches up to 34 inches.

Top Freezer Advantages:

  • Lower cost option
  • Lots of varieties to choose from

Top Freezer Disadvantages:

  • Taller folks have to bend over to access the fridge
  • No water dispenser or Icemaker access through the door
  • Most don't come equipped with an icemaker

Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

Not surprisingly, the bottom freezer refrigerator has the freezer on the bottom, with the refrigerator up top. These types of refrigerators make it a bit easier to access the refrigerator as it is higher up - and a bit more accessible overall - than top freezer refrigerators. If you're not pulling items from the freezer very much, this can be a very good option.

Bottom freezer refrigerators can run a bit more on the expensive side - especially when compared to top freezer refrigerators.

Bottom Freezer Refrigerator Advantages:

  • More color options than top freezer refrigerators
  • Easier to access items in the refrigerator

Bottom Freezer Refrigerator Disadvantages:

  • A bit challenging to bend over and get items from the freezer
  • More pricey than top freezer refrigerators
  • Plenty of makes and models to choose from - but less options than top freezer refrigerators
  • The majority of bottom freezer refrigerators have no water dispenser
  • No integrated door access to water dispenser or icemaker

Side-by-Side Refrigerator

A side-by-side refrigerator has the refrigerator compartment on one side and the freezer compartment on the other side. Both compartments run the full height of the refrigerator.

An obvious advantage of the side-by-side is that you can place the most commonly accessed items for both the freezer and refrigerator at a comfortable height.

A side-by-side refrigerator isn't quite as energy-efficient as many other styles of the refrigerator - especially when opening up the freezer - the large area can allow a lot of cold air to escape.

Side-by-Side Refrigerator Advantages:

  • Most have an icemaker and water dispenser integrated right into the door
  • A lot of cubic feet available for freezer space (although it can be narrow)

Side-by-Side Refrigerator Disadvantages:

  • Freezer space can sometimes be a bit narrow and confining - which may prevent the storage of bulkier frozen foods
  • One of the least energy-efficient options

French Door Refrigerators

French door refrigerators are one of the types of refrigerators that are increasing in popularity. These stylish appliances offer a number of advantages over traditional side-by-side units, including energy efficiency and more shelf space.

A french door refrigerator will typically use less energy than side-by-side models. This is due to the fact that french door units have two doors that open from the center, rather than one large door that swings open from the side.

Photo of a french door refrigerator

A stainless steel french door refrigerator

The french door refrigerator also qualifies as a bottom freezer refrigerator as the freezer is located at the bottom of the unit beneath the french doors.

The refrigerator doors require less clearance when opened, and they can be opened individually, which means the unit doesn't have to work as hard to keep the interior cool. This means that french door refrigerators can lead to savings on your energy bill.

A comparison of french door vs side by side refrigerators

In addition to being more energy-efficient, french door refrigerators also offer more usable shelf space than side-by-side units. Because the doors open from the center, there is no need for a large door bin in the refrigerator compartment of a french door fridge. This leaves more space for shelves, which can be very useful if you frequently entertain or have a large family.

French Door Refrigerator Advantages:

  • One of the more energy-efficient varieties of refrigerators
  • Ample storage space compared to other models

French Door Refrigerator Disadvantages:

  • Can be pricey compared to other refrigerator styles

Freezerless Refrigerators

Freezerless refrigerators have become increasingly popular in recent years, due in part to their energy efficiency. Without a freezer compartment, freezerless refrigerators use less energy to stay cool, which can save money on your energy bill.

In addition, freezerless refrigerators often have more shelf space than traditional models, making them ideal for small kitchens or households with limited storage space. If you're considering a new refrigerator, freezerless models are definitely worth checking out.

Freezerless Refrigerator Advantages:

  • Tremendous energy savings (because no energy is expended maintaining the temperature of frozen food)
  • Good option for smaller kitchens where space is limited

Frezerless Refrigerator Disadvantages:

  • Limited options to choose from when compared to other styles of refrigerators
  • No icemaking capability
  • Most models don't have a water dispenser

Mini Refrigerators

A mini refrigerator (sometimes called a "compact refrigerator") is a great option for those who need extra storage but don't have the space for a full-sized fridge. They can be placed underneath counters or in other small spaces, and they have lower energy requirements than larger models.

The inside of a mini-fridge generally contains simple shelves rather than having a pull-out drawer. Some mini fridges come equipped with a can dispenser which allows you to easily grab a beverage from the dispenser. Gravity will put the next can at the front of the dispenser making it easy for the next person who needs a drink.

Mini fridges also tend to be more affordable than their full-sized counterparts, making them a great option for budget-minded shoppers.

Mini Fridge Advantages:

  • Economical
  • Fit under your counter or in tight spaces - don't take up much room

Mini Fridge Disadvantages:

  • Most don't have freezers and those that do generally have a very small freezer
  • Hardly any of the mini refrigerator models have water dispensers or ice making capabilities
  • Very limited storage space compared to other types of refrigerators
  • Not the best option for food storage

Beverage Coolers

A beverage cooler (or beverage refrigerator) is a great addition to any kitchen, and it can come in handy for parties and other events. Most beverage coolers are designed to hold cans or bottles, and they can usually accommodate a wide range of can and bottle sizes. These coolers typically have a temperature control knob that allows you to adjust the temperature to your preferred level.

For both commercial and home beverage fridges, the majority of models have a see through glass door. This allows you to easily see the available beverages without having to open the refrigerator door.

While they may seem similar to a wine fridge, their function is somewhat different. The beverage cooler is suited to chilling cans and bottles to cold temperatures - generally below 40 degrees. Wine fridges are usually more customizable and are kept at a much warmer temperature - between 50 and 55 degrees.

Beverage Cooler Advantages:

Lower energy requirements than traditional refrigerators

Beverage Cooler Disadvantages:

Customization options of shelves can be limited

Column Refrigerators

Column refrigerators are one of the newest trends in kitchen appliances. Unlike traditional side-by-side refrigerators, column refrigerators are tall and slim.

You can purchase both a refrigerator column and a freezer column. You can place them just about anywhere in the kitchen where there's an appropriate power outlet. They can be placed next to each other or on opposite sides of the kitchen - giving you tremendous flexibility in your overall kitchen layout.

Column refrigerators typically cost more than traditional models, but their sleek design can dramatically improve the look of your kitchen.

Some models even have a really cool "push to open" door assist feature. This can come in extremely handy if your hands are full of groceries (or a big lasagna) and for those who may have diminished motor skills. A video below shows how the "push to open" refrigerator works. It even closes by itself after a few seconds if you don't fully open the door.

Push to open feature in a refrigerator

Column Refrigerator Advantages

  • Stylish and cool with high end features
  • Flexible layout options - especially if you'd like to have your fridge separate from your freezer

Column Refrigerator Disadvantages:

  • High end = expensive
  • Relatively new - not as many companies manufacture column refrigerators as other types of fridges

4 Door Refrigerators

A four-door refrigerator is a bit of a misnomer as some "four-door" refrigerators actually have drawers - while others are true four door refrigerators.

If you're shopping for refrigerators, they tend to classify both of the following configurations as having 4 Doors:

1) French Door On Top and two pull-out drawers.

In this configuration, there is a left french door and a right french door up at the top of the refrigerator. Both doors open out to the side.

Below the french door section are two pullout drawers. Usually the bottom of the two pull-outs is a freezer drawer.

This is actually the more common "four door" configuration - even if two of those "doors" are actually drawers.

2) Four Hinged Doors

This configuration features 4 refrigerator doors arranged in a quadrant. Usually, the top two doors contain refrigerated items, while the bottom two refrigerator doors contain frozen items.

4 Door Refrigerators Advantages

  • Stylish - they look great
  • High end - tend to have a lot of features
  • Many are highly energy-efficient

4 Door Refrigerators Disadvantages

  • Super high end - most are quite pricey

Commercial Refrigerators

Commercial and home refrigerators are both designed to keep food chilled or frozen for extended periods of time. However, there are a few key differences between the two types of appliances.

Commercial refrigerators tend to be larger than home refrigerators, and they often have multiple compartments for storing different types of food. Many commercial refrigerators are even walk-in coolers. Regardless, of what type, commercial refrigerators are able to store much more food and much larger containers than your at-home refrigerator.

Commercial refrigerators are built to withstand heavy use. Unlike your home refrigerator, a commercial refrigerator (like in a restaurant) is constantly being opened and closed. This means that the compressor and fans must be able to work much harder than your kitchen fridge.

Refrigerator Features

Energy Star Certified Refrigerators

Energy Star certified refrigerators are designed to use less energy than traditional models, saving you money on your energy bills and helping to protect the environment. According to the EPA, energy-efficient refrigerators can cut energy use by at least 30% when compared to standard models.

Over the years, refrigerators now use much less energy. In the 70's refrigerators used over 3 times as much energy as they do now. Improvements in insulation and better refrigerants have contributed to the reduction in energy use.

Energy Star has campaigns to encourage people to get rid of their old, inefficient refrigerators

The biggest breakthrough was the introduction of the advanced adaptive compressor. This compressor is able to provide vast savings in energy use with its subtle adjustments to keep your refrigerator at an optimal temp.

Over the lifetime of the fridge, that can add up to some serious savings. In fact, also according to the EPA, if every refrigerator and freezer were this efficient, the annual electric bill savings would be $226million.

Energy-efficient refrigerators also tend to generate fewer greenhouse gases. If all freezers and fridges were energy star certified, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 million metric tons annually (EPA).

Most online retailers allow you to search for refrigerators that are energy-star certified. HopeDepot.com and Lowes.com both have filtering options based on being compliant with energy star. Perusing these sites shows that energy efficiency varies by style of refrigerator. As an example, around half the fridges available online through those two big box stores are energy efficient.

Counter Depth Refrigerators vs Standard Depth Refrigerators

Refrigerators come in two standard depths: counter depth and standard depth. Counter-depth refrigerators are shallower, which allows the refrigerator to sit flush with your kitchen counters, creating a seamless look.

Standard depth refrigerators are deeper and are likely to stick out beyond the counter. While you lose a bit from an aesthetics standpoint, the extra depth provides more storage space inside the refrigerator, as well as space for the door to fully open.

When deciding between a counter-depth and standard depth refrigerator, it is important to consider your needs and the layout of your kitchen. If you are tight on space or looking for an ultra-modern stylish look, a counter depth refrigerator may be the best option. However, if you need extra storage space or have a larger kitchen the standard depth refrigerator may be a better choice.

Door-in-Door Refrigerators

Door-in-door refrigerators are becoming increasingly popular in households across the country. These energy-efficient appliances can save the amount of work that your refrigerator has to do to keep everything cold.

The door-in-door section is typically used for items that are regularly accessed, such as drinks and snacks. This area will reach a slightly higher temperature than the main compartment, which helps prevent cold air from escaping each time the door is opened.

You'll want to do your research with door-in-door refrigerators. Sometimes the temperature inside the door-in-door shelves can reach above the USDA recommended refrigerator temp of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (Bacteria grows best between 40 and 140 degrees.)

Hidden Hinge

A hidden hinge refrigerator door is a type of door that has a hidden hinge that is virtually impossible to spot from the front or side of the fridge. This makes the hinge essentially appear to be concealed or invisible.

These hinges aren't exclusive to refrigerators - you may see them in other kitchen appliances as well.

Hidden hinges are more common in upscale refrigerators.

There are many benefits to having a hidden hinge refrigerator door, such as the fact that it can provide a more refined aesthetic to your kitchen. In addition, hidden hinge doors are also less likely to collect dust and dirt. Being relatively debris-proof keeps the hinges less likely to fail over time. It also makes the hidden hinge refrigerators a bit easier to keep clean.

Door Alarm

Door alarms are becoming more and more common with kitchen appliances - especially refrigerators and freezers. The feature is becoming more prevalent in mid to high-end refrigerators.

The alarm sounds when the door has been left open for an extended period of time - typically about two minutes or so.

This feature is designed to help keep food fresh by maintaining a consistent temperature inside the fridge by not letting cold air escape. When the door alarm sounds, it's a reminder to close the door quickly in order to keep the cold air in and the warm air out.

While many refrigerators come equipped with a door alarm, you can purchase your own after-market alarm to attach to your fridge.

Child Safety Locks

A child lock is a safety feature that helps to prevent children from opening the refrigerator door and possibly hurting themselves.

Child locks are often found on the handles of refrigerators, but they can also be built into the control panel or located at the bottom of the door. You can also buy child locks and affix them to a refrigerator that you already own.

Refrigerator with Ice Maker and Water Dispenser in Door

Today, many refrigerator models come with an ice maker and water dispenser built right into the door. This is a great convenience, as it allows you to have ice and cold water at the touch of a button without having to open the refrigerator door.

Photo of a refrigerator with water and ice dispenser

Refrigerator water and ice dispenser

However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you're considering purchasing a refrigerator with this feature:

Purchase Cost - You'll pay for the convenience of easy access to ice and fresh, filtered water. Refrigerators with a water dispenser and ice maker will add to the overall cost of your refrigerator.

Installation Cost - You'll need to make sure that you have a water line connected to the refrigerator in order to create ice and get fresh water. If your kitchen isn't already plumbed for this, it will add additional overall cost to your refrigerator.

Maintenance Issues and Costs - The more moving parts and bells and whistles your refrigerator has, the more likely it is that those parts will fail and will and cause leaks and other problems. Your maintenance/replacement costs will likely be higher with an ice maker/water dispenser than they would be if you purchased a standard bare-bones refrigerator.

Energy Costs - The energy costs will be a bit higher with an ice maker/water dispenser when compared to more basic refrigerators.

Dual Ice Maker

The dual ice maker feature within a refrigerator is somewhat uncommon - most refrigerators have just one icemaker. You may wish to consider a dual ice maker if you have extreme ice production requirements. These can certainly come in handy if you do a lot of entertaining - or if you have a lot of athletes in your house who need to fill up their water bottles before heading out to the ice rink or soccer fields.

A dual ice maker refrigerator typically has an ice machine built into the freezer compartment and a separate ice dispenser in the door. If you need a glass of ice water, just use the dispenser. If you're filling up the cooler, you can scoop ice right out of the freezer compartment.

Specialty Refrigerators

Drawer Refrigerators

A drawer refrigerator is a type of undercounter refrigerator that features multiple sliding drawers (usually two). It somewhat resembles a small filing cabinet with its two drawers with long full-length handles extending almost the full width of the drawer.

This design makes it easy to organize and access frequently used items, and it can also help to maximize counter space. Drawer refrigerators are available in a range of sizes and styles, making them a popular choice for both home and commercial kitchens.

They may be a good choice for more serious cooks who need to maximize available fridge and counter space. Despite the low profile and relatively limited space (compared to a regular refrigerator), drawer refrigerators can cost as much as a standard refrigerator.


A kegerator is a refrigerator that has been designed specifically for storing and dispensing kegs of beer. A standard refrigerator can be used for this purpose by using a conversion kit to modify your existing refrigerator. You can also buy a kegerator from the store that is already equipped to hold a keg and dispense beer.

A kegerator will usually have enough space to accommodate kegs of various sizes. It includes a CO2 system for keeping the beer carbonated. While a kegerator is ideal for a home brewer or beer lover, it can also be used to dispense wine or even cold brew coffee.

Fridge Drop Slide

The fridge drop slide isn't so much a refrigerator as it is a handy tool that can make accessing your fridge much easier when you're away from your house. It integrates with your vehicle and is great for activities like camping or tailgating.

It's essentially a portable slide (or ramp) that you install in the back of your vehicle. You'll slide out your portable refrigerator to provide easy access. Many fridge slides will not only slide out, but also can be lowered down towards ground level. This allows you to have easy access to the contents of the refrigerator.

Smart Refrigerators

In the past, refrigerators were simply large boxes that kept food cold. But today's refrigerators are much more advanced, with many of them featuring smart technology.

A smart refrigerator is a fridge that is connected to the Internet and can be controlled via an app on your phone. You can use the app to see what's inside your fridge, add items to your shopping list, and even play music or watch videos. This makes it super easy to watch step-by-step cooking videos - or even just entertain yourself on Netflix while waiting for those brownies to finish.

Some smart fridges even have a built-in screen that lets you browse the Internet or stream movies. Of course, all this extra functionality comes at a cost, and smart refrigerators are usually more expensive than traditional models. But for many people, the added convenience is worth the price tag.

Wine Refrigerators

Wine refrigerators are a great way to keep your wine at the perfect temperature. Most wine (both red and white) is best served between 50 and 55 degrees - which can make acquiring a wine refrigerator a necessity if you're a huge wine fan.

This temperature is difficult to achieve in your typical kitchen refrigerator which is typically at around 40 degrees to keep your food as fresh as possible while preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

Photo of wine refrigerator next to wine rack

A wine refrigerator next to a wine rack

In addition to temperature issues, the humidity level in your kitchen fridge also is a problem for wine. Humidity in your kitchen refrigerator dry by design. It is easier and more energy-efficient to keep dry air cool than moist, humid air. With a wine refrigerator, you get humidity controls that allow you to regulate humidity and protect the taste and aroma of your wine.

Wine refrigerators come in a variety of sizes - both under the counter and full-size varieties that are as large as a typical kitchen fridge. They also have different features, such as adjustable shelves and racks, so you can store your wine the way you want. This is especially helpful if you have different-sized wine bottles.

  • Freezers
  • Ice Makers
  • Commercial Refrigerators
  • Builtin Refrigerators
  • Under Counter Refrigerators

Refrigerator Colors and Finishes

Stainless Steel

A stainless steel refrigerator is a great choice if you're looking for a sleek and modern look. it's a popular choice for high-end kitchens. Stainless steel has a major advantage over other finishes in that it fits well into most kitchen designs and color combinations.

Stainless steel comes in two varieties: conventional stainless steel (shiny, metallic grey) and black stainless steel. Black stainless steel refrigerators can be either shiny or matte (not nearly as reflective).

Stainless steel is easy to wipe down and keep clean compared to other finishes. While easy to get it clean, the downside to stainless steel it can be a fingerprint magnet and it can show smudges more easily than other finishes. Fingerprint-resistant stainless steel refrigerators (described below) are specifically designed to be as smudge-free as possible.

Fingerprint Resistant Refrigerators (also Stainless Steel)

Fingerprint-resistant refrigerators are becoming increasingly popular in households across the country. These refrigerators are designed with a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish that helps to keep fingerprints and smudges off of the surface of the fridge. As a result, your refrigerator is less likely to look dirty from typical day-to-day use.

In addition, the finish is also easy to clean, making it a great choice for busy families who don't have a lot of time to spend cleaning their appliances. Cleaning the outside of the refrigerator is a task that most of us just don't have the time to do.

Fingerprint-resistant refrigerators are available in a variety of sizes and styles and are made by the major name brand manufacturers, so there's sure to be one that's perfect for your home.

Different Colors

You can get a refrigerator in just about any color that you want, but there are certain color choices that are more popular than others.

Here in the United States, the big box stores carry a variety of colors. After stainless steel, the most popular color choices based on the models they have in stock are white and black.

They do carry a limited amount of other colors, including slate, red, bisque, sliver, blue, red, and green. These more exotic color choices may be a bit limiting when you're choosing the colors of your other appliances as you'll want everything in your kitchen to match from a design standpoint.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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