There are many different refrigerator styles to choose from with a myriad of features. The refrigerator I grew up with had the freezer on top and refrigerator on the bottom. Every time my mother had to get something out of the back of the refrigerator she had to bend down. The top freeze design is not as popular as it once was and tends to be less energy efficient that bottom freezer models.
On the other end of the spectrum are refrigerator and freezer drawers. These are exactly what they sound like – drawers that keep food cool. They are generally used in conjunction with a main refrigerator/freezer to provide additional storage and provide point of use cooling.
The three main designs clients are asking for are the traditional side by side refrigerator, the bottom mount freezer, and the newest design option, the French door refrigerator.
Side by Side
The side by side refrigerator has been the staple of family kitchens for years. Standard models can be found in a 36 inch width, and while built in models are available in 36 inch side units, generally 42 or 48 inches wide units are used due to their shallower overall depth. One of the key advantages of a side by side refrigerators is that they have eye level storage for both compartments. The lower parts of the sections can be set up with the children’s drinks and freezer pops at a height where they can reach their own snacks. The door swing is smaller than top or bottom freezer models making it easier to place them in smaller kitchens. One downside is the freezer compartment isn’t very wide making it difficult to store items like frozen pizza. The large divider between the sections also takes up space and when the doors are opened, there is more convection allowing the cool air to escape more than other designs making them slightly less energy efficient (Photos courtesy of SubZero).
Bottom freezer models have been around for years and have been around for years but have recently seen a resurgence in popularity. With a bottom (or top) freezer, the partition separating the two compartments is smaller than a side by side. The upper door for the refrigerator section has to be either right handed or left handed and is chosen to match the flow of the kitchen. Large items like frozen pizzas are stored more easily than in a side by side models. Having the freezer on the bottom generally helps energy efficiency (cold air naturally sinks). The disadvantages are the opposite of the the advantages of the side by side. There is no eye level freezer storage, setting things at a level where children can access them is more difficult, and the door swing takes more space (Photos courtesy of SubZero).
The French door refrigerator is a relatively new design and is gaining popularity in family kitchens. It combines some of the advantages of the side by side with the bottom freezer configuration. The door swing doesn’t need to be selected so it’s adaptable to various kitchen configurations and since the door is split, it doesn’t take as much aisle space to open. Energy efficiency can outperform most other configurations because only one refrigerator door has to be opened to access food which helps keep the cooler air inside (Photos courtesy of SubZero).
Under Counter Drawers
Under counter refrigeration drawers are common in commercial kitchens because they allow rapid access and can be placed at strategic locations along the cooking line. Residential units have been available for a number of years and are gaining in popularity for many of the same reasons. Vegetables can be stored near a preparation work zone for instance. While it may be somewhat impractical to only use refrigerator drawers in a full kitchen, they can be integrated into the cabinetry and made to look just like a drawer base cabinet creating a very clean look (Photos courtesy of SubZero).
Under Counter Refrigerators
While this may look similar to the old dorm room refrigerators, the new under counter refrigerators are very different. They are efficient and have many features. Units that are set up for wine storage have multiple temperature zones and glass in the door that allows you to see whats inside but absorbs UV light to help better preserve the wine. Most customers want wine storage near their entertaining area whether it’s a bar or in the kitchen. However, it is becoming very popular to design master bathrooms and bedrooms with a beverage center. Imagine being able to wake up in the morning and having a cup of coffee (with cream) without going down to the kitchen – or a cool drink in the evening before going to bed (Photos courtesy of SubZero).