A fridge is one of the most important appliances in your home, influencing your eating habits and ensuring food hygiene and taste.

Refrigerators are available with different door configurations, with either the doors side-by-side, or with one door on top of the other, or as drawers.

In a top/bottom unit the freezer can be on either the top or the bottom. In a side-by-side configuration the freezer is on one side.

Some are available as built-ins, which can be disguised to look like just another cabinet. Others are the same depth as the countertop to mimic the built-in look.

Prices start at around $300 and can go up to $7000 or more for commercial or built-ins.

Top/Bottom Layout

Capacity (about 25 cubic feet) is not as much as a side-by-side

With the freezer on top you may find yourself bending down a lot to get to items on the lower refrigerator shelves.

A bottom freezer style is becoming more popular as the most accessed area (the fridge at the top) is also the most accessible.

Side-by-Side Layout

Capacity is more than a top/bottom, about 30 cubic feet.

These have narrower double doors, which is important if opening clearance is tight.

Features to look out for

  • Reversible hinges (enabling right or left opening doors)
  • Automatic defrosting (standard on most models)
  • Pull-out, split or solid glass shelves (as an alternative to standard full-width wire shelves)
  • Separate temperature or humidity controls on meat and produce compartments
  • Automatic ice makers
  • In-door ice and water dispensers
  • Built-in wine racks
  • Rack systems in the freezer section

Freestanding Fridges/Freezers

These appliances are becoming increasingly popular and require a cold water supply. They can be integrated to blend in with your kitchen by installing a top cupboard between two tall end panels.

As with other appliances, services, i.e. water and electrical, should terminate and be connected to the appliance via an adjacent cabinet. Should this not be possible, fit the services as close as possible to the rear wall. If you wish your fridge to lie flush with the adjacent cabinets you will require greater depth matching end panels to achieve the desired effect.

Counter-Depth Fridges/Freezers

Counter-depth refrigerators are reduced depth models of regular refrigerators (by about 5 in.), so only the door extends beyond the kitchen counter.

Most come with features found in full-depth models such as full-depth shelving but with other space-saving ideas.

Built-Under Freestanding Fridges/Freezers

Built-under fridges slide into a space beneath the countertop.

Installation of freestanding built-under fridges and freezers is carried out much the same as for freestanding ones but you need to add just over 3/16ths of an inch to the width of the appliance to leave sufficient space for fitting.

Feet are usually fully height adjustable and fridges or freezers are screwed to the worktop through pre-drilled holes once fitted.

For door fitting, follow the instructions supplied with the appliance. These again, will come with a template and fixings. More manufacturers allow rear leg adjustment from the front of the appliance and this makes for simpler installation.

Built-In Integrated Fridges/Freezers

Integrated built-in fridges/freezers (unlike built-under), are fitted within a furniture housing.

Some manufacturers require the doors of the housing to be fitted to the cabinet prior to fitting the fridge/freezer but recently more rely on fitting the doors direct to the appliance after fitting.

Templates and fixings should be provided and provision is made for fixing through the feet and the top of the appliance once levelling is complete. Ensure that the fridge/freezer is fitted to the correct depth to enable the correct operation of both the cabinet and appliance doors.

Again it is a good rule to avoid services to the rear of the appliance. It may be necessary to adapt the cabinet prior to fitting your built-in appliance as some cabinet manufacturers leave a back fitted to the appliance aperture. This will need to be removed to allow correct fitting of the appliance.

Appliances fitted within a housing require adequate ventilation and this is usually achieved by fitting a ventilator to the plinth.

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