A third type of fridge is the side-by-side design, in which the appliance is split vertically with tall, narrow fridge and freezer sections located beside each other. As a rule, side-by-side appliances tend to be the most costly to purchase, and are a little wider than top- and bottom-mounts to make up for overly narrow shelves. They are also considered less efficient at maintaining their temperature and therefore less energy efficient. On the flip side, narrow compartments can be useful, since narrow fridge doors require less floor space to open and close. Many side-by-side fridges also come with additional features, such as water and ice dispensers. Note, however, that such dispensers may require the help of a plumber to install.
Other variants of the side-by-side fridge include the French door-style, a three-door design where the fridge is accessed by a double door, allowing the shelves to be considerably wider. Those with larger storage needs may want to look at Pigeon Pair fridge/freezer combinations. Pigeon Pairs are designed to stand next to each other, but are physically separate. You can also look into chest-style fridges, which are accessed via a lid on top. Chest fridges maintain their temperature the best, but aren’t as efficient for storage or ease of access, further more chest freezers all require manual defrosting.
Your new fridge is likely to be a vital part of the household, so it is probably worth investing in a model that is efficient. Look out for the standard Energy Rating label on each fridge that rates the energy efficiency of each appliance, and tells you how much energy it is likely to consume in a year. Labels that display more stars and lower kilowatt hours (kWh) will cost less to run.
Freezers need to be defrosted every so often. Generally, any ice build-up should be removed once it reaches a thickness of 5mm. Frost-free fridges and freezers eliminate the need for defrosting by using a fan to circulate dry, cold air throughout the freezer compartment. This process can be noisy and requires energy; however, it also saves some energy by avoiding temperature fluctuations caused by icy patches in the freezer.
Depending on the types of food stored in your fridge, you may need to adjust temperature levels. This is easier if each compartment has a separate control. Some newer models have moved from temperature control dials to digital controls, and some side-by-side models even include drawers that can be controlled separately.
Finally, when considering a fridge exterior, note that while a white painted vinyl finish is the cheaper option, stainless steel lasts longer, as there is no chance of rust. However, stainless steel can be marked by fingerprints and grease marks, though some fridges with a stainless steel finish are fingerprint resistant be sure to ask a sales person which models these include. Cleaning the inside of your fridge can also be made a little easier with shelves that are made from smooth moulded plastic or better still, safety glass, instead of wire. Safety glass shelves help contain spills and should preferably be in the freezer as well as the fridge. One-piece shelves will help confine spills and can be easily wiped down. Note also that shelves can have a tendency to crack, so it may be worth looking into shelves that are easy to remove and replace.
If you’re willing to spend a little extra money there are technologies that you might consider investing in. Some fridges can include anti-bacterial treatments to make food last longer and prevent mould or mildew build-up. Many fridges use Multi-flow or other patented systems that circulate the air more evenly. Other fridges use twin fan systems which separate fridge from freezer which eliminates odours from travelling between compartments, keeps vegetables fresher, reduces freezer burn and is more energy efficient. Some fridges even have an LED display, which allows you to control the settings of the fridge and freezer. Newer refrigerators feature child locks which when selected will firmly lock the fridge door.