Are Bottom Refrigerator Freezers Better?

Are Bottom Refrigerator Freezers Better?

In our modern homes, space for kitchen appliances is often at a premium, which means we need to maximize our space usage. Are bottom refrigerator-freezers better or should you go with a side-by-side or standard top freezer?

The type of fridge freezer you should consider will depend on your needs, space, and budget. Bottom freezers are better for storage space, while side-by-side units are more ergonomic, but both versions offer more choice in the way of style than top freezers do. 

When fridge-freezer combo units came out, the freezer section was traditionally placed above the fridge area. The freezer compartment was originally very small and used for little else other than storing a few ice trays and maybe a steak or two. These units have improved and developed a great deal since then, but there is now the choice of an upper or lower freezer model or side by side versions, and each has its benefits and downsides.

Top Vs. Bottom Vs. Side By Side Refrigerator Freezers

If you have started shopping around to buy your first fridge freezer combo unit, you will be surprised at the variety of models that are available. If you are looking to replace your ancient model fridge that has finally lost its cooling capacity and is now only an air-tight cupboard, you will also find that the choices are somewhat different than those from 10 or more years ago!

When it comes to choosing whether to purchase a unit with the freezer on the top or the bottom of the fridge, or side by side, there are some characteristics of each type that could factor into your decision-making between the two.

We will cover these topics that distinguish one model from the other so that you can determine which model will best suit your space, your needs, and your budget.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is the amount of power that it takes to run the fridge and enable it to do its job in freezing your food and keeping the fridge chilled.

While the difference is marginal, the top freezer units are more energy-efficient than the bottom freezer units. They will, therefore, offer a cost-saving on your electric bill over the bottom freezer units. The side-by-side refrigerator-freezers are the least efficient of all the combo options that are available. 

The efficiency advantage of the top freezer unit, as we have already stated, is marginal and may only save you between $10 and $20 over the course of a year.

For many people, this amount is negligible, but if you are on a tight budget, every saving can make a difference to the bigger picture!

Unit Size

For some reason, the top freezer models tend only to come in smaller units. While this makes them useful in tiny kitchens, it means that if you have more space available, you may not be able to get a top freezer model in that size.

The side-by-side fridge freezer units are generally wider than a standard fridge to allow the division between the two halves to be of a practical size. This means that the side-by-side versions are usually not suitable for the smaller kitchen or a kitchen with a smaller appliance space.

The bottom freezer units come in many varieties of sizes, including the same sizes as the top freezer models.

As a result of this, the bottom freezer model gets our vote for the best in size versatility over the top freezer models. The wider range in sizes makes them more suitable for a wider range of kitchen sizes and appliance space sizes.

Buying Tip: One of the biggest mistakes people make when buying a freezer refrigerator is to choose one that does not fit their appliance space, so be sure to measure your space and buy accordingly!

Storage Space

The trend in top freezer units is to have the ice tray still at the top of the freezer and the balance of the space in the freezer and one large open compartment. There are seldom drawers or baskets to enable you to organize your items in the freezer compartment. This is because the freezer is at a higher level, and you would then need to stand on a small step ladder to see over the top of a drawer to view the contents.

While a top storage freezer has slightly more storage space in the freezer than a bottom freezer of the same size, the units with the freezer at the bottom still keep the ice tray freezer at the top of the fridge. This frees up more space in the bottom freezer section.

The side-by-side units offer a good quantity of vertical storage space, but this limits the width of the size containers that can be stored in both the fridge and the freezer sections. For example, you may struggle to fit a pizza box into the refrigerator, but these difficulties can usually easily be overcome by packing your leftovers into smaller containers.

From the perspective of the volume of storage space that is available, the side-by-side units offer more space, but from a configuration of the space standpoint, the bottom freezer units offer more practicality.


Ergonomics is considered to be the study of the efficiency of movement and convenience when performing a task, and when we apply this to the top and bottom fridge freezer units, we get some interesting results.

The refrigerator part of the unit is the one that is going to be opened more frequently to access food items that you use more regularly throughout the day. The freezer compartment you would only access maybe once or twice per day on average.

Many people consider the bottom freezer option to be a disadvantage for heavier items because you have to bend down when you need to pick up or deposit heavier items in the freezer. Our opinion differs because we feel that it is easier to lower a heavier item than it is to lift it up to eye level.

It is also more dangerous taking a heavy item out at a greater height, particularly if you have children or pets around your feet.

The bottom freezer units also have more organizational features in the way of baskets and drawers to better organize your frozen foods. This means you will spend less time with the freezer door open while you scratch around trying to find what you are looking for.

If we add the side-by-side fridge freezer comparison into the mix, then it is by far the better configuration from a purely ergonomic point of view. The convenience of having both fridge and freezer storage space the full height of the unit definitely makes the most ergonomic sense.

For these reasons, the bottom freezer refrigerator is the hands-down winner in the ergonomics category over the top freezer option.


There is a greater range of models in the bottom freezer refrigerator units and side by side models than the top freezer units. The greater range variety is not only in the physical size of the units but also in colors and style.

As a result, you will be more likely to find a side-by-side or bottom freezer combo that suits the décor and color of your kitchen and home than in the top freezer versions.

Thus, in the style category, the side-by-side units, and the bottom freezer refrigerator units would be a better choice to find a match for the décor of your kitchen!


Let’s face it, price is usually one of the first factors that all of us consider when we are looking to purchase a high ticket item such as a fridge freezer combo unit.

Generally speaking, the top freezer units are cheaper than the bottom freezer versions and side by side units, particularly when you compare units that are of the same physical size.

Because of the wide range in sizes and styles of the bottom freezer and side-by-side units, this price difference can be from as little as a hundred dollars or so to almost a thousand dollars difference.

Between bottom freezer units and side-by-side units, the bottom freezer models are generally more expensive than the vertical side-by-side versions.

While the price difference between these types of fridges can be small, it has the potential to be a significant difference, so in a photo-finish, we need to give the best price award to the top freezer refrigerator.

Small additional features such as these often make people willing to pay a little more for the added convenience.

Side-by-side refrigerator-freezer models have grown in popularity and have become a choice that many people opt for over-the-top and bottom-freezer models. This trend is probably because of the convenience of having the units side by side and the fact that more additional features are included in these units for a lower price than the bottom freezer units. 

The main limitation of the side-by-side units is the lack of width in the storage compartments, but this problem is easily overcome by using smaller containers to store food and leftovers in the fridge. 

Our recommendation is for you to consider either the bottom freezer refrigerator or the side-by-side version. The range of options in these units means that you are more likely to find one that fits your needs than among the top freezer models. The ergonomics and the convenience that this brings is why we would recommend one of these two versions.

The bottom line, however, is that you need a unit that will fit your space and fit your budget. All the other frills may be nice-to-have conveniences but are not essentials in keeping your food chilled or frozen!


Most people will consider the price as a factor, but if they perceive that they are getting better value for money, they will often be willing to pay a higher price for a refrigerator. The main reason for this is that a refrigerator purchase is a long-term commitment since these units can last for 10-years or more.

As a result, people will look at additional features that would make their life easier, such as a cold water dispenser, or an ice dispenser, or a bigger crisper, or a separate section in the fridge for cold cuts.

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Dean Luoma

As a long-time homeowner, Dean has been working on his own home projects for over 30 years. He is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Minnesota, helping clients with the buying and selling of their homes.

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