Archived Q&A and Reviews

Side by Side or Bottom Freezer refrigerator?

May 2010

We need a new refrigerator and are having a hard time choosing between a side by side and a bottom freezer style. We currently have a top freezer and hate the freezer part - its always crowded and impossible to find anything in there. We are mostly concerned about the freezer use - we keep a lot of food in our freezer. Some of the bottom models come with two bins and a sliding drawer on top which doesn't seem too bad but is it still hard to access the food in these? The criticism I've heard of side by sides is that the freezer shelves are narrow and it's also hard to access food in those. Also, we have no interest in a water dispenser but those seem inevitable with the side by side models. I would appreciate feedback from people who have either style. thanks. freezer blues

We have a bottom freezer and I definitely prefer it over the side by side. The side freezers are usually very narrow and I find them not as user friendly when it comes to large or wide items. Sandy

Dear Freezer Blues, About two years ago when we needed a new fridge/freezer, we got a model that I just love. It has french doors on top, so that you have a wide area to place pans when you need it. It has the freezer on the bottom as a pull-out drawer, which I like much better than our previous side by side. Because in the side by side, it's true the the shelves are just too narrow. With the bottom drawer, you do have to make some effort to keep things organized, but it's not too hard. Ours has a two section bottom part - we use one for bagged veggies, the other mainly for bread and meat, with a top pull out shelf that is great for ice cream and boxed items like Trader Joe's frozen meals for after school snacks for hungry teens. But unlike the side by side, it's also flexible. For instance, a few weeks ago I made 1 1/2 gallons of chicken stock. I cleared out the top shelf by moving stuff around, and was able to lay the stock in zip lock bags flat for its initial freeze. The other great thing about our model is that it does not have the bulky in-door water/ice dispenser that takes up so much room. Ice is in the bottom freezer, and filtered cold water comes out of a small spout just inside the fridge door. No fridge door shelf space taken away. This set up seems harder to find, but may be worth looking for. Ours is a KitchenAid. Best yet, we got it at Sear's outlet in Oakland for a discount. Good luck! Anne

i recently had to purchase a new refrigerator, and after much research, this is what i found:

- the more reliable models are like the one you have: top freezer, bottom refrigerator. the bottom freezer and side-by-side models are the worst, even though they are typically the most expensive ones. you're lucky if your fridge will be problem-free for a decade.

- your GE may not be a GE - mine was apparently an LG-manufactured GE. so who knows who made your brand name.

- just about ALL new fridges suck in the reliability and longevity dept.

that being said, i bought a bottom-freezer fridge (not a french-door) which was at a local appliance store because it was only $500, even though it was stainless steel (not a fan - weird feel, dated-looking and not magnetic). i figured if i have to replace a fridge every decade, i might as well as get the cheapest one because i'm practical like that.

so maybe if you have the space and don't mind the eyesore, just get a separate freezer unit? that's what i almost did, until learning that mine was not worth saving - it was a bottom-freezer, non-french door one from 2004 which already was repaired once by the previous owner. oh, if you plan on getting one, always check any available energy star rebate. also, i think PG has a program which will recycle your old working fridge, and they pay you $35. good luck. - owner of another potentially disposable fridge

We're a family of four and bought the Amana largest bottom freezer. The refrigerator part is great, very roomy and easy access. The bottom freezer is not bad but most days, it's jammed packed and I still can't find stuff in there. I find if I am displined enough to not buy too much freezer food till when I have room in the freezer, it's not too bad. love my bottom freezer

About 6 months ago, our fridge broke down and we had to buy a new one. We chose a bottom freezer over side-by- side (SBS) for the following reasons: (1) freezers on SBS are too narrow and the water/ice dispenser takes up way too much room in the freezer, (2) bottom freezer has two baskets that pull out, making it easy to access food in the back, (3) the ice maker in the bottom freezer can be removed (we don't much care for the ice maker - need the space more than constant supply of ice cubes). We also have a chest freezer to keep the bulk items that we buy at Costco.

Since then, we sold our house and now we are having to buy another fridge for the new house. We are considering buying a all-refrigerator without freezer, and use the chest freezer as our sole freezer. It's an alternate idea to traditional(?) fridge-freezer combo. Yuki

I've never had a side-by-side but I absolutely love my Amana 22 cu ft bottom-freezer refrigerator. The bottom freezer drawer is easily organizable and we use it frequently. No regrets

We have a side by side freezer, and I use it a lot (extra batches of soups, homemade muffins and waffles for breakfast, quick items for lunchboxes --all kinds of stuff). I love my side by side; it enables me to sort things (meats on one shelf, soups on another, freezer bags of veggie items in one of the bins, lunchbox items in another). I couldn't stand the idea of just a couple big drawers at the bottom with everything in them, no shelves for my containers and sorting baskets. I don't find it hard to find things, but I am a bit of an organization freak -- which is why I wanted this model to begin with. Karen

Everything you have heard about side-by-sides is true. They're awful. We went from that to a top freezer and weren't much happier. Now, we have an undercounter, 2- drawer freezer and a separate refrigerator with 2 large drawers (one for fruit, one for vegetables) where you might expect the freezer. This has worked out very well: nothing ever gets lost in the freezer or produce drawers since they are so easy to access. And there is lots of room in the main part of the frig for the rest of the fresh food. anon

2004 - 2007 Recommendations

2003 & Earlier

Recommendation for wine refrigerator?

Oct 2003

hi, we're looking for a recomendation for a good but not super expensive 50 bottle wine refrigerator to store wine at home. price range is $500-1000--would prefer closer to the low end, but do want something pretty good. also ideas on where to purchase one would be great (we've been to east bay restaurant supply and they had very few). thanks. --eowyn

We bought a wine refrigerator on EBay about a year or two ago...very happy with the purchase- it holds about 50 bottles, digital thermometer, major brand (I think Haier or something like that). There seemed to be quite a few for sale. It was my first purchase on EBay and have since felt very comfortable buying from sellers on the site. I always do the ''Buy Now'' option if I really want something. Molly

You didn't say why you wanted a wine refrigerator so pardon me if my reply isn't helpful. But, we have stored wine very successfully in an insulated garage and even a bedroom closet! - Granted we live in the flatlands of Berkeley where even the hottest days are rarely above 75 and the temperature drops at night. What has worked for us is to remember that wine can stand some gradual temperature changes within a small band, so we put our wine in wood boxes surrounded by empty wood for insulation and then also insulated our garage (put white styrofoam false roof to reflect/disperse hot sun on roof). On warm days, we open the garage door at night when the fog moves in. According to our ''cellar'' thermomether the garage air has never gotten above 70 degrees (we think our wines never get higher than 65 since the nest of wooden boxes further insulates the bottles - and usually much less as they are always cool to the touch when we retrieve them)When we just had a deep walk in closet - we opened the closet door at night and cracked the room's windows/blinds drawn against morning son - and kept the door closed during the day to keep in the cool air/windows open/blinds still drawn. The closet took fanaticism to work BUT we've stored 50 year old wines/old champagne ie. very fragile wines for 10-15 years and longer using this system. wine snob

Hi! Cannot remember your price range, but have you checked a catalogue called The Wine Enthusiast? Their website is Diana