Choosing a fridge is one of the main things to consider when decking out your new kitchen, but unlike an appliance such as a microwave, there are a lot of options when it comes to fridges and freezers. That being said, the main dilemma for many customers is the bottom mount versus top mount fridge one, and which one is more convenient to use.
That being said, if your choice is a top mount fridge, you’re at the right place, as we’ve got a buying guide that will tell you everything you need to know about them, including the dimensions, ventilation, energy rating, etc. We won’t get into things like lighting, because any modern model has that taken care of. Let’s not waste any more time and dive into it, shall we?
Choosing the Right Fridge Dimensions
This one should be easy, right? Just pick the largest one that fits the space you’ve set, and you’re good to go. Well, not really, and there’s a bit more to it than just “bigger is better”.
The first thing to consider is your household and how many people live in it. The general rule of thumb is to have at least 100L of volume per person in the household. So, for a two-person household, something like our P221TMW should be perfect with a 221L capacity. Of course, you could go up to about 130L or 140L per person, but anything more than that, and you’ll just have a massive refrigerator you aren’t using.
The second thing to consider is how much room you have in your home. Measure the counter depth, width, and height, and you’ll get an idea of how big of a refrigerator you can fit.
A common mistake a lot of people make is using all of the space where they want to place the fridge. Fridges need ventilation, and having about half an inch to an inch on each side is recommended – that gives them room to breathe and keeps the refrigerant (freon) at a good temperature. You could get away with boxing off an appliance like a microwave, but you can’t do that with a refrigerator as heating up is going to be an issue.
To add to this, you should also be able to fully swing the door open, and this requires two things. One, if you’re putting it next to a wall, leave at least two inches between the refrigerator and the wall. Two, consider whether or not you have enough room in the front. This is especially crucial if your home has a kitchen island that might be taking up a lot of space.
Door Opening Direction
One of the categories a lot of people tend to overthink unnecessarily is the door opening direction for your refrigerator. With any quality model, the doors will be reversible.
How does this work? The doors are hinged on three locations – the top, the bottom, and the place where the two doors’ edges meet. It’s all about flipping the hinges to the other side and screwing them in place. With some fridges, you might need to also move the door handle to the other side, but that’s rather quick and simple to do.
All things considered, this shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes. A thing to note is that this is best done when the fridge is empty because you’ll very likely need to lay it down horizontally in order to have access to the screws at the top and the bottom.
Here’s a tip – do this as soon as you buy it and before you even plug it in. Consider which direction the doors should open, and set them up from the get-go.
The energy rating label has been in use for over two decades, and it’s an easy way to identify how much it’s going to cost you to run things. Not only do you get a star rating, but you also get an estimated energy consumption figure in kWh per year. Things like lighting do impact this as well, but not that much.
Now, the star rating isn’t about overall efficiency, but rather, how efficient a certain model is when compared to competitive models of the same size. Most fridges have between one and six stars, but some of the super-efficient ones have up to ten stars, which is impressive.
A thing to note is that buying a single star model is not that much of a problem – it’ll just cost you a tad bit more to run overall. And you shouldn’t use the energy rating as the main reason for your choice. First, consider the size or capacity, and then use the energy rating to compare models provided all the other requirements are up to your standards.
We already touched upon this in the dimensions, but let’s take a closer look at ventilation. Most refrigerators have vents in a few spots, such as a grill at the bottom, and vents in the rear. Now, various fridges tend to pull in the air (and then push it out) in different ways, but if there’s one thing that’s universal for all of them, it’s that boxing them in from all sides is a bad idea as it leads to heating up and might cause issues with the freon refrigerant.
If you want to be absolutely certain you’re good with the clearance you have, you should consult the manual for the specific model you’re looking into. For example, our P491TMS top mount fridge requires that you have at least 10cm on the sides, as well as 30cm at the top. This will ensure that it operates in an ideal manner, without any temperature issues or other problems, and lasts longer. But again, if you’re looking into another mode, do check out the manual to make sure you have enough room to fit it.
Temperature and Humidity Controls
One of the things that are increasingly in demand is having temperature and humidity control. Any good top mount fridge will come with a basic temperature control feature, while some of the better ones will offer humidity control as well. To make things even more interesting, some premium models offer these in multiple zones, so you can set up one part to be cooler, and have less humidity than the rest.
You might be wondering why you would need this, but it’s actually pretty simple – some produce and grocery items you’ll buy might require you to store them in slightly different conditions and in a different humidity range than the ones you have set. Being able to work with multiple zones allows you to be rather specific about this. However, we wouldn’t advise paying extra for this feature, as the differences are oftentimes negligible and not worth the money.
Air Deodorisers and Antibacterial Agents
These are two more things that you should definitely pay attention to. However, even though they are useful, cleaning things regularly will go a long way towards not needing them at all.
Air deodorisers are particularly useful, as every time you open the door, you’ll be hit with a nice, pleasant smell. But what if something has gone bad? An air deodoriser will disguise that smell and you might not notice it.
On the other hand, antibacterial finishes tend to be rather useful. While most bacteria can’t survive at under 7 degrees, there are some microorganisms that actually thrive at fridge temperatures. An antibacterial finish will help deal with this.
But if you’d rather not spend extra money on these things, something that helps is keeping everything clean! Doing this regularly will get rid of any bacteria or mould, and you’ll be able to enjoy fresh food instead of worrying about the possibility of contamination.
Top Mount vs Bottom Mount Fridge
We’re wrapping things up with the burning question – do you go for a bottom mount or a top mount fridge? If you’re reading through this, chances are you’re set on a top mount model, but let’s consider the differences.
A top mount refrigerator is the “traditional” appliance, where you have a freezer at the top of the regular, fresh food cooler. These are not just more common as models, but also a lot of customers seem to prefer them. This is why you can get them at pretty much any size, and they’re oftentimes budget-friendly. They’re ideal for people who tend to use freezer products often because it’s at a more accessible height.
On the other hand, a bottom mount option puts the freezers at the bottom. This is ideal for households that tend to need access to fresh food more often than frozen products, but on the other hand, you’ll need to bend down to get to the freezers. With a top mount model, even the bottom section is still at a reasonable height, even if you might store less used products in the bottom drawer or on the bottom shelf.
At the end of the day, while the choice is all yours, a top mount fridge gives you a bit more convenience, and there are a lot of great models to choose from at various price points.