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28 Types of Refrigerators (Mega Guide)

A collage of different types of refrigerator.

I thought I knew all I needed to know about the best commercial refrigerators when I set out to research this epic refrigerator guide, but wow, was I ever surprised about all the different styles, features and finishes.

The grand total came up to 28 different types of refrigerators, which is about double what I expected when starting this huge research guide.

Below is our list, nicely organized by style, feature and finish. I think the feature section is the most interesting… for instance I had no idea there was a refrigerator that brewed K-cup coffee. Go figure.

Related: Types of Appliances for Your Home | Kitchens with Wine Storage | Most Expensive Refrigerators | Fridge Organization Tips | Types of Freezers | Is it Worth Getting Another Freezer

A. Refrigerator Styles

1. French Door

Stainless steel refrigerator with french door.These refrigerators are quickly becoming very popular for a number of reasons, and one of them is because they make it very easy to access your food when you open the doors. Instead of wasting electricity and causing your refrigerator to warm up while you look for the food that you want, a French door refrigerator is easy to search through at a glance.

They have wider shelves, big door bins, very deep drawer freezers, and adjustable top shelves that make it easy to store tall items. Being able to store all of your condiments in the door makes it easy to access them quickly, and as a result, they won’t get shoved to the back of the refrigerator and lost.

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2. Side by Side

Dark Gray, stainless steel refrigerator with ice maker and LED lighting.These refrigerators have recently grown in popularity because their split design makes it easy to grab items from both the freezer and the refrigerator at the same time. In addition, since your freezer isn’t down by your feet, you can easily get items without having to bend over, making this an ideal choice for elderly people who may not have the best balance.

Some side-by-side refrigerators allocate a little more space to the refrigerator side than to the freezer side, which is great if you focus more on eating fresh foods than frozen foods. You will have to decide what is more important to you and then purchase the side-by-side refrigerator model that makes sense for your family.

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3. Bottom Freezer

Stainless steel refrigerator with a freezer at the bottom.Generally, these freezers are a little wider than some of the other models available, which make them great for large families. The freezer at the bottom is easily accessible and has drawers instead of shelves so you don’t have to worry about your food getting pushed to the back and then forgotten.

They also usually have a number of available features, including built-in ice machines and water dispensers. You can expect to pay a little more for this style versus a model with a top freezer, but for many people, the additional options are worth the extra cost.

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4. Top Freezer

Stainless steel refrigerator with a freezer located at the top part.These basic refrigerators tend to be a little smaller than some of the other options available on the market, making them ideal for small families or people living on their own. They don’t usually come with all of the other features that come with other styles, which creates a workable but very basic appliance.

You can choose from a number of different color options, which makes it easy to coordinate your refrigerator with your kitchen design. They are generally more energy efficient and, due to their smaller size, take up much less space in your kitchen, making them a great option for small homes.

One of the main disadvantages of a top freezer style of refrigerator is that you will not have an ice machine or cold water dispenser in the door.

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5. Freezerless

White refrigerator without freezer.If you need to save space in your kitchen, want to save money on your purchase, and are interested in lowering your monthly electric bills, then you may want to consider buying a freezerless refrigerator.

This type of model is a great option for people who do not like to eat any kind of frozen food, are able to get to the grocery store on a regular basis so they can be sure that they have fresh produce at all times, or are interested in designing a custom kitchen that has separate freezers and refrigerators.

Sometimes you can create a very visually appealing space when you opt for two different appliances instead of one that has both a freezer and a refrigerator in the same unit. This provides a great way to easily separate all of your food, or if you have a small kitchen and a larger garage, move part of your food storage out of the way.

There are many reasons why people consider freezerless refrigerators, and because of that, there are a number of great options from which you can choose.

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6. Mini

The classic refrigerator of every dorm room, mini refrigerators are not only relegated to college students anymore. They provide a great way to add a little additional cold storage to your home without having to make the full commitment of buying a large refrigerator. Because of their size, they cost less to buy and to operate, and take up a lot less space in a home.

Many homeowners buy mini refrigerators to place in the bar of their home or in a dedicated “man cave,” where they can stock it with drinks and snacks for watching sports or playing cards with friends.

If you want to be able to keep certain foods at an exact temperature, then you will want to spring for a mini refrigerator, as they allow you to keep your food at the perfect temperature without worrying about how the temperature will affect everything else kept in your refrigerator.

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7. Wine

Sleek wine cooler with wooden drawers.If you have recently started enjoying and exploring different kinds of wine, then you may have wondered if you need a wine refrigerator to help keep all of your various bottles cool. It’s important that you keep your wine at a stable temperature, and if your home is difficult to keep cool, then you will want to invest in a wine refrigerator to protect your purchases.

Wine can be very temperamental and fragile, and temperature swings can negatively affect the taste and odor. While many people feel like they can store their wine in their kitchen refrigerator, it’s too cool and not humid enough for safe long-term storage.

Consider the space and size of the refrigerator that you need, how noisy it is, and whether you can easily control both the temperature and the humidity, as both play an important role in the quality of your wine.

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8. Commercial

Black refrigerator with asingle glass door for commercial use.Most likely, if you are looking into purchasing a commercial refrigerator, you are a business customer who needs to be able to keep food cold for customers. Before making such a big purchase, it’s important that you consider whether you are going to be using the refrigerator in storage where your customers will not see it or if you are going to be displaying food for purchase in your store.

How you use your refrigerator will play a huge role in which style you purchase. Consider the size and energy usage, as well as the temperature zones you need to keep your food at before making a purchase, to ensure that you buy the right refrigerator for your needs.

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B. Features

1. Child Lock

Stainless steel refrigerator with a french door and a children's lock.Some refrigerators come with a child lock on them so that you can make sure your kids aren’t getting into the food when your back is turned. While this feature may not seem like one that you would use on a regular basis, when you absolutely have to be sure that they can’t access the refrigerator, it’s nice to have peace of mind.

You may use this feature if you are having a dinner party and want to keep kids out of the snacks or need to prevent them from sampling an alcoholic punch that you made.

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2. Flexible 4-Door

Silver refrigerator with four different cooling zones.Four different cooling zones in this type of refrigerator make this model the perfect choice for a family that likes a lot of flexibility. One of the bottom doors can be used as either a freezer or a refrigerator, depending on the needs of your family and what you will find the most useful. Being able to control the temperature in each zone allows you to maximize your space and ensure that none of your food goes to waste.

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3. Counter Depth

Counter-depth refrigerator with a fingerprint-resistant feature.These refrigerators are great if you are interested in a streamlined look for your kitchen, as your refrigerator will not stick out into the room. They make it very convenient to reach your counters and navigate around the space, thus improving the flow of traffic in the kitchen.

For this reason, a lot of homeowners who have small kitchens opt for counter-depth refrigerators when they are remodeling. They are usually a little wider than traditional refrigerators, and that allows manufacturers to install interesting features such as wide and flat drawers in some of them.

It’s important that you carefully measure for your counter-depth refrigerator before buying one and having it delivered and installed, as the actual size of the appliance can vary, and you want to make sure that you have a flush fit for the most attractive kitchen design.

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4. Ice & Water in Door

Silver refrigerator with an internal water dispenser.There are few things nicer than being able to immediately dispense ice cold water from your refrigerator when you are thirsty, and with a built-in dispenser, you can have all of the ice and cold water that you want. This is especially helpful if you like to entertain a lot, as you won’t have to worry about buying ice for your party. Being able to have ice on demand makes this one of the most popular features in refrigerators.

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5. Small Spaces

White, compact refrigerator with a top freezer.Compact refrigerators are larger than mini refrigerators but smaller than standard size refrigerators and are great for small spaces or if you want to custom design your kitchen. You can easily build your kitchen around these appliances and fit them into your cabinets for a streamlined look. Make sure that when you are buying a compact refrigerator it is large enough to meet your needs so you don’t regret the smaller size.

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6. Smudge-Proof

Dark gray refrigerator with a smudge-proof feature.There are few things more frustrating than buying a new gorgeous refrigerator and then spending all of your time cleaning fingerprints and smudges off the surface. This is especially true for slate and stainless steel finishes, as they tend to show all the dirt and smudges on their surface.

If you want to enjoy the gorgeous finish of these refrigerators, then you will want to opt for a version that is smudge-proof. This means that the refrigerator will repel most fingerprints and smudges, and the ones that do appear will be easy to wipe off with a damp rag instead of having to scrub the whole appliance to return it to its shiny new appearance.

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7. Wheels

Black, stainless steel refrigerator with wheels.There are few things more frustrating than having to move your refrigerator once it’s been installed – especially when it is full of food, but from time to time you may have to pull your refrigerator out to clean behind it or to complete a kitchen remodel.

If you have trouble shimmying your refrigerator out from the wall and want to make it as easy as possible to move once it’s been in place for awhile, look for an option with wheels. They will not damage any flooring that you have the way that pulling and pushing a heavy refrigerator can rip and tear laminate flooring.

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8. Adjusts for Bottle Size

Black, stainless steel refrigerator with adjustable shelves.Being able to adjust the shelving and drawers of your refrigerator ensures that you can easily fit in even the tallest of items. You won’t have to worry about getting coolers to hold all of the wine that you have bought for a party when you opt for a refrigerator with this feature.

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9. Keurig K-Cup Brewing

Silver refrigerator with brewing system.If you can’t live without your cup of coffee in the morning, then you already know how important it is to be able to make a great cup quickly. Some refrigerators come with a Keurig K-cup brewing system built in so you don’t have to waste precious countertop space storing a coffee maker and you don’t have to worry about there being enough water in the coffee maker for it to work. With a brewing system built in to the refrigerator, you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee at the touch of a button.

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10. Reversible Hinge Door

Stainless refrigerator with a reversible hinge door.This is a perfect perk especially for small and mini refrigerators that you want to be able to move around your home. Being able to switch the side of the refrigerator that the door opens on makes it easy to access your food and drinks no matter where your refrigerator is located in your home. This way, you don’t have to worry about the door opening into a wall or being situated in an inconvenient location.

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11. Door Alarm

Refrigerator with door alarm in a platinum interior.If you’re tired of accidentally leaving your refrigerator or freezer door open and then wasting all of the food that warms up and thaws out, you’ll want to invest in a model that comes standard with a door alarm. This gentle alarm is loud enough to alert you to the fact that you accidentally left the door ajar, without being annoying. This tiny feature can save you a lot of frustration and money spent on groceries.

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12. Smart

Stainless, dark silver refrigerator with smart features.As efficient as refrigerators have become over the past few years, they still use a lot of energy. If you would like to be able to program yours not to run defrost cycles during certain times of the day, you can easily save money that way. In addition, WiFi-enabled refrigerators can help you keep track of what groceries you have and what you need to buy, as well as the temperature of your foods.

You won’t have to worry about whether or not you have enough ice, either, as you can instruct your freezer to make more with the tap of a button on a linked smartphone app.

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13. Door-in-Door

Door in door refrigerator with bluetooth speaker.Being able to stash drinks and snacks in a panel in the refrigerator door that you can easily access without opening the whole refrigerator and letting out all of the cold air makes sense. This not only helps keep your energy bills lower, but also ensures that the food in your refrigerator doesn’t accidentally warm up while you are searching through the sodas. If you have kids who love to get into the refrigerator, you’ll especially appreciate this feature.

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14. Spill Protector Shelves

Stainless steel refrigerator with spill detector.Nobody likes cleaning out a refrigerator, especially when something sticky has spilled all over the shelves, but this is a necessary job from time to time. You can make it a lot easier on yourself when you purchase a refrigerator that comes standard with spill protector glass shelves. These are not only easier to clean up than other glass shelves, but they are also specially designed to keep liquids from leaking onto lower shelves in the refrigerator.

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15. Flat Back Design

Glossy bisque refrigerator with a flat back design.Trying to fit a refrigerator into a small kitchen can be very frustrating, especially when it sticks out just a little too far for it to work easily. When you buy one that has a flat back, you can slide it close to the wall, making it much easier to fit it into a tight space without having to worry about it sticking out due to the coils on the back.

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C. Fridge Finish Options

1. Stainless Steel

Refrigerator in a stainless steel finish.Stainless steel refrigerators look great in any home and kitchen and can really brighten up a space. While stainless steel refrigerators used to be known as fingerprint magnets and would show every smudge and stain, recent advancements have made these refrigerators easy to keep clean and looking their best. They look especially impressive when paired with stainless steel dishwashers and stoves. Homeowners can use them with any décor or style in their kitchen.

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2. Black

Refrigerator with a smooth black finish.Black never goes out of style, and for good reason. Black refrigerators are incredibly forgiving and look great even if they are a little dirty. It won’t matter if you don’t have time to wipe down your refrigerator before guests come over if it’s black, as the food that has splattered down the front and sticky fingerprints left by your kids won’t show up.

Black refrigerators do look a little out of place if the rest of your kitchen appliances are white, but when matched to the rest of your kitchen décor, they can looking striking and beautiful.

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3. White

White refrigerator looking clean and decent.For homeowners who want a kitchen that always looks clean and bright, a white refrigerator is the right choice. They offer the perfect backdrop for displaying your children’s artwork and can really brighten up a small or dark kitchen.

If your kitchen doesn’t have a lot of natural light, then you will definitely want to purchase a white refrigerator, as they will help reflect back any available light instead of looking dark and oppressive the way a black or stainless steel refrigerator can. They are trickier to keep clean and will show stains and marks, but a quick wipe with a sponge will have them looking great again in no time.

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4. Slate

Slate refrigerator with a sleek finish.Slate refrigerators are slowly growing in popularity as people embrace them as an interesting and fun alternative to stainless steel. They add visual interest to your kitchen and are much easier to clean than a white refrigerator. If you want your refrigerator to stand out and be noticed, then you will want to opt for a slate model.

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5. Black Stainless Steel

Refrigerator in a black, stainless steel finish.To enjoy the benefits of both stainless steel and black refrigerators, manufacturers are now offering black stainless steel options. These are statement pieces in any kitchen and look modern and sleek. Instead of fading into the background the way white and black refrigerators do, black stainless steel appliances stand out and will impress everyone who comes to your home.

They’re also very easy to clean, and they combine the smudge-hiding power of black refrigerators with the easy care that stainless steel offers.

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D. Refrigerator Frequently Asked Questions

Who, when and where was the refrigerator invented?

Several earlier prototypes dating back to the 18th century, but the invention of the modern refrigerator is often credited to American inventor Jacob Perkins, who was issued a patent in 1835 for a vapor-compressing cycle that used liquid ammonia. Perkins is even sometimes referred to as the “father of the refrigerator.”

The first mechanical refrigerator was developed by Albert T. Marshall and received a patent in 1899. Even famed inventor and scientist Albert Einstein had his idea of creating an eco-friendly refrigerator that did not need moving parts or electricity to function patented in 1930.

Are refrigerators more efficient when full?

Keeping a refrigerator fuller can help increase its efficiency. Emptier refrigerators are known to require more energy to regulate temperature and humidity, which can put more strain on the operating mechanisms. The same is true for freezers. If there currently aren’t enough food items or beverages to fill a fridge, empty bottles or other containers can be filled with water and placed inside to reduce energy usage.

Are refrigerators waterproof?

Modern refrigerators are designed to be waterproof to prevent moisture from ruining the food inside and keep mold from growing. For an outdoor refrigerator, having a reliable waterproof model is especially important so that moisture from changing temperatures and weather events doesn’t seep into the refrigerator. In order for a refrigerator to remain waterproof, the seal must be intact and free of damage.

Are refrigerators airtight?

Airtight designs are used in most modern refrigerators to keep food items inside fresh. The airtight capabilities help prevent moisture from forming inside the refrigerators.

Are refrigerators magnetic?

Magnetic stripping has been included on refrigerators so that they are easier to open and close while still providing an airtight seal. One of the main reasons why magnetic stripping was added was to provide a safer alternative to older refrigerator models that stayed shut with a latch and would sometimes trap young children inside of them.

Are refrigerators included in a house sale?

A refrigerator is often included in a house sale, but the owner who sells the home isn’t obligated to leave a refrigerator behind for the new residents since the appliance is considered to be personal property. In some regions of the U.S., it is more common for people to take their refrigerators with them when they move out while sellers are likelier to leave their refrigerators for new tenants in other regions.

Can refrigerators be repaired?

Repairs can be made on any refrigerator that is not functioning properly. Old parts and broken mechanisms can be fixed by professionals who know how to get refrigerators working the way they should. Repair work is often cheaper than purchasing a new refrigerator and can prolong the lifespans of existing refrigerators. However, refrigerators that are over 10 years old and experiencing mechanical problems often need replacing.

At the end of the day, it’s a cost/benefit analysis. Recently, our fridge broke down. We gambled on having an appliance repair person come out to assess it. The gamble here is that you must pay the repair person a fee (usually not small – ours was $75) just to show up. He showed up and aid the repair would cost approximately $900.

He said we’d be better off buying a new fridge so we did. In this instance, the $75 repair assessment cost was wasted… but you never know. It could well have been a $200 repair which would have saved us over $1,300 that we additionally spent on a new fridge.

Can refrigerators be painted?

Refrigerators can be repainted with appliance epoxy and appliance enamel paints, which are formulated to not peel while withstanding hot and cold temperatures. These paints come in cans that allow them to be sprayed on refrigerators for easier application. Before spraying on the paint, it is best to clean the front and sides of the refrigerator with warm and soapy water or a cleaning solution that is safe for appliances.

Can refrigerators be recycled? If so, how?

The steel, metal and other recyclable parts of a refrigerator can be recycled. Before recycling these parts, the refrigerants, oils and other chemicals in a refrigerator that can be dangerous if disposed of incorrectly must be removed and recovered by certified professionals. Some retailers that sell new refrigerators will exchange the new models for old ones that need to be recycled. There are also municipal services that offer pickups and recycling of old refrigerators.

Can refrigerators leak water?

Clogged defrost drains, faulty water lines and other mechanical malfunctions can cause refrigerators to leak water. Water leakage can occur from the front, rear, sides or underside of a refrigerator, and the area where the leak is occurring can often determine the source of the cause. Leaking refrigerators can also create electrical hazards and should be fixed right away.

Can refrigerators run out of Freon?

Freon, which is a liquid refrigerant that’s formulated to provide cooling power, can run out and cause refrigerators to operate at higher temperatures. Most refrigerators use Freon in their compressors, evaporators and condensers, and determining whether Freon levels are low can be difficult since accessing these components can be challenging. Determining whether Freon levels are low is often best left to professionals who handle appliance repairs.

How long do refrigerators last?

Most modern refrigerators have lifespans ranging from eight to fifteen years. The exact number of years that a refrigerator has varies depending on its model and how well it is maintained.

Can used refrigerators by sold? If so, where?

Some buyers are willing to pay cash for used refrigerators that are still in good working condition. Payment will depend on the current state of the refrigerator and its depreciated value. Online auction sites and other classifieds services are sometimes great marketplaces for selling used refrigerators. Used refrigerators that are not in high demand or are no longer functioning can possibly be sold for parts to recyclers.