If the home is a family's universe, the kitchen refrigerator is the sun. Everything revolves around it, from breakfasts to-go, healthy lunches, and rowdy dinners around the table. That's why getting a new refrigerator is kind of a big deal. There are tons of factors to consider — everything from configuration and dimensions to finishes and special features.

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Top-Freezer Refrigerators

The least expensive option, top-freezer refrigerators offer more usable space for their size than other types, while using less electricity. (A typical top-freezer fridge costs between $40 and $65 a year to run.) In addition, they are less repair-prone than other fridges. Their biggest downside is convenience: since most people use the fridge more than the freezer, they'll have to bend over frequently to reach the lower half of a top-freezer's refrigerator compartment. Also, most top-freezer models have more limited organizational options -- especially in the freezer, which often has just a single shelf. In professional tests, top-freezer fridges also tend to be a bit noisier than other types and not quite as good at maintaining a consistent temperature.

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Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators

These are pricier than top-freezer types. However, they're generally more convenient to use because the more frequently accessed area is on top. On current bottom-freezer models, the freezer compartment is often a drawer, which makes it easier to see the contents at a glance, though some bottom freezers are accessed via a door, the same as top freezers. Regardless of the type, you'll still have to bend over to reach the food. Baskets in the freezer compartment of drawer-style freezers help with organization, while the best door-type bottom freezers will have pull-out bins.

Side-by-Side Refrigerators

The biggest advantage of side-by-side refrigerators is their narrow door clearance, which can be a plus in a narrow or galley kitchen. They're also convenient for families with kids, who can reach both the fridge and freezer compartments easily. Side-by-side fridges don't use either space or energy as efficiently as other models, though some, more innovative models do much better than others. Their narrow widths may not easily accommodate popular frozen items, such as pizza boxes, and food stored in the back may be hard to reach.

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French-Door Refrigerators

These attractive bottom-freezer appliances feature a full-width refrigerator compartment with a pair of side-by-side doors, instead of one large door. That design lets you open just one side of the fridge so less cool air escapes while still providing space for wider items such as sheet cakes and pizza boxes. French-door models are the priciest refrigerators overall; however, they provide a lot of machine for the money. Many fridges of this type also include through-the-door ice and water dispensers. The bottom freezer is often a full-width pull-out drawer, but some French-door refrigerators have four doors, splitting the freezer section into two independent compartments. Some models also have an extra pull-out drawer between the refrigerator and freezer section for frequently-used items, like deli meats.

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Counter-Depth Refrigerators

Specially designed so that they don't protrude beyond the edges of cabinets and countertops, these come in side-by-side, bottom freezer and French-door styles, although only French door models get good enough ratings and reviews from both experts and owners for us to recommend them. Some models accept panels that match your cabinets so they seem to almost disappear in your kitchen. Counter-depth fridges create a streamlined look, but are generally the priciest type of refrigerator overall.

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If you operate a restaurant, dining hall, cafeteria, hospital, or nursing home, then a reach-in refrigerator or storage freezer is perfect for you. By outfitting your establishment with one, you’ll be able to keep fresh fruit, salad dressings, containers of condiments, bottled water, and other foods and ingredients in an easily-accessible location. Or, you can use a combination unit that has a freezer and refrigerator to keep chilled items stored on one side and frozen products on the other. For other great items for your commercial kitchen, be sure to check out our food storage containers, day of the week dots, and deli take-out containers. If you're wondering where to buy reach-in refrigerators and freezers, we have a large selection of reach-in refrigerators and freezers for sale at the lowest prices.