Understanding cubic feet in refrigerators

Jackson, TN

I know that sounds stupid, but we are looking at getting a new fridge. We want the french doors with the bottom freezer. Ours is 21.9 cubic feet and served us well for 17 years, but as we get..older...it would be nice not to stand our heads to get the oranges out.
As we looked at newer models in the showroom, some 32 cubic feet, we noticed how HUGE they are now.
That said, it 'appeared' that the largest gain would be in the bottom freezer. The fridge part was definately bigger than our current one. But the freezers, good grief, you could put a small person in there.
And my brother has one, french door and bottom freezer. And he says that although he loves it, and it's bigger, he doesn't have as much room in the refrigerator as he'd thought he would. But his freezer has a lot more room than his old fridge.
So, cubic feet is cubic feet I know.
But, can we and how, do we know how to compare refrigerator cubic feet to freezer cubic feet?
In other words, in a X model how many of the 32 cubic feet is freezer as compared to Y model with same 32 cubic feet?
We have a deep freeze and want a new fridge with more refrigerator storage than a HUGE freezer.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

If you want more fridge space - stay away from french doors freezer at bottom and side by side. I gave our fridge to charity Perfect condition - not a scratch... ( I MISS YOU AND I AM SORRY! COME BACK! ) when we remodeled. Now Kitchenaid french door bottom freezer. The bottoms LOOK big but are not useful space because the frozen stuff needs stacking limiting visual and accessibility. Also many not squared because there needs tto be room behind the freezer compartment to accomodate the mechanics. To me - it is not so much "cubic" feet but USEFUL volume and design. The bottom skinny drawer that many have with auto lift lid-----both doors need to be open to open that wide drawer but it is great for kids ( mine are grown but grandkids like). It holds sandwich things and yogurt real nice.........not deep but nice. The new plastics for bins are junk compared to the old materials. Ditto the shelf glass. No room for wide trays like old fridge. Italians need room for wide trays! ;0). I saw a Fridgerdaire commercial - those shelves lift up and back against side wall for tall things but you then use up shelf space by flipping it back. The veggie bins stack too -- so designers are listening -- but again with loss of shelf space for the stackable feature. I was lured by a pretty face ( she IS VERY pretty - all stainless and gleaming) and like you I thought "I use fridge more than freezer...why not lift it up ......freezer at bottom...bring things to eye level....". I am neatnik too -- TRY TO GET YOUR BODY INTO that freezer to clean! Yes, it will hold a curled up small body --- but you got to get OVER that freezer drawer front and crawl into it to clean it --- and with the Kitchenaid--- the freezer racks don't come out. You don't want to be digging for your frozen food either. I hope my old fridge knows how under-appreciated it was. Sob.... So, my suggestion - don't worry cubic space. Think useful space. Don't fall for pretty face either.

(Zone 9a)

I did not want to buy the bottom freezer fridge but since it had so many features the side by side didn't have we went for it. Also, we expect to put this house on the market in a few years and younger people seem to want those french door types. However, all our fears were unnecessary, it turned out we love the bottom freezer, it has way more usable space than our old side by side and it is not difficult for us (we are both 70) to get into or clean. We have the Samsung, 25 cf, our old one was a 25 cf also. The new halogen lights make the interior very bright, it is easy to see what is in there. What I do find different are how the shelves can be arranged, I have to fold up one shelf to put in tall bottles. As mentioned above, the little cold cut drawer can be a pain when you have to open both doors to get into it, I am sorry I did not buy the 4 door model with the external door for that section.

MIssingrosie, by any chance do you have the counter depth model? I know they have much smaller shelves. Ours is the regular depth and the shelves on mine are wide and deep so full size sheet pans fit in the fridge and freezer easley with room to spare. Perfect for Italian Sunday dinners. :-)

Now if only I liked my Samsung washer & dryer as much. :-(

Jackson, TN

These are the things we needed to hear. Please keep the replies coming.
I hadn't thought about that separate drawer issue about the coldcuts. Makes sense now to have that.
And then I hadn't thought about how hard it would be to clean the bottom freezer. (Not that we 'clean' the freezer that much. lol)
For such an expensive purchase, it seems a bit of real life research pays off.
Our main concern was that, really, there isn't any more 'useable' REFRIGERATOR space in a 32 cubic foot upright/french door/freezer on bottom refrigerator than there is in our old freezer on top 22 cubic foot. That we just gained more freezer space and we already have a freezer.
Again, any replies are appreciated.

(Zone 9a)

Your key word is "usable" and that is different for everyone it seems. I notice mine has very deep door shelves which, of course, would make the interior shelves less deep although mine are plenty fine for us. Consumer Reports lists the interior cubic feet - as listed by the manufacturer - but they acknowledge that is not always usable space.

Another thing to consider is the noise level. These french door fridges are noisy, we returned the first we bought because it made such a racket.

Jackson, TN

Yes, I think the word 'useable' space is relevant here.
All I see when I look at specs are cubic feet. I haven't seen any denote 'useable' space.
I might not be looking in the right place to find useable space.
And, having never had one, how is a french door Noisy? When it closes?
Thanks again.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Ours isn't 't noisy. Yea! A positive thing! Yes, have full depth largest available 'Architect Series' Kitchenaid. Friends say that you have to put 'butt' behind closing the doors and I find that is true! That is why door alarm so important. Purposefully shut that door. The old fridge - just a tap or a hit with hip if hands full, and the door practically shuts itself. Not this one. I do like what you refer to as cold cut drawer - but like Ardesia regret it is not a separate drawer that can be opened from outside. Opening both doors to get to it is a big drag. And the doors have to be closed in a certain order if both open. I have not had side by side but would agree that French door gives more room for items and more usable space than side by side. - but not in comparison to traditional freezer on top. The Kitchenaid stainless is a good quality and nicely brushed. No prints. I LOVE our Kitchenaid combo convection oven and microwave - just us two and can roast in it traditionally without firing up the big oven. Also love the traditional and convection main oven. Dishwasher is "ok." Quiet but takes forever - but I hear all new ones do. Do not like in order to dry the dishes properly need to use the jet dry rinse stuff! Purchase Kitchenaid for many years -- but the fridge -- at least the French --- nope never do that again. Bring empty boxes of varying sizes to the appliance store. Shirt box approximates a pan, shoe box, empty tupperware. Empty milk or soda if tou drink it. See how many will fit. You won't need to bring many! :0)

Jackson, TN

Wow..I've never thought of actually taking empty things to the store to see. I'm betting somewhere online there is a picture of the inside of models with stuff in them.
So, you're saying you aren't happy with your Architect Series Kitchenaid? Because the door being hard to close and it doesn't have a separate coldcut drawer?
I would hate having to close the doors in an order myself.
I noticed those alarms on that model and wasn't sure what that meant.

Are we saying that a new, say for instance 32 ft, french door/freezer bottom has LESS 'useable' room than a 32 ft. traditional freezer on top model?
I'm sold on these other features you good folks are talking about, especially the separate drawer.
But there has to be some way to decipher if you're just buying a bigger freezer if you get the freezer on the bottom. Some way to see 'useable' room in the fridge. I guess I could take the empty boxes. That'd be a fun trip and shock the Sears man. LOL.

I'm still wondering how French doors can be 'noisy'..when they close?

This message was edited Jun 9, 2013 2:20 PM

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

I think the noise that was referred to is tithe gurgling, knocking, pinging, hissing some frigid gets make.

What I think is that in order to put the freezer at the bottom design wise it just takes more room and that room comes from the only place it can the cold storage ( non freezing ) part of the fridge. The draw, the slides, the mechanics - everything about the bottom freezer placement just takes more room and fridges are sort of standard heights, widths etc to fit in standard kitchen spaces/ cabinet openings and depths

The sears guy is used to many things.......many things.......

Jackson, TN

Oh..noisey ice/water dispenser parts? Again, we don't have one in our current fridge door and I'd never thought about that.
We did recently stay in a condo that had one and I didn't even notice it when it made ice or water.

Jackson, TN

Excerpt below from http://side-by-side-refrigerator-review.toptenreviews.com/refrigerator-styles-more-than-a-matter-of-taste.html

"The downside of a French door refrigerator is that is has less usable storage space than other types of refrigerators. Also, many owners complain that this type of refrigerator is impossible to organize, particularly the freezer section. The French door refrigerator is usually sold between $1,400 and $2,000, making it the most costly refrigerator style."

So, I'm thinking that's why the cubic feet numbers and the size got bigger; to accommodate for that loss of space when putting the freezer on the bottom.

This message was edited Jun 9, 2013 3:10 PM

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)


I looked into many - Kitchenaid, Samsung, Dacor, Whirlpool, Bosch, an inside. I think even Viking had one. They all look good. Clean and bright. All look like the room inside is sufficient. Put a few tupperware bowls, a jar of mayo, a bottle of wine and a chicken and you are now thinking hmmmmmmmm. You know what the appliance guy told me - the higher end brands are rolling out of the same factories as the mid priced and lower. They all have the same "box". He said just two or three actual manufacturers total. The distinction ---the finishes - stainless gauge, three sides vs one with stainless, thickness and types of plastics used, bells and whistles. Our model wasn't high end but I think more mid priced. $1700 or $ 1800 I think. I bought many appliances at once. ( Your prices are a bit low on the high end because in the mid category there were some $2700 - and higher.) The bins are flimsy in my opinion. The glass shelving not substantial in comparison to our old Whirlpool. Metal racks and slides are sturdy and smooth. Alarm modules are modern and seem well made. But HOW can the racks NOT come out of the freezer? I clean the freezer floor and back every now and again. I can LAY on my stomach and reeeeeeeeach way back and cannot touch the back of the compartment. I can bend over the drawer and reach nothing! I am no spring chicken but I can climb ladders, exercise, and touch my toes with the best of them....but this particular design -- eeech .

I think the defrost also is a noise potential - again no issues with us.

(Zone 9a)

The ice maker is significantly noisier than our previous fridges but the biggest problem is the compressor, we hear that all the time. At least 3 others have told me theirs is the same, it is no biggie but it is different from the silent model we had before.

I believe Frigidere, GE, Kitchen Aid and Electrolux are all made by the same company, just slightly different finishes. Samsung is a singleton but beware, they are hard to find local repair people. They have a unique situation where they have one service that services a large area. In our case it is 200 miles away. Wish I had known that before we bought. Others can work on them they are just not authorized. Interestingly, neither Lowe's nor the independent dealer we bought from mentioned that. Both claimed they didn't even know it.

Jackson, TN

Quote from ardesia :
The ice maker is significantly noisier than our previous fridges but the biggest problem is the compressor, we hear that all the time. At least 3 others have told me theirs is the same, it is no biggie but it is different from the silent model we had before.

I believe Frigidere, GE, Kitchen Aid and Electrolux are all made by the same company, just slightly different finishes. Samsung is a singleton but beware, they are hard to find local repair people. They have a unique situation where they have one service that services a large area. In our case it is 200 miles away. Wish I had known that before we bought. Others can work on them they are just not authorized. Interestingly, neither Lowe's nor the independent dealer we bought from mentioned that. Both claimed they didn't even know it.

The saleswoman at Lowes said they have never had a problem with Samsung fridges.

(Zone 9a)

LOL, the first one I had was so noisy when I called the dealer within hours of delivery all I had to do was ask if they couldn't hear the hum in the background. It was so loud they could hear it over the phone. They delivered another the following morning which was much quieter.

My neighbor says they can hear their Maytag all over the house. These units are so much more energy efficient, I guess not everything can be perfect.

Pasco, WA(Zone 6b)

I don't know if this will be helpful to you. But this link has several french door models with reviews and also lists not only the fridge size, but the freezer size too. Hope this helps. If they are not models you are interested in, it at least shows that you can get the size of the fridge and freezer shown seperately.


somewhere, PA

I got a Kenmore French door fridge. I'm still getting used to it so maybe its too soon to say too much. I find that we haven't had reason to use the "party tray" full width drawing and I have a lot of produce to store away and don't think they have enough produce drawers. My old side-by-side Kitchenaide had two produce drawers and a third for meats/cheeses. Now I have two plus the uber wide "party tray" drawer. The ice maker is built into fridge door so takes up space there rather than the freezer. I wish it was in the freezer 'cause I have a full stand alone freezer.

Overall -its a lot more space for food than my old fridge. I like that its wider. I like the freezer section on the bottom - I find the way its organized is pretty functional (nothing gets lost). But I don't love it. I wish they had provisions to store more produce. But maybe this is an indication of how americans are eating - less fresh or more in boxes?

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

My sis said same thing - more fridge space as compared to side by side. I've never had a side by side but I can see why might be short on space. Agree about produce storage being scanty. The produce drawers not deep because of what you call the party drawer needing that space. I do like the party drawer in theory - great place for cold cuts, cheeses, and individual yogurt and fruit packs. Little kids like it ( it's down low!) Bacon and even egg storage is good in that drawer. It will even keep fresh fruit. But having to open both main doors to access the drawer is a pain. I have seen the French style freezer bottom with that party drawer opening at front (outside) of fridge right above the freezer drawer.

somewhere, PA

Being able to open the part drawer from the outside would be a good thing but of course, take away a little space. There's a few new models in the line of the one I bought. They've split the freezer drawer into two freezer drawers. That would help organize & expose to less warm air. But I did notice its got less sq footage and is several hundred dollars more. There's always tradeoffs!

And I do put produce, cheeses etc in the party drawer - just stuff I don't need as often since its a little more difficult to get to. I forgot to say that I can open either door first and close either first - so they've fixed that problem.

Foster, RI

Well, this idea might not fit into your kitchen layout, and there is the budgetary consideration too:
We are in love with the narrow Liebherr all refrig. We have a deep freezer in the basement. And yes, we did the non-ecological thing of putting a small freezer int he kitchen so that the ice and ice cream could be handy.
The Liebherr performance --- 4 years later --- is superb. Quiet. Refreshers keep food fresher. Its not a config most of us are used to, but i quickly adjusted to it. Everything is EZ reach because it is a counter depth unit

We dislike top freezers since most of the action is in the Refrig.
After fiddling with multiple lower freezer models.. Amana, Frigidaire, KitchenAid and others, for our parents' and inlaws' homes....and seeing my niece struggle at times with the French Door models.(because the doors are bulky and where the refrig is located isnt a particularly wide open area)...
we decided to Forego the bottom freezer altogether. Very hard to clean, repack and manage. And yes, we too, are headed into those so called retirement days so EZ to use is a big deciding factor.

Good luck

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Good morning. Mark, how are you coming along with your refrigerator decision? I hope I'm not too late to chime in, but I just found this just now and wanted to share my positive experience with my pretty-new fridge/freezer. Our old 20 cu ft., freezer-on-top fridge died early Spring so we made a HUGE upgrade/change to a side-by-side 30 cu ft Samsung. I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS THING. I could fit in it myself, standing up and not scrunched, in either side - fridge or freezer. (I try not to remind DH of this too often, just in case he gets mad at me...) ;)

The Fridge: There is TONS of "useable" space, it is unreal. I am short, so I was worried about accessibility to stuff in the back. The shelves slide forward, making reaching stuff in the back a breeze. There are three wall-to-wall drawers toward the bottom, we use one for fruit/veggies, one for breads, and one for cold cuts/cheeses. There are FOUR shelves. The bottom shelf of ours is currently holding a whole case of bottles of water, a case of Sprite, and a case of Coke... with room to spare. The top shelf has a gallon of milk, half gallon half-n-half, 2 half-gallon jugs of juice, half-gallon pitcher of ice tea, Jumbo-sized tub (from Costco) of Ketchup, jumbo Parmesan, jumbo salad dressing... and a few other things I can't remember at the moment... I'm telling you, you could LIVE in that thing. This is all not to mention the other 2 shelves (holding about a million yogurts, eggs, various Tupperware containers with left-overs etc etc).. and then there's the shelves in the door... the inside of the door is concave, so the shelves are DEEP.

Then there's the freezer... with nearly as much space in it as the fridge, and all just as easily accessible. Here's a few pics, I hope they do this baby justice.
Oh yeah, the fridge part comes with a wine rack, but we don't need that, so we adjusted the top shelf downward instead. =)

Thumbnail by speediebean Thumbnail by speediebean
Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Wow that does look like a ton of space!
I had heard grumbling from virtually everyone with side by side units about space and so never even considered. I am glad yours worked out for you. It sure is pretty!

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

It really is an amazing amount of space. When we go to Costco for our Twice-A-Year Stock-Up, we nearly don't need to use the downstairs fridge/freezers at all. When we first got it, we put all the contents from the old unit into it, and then we transferred ALL the contents from the downstairs fridge/freezer into it too... and still had room left over. I LOVE this thing! < =D

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Trade you....I make deliveries!

We BOUGHT a small freezer after having this one for a short while -- just so I could avoid the stacking in this one. Just use it for bagels and ice cream and such. Didn't help the interior space issues. No more big pans eggplant and lasagna! I go to Costco once/ week. Fruits and veggies.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh my, I cannot recommend this unit highly enough! I can make an 11x13 lasagna and just pop it right in there on one of those shelves without a thought. DH is "Gigantaur", so sometimes we get those huge-mongous pizzas from some carry-out place up north... they're prepare them fresh, you just take 'em home and bake 'em. They can feed 6 easily. Just pop that baby right in on the shelf without having to re-arrange anything. (and no, we don't keep the fridge bare, it's always full of stuff, we are EATERS.) :) We grocery shop for 2 weeks at a time, and everything always fits with room to spare. Including pies and roast chickens and casseroles... Man, we really are piggies, huh? Hahahahaaa!!

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

It is not nice to brag you know.........

Ps. Costco will make those up for you and you can take them home. You don't have to have them cook it if you like to pop the pizza in the oven for the full baking yourself.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Ooops! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to!! < =/ (is it bragging to tell about what piggies we are?) heeheeheee

Hmmmm, I didn't know Costco does that too. Oh boy, please don't tell the little piggies about MORE FOODS!
< =D

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

LOL. Costco is a REAL bad place for piggies!

somewhere, PA

Just curious - how wide is that side by side?

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

I've had bottom freezers for ages and I don't think I could go back to a top freezer model where I have to lean way over of squat down to get in the produce drawers. I think it depends a lot of what you put in your unit, and it's good there are options.

The drawers are sloped at the back to accommodate the compressor. With top mount and side by side refrigerators, you lose this space in your produce drawers instead. If your freezer is full of boxes and those kinds of shapes, then the non-rectangular drawers will be awkward compared to a nice square box on top with the top mounts. If instead you have odd shaped things like bags of chicken breasts and breads, the bottom drawer is very friendly and easy to navigate.

French doors have less in-the-door space, especially if you have a through the door ice dispenser, but the same amount in the body itself. If door space is a high priority, you may want to consider the freezer on the bottom with the single door.

I would not recommend the units with the door instead of the drawer on the bottom. You have to open the door and then pull out the drawers, which is tiresome. I had one of those years ago and it bugged me to no end; I think Samsung is the only one making a door style bottom mount now.

I'm fridge shopping now myself, I would say not to put too much credence into the "cubic feet" numbers advertised. Consumer Reports has debunked many of those as irrelevant to actual useable space. Instead, I'd look at the things you keep most and figure out which style will work best for you, then worry about the cubic feet sizes.

I believe Frigidere, GE, Kitchen Aid and Electrolux are all made by the same company, just slightly different finishes.

Right now the ownership lineup AFAIK is:

Whirlpool, Jenn-Air, Amana, KitchenAid and Maytag
Electrolux and Frigidaire
Kenmore, Kenmore Elite and LG, with LG making the Kenmore appliances
GE, Adora and Hotpoint (in North America)

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Tammy, it's just shy of 36" wide, 36" deep, and 70" tall. The capacity for the refrigerator part is just over 18 cu ft.

I agree with Nicole, it's not so much about the number of cubic feet, it's about that space being intelligently usable. Our freezer had loads of different types of things in it, both "square boxes" and odd-shaped stuff, like the large bags of chicken breasts (from Costco, HA!). The shelves and drawers accommodate our needs and usage very conveniently. Same goes for the fridge side. DH is nearly 6'9", I'm barely over 5', and both of us can access everything in there with complete ease.

Oh, and the freezer is fully lighted, just like the fridge. :)

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