Top Freezer Refrigerator

top freezer refrigerator unit
Top-freezer refrigerator with door open


A Top Freezer refrigerator, as the name denotes, has the ‘freezer’ compartment on its upper part and cooler on the lower side. This is the traditional model of a top freezer refrigerator.

A basic Top Freezer refrigerator is simply constructed with only the compressor (or heating element in the case of absorption system refrigerator) as the major component that consumes a substantial amount of electricity. A compressor is the black pot-like component fitted in a small cubicle at the lower back side of a refrigerator; in some refrigerators, this space housing compressor is covered so that it’s not easily seen. When a refrigerator is working, the compressor makes an audible sound, although some domestic refrigerators are quiet operating that you’d not easily hear the sound. Compressor’s purpose is to compress and pump refrigerant along the refrigerator’s inner tubing system; that is, refrigeration cycle.

A top freezer refrigerator has variations in its family. Some have improved features that enhance performance. One of these models is ‘Non-frost’ top freezer refrigerator. It has extra gadgets giving it performance behavior unique to non-frost systems. As an example, surfaces of items stored in the freezer compartment don’t get covered with thick layer of frost.  What makes a non-frost system possibly do this are the components well knit together in a circuitry in the inner refrigerator wall, not visible by to user.

One of the components of the circuitry is a small fan motor called defrost fan. It’s fitted next to a small evaporator that generates cold temperature. The fan blows this cold temperature to distribute it.

This defrost fan and other small components constituting “control system” of a non-frost refrigerator have the advantage of negligible electricity consumption. But one of their disadvantages is that if by accident one of the tiny vital components fail, refrigeration process is affected. So when shopping for a refrigerator you should know the difference in complexity between these two types of refrigerators: No-frost system has extra gadgets working to achieve the same thing (cooling) the other ordinary refrigerator does. However, if one of the components that makes it unique fail, it may cease to work.

Note: Some manufacturers build Top Freezer refrigerators with two compressors. The other compressor is added for security reason. Each compressor is connected to one of the compartments so that if one compressor accidentally kaput, another continues. This design, though, adds the extra compressor as an additional power consumer, and it should be avoided where electricity cost is a concern.

Top freezer refrigerators are also manufactured in various sizes suitable for small and large families.

Considering the one-third storage space a ‘freezer compartment’ constitutes, on a Top Freezer refrigerator, a seven cubic feet refrigerator would be enough for an ideal nuclear family. This would have enough space to freeze highly perishables like fish and meat.
Trays in the cooler compartment can be rearranged to accommodate bottled drinks placed upright, leaving enough space for pizza plates. Top freezer refrigerator also ships with plastic containers for holding fresh vegetables and fruits.

Ultimately, for a refrigerator to serve well without experiencing avoidable technical faults, some user-maintenance measures would need to be observed:

Some top freezer refrigerators have external “condenser” mounted on the back of the refrigerator. This should be kept clean, free from dust, and the space between the refrigerator and wall behind it should allow enough air circulation. Condenser too gets warm when the compressor is running, so it needs a well-ventilated space for better cooling. On the other hand, some refrigerators have their condenser tubing run along the inner surface of the refrigerator. This makes the refrigerator outer surface warm when it’s operating; it can be felt by a touch. In this case of an internal condenser, some spaces should be created between the refrigerator and the house wall. If this is ignored, heat dissipated from the compressor and the condenser would cause an overheated ambient environment, which is not good for the harmonious working of the refrigerator components.

The “thermostat” regularly and in preset intervals automatically switches electricity flowing into the compressor off, and on. This happens when compartments of the refrigerator have attained desired temperatures as set by the user. This also ensures that compressor doesn’t consume power by running unnecessarily. That is to say when everything stored in the freezer room is frozen, and those in the cooler are well chilled, the thermostat cuts power.

Resultant effects of a faulty thermostat are two:

One, refrigerator compressor runs non-stop.

Two, it is off permanently.

In the first scenario, a refrigerator will run non-stop and generate an unusual build-up of ice in the freezer compartment. In the later case, a compressor will not run, causing the refrigerator not to cool. These conditions can easily be detected by the user and handled by a repair technician. Failure of a thermostat is one of the early technical faults that top freezer refrigerators develop.


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Cosmos is an HVAC/R expert and a writer. He's an entrepreneur running Appliance and Equipment Repair Center. Cosmos writes compelling technical and business copies that increase traffic and bring sales. To reach him for value-adding content, use the contact form on the left or send him an email to

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