Refrigerator Buying Guide 2024

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Written By Emma Roberts
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Refrigerator Buying Guide

When you’re looking to buy a new refrigerator, there are a few things you should think about. These things include how the fridge is set up, how much stuff it can hold, the cool features it has, and how it looks. This guide is here to help you pick the best kind of refrigerator for your home, based on what matters most to you.

Think about how your kitchen is designed and where the fridge will go. Also, consider how much food you usually have at home and how much space you need for it. Do you want a fridge with extra features like ice makers or special compartments? And don’t forget about how the fridge will match your kitchen’s style. This guide will go through all these things step by step, so you can choose the perfect fridge for you.

Understanding Refrigerator Types

Before we delve into the factors you need to consider when choosing a refrigerator, it’s important to have a grasp of the various types available. Each type comes with its own unique features and benefits, and understanding these options will help you make a more informed decision. So, let’s start by exploring the different types of refrigerators to find out which one might be the best fit for your needs.

Top-Freezer Refrigerators
Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators
French-Door Refrigerators
Side-By-Side Refrigerators
Built-In Refrigerators
Standard-Depth Refrigerators
Counter-Depth Refrigerators
Freezerless Refrigerators
Compact Refrigerators

Top-Freezer Refrigerators:

Top-Freezer Refrigerators:

These are good options when you want plenty of storage in a smaller space. They are traditional and offer the most space for their size. Their widths can vary from 24 to 33 inches. Although manufacturers claim capacities of up to 24 cubic feet, usable space typically goes up to about 20 cubic feet. These fridges have wide-swinging doors, which might require some crouching to reach lower shelves and drawers.


Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators:

Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators:

These refrigerators come in widths ranging from 24 to 33 inches, and they claim capacities of around 26 cubic feet. However, their actual usable space is generally less than what’s advertised, unlike comparable top-freezers which are also more affordable. Unlike top-freezers, where the freezer is at eye level, in bottom-freezers, you can easily access your refrigerator shelves. Just be prepared for some bending when looking through frozen items.


French-Door Refrigerators

French-Door Refrigerators

French-door refrigerators, known for their distinctive design featuring twin narrow doors on top and a freezer drawer below, offer a harmonious blend of style and practicality in modern kitchens. With widths spanning from 28 to 37 inches, these refrigerators accommodate a range of kitchen spaces while showcasing a unique organizational efficiency. Although manufacturers boast capacities up to 31 cubic feet, it’s important to recognize that actual usable space typically hovers around 21 cubic feet.


Side-By-Side Refrigerators

Side-By-Side Refrigerators

Side-by-side refrigerators, featuring adjacent fridge and freezer compartments, often sport convenient through-the-door ice and water dispensers. These models, typically 33 to 36 inches wide, claim storage capacities up to around 29 cubic feet, though actual usable space tends to peak around 22 cubic feet. It is in a vertical layout, making them a fit for space-constrained kitchens like galley setups. With adjustable shelves, some models offer versatility along with quiet operation.


Built-In Refrigerators

Built-In Refrigerators

Built-in refrigerators are designed to blend beautifully with your kitchen’s aesthetics, fitting snugly alongside cabinets and countertops. These refrigerators come in various styles such as bottom-freezer, side-by-side, and French-door, offering both elegance and practicality. Despite being a bit pricey, they add a touch of sophistication to your space. With heights often exceeding 85 inches and widths ranging from 30 to 49 inches, these models boast capacities of around 29 cubic feet, although the actual space you can use is about 21 cubic feet.


Standard-Depth Refrigerators

Standard-Depth Refrigerators

When it comes to standard-depth refrigerators, their dimensions can differ based on the style, manufacturer, and model you choose. Usually ranging from 30 to 34 inches in width and up to 70 inches in height, these refrigerators offer a generous capacity. Unlike counter-depth options, standard-depth refrigerators are slightly bulkier and deeper, translating into increased storage room. At around 36 inches, they do extend about 6 inches beyond the counter or cabinetry, so considering your kitchen layout is essential for a perfect fit.


Counter-Depth Refrigerators

Counter-Depth Refrigerators

Counter-depth refrigerators provide an economical alternative to the appearance of built-in refrigerators. With their flush fit, they achieve a seamless integration not commonly found in freestanding models, usually aligning well with standard installations. These models, approximately 23-27 inches deep, boast a shallower profile than standard-depth refrigerators, offering a visually pleasing and polished look to your kitchen by blending harmoniously with the counter space.


Freezerless Refrigerators

Freezerless Refrigerators

Freezerless refrigerators, as their name implies, optimize their entire cooling space for refrigeration, omitting any freezing capability. These models prove ideal if you possess an additional full-size freezer to accommodate frozen goods. What distinguishes these refrigerators is their significant refrigerator capacity, catering to those who prioritize ample storage of fresh food. This makes them an excellent fit for individuals who regularly stock up on fresh produce and perishables.


Compact Refrigerators

Compact Refrigerators

Compact refrigerators, these pint-sized counterparts to traditional fridges, prove to be versatile additions, perfectly suited for dorm rooms, bedrooms, game rooms, home entertainment bars, and home offices. Notably, many compact refrigerator models ingeniously incorporate a small freezer within the refrigeration compartment, enhancing their functionality.


Factor to Consider before Buying a Refrigerator

1. Space

Selecting the perfect refrigerator size involves careful consideration and accurate measurements. Most refrigerator configurations offer a variety of sizes and capacities, making it crucial to measure the designated space before shopping. Remember to measure doorways, hallways, stairways, and any passages the new refrigerator needs to traverse to reach the kitchen. Allow ample room for the refrigerator doors to swing open and maintain a 1-inch clearance around the sides and back for proper airflow.

2. Energy

Today, energy efficiency stands as a major consideration for consumers. Modern refrigerators surpass the efficiency of models from a decade ago, but making environmentally conscious choices is aided by the information found on a refrigerator’s EnergyGuide label. However, it’s important to note that efficiency can vary based on configuration (for example, an unlabeled top-freezer model might boast greater efficiency than an Energy Star certified French-door variant).

3. Fridge Capacity and Storage Options

When embarking on your refrigerator purchase, sizing up capacity becomes essential for effective comparison, typically measured in cubic feet (cu. ft.). During your shopping journey, keep the following points in mind:

  1. Personalized Needs: Evaluate the volume of groceries you regularly bring home and the size of your household. This will serve as a basis for calculating the cubic feet you require.
  2. Accessibility: Take into account the need for quick access to frequently used items and identify who needs to reach them. Look for exterior drawers or interior storage zones on the door that allow easy storage of snacks and essentials within arm’s reach.
  3. Specialized Storage: Consider whether you often need to accommodate extra tall items or sizable platters. Styles like French door and side-by-side refrigerators offer tailored storage solutions such as sliding shelves and wide trays.
  4. Capacity Range: Determine whether a standard capacity refrigerator with approximately 20 cubic feet suffices or if a larger capacity fridge boasting around 30 cubic feet space suits your needs. If space is limited or your family is small, smaller refrigerator capacities ranging from about 11 to 18 cubic feet might be appropriate. In the case of mini-fridges, their dimensions usually revolve around 4 to 5 cubic feet.
  5. Extended Storage Needs: If you frequently require room for bulk freezer purchases or additional fresh food storage, explore our extensive selection of chest and upright freezers. These versatile units often convert to refrigerators when storage needs change, and feature sliding baskets on three storage levels for enhanced visibility and accessibility.

4. Budget

When embarking on the refrigerator-buying journey, the main thing is determining your budget. Select a comfortable price range that aligns with your intended refrigerator purchase. Additionally, consider maintaining a degree of flexibility in your budget, as it could potentially open up opportunities to acquire essential features and functionalities that enhance your overall appliance experience.

5. Delivery and Installation Considerations

It’s crucial to confirm whether the store you’re making the purchase from provides delivery and installation services. While making your decision, take into account the associated costs of these services to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of your purchase.

6. Compressor Warranty

When examining refrigerator warranties, it’s important to note the standard coverage typically spans one year. Yet, it’s advisable to delve deeper and explore whether certain brands extend an invaluable additional warranty of up to 10 years specifically for compressors. This facet holds immense significance, as any potential concerns with the compressor can lead to substantial expenses.

Refrigerator Features needs to know before Buying

Ice and Water Access: Through-the-Door Dispenser

Imagine never having to open your fridge to grab ice or water. This feature lets you access these essentials from the outside. Keep in mind, though, that this convenience might come with a trade-off. Models with this feature could need more maintenance and use a bit more energy. So, while it’s handy, consider how it affects your overall fridge experience.

Storage Acces

Opening your fridge to grab a quick snack or your go-to condiments can lead to energy loss. This feature solves that by letting you access certain items without fully opening the door. It’s not only energy-efficient but also streamlines your kitchen routine.

Freshness Solutions

Some fridges offer features that go beyond just keeping things cold. They maintain optimal humidity levels to keep your produce fresher for longer. Air purifiers also ensure your fridge remains a bacteria and odor-free environment. Additionally, vacuum-sealed drawers help your veggies stay crisp, reducing food waste.

Cooling Control

Ever wished your fridge had zones with different temperatures? Some models offer this flexibility. It’s particularly useful for storing different types of food at their ideal temperatures. For instance, you can set a drawer cooler for your meats and fish while keeping other items at a milder chill.

Shelves and Drawers

Imagine shelves that can be adjusted to fit taller items or pulled out to access items at the back without creating chaos. Some fridges offer these smart storage solutions, making organization a breeze and ensuring nothing gets lost in the depths of your fridge.

Connected Smart Fridges

Step into the future with smart fridges that connect to your phone or home automation systems. These fridges offer advanced features like controlling settings remotely, creating shopping lists, and even sending you reminders. If you’re tech-savvy and value convenience, this is a feature to explore.

Performance-Boosting

Maintaining food quality is paramount. Some fridges use separate cooling systems for the fridge and freezer, ensuring each section maintains the ideal temperature. This not only preserves the flavors of your food but also prevents odors from mingling.

Efficiently Store with Gallon-Size Door Bins

Bid farewell to cluttered shelves! Gallon-size door bins are designed to efficiently accommodate milk, juice, and even 2-liter soda bottles. These cleverly designed bins make grabbing beverages a breeze, all while ensuring your shelf space remains unobstructed.

6 Smart Strategies for Boosting Refrigerator Efficiency

  1. Strategic Placement: Shield your refrigerator from external heat sources like vents, stoves, dishwashers, and direct sunlight. This minimizes the need for the compressor to counter extreme temperatures.
  2. Chill Before Storing: Allow leftovers to cool to room temperature before tightly wrapping or covering them before placing them in the refrigerator. This prevents unnecessary heat buildup and reduces compressor activity.
  3. Minimize Door Openings: Opt for in-door water and ice options. By reducing the frequency of opening the refrigerator and freezer doors, you automatically enhance energy efficiency.
  4. Temperature Sweet Spot: Set your refrigerator’s temperature between 36°F and 38°F, and your freezer’s temperature between 0°F and 5°F. This mid-point setting on the temperature dial often yields optimal efficiency.
  5. Organized Efficiency: Keep your refrigerator organized for easy access. When you reduce the time the door is open, you save energy by preventing cold air loss.
  6. Banish Clutter: Clear the top of your refrigerator from items like cereal boxes and serving dishes. This prevents heat from getting trapped and eases the workload on your compressor.

Tips for Extending Your Refrigerator’s Lifespan

  1. Handle with Care: Use gentle cleaning methods to avoid scratching drawers, shelves, and handles. A soft cloth, mild detergent, and a touch of baking soda can work wonders.
  2. Air Circulation: Maintain a balanced fridge by not overstuffing it. Adequate space allows proper air circulation in both the refrigerator and freezer compartments.
  3. Seal Integrity: Regularly clean refrigerator door seals with soap and water to ensure they seal properly. Slide a piece of paper in the closed door—if it falls out, it’s time to replace the seals.
  4. Fend off Bacteria: Prevent bacterial growth by wiping the interior with pure white vinegar. Afterward, wipe surfaces dry to ensure cleanliness.
  5. Coil Care: Safely unplug the refrigerator and gently remove dust from the condenser coils. These coils can be found using your owner’s manual as a guide.

FAQs About the Refrigerator

Q: What temperature should a refrigerator be?

A: The ideal temperature for a refrigerator is around 37°F (3°C) to 40°F (5°C). This range ensures food safety and preservation.

Q: How many watts does a refrigerator use?

A: The wattage of a refrigerator varies based on its size and efficiency. On average, a standard refrigerator uses around 100 to 800 watts. Energy-efficient models tend to use fewer watts.

Q: How long do eggs last in the refrigerator?

A: Eggs can typically last up to 3-5 weeks when stored in the refrigerator. Always check the expiration date on the carton and ensure they’re stored in their original packaging.

Q: Who invented the refrigerator?

A: The concept of refrigeration has evolved over centuries, but the first practical refrigerator was invented by Oliver Evans in 1805. Modern refrigeration technology has since been refined by various inventors.

Q: How cold is a refrigerator?

A: A standard refrigerator is kept at a temperature of around 37°F (3°C) to 40°F (5°C) to keep food fresh and safe to consume.

Q: How many amps does a refrigerator use?

A: The amp usage of a refrigerator depends on its size and efficiency. On average, refrigerators use about 2-3 amps.

Q: How Does a Refrigerator Work?

A: A refrigerator operates using a cycle of four key components: the compressor, condenser coil, evaporator coil, and expansion valve. The cycle involves the refrigerant changing between liquid and gas states to absorb and release heat. The compressor pressurizes the gas, heating it. In the condenser coil, it releases heat and becomes a liquid. The liquid refrigerant moves to the evaporator coil inside the fridge, where it evaporates, absorbing heat and cooling the interior. The expansion valve lowers pressure, causing the refrigerant to evaporate and cool further. This cycle maintains a consistent temperature. In the freezer, a similar process achieves sub-zero temperatures. This intricate cycle, rooted in thermodynamics, efficiently cools the refrigerator’s interior while preserving stored items’ freshness.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right refrigerator involves considering a range of factors to ensure it meets your specific needs and preferences. From understanding different types of refrigerators, such as top-freezer, French door, and built-in models, to evaluating features like adjustable shelves, humidity-control drawers, and energy efficiency, this guide has provided insights to aid your decision-making process.

Remember to assess your kitchen space, set a budget, and weigh the benefits of various features against your priorities. Whether it’s optimizing efficiency, extending the appliance’s lifespan, or selecting the ideal finish, each element contributes to finding the perfect refrigerator for your home. By applying the principles of energy efficiency, organization, and maintenance, you can enhance the performance and longevity of your chosen appliance.

As you embark on your refrigerator-buying journey, consider these guidelines and insights to make an informed choice that aligns with your lifestyle and requirements. A well-selected refrigerator not only keeps your food fresh but also adds functionality and convenience to your daily routine.