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Refrigerator Buying Guide

Mother getting ice-pops for her children in her kitchen from her Top-Freezer Refrigerator in Stainless Steel.

Some would argue that refrigeration is responsible for modern civilization as we know it today. Before we started taking this big food box for granted, mankind invented ways to preserve food which involved pickling and drying food, among other techniques. Food preservation methods are important in terms of the quantity maintained for sustenance, but readily available fresh produce provide a better quality of nourishment. The advent of modern refrigeration is also responsible for feats in sciences like cryogenics and living standard comforts like air conditioning.

Nowadays, We're more concerned with how much capacity for food storage a refrigerator can supply and how much energy usage it would need. These are the key basic features that should be considered first when buying a new refrigerator. On top of that, new refrigerators today have a lot of features to make everything easier which, range from, but are not limited, to Wi-Fi capabilities, temperature display, ice and water dispensing and even power cooling functions.

Features

In the past, the most important feature a refrigerator provided was the ability to keep your fresh food from spoiling too quickly. Nowadays, you can even watch television on your fridge. Here are some essential features to consider when buying a new refrigerator..

Water and Ice Icon: Water and Ice Dispensers are convenient, but are not available on every refrigerator. It's important to note this when choosing your fridge.

Water and Ice Dispenser

It’s almost commonplace to see refrigerators able to dispense filtered water and ice cubes with the ease of pushing a button but not every fridge will have one. Having a water and ice dispenser on a fridge is convenient to gain access to ready-made ice cubes and filtered water.

Storage Icon: A good fridge should provide storage space, compartments and shelves for optimal organization.

Shelf and Compartment Space

This might not seem obvious at first but a good fridge should provide enough storage space, as well as, enough shelves and compartments to keep all your food items organized.

Humidity Control Icon: Humidity control gives you the power to preserve different foods that have different humidity requirements like meat and produce.

Humidity Control

Certain fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) require more humidity and certain food items (dried goods) require little to no humidity.

Thermometer Icon: Temperature control is important and ensures your food will remain fresh.

Temperature Control

A standard user-control setting for desired coldness a fridge provides is readily available on most, if not all, fridges but there are also refrigerators capable of individual compartment temperature control.

Snowflake Icon: Power Cooling, Express Chill, quick Cool, and it's other variations give your food a blast of a cool temperature.

Power Cooling

Sometimes known as Express Chill, Quick Cool or similar. This feature is typically found in one particular compartment or drawer to rapidly cool or freeze food items. A useful feature for quickly cooling beverages or soften ice cream from grocery shopping.

Purchasing a New Refrigerator

Woman making sandwiches in kitchen and child reaching for something in a top freezer refrigerator.

As with all home appliances being offered on the market today, buying new refrigerators now come with a lot of features and creature comforts. The following is an important guideline to consider for new refrigerators.

Money Bag with Gold Coins Icon: Budget is important when buying a new fridge.

Budget

Generally speaking, a new refrigerator, depending on options included, will cost anywhere from $400 to $2000. Of course, it will depend on how much you are willing to spend and what specific features you’re looking for. There are technological behemoths that can run upwards in the $3000 range with more bells and whistles than you may or may not need.

Panel-ready French-Door Bottom Freezer Refrigerator with a woodgrain panel design and stainless steel handles.

Size

Although, bigger refrigerators can offer more storage space, certain homes can’t hold a larger home appliance. Also certain fridges are designed to fit streamlined into existing cabinetry. Albeit, a stylish refrigerator can be a central focusing point to any modern kitchen decor, some attention should be given in terms to how big of a fridge can fit inside your living space.

Types of Refrigerators

Back in days of yonder, refrigerators had one door. Somewhere, along the line, some folks decided that to sell more refrigerators, the doors should be the first to be redesigned. One design I had not seen yet are Lamborghini inspired doors but you never know. The following are the most popular styles for refrigerators today.

Top Freezer Fridge in Stainless Steel, in a white kitchen with black marble countertops.

Top Freezer

This is that classic look with two doors that pull open from the side with the larger compartment for keeping food cooled and the smaller compartment on top being the freezer.

 

Blue Bottom Freezer Fridge from Smeg with stainless Steel handles.

Bottom Freezer

This is the reversed look of the top freezer style of refrigerators with the freezer located at the bottom. Typically, the bottom freezer for this style pulls out like a drawer instead of being pulled open from the side.

Black Side-by-Side Refrigerator with external water dispenser in front of a white kitchen wall.

Side by Side

This style of fridge has both compartment doors able to be pulled open from the middle of the unit. Usually the freezer is located on the left hand side. Generally, an ice and water dispenser is located on the outside of the freezer door too.

 

Standard-Depth Stainless Steel kitchen appliances package with OTR Microwave, dual-compartment range, and Bottom-Freezer French-Door fridge win a white kitchen with black countertop.

French Door

This look borrows elements from a side by side and a bottom freezer. The cooling compartment is located on the top portion of the refrigerator and the freezer compartment is located on the bottom. The doors pull open from the middle on top and the freezer door pulls open from the bottom like a drawer.

The Best Refrigerators

The best refrigerator should meet certain requirements you're looking for when in the market for a new fridge. As with all major appliance purchases, it can be a difficult choice without knowing the right information. Here are some of the best reviewed refrigerators in their respective categories by popular review sites.


Frigidaire Gallery FGHI2164QF Refrigerator, opened to reveal a fridge full of food.

Top Freezer: Frigidaire Gallery FGHI2164QF was ranked as one of the best top freezer refrigerators from consumerreports and gained remarks on a surprising amount of storage capacity.


LG LDC24370ST Large Capacity Bottom Freezer Refrigerator with freezer drawer opened and top fridge door opened to show all the food in the fridge.

Bottom Freezer: LG LDC24370ST Large Capacity Bottom Freezer Refrigerator garnered a best bottom-freezer refrigerator mention with consumersearch and on top of that earned a Recommended label, as well, in terms of temperature performance and energy efficiency.


The Electrolux  with IQ-Touch EI26SS30JS is a Side-by-Side Fridge with an external water dispenser and right door is opened to reveal the inside of the fridge.

Side by Side: Electrolux with IQ-Touch EI26SS30JS earned the top Gold Award from toptenreviews. The best thing about this fridge is that it uses the least amount of energy when compared to similar models.


The GE GNS23GMHES 22.7 CU. FT. French-Door Refrigerator in Slate has both refrigerator doors open and the freezer drawer to show the food inside the unit.

French Door: GE GNS23GMHES 22.7 CU. FT. French-Door Refrigerator rated by cnet with high marks overall, but especially in performance while satisfying budget concerns. This fridge was found to even out performance in comparison to units that cost twice as much.

Appliances Connection has an extensive catalog of all the latest and newest refrigerators with all popular brand names.

Some Practical Advice

Noise:

It’s highly doubtful anyone would enjoy hearing a loud compressor running at a high frequency. Nowadays, some homes don’t have wall partitioned rooms for a separate kitchen, whether by design or by choice. It’s worth investing in a new refrigerator that have measures implemented to reduce noise.

Energy Star:

Refrigerators require constant use of electricity. Not only does this put a strain on your energy bills, but also with new technology being introduced all the time, newer refrigerators help meet more environmentally sound standards.

Adjustable Shelving:

Food items come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. Being able to adjust the shelving or compartments inside your fridge is useful to be more efficient in food storage.

Ease of use:

Some refrigerators have been opting to have interior ice and/or water dispensers built in. This is mostly a design choice by the manufacturer to have a cleaner exterior look. However, it’s also a preference for the consumer on whether or not they want an exterior or interior dispenser. With that being said, an exterior ice and/or water dispenser provides a benefit in ease of use and the retention of coldness without having to open the refrigerator door.