A new fridge freezer can breathe new life into a more dated kitchen with cool gadgets being great talking points with new guests. The average fridge has a lifespan of around 12 years but in all honesty, you should be looking to upgrade more often than that. With newer models comes greater technological innovation and that doesn’t just mean better energy efficiency but also what you get with your fridge such as water dispensers and ice makers. Why spend money on bottled water when you can have filtered water at the push of a button?
In this refrigerator buying guide, we’ll be detailing everything you will ever need to know about fridges and what you should be keeping an eye out for whether it be where you want the freezer compartment to be located or how deep you want your shelves to be. We’ll also be going over the different types of fridges and the coolest features available to you.
How to buy
Deciding what sort of refrigerator you want
Getting a freezer that works best for you and your lifestyle is of the utmost importance when getting a new addition for your kitchen with there being little point shelling out on something costing thousands if you live alone and don’t tend to get much cooking done. Generally, 150 liters per inhabitant is a good way to estimating what sort of refrigerator to get with side by side, French door, and four door models generally being bigger and more spacious inside than top and bottom-freezer refrigerators.
It also should be worth noting that some refrigerators are better suited to certain types of people. Students, for example, are not the most likely to be cooking up gourmet meals with fresh food and so a refrigerator unit with a greater share of freezer space as opposed to cooler space might be better suited. After all, what do you think they’ll be eating more of, fresh fruit and vegetables or frozen pizza rolls and ice cream?
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Size doesn’t just refer to capacity but also the literal size of the unit. Countless people buy their dream refrigerator unit only to get home and realize that it’s way too big for their kitchen.
It would be wise to get something similarly sized to your existing unit if you live in a smaller space with a smaller kitchen but you should always use a measuring tape to make sure you know exactly how wide and deep your kitchen space is.
It’s also worth remembering that certain types of units fit different types of rooms; a kitchen with high ceilings may perhaps be better suited to a larger/taller refrigerator so that it won’t look squashed in while a shorter unit may look better at home in a smaller kitchen.
Counter depth is a super cool thing to make sure to take notice of. Counter depth refers to a refrigerator that has approximately the same depth as the kitchen countertops and so almost perfectly aligns – this isn’t necessarily as important as some of the other features but something to keep in mind when taking measurements.
One of the hardest things to know is where to actually get a good deal from – it’s pointless knowing all the specifications and measurements if you end up paying way over the odds for something that you don’t have your heart set on.
Best Buy has a website that is super easy to navigate with there being plenty of tabs to help you find the perfect kind of refrigerator whether it be one of the increasingly popular French door models or a more commonly found side by side appliance.
Once on the Best Buy website you can also go into greater detail and find more specific kinds of refrigerators. For example, when you shop for French door fridges you can then look for ones singled out for counter depth, how fingerprint-resistant they are, ones with quick access doors, ones with ‘smart capabilities’, and ones with four or more doors and/or drawers.
Home Depot likewise has a huge selection of refrigerators with handy menus on their website making it super easy to find a unit that is perfect for your kitchen and your needs. They have everything ranging from mini-fridges all the way up to side by side and four door fridges.
They also have a pretty cool, even if short, buying guide that highlights some features to look out for and what each kind of refrigerator is best for. They also have a handy video on how to measure your new potential refrigerator so that you don’t waste your time buying something that you can’t even use let alone fit in your kitchen.
The biggest mistake people tend to make when they have a new refrigerator is to get overly excited and not think about the mess that comes with it. It’d be a great idea to unpack the unit outside, if possible of course, and then carry it inside as you’d hate to make a mess on your tidy carpet. Just ensure you don’t throw away the packaging too soon though as you may need to return it for repairs or replacement parts.
The easiest way to move it is with the help of a couple of friends but if that isn’t possible or it’s just way too heavy you’d be best using a dolly to get it from A to B. Why put all that weight on your knees and lower back when you can put it on two wheels instead?
When you’ve got your new fridge inside your kitchen. you can go ahead and slide it into space nearly all the way but make sure to leave enough space for you to connect the power and water lines or you won’t be able to get much done. When you’re happy with your handiwork and it’s all hooked up, slide it in all the way whilst paying attention to any wires or pipes that could get caught underneath.
Now it should be ready to use but don’t expect too much too soon, it can sometimes take several hours for the cooling system to get things frosty enough to keep your food and stop it from spoiling at room temperature. A good indicator is a light turning on inside when you open the fridge door. If after a full day you still haven’t seen any notable change, you should call the retailer or the manufacturer and see if they can help you out.
Types of refrigerator
The top freezer refrigerator comes with a separate compartment for frozen foods and ice and is traditionally the most common type of fridge freezer. Aside from being a classic, these refrigerator units typically cost much less than their newer counterparts due to their smaller size but will absolutely suit the needs of a modern family.
These refrigerators are generally quite wide despite being usually only having a single door and you can expect most to be between 30 to 33 inches across while French door refrigerators are often a few inches wider and so can be hard to fit into a smaller family home.
Top freezer refrigerators are not only good economically but also good for homes without a lot of space to spare. The smaller size does not come at the cost of functionality though with the single door meaning that you can easily fit wide items into the equally wide storage areas.
The key con for this type of refrigerator is that often the fruit and vegetable storage boxes are usually at the very bottom of the refrigerator section and so anybody with a bad back may want to reconsider this type. However, if this isn’t a problem and you don’t mind the layout, the top freezer variant is a convenient option that is also cost-effective. With most ranging from around $350 to $1100 in price when bought new, this is something that is both convenient for the home and your wallet with second-hand/old refrigerator units coming in at an even lower price point.
Although not as common as a top freezer variant, bottom freezer refrigerators are quite handy in that you need not be constantly bending/crouching when you need something out of the refrigerator compartment. This design is convenient because your most commonly used items are usually around eye level while the freezer, which is typically used less, is lower down and so is better suited to anyone with back issues.
As a result of this style being somewhat less common, the price point does move upwards with a bottom freezer refrigerator coming in at anywhere from around $450 to a whopping $3000 at some outlets. Prices may come down soon with rising demand and an increasingly heightened production but you can definitely still find one for a great price at a kitchen store sale or even second hand.
Side by side
Unlike a horizontally split top freezer and bottom freezer refrigerators, side by side refrigerators are, unsurprisingly, split vertically. Ideal for smaller kitchen spaces, these fridge units fit great into smaller spaces and certainly pack a punch. These fridges look cool and often come with plenty of storage space as well as an ice maker and a water dispenser. Higher end models even come with interactive screens that can show anything from television shows to what is inside of the refrigerator.
Just as the size is one of the bigger pluses, the size is also a downside as it means that wider items may not fit horizontally and so you will have to keep that in mind when out getting groceries. The not-so-wide fridge and freezer compartments can make it tricky to locate items when they’re stacked so ideally, you’ll want to be as organized as possible with a model like this. They’re not cheap but that is expected because they can come with plenty of cool features; prices typically range from around $600 all the way up to several thousand dollars depending on what you want it to come with.
If you’ve got money to spare and want a real piece of equipment, French door refrigerators must surely be way up on your wish list. A hybrid between the bottom-freezer refrigerators and the side by side refrigerators, the French door models are split horizontally while the top section is also split down the middle. The freezer compartment, located at the base, is typically a chest-style freezer but this can differ from model and brand. They also usually come with the usual ice maker and water dispensers that are typical for many modern ‘American fridge-freezer’ units.
Coming with wide shelves and make it easy to store anything from gallon jugs of milk to turkeys for Thanksgiving, this is ideal for busy family homes where it will get plenty of use and make sure you get your money’s worth because they aren’t cheap. Typically starting at around $1100 in price, these units can have a selling price up to and in excess of $9000 and so they represent a real financial investment.
Arguably the least common model of refrigerator, these variants are absolutely huge and are ideal for homes with plenty of people coming and going. They come with an insane amount of storage space that means that you’ll never find yourself rummaging around for that lost jar of mayonnaise ever again. Coming with deep drawers, adjustable shelves, door-mounted shelves, and tonnes more, you will always have more than enough space to make sure that you don’t ever run out of space in your kitchen’s new refrigerator.
As you may have expected, a piece of kitchen equipment this big doesn’t come cheap and you can expect a new unit to set you back anywhere from $1500 to over $10000.
Buyers Guide: Things to consider when buying a refrigerator
In all honesty, you get what you pay for, and if you are after something that is both huge and packed with plenty of cool features you will of course have to pay top dollar. When looking to add a new refrigerator to your kitchen you should first assess what your needs are and what you can get for your budget.
As noted above, the top freezer refrigerators are the most common models and so they are also the best economic choice with the market flooded with hundreds of variants and brands.
Want some tips on how to save a few bucks when buying a new kitchen appliance? Click here to check out another one of our great pieces.
As well touch upon soon, many of the newer four door and French door refrigerators come with e sleek stainless steel finish but this isn’t always the case with there being a seemingly endless amount of color combinations found on the market.
The most commonly found refrigerators that are able to come in different colors are usually side by side refrigerators or top/bottom freezer refrigerators but that isn’t the rule and so you shouldn’t rule anything out before you’ve had a good look around.
Color probably shouldn’t be the feature to look out for, the same goes for wi-fi connectivity, but obviously, any refrigerator you buy should suit the kitchen it’s going into.
Cabinet depth, counter depth suitability, energy efficiency, overall refrigerator capacity, and freezer space should all be higher up on your list as that’s what you pay top dollar for but ultimately you will buy what feels right for you and if that red refrigerator looks too good to turn down, then you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
Chilled storage space is obviously one of the key determining factors but other things to consider are counter depth suitability, whether or not it has an ice maker built into the freezer door, whether it is stainless steel, how much freezer space is included, and what the width is, and if there is a water dispenser included.
Thermostat control is something that is a handy addition as it allows you to adjust the overall temperature so that chilled and frozen items can be stored away at their optimum temperatures and thereby prolonging how long they stay good. Newer models with electronic displays on the exterior will allow you to make changes and adjustments just by touching the door panels while others may have a manual thermostat inside.
The most commonly sought after refrigerator door is, you guessed it, stainless steel but there is more to the refrigerating world than the metal alloy with ceramic and good old plastic also being good options.
French door and four door units are more often than not coated with stainless steel to maintain their sleek look bit this comes at a cost both stainless steel costing a premium compared to ‘lesser’ materials.
Side by side and top/bottom freezer refrigerators are quite commonly coated with plastic or other cheaper materials and so naturally their selling point is much slower than their newer cousins. They not only cost less though with the lack of stainless steel also meaning that they are much lighter and so are better suited to apartments and other hard-to-reach homes.
When it comes to the unit’s door it’s also worth remembering that this is where you also find many of the cool gadgets that are commonly found on the newer fridges such as the four door and French door refrigerator variants. Those cool gadgets can include, but are not limited to, LED displays, an ice maker, a water dispenser. These cool additions come at a cost but they’re definitely worth considering if you’ve got money to spare in the budget.
As much as we love to eat fresh food, I’m sure we can all agree that it shouldn’t come at a huge cost and so getting a new refrigerator that is energy efficient is vital. Older models are typically far less energy efficient due to them containing older technologies and so getting something new, as well as making sure it’d certified, could save you a small fortune.
One thing to keep an eye out for is ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators. ENERGY STAR certified models use far less energy day to day while they also do not have as much of a negative effect on the environment. To put that into context, energy savings in the United States would grow to near enough $700 million if all refrigerators sold were ENERGY STAR certified.
What does this mean for you, the consumer? By purchasing a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator and recycling your old one, you could expect to save more than $200 over the 12 year lifetime of the unit. Want to know how you can save even more? Luckily for you’ve we’ve got a piece right here that can give you some awesome tips.
Refrigerator capacity is usually measured in liters and so having a good idea how much a liter actually is would be super handy.
As a rough guide, a small household consisting of one or two people would require a refrigerator with a capacity of around 200 to 400 liters while a three or four-person living arrangement would need something in the ballpark of around 500 to 600 liters. Anything more than that, five people or above, would need a minimum of approximately 600 liters to ensure that there is enough space for everyone’s stuff.
It’s not just the number of people in the household that you should also consider how much fresh and frozen food you need to store. For example, you might only need a smaller fridge if you and whoever you live with have a habit of dining out or ordering food in. At the same time, it may also that some members of the household enjoy cooking and so you might need something a little bigger than average.
Certain foods also require more storage space than others with whole meats such as ham joints, turkey crowns, and pork chops needing more shelf space than processed or deli meats such as sliced ham, bologna, and pastrami. The same can be said for fruit and vegetables too with whole carrots and potatoes, for example, obviously taking up more refrigerator space than both their tinned and already chopped equivalents.
How do I know what size refrigerator to buy?
You should buy according to your needs. If you live in a busy house full of people odds are you’ll need something with a larger capacity like a four door unit but remember to be aware of your kitchen dimensions as the last thing you want is an appliance that is way too big. The ideal fridge should blend well into the kitchen without being an eyesore and so it’s vital to keep in mind that a huge appliance in a small kitchen may look a little strange.
What is the best month to buy a refrigerator?
November is a brilliant month to buy a new fridge as you can capitalize on the Black Friday craziness and save some real money. There are of course sales throughout the year but Black Friday is a great opportunity to get yourself a bargain before the festive period. The last thing you want to be doing in the cold winter months is walking around town looking for a new fridge.
Where is the best place to buy a refrigerator?
End of season sales are a great opportunity to get plenty of bang for your buck and so you should totally keep an eye out for potential bargains online and in-store. Closing sales and outlet malls are also good places to have a look as you really can get a great appliance for not that much money.
We’ve already talked about a couple of retailers but honestly, all of the major stores have brilliant websites where you can filter through the masses of models and find something that really works for you. Amazon is also a great place to check out as they often have plenty of choices while also often having good sales on top of their already great prices.
How do I buy a new refrigerator?
Buying a new refrigerator is as easy as clicking a button thanks to many sellers having super easy websites that really do all the work for you. However, you can also head into any electrical or homeware store and have a chat with the staff there, with your specifications and needs they should be able to find something perfect for you as well as your wallet. Buying is child’s play compared to the installation but with many stores also offering installation services for a small fee, you can have somebody else do the hard work for you.