Refrigerator Buying Guide

How to Find a Top Rated Refrigerator That is the Best Refrigerator For You!

Our Refrigerator Buying Guide is meant to help you determine your needs ahead of time so you can narrow down the type, size and style of refrigerator and find the Best Refrigerator for you.

After all, you’ve probably had that moment of walking into the local appliance store and being truly overwhelmed with the number of styles, models, features, color and price ranges of all the refrigerators out on the market. So, we're here to help you cut through the clutter.

From top mount freezers, bottom freezers, compact, built-in, French Door, side by side, to the wide variety of popular brands like Amana, GE, Kenmore, Kitchenaid and others, we know the process can be much more difficult than it needs to be.

Refrigerator Buying Guide: Things You Need To Know Before You Start Shopping

To get the most out of our Refrigerator Buying Guide, there are a few questions you’ll want to answer before you start your shopping. Such as:

  • How much capacity will you need?

  • What storage and organization options do you prefer?

  • What type of refrigerator are you looking for?

  • What style of fridge freezer best fits your taste and needs?

  • What type of space do you have available – will the new refrigerator fit?

Refrigerator Buying Guide
Types of Refrigerators

To find a Top Rated Refrigerator, you need to determine the type of refrigerator you choose. Itwill most likely be dependent on the space you have available. But, there are definite points to consider for each one. Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but just for sake of clarification here are the basic types of refrigerators:

Side By SideThe freezer and refrigerator are located next to each otherA: Because of the full size of both the freezer and refrigerator, it makes it easier to see and access your items.

D: Usually not very wide on either side making wide items more difficult to fit.

Side By Side Reviews
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Top FreezerFreezer is mounted on top of the refrigeratorA: Usually less expensive and easier to fit in smaller spaces.

D: Hard to access the food in the back of the freezer.

Top Freezer Reviews
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Bottom FreezerThe freezer section is mounted underneath the refrigerator.A: Easier to access the food in the refrigerator.

D: The freezer is usually a pull open drawer forcing you to stay organized!

Bottom Freezer Reviews
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Built-InBuilt-in to an existing kitchen to “blend” it into the cabinetry.A: Beautifully integrates with existing décor.

D: Often much more expensive and not easy to replace.

Built In Reviews
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French DoorRefrigerator is on top but opens with French doors and freezer is a pull out drawer on the bottom.A: The refrigerator doors open separately keeping energy costs down.

D: Freezer is usually a pull out drawer which forces you to stay organized.

French Door Reviews
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CompactSometimes called a “dorm fridge” and even “counter height refrigerators” meant to fit in to smaller areas.A: Perfect for bedrooms, dorms and under counter spaces.

D: Not much capacity and minimal (if any) freezer.

Compact Refrigerator Reviews
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Refrigerator Buying Guide - Capacity

Usually the capacity of a refrigerator is given in cubic feet, with most ranging between 3 cubic feet for compact refrigerators to 26-30 cubic feet for larger family-sized units.

Most refrigerator buying guides recommend approximately 10 Cubic Feet per two people, adding an additional 1.5 cubic feet for each additional person. The average family has a 21 Cubic Ft. refrigerator. Keep in mind, these numbers exclude freezer space.

  • Tip – If you have a large family, weigh the option of getting two fridges instead of just one. You can use one for your main food storage and the other as a back up for surplus items. It might be cheaper and more convenient in the long run.

  • Tip – If you and your family eat out a lot, you might be able to get away with a smaller capacity refrigerator. Empty refrigerators are LESS EFFICIENT than those that are fully stocked.

Refrigerator Buying Guide - Space

How much space do you have available for your new refrigerator? Be sure to take the following measurements with you before you leave for the store (you’ll thank us for this later):

  1. Measure the width, depth and height of the space. Be sure to take into account the swing radius of the refrigerator door.

  2. Make sure you can actually get the new unit into your home. Measure the dimensions of the entry point to be sure the fridge will fit.

Refrigerator Buying Guide: Organization

Refrigerators today have a wide variety of bins, shelves, baskets and drawers to help you store your food in an organized manner.

Depending on the amount of food that you store at any given time will determine what types of organizational features you want to be looking for. In a review of numerous other refrigerator buying guides, we have found a wide variety of features you may not know are available:

  • Door Bins with Gallon Capacity – These bins can hold gallon sized juice and milk containers

  • Spill Proof Shelves – These are usually glass shelves that keep spills from falling through and ultimately splattering the items below.

  • Adjustable Shelves – These shelves allow you to move them up and down to create new space for larger dishes or taller food items.

  • Separate Humidity Controls – Some refrigerators have separate humidity controls in the produce drawers which help extend the life of your fruits and vegetables.

  • Sliding Shelves – These shelves make accessing items in the back of the fridge a snap.

  • Built-in Beverage Holders – allows you to neatly organize cans and bottles.

  • Reversible Door Swing - allows you to switch the direction of the door swing.

  • Lock Out Feature - This feature allows you to close off the water and ice dispenser so that children don't inadvertantly play with it.

Color, Style and Finish

Your refrigerator will probably last a number of years, so you want to be sure you choose a color and style that will keep pace with your changing design tastes. The rule of thumb here is to choose more of a neutral color to make sure that even if you decide to change the color of your walls, your fridge will still look great. The most popular colors are black, white and bisque. That said, go with what feels right!

Stainless Steel refrigerators are also extremely popular, albeit a bit more expensive. Stainless always looks great and quite durable, so if you can afford this option, we recommend it! But if you can't, look at the new SATEEN refrigerator/freezers. These are great options that have the look and feel of stainless without the PRICE of Stainless.

Click here for Stainless Steel Refrigerator Reviews

Refrigerator Buying Guide: Efficiency

You might be old enough to remember a time when you had to spend have the afternoon chiseling out your food from the freezer or fridge and then letting it defrost for the rest of the day. Well, we’re happy to say, that those days are long since gone. (Unless you purchase a manual defrost model!)

Refrigerators today are made to run much more efficiently, quietly and less expensively than their older counterparts. The average refrigerator should last you about 15-20 years with little if any maintenance required over that time. Which is great for multiple reasons: 1) You’ll save money on your monthly utility bills and 2) You’ll save money on future repair costs.

A few things to help your refrigerator’s efficiency are:

  • Consider purchasing an Energy Star rated refrigerator. Models with the ENERGY STAR rating use at least 15% less energy than federal standards require.

  • Don’t place your unit near a heat source like a dishwasher. It just has to work that much harder.

  • If you do purchase a manual defrost model, be sure not to leave the door open for long periods of time as this can cause a build up on the refrigerator coils.

  • Consider putting an inventory of items on the outside of the door so your family can decide what they want before opening the door.

    Click here for Energy Star Refrigerator Reviews

Refrigerator Buying Guide: Features

There are a wide variety of features to consider when you purchase your new refrigerator. Here is a list of the more common features you might find:

  • Icemaker – Throw away your plastic ice trays, a built in icemaker will make your day. These ensure that there will always be enough ice.

    TIP: For the best quality ice, look for icemakers that have a filtration system which will provide clean water and make delicious ice.

  • In-Door Water/Ice Dispenser – Having cold water and ice at the touch of a button makes any kitchen that much more fun to be in. See the above tip regarding a filter system.

  • Child Lock – No, this isn’t for dieters. It’s to keep your kids from playing in the fridge or snacking when they know they shouldn’t.

  • Fast Cool System – Sometimes you need a compartment that will chill a food item quickly. Look for models that have this feature if you anticipate having this need.

  • Quiet Mode - There are a number of refrigerators that have minimal operational noise keeping your kitchen and your home much quieter.

  • In-Door TV – This is one of the latest fads for those of you who are addicted to Food TV, or just love catching up on the news while making breakfast.

Once you narrow down your particular wants and needs, you’ll find that there is definitely a fridge out there that is perfect for you.


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