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Home > What's New > Refrigerator Guide
  • Refrigerator Guide2009-04-30
  • I recently did all this research right before we purchased our new refrigerator. Since the refrigerator is one of the larger appliance purchases for your kitchen and will probably last you 10-15 years you need to choose wisely. I was surprised to find that there is such a variety in refrigerators these days. There are many styles and sizes, different colors and finishes and many features to choose from. Then of course you must check out if it is Energy Star qualified. Here is a summary of what I found out. Hope it helps you out!


    1. Small Basic Refrigerator - These are best for smaller families, apartments or small kitchens. Generally it is about three to six inches narrower than your regular size refrigerators.

    2. Top-freezer Refrigerator - These are still the most popular refrigerators around and are less expensive than some of the other styles below. They are generally spacious and very good for everyday use.

    3. Bottom-freezer Refrigerator - These are very similar to the top-freezer version except the refrigerator is on top and the freezer is usually a pull out drawer on the bottom. It is more convenient as most of your daily use items are at eye level. The bottom freezer though can be awkward as there are no shelves and making it difficult to find specific things.

    4. Side-by-side Refrigerator - This has two separate areas for the refrigerator and freezer side by side. The freezer side a little smaller. This style will be good for smaller kitchens where a wide door clearance is a problem. Most of these come standard with an in-the-door ice and water dispensers. You do lose some space on the refrigerator side as a result of this configuration and you will not be able to fit things like wide platters, cakes boxes and pizza boxes.

    5. French Door Refrigerator - This is a mix between bottom-freezer and side-by-side refrigerators. The top refrigerator portion has two French doors but the inside shelves are the full width. The freezer is a pull-out drawer. Again you have the benefit of not having to bend down to reach your everyday items.

    6. Built-in Refrigerator - This is the custom refrigerator that lies flush with your kitchen cabinets and can be made to look just like them. These of course are expensive. These days you can also find refrigerators made the depth of standard cabinets so it looks like a built in. This route is significantly cheaper than custom built-ins.


    * Automatic defrosting - Most new refrigerators have this as a standard feature and I think it is a must. Gone are the days of having to unplug and defrost yourself.

    * Power Failure Warning System - This alerts you if there was a power outage while you were not around. It usually also displays the highest temperature reached so you can make a decision on discarding spoiled food.

    * Ice Maker - These are pretty standard these days

    * Filtered Water - Whether you have an in-door or in-refrigerator water dispenser or just an ice maker, having your water filtered is a good idea.

    * Water Filter Indicator - This will notify you when it is time to change the water filter.

    * In-Door Water and Ice Dispenser - This is usually standard on the side-by-side refrigerators but is harder to get on the others. Recently the French Door models are starting to give this option. This is a great feature to have specially if you have children. Less wasted energy by fewer occasions to open the refrigerator.

    * Rollers - You can lock and unlock wheels as needed making it a lot easier to move the refrigerator. I find this great for cleaning.

    * Adjustable shelves and trays - This is something that to me is essential. Almost makes you refrigerator custom for you. I tend to readjust shelves fairly often so to me ones that are easier do do will be important.

    * Larger shelves in the door - These can accommodate gallon jugs of milk or large soda bottles.

    * Cooling Zone - Cold air from the freezer section is diverted to the refrigerator door helping milk and juice, usually stored here, to remain fresher longer.

    * Electronic Temperature Controls - This ensures precise temperature control in the refrigerator and freezer sections.

    * Express Chill and Express Freeze Settings - This is great for when you just can not wait.

    * These days some refrigerators even come with things like a television, radio, or DVD player built into a door.

    Colors and Finishes

    Most refrigerators come in various color choices along with your basic white and black. Stainless steel finish is very popular these days and will cost you approximately $250-$300 more. Some manufacturers are now offering fingerprint-resistant stainless steel. This is just a clear acrylic coat on the finish that resists marks. You can also opt for faux stainless that also resists finger prints.

    Energy Efficiency

    When shopping be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR yellow label which is required to be on display. This label provides an estimate of how much energy the appliance uses, compares energy use of similar products, and lists approximate annual operating costs. Manufacturers have to meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy so this a good representation of efficiency. Although you may notice that higher efficiency costs more, remember you will save a significant amount on utility bills every month and help the planet.

    Energy efficiency is very important but so is getting all the features you really want for the long run. So choose wisely! Good Luck!!

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