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Home > What's New > Refrigerator - Keep Your Cool and Find the Right Refrigerator
  • Refrigerator - Keep Your Cool and Find the Right Refrigerator2009-04-10
  • refrigerat

    Refrigerator Guide
    Chicagoland, IL A refrigerator is an easy appliance to take for granted. That is, until it stops functioning and your ice bin turns your kitchen floor into a small pond. When it's time to buy a new refrigerator, you'll face a vast array of choices, styles, features, and price points that can feel daunting.

    Yes, there are tons of burning questions when it comes to buying a refrigerator, but the tips in this guide will help you keep your cool. Buying a refrigerator is a big investment in a major appliance, so take some time to consider this information carefully before you go shopping for your new refrigerator. The site offers a wide variety of refrigerator ratings and reviews from people like you. Check out our reviews and learn about the pros and cons of different refrigerator brands and styles by people who've actually used them.

    Side-by-side refrigerators
    As the name suggests, the Side-by-Side refrigerator has two cooling compartments - a refrigerator on one side and a freezer on the other. Side-by-Side refrigerators are a good choice for families with children because little ones can reach the ice cream with the same ease that they can grab a juice box. In addition, when considering a Side-by-Side model, make certain that you have enough room for both doors to swing open completely. Measure your space carefully - height, depth (flush with countertops or freestanding), and overhead cabinets. If you're considering a Side-by-Side refrigerator with a water dispenser or ice maker, you must also make certain that you have the appropriate outlet(s) and plumbing to accommodate those features. Side-by-Side refrigerators are recommended for smaller spaces because they take up less space when the doors are open than other refrigerator styles.


    Side-by-Side refrigerators take up less floor space than other styles
    Easy reach for both refrigerator and freezer compartments
    Available with ice maker and in-the-door water dispenser
    Multiple levels and food storage compartments

    Interior may not be spacious enough to fit large serving platters or your holiday turkey
    Ice/Water dispensers require appropriate outlet(s) and plumbing
    Units with in-the-door dispensers cost more to purchase and operate
    Side-by-side refrigerator reviews

    Top freezer refrigerators
    When I was a kid, the only refrigerators I ever encountered all looked exactly the same - freezer on the top and refrigerator on the bottom. Although the idea is the same, technology has evolved to make these traditional units more efficient. Freezer-on-the-top refrigerators are a wise choice if your goal is to maximize storage space. The shelves are wider in both the top and bottom sections, which mean they have the capacity to hold larger food items, such as cakes, platters, and party trays.


    Traditional style
    Wider shelves can hold party platters, pizza, and sheet cakes with ease
    Space-efficient for taller refrigerated items (i.e. a gallon of milk or a jug of juice)
    Roomy deli and produce bins

    Freezer space is limited to the top compartment
    Difficult to freeze large quantities
    Difficult to freeze large items (i.e., turkey, warehouse-sized frozen foods)
    Top freezer refrigerator reviews

    Bottom freezer refrigerators
    If you're considering refrigerators with bottom freezers, you probably are a person who uses the refrigerator much more often than the freezer. In that instance, a bottom-freezer refrigerator will give you more room for the chilled items you use most frequently. Still, you will have to occasionally bend down to access your freezer, so be certain that your refrigerator choice has a well-designed freezer space. Look for sliding drawers, bins, and baskets to help you keep your frozen veggies and TV dinners tidy and accessible.

    Tons of storage for chilled food items
    Easy reach for frequently used refrigerated items
    Wider shelves can fit an extra large pizza or a caterer's tray
    Best for consumers who use the freezer infrequently

    Must reach or bend down to access the freezer
    Freezer space is more compact than other refrigerator styles
    More difficult to freeze large quantities
    Bottom freezer refrigerator reviews

    French door refrigerators
    A French door refrigerator won't make your ratatouille taste any better, but this stylish model is a combination of the side-by-side and bottom freezer refrigerators. With two refrigerator sections on the top and a freezer on the bottom, the French door refrigerator provides a spacious interior for groceries. Just be sure you're comfortable bending down to access the freezer, and that you have enough space for the doors to open completely.

    Spacious interior for refrigerated items of all shapes and sizes (party platters, extra large pizza, catering trays, gallon of milk, large pitcher of juice, etc.)
    Easy reach to access refrigerated contents
    Attractive and modern design

    Takes up most square footage because of wide doors
    Freezer compartment has less interior space than refrigerator compartment
    Must reach or bend down to access the freezer
    French door refrigerator reviews

    Compact refrigerators
    Suitable for use as a dorm refrigerator, or as mini refrigerator for an office, family room, basement, bar, or RV, small-scale refrigerators are popular and affordable. Ranging in size from about 1.5 to over 5 cubic feet, these little chillers are designed to hold beverages, a few leftovers, fruit, and ice. Because of their small size, they can be stacked on counters, stowed away under counters, or even placed on a table. Look for features such as frost-free compartments, soda can dispensers/shelves, ice trays, adjustable thermostats and freezers.


    Perfect for chilling beverages, fruit, and small quantities of groceries
    Affordable - prices start at $80
    Take up very little space
    Some brands offer frost-free operation and ice trays

    Not as dependable or sturdy as larger appliances
    Limited styles and colors
    Some brands are refrigerator only - no freezer
    Limited warranty - one to two years on average
    Compact Refrigerator Reviews

    Energy Star refrigerators
    In these economic times, an important consideration when shopping for a new refrigerator is energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy confers the Energy Star label on appliances that meet government standards for environmentally friendly and energy-saving appliances. Check the refrigerator's "Energy Guide" label to determine the yearly cost of operating the appliance. With so many different brands of refrigerators to choose from, you should have no problem finding a model that is attractive, efficient, and energy saving.

    Important facts about Energy Star refrigerators

    An Energy Star refrigerator will cost you 50% less energy to operate than traditional models
    You don't have to give up helpful features like ice makers and dispensers when you buy an ENERGY STAR refrigerator
    Energy Star refrigerators are manufactured with superior compressor efficiency and improved insulation
    You'll find that an Energy Star refrigerator provides more precise temperature regulation and defrosting capabilities. This efficiency maximizes energy use.
    Qualified models are available in all refrigerator styles - top freezer, bottom freezer, side-by-side, French door, and compact.
    Energy Star models utilize 40% less energy than refrigerators sold as recently as 2001.
    For more information, visit the U.S. government's website on Energy Star refrigerators and freezers and Refrigerators & freezers purchasing tips. You'll also find energy savings calculators at

    Now that you've narrowed down the style of refrigerator that best meets your family's needs, it's time to hone in on features. As you can expect, the availability and quality of features will depend on the price point and brand that you choose. However, here are some common features available in most refrigerator brands.

    Capacity - This is probably one of the most important considerations in your refrigerator purchase. Make certain that the size of refrigerator you buy is in line with your family's lifestyle and needs. Don't waste money on buying an oversized refrigerator if you don't plan on making use of its space. You'll just be wasting energy and money with a fancy fridge that you keep half empty. By the same token, avoid buying a refrigerator that won't fit the amount of food you need to store. On average, a family of four may benefit from a 14 cubic foot size, while a larger family that frequently entertains may find an 18 to 20 cubic foot refrigerator to be more practical.
    Finish - Stainless steel refrigerators are the current trend in major appliances, and most refrigerator buyers are immediately drawn to that finish. Whether you choose stainless steel, traditional white, modern black, or another colored choice, remember that you'll be responsible for keeping it clean. In general, stainless steel tends to show smudges and fingerprints easily, and may require constant wiping in a household with children. Pebble-textured surfaces hide prints and marks better than glossy surfaces. Also, keep in mind the overall color scheme of your kitchen and the finishes and textures of your other appliances. You'll want your new refrigerator to complement your existing décor.
    Controls - Unless you enjoy the mess of old-fashioned refrigerator defrosting, confirm that your new refrigerator is designed to be frost-free. Temperature and humidity controls are a must-have in a new refrigerator. Whether operated by dial, push buttons, or levers, make sure you understand how the controls work so that you can keep your produce crisp and your meat fresher, longer. In addition to standard humidity and temperature controls, new technology has paved the way for upscale digital displays and even flat panel screens on the refrigerator door
    Ice Maker and Dispenser - Personally, I am a big fan of my refrigerator's in-the-door filtrated water and ice dispenser. Not only do I get one-touch, fresh cold water, but I also have the option of crushed or cubed ice. An icemaker and dispenser are worth the extra expense if you plan to use them frequently. When comparing models, make sure the dispenser will accommodate the glassware that you plan to use. Ideally, you'll want an ice maker that doesn't take up too much interior freezer space. In addition, be aware that if you choose this feature, you will need to have appropriate plumbing and outlets available, and you will have the ongoing expense of water filter cartridges.
    Shelving and Bins - When you begin shopping for your new refrigerator, think about how much space you need for the items you refrigerate most often. Models with adjustable shelves that slide out, move up, or push back will allow you to maximize your refrigerator's space to make room for jugs of juice or platters of chicken. Look for units that offer a minimum of two drawers (produce and lunch meat), butter keeper, egg bin, and in-the-door adjustable shelving for frequently accessed items and condiments. Glass shelves are practical for easy cleaning, and spill-proof shelves are designed to contain messes. No more crying over spilt milk.

    Now that you know the difference between a side-by-side refrigerator and a French door refrigerator, and you've learned the pros and cons of a top freezer versus a bottom fFreezer, you're well on your way to making an informed buying decision. Whether you ultimately select an LG refrigerator, Maytag refrigerator, Kenmore refrigerator, GE refrigerator, or another brand, remember to make your selection based on space, quality, price tag, energy efficiency, style, and most important - your family's needs.

    For more information, check out the following Viewpoints consumer reviews of refrigerators.

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