Out of all the major appliances, the refrigerator is the one with the most variation in options and size. The latest refrigerators have a variety of options and features your grandmother would never have imagined. You can now make coffee right from your fridge, control the temperature remotely, or turn your ice maker on and off from your phone. On top of all that, new refrigerators are far more energy-efficient than those of 30 years ago, reducing your overall running costs. Here are a few tips to help you purchase your new fridge.

  1. Dimensions Unlike other appliance, the refrigerator is the one appliance with the most variation in its dimensions. Not only do height and width vary, but it can either be counter-depth or standard depth. On top of that, you need to make sure you can get the fridge into your kitchen. What are the dimensions of the hallways, doors and other areas the fridge will need to go through to get into the space?
  2. Type of fridge and freezer. There are three basic types of all-in-one refrigerators – top-mount freezers, bottom-mount freezers and side-by-sides. These days, the most popular new fridge is the bottom-mount, French door fridges. However, two things to keep in mind: the door seals are the first things to break on French door fridges, and ice-through-the-door dispensers in bottom-mount fridges (as opposed to side-by-side fridges), are prone to breaking. Side-by-sides can be a bit of challenge for storing food in wide containers – so, for instance, frozen pizzas may have to be stored vertically (measure the inside of the freezer) – but an ice-dispenser on the freezer-side it will be less likely to break.
  3. Energy Efficiency. In general, the efficiency of refrigerators has improved significantly since 1990. Our fridges now use less than half of what fridges in the 1980s used, despite being almost 30% larger.
  4. Online Consumer Reviews. Visit some forums, review sites and Consumer Reports to see what others have said about the models you’re interested in. Check both the positive and negative reviews to see what some of the issues are. Fridges have a few issues people usually complain about – noise from the fan and compressor, cooling ability and even temperature, and icemakers.
  5. Repairability. Check websites and forums and Consumer Reports to make sure your refrigerator is easily repairable.
  6. The Latest Features. A fridge’s primary function remains food preservation. When you start getting into additional features, like water and ice and computer panels, things have a greater chance of going wrong. Consider how many additional features you need when buying a new fridge. Usually, the simpler, the better.
  7. Durability. In this day and age of increasing competition, appliances can look great, but the veneer wears thin quickly. Test each model to make sure the quality is solid. Open and close the doors to see how easily they work. Is the door seal solid? Are the doors difficult to close (this is especially true in some French Door fridges)? What are the interior fittings like? Are they durable? Can the shelves be adjusted easily?
  8. Warranty and Service Policy. Ask what the service policy is where you are buying it. Stores with their own in-house service team are often the best because they service everything they sell so they know those machines. Some stores may not service products themselves but have a relationship with specific service companies, especially smaller stores. They take customer service very seriously and it often extends beyond the initial sale.

For more information, check out our other articles on our Refrigerators page for buying, selling and caring for a refrigerator. Visit our Resources Page for suggestions on where to start your research.