Before you start shopping there are two main things you need to consider:
(1) What kind of space do you have to work with in your kitchen? Refrigerators are not one size fits all. You want to make measurements for the following 3 areas:
• The Maximum Size of Your Fridge Opening: It’s important to know the height, width & depth of the opening. The size of the opening will determine the types of selections available to you. Common sizes are 30” and 36”.
• Available Space for Your Door Swing: This is very important! If your refrigerator is placed next to a wall or across from an island you want to make sure you will be able to fully open the doors. Refrigerators between cabinets or next to a wall need at least 2” space on either side. There are some high-end refrigerators with “true flush” hinges which don’t stick out when you open the doors but most will require the extra space.
• The Size of Your Kitchen Entrance: Not being able to get your new fridge into the kitchen is a nitmare. You want to make sure that you have plenty of clearance on the stairs, if you have them, and on the door going into the kitchen, as well as the home. *Also keep in mind that refrigerators need about one inch of clearance on all sides to prevent overheating.
(2) What kind of cook/shopper are you? In addition to space ability, another very important factor to drive your decision is your storage need. You want to make sure you get a fridge with the right capacity and interior configurations for your lifestyle.
• Once-a-week shoppers tend to require maximum capacity, while daily market shoppers need less shelf space but more produce drawers.
• Entertainers need to maximize shelf areas to fit large party trays and flexible door shelving to hold bottled drinks.
• If you like to use the freezer make sure you pay close attention to the storage configurations. Look at the division of space between the fridge and the freezer and the inner layout of the freezer itself. Like frozen pizza? Make sure the box will fit, particularly on a Side-by-Side model.
Top Mount/Freezer –
Freezer door on top, fridge below. This can accommodate larger items however you have to bend over to access fresh foods. They are commonly found in apartmentsand garages. Average Cost = $500+
Bottom Mount/Freezer –
Freezer drawer on bottom, fridge above. This unit accommodates oversized items and eliminates bending for fresh food access. this drawer provides an ergonomic, easy reach and increased visibility. Average Cost = $700+
The fridge and freezer sit side-by-side. Works best when you use frozen and fresh foods equally. Interior space is narrow, larger items will not fit. Average Cost = $900+
French Door Bottom Mount/Freezer: –
Two side-by-side doors for the refrigerator plus a bottom freezer drawer. This style works best in tight spaces and allows for larger items in the fridge. Average Cost = $1,200+
Column Refrigerators –
All refrigerator and all freezer models. These are built-in and typically offer high features as well as flexibility, particularly in kitchen designs. If you don’t use your freezer on the regular, put it on the far side of your kitchen and open upprime real estate for cabinetry or shelving cabinet space.
Freestanding Refrigerators –
These come fully finished on top and on both sides. These units slide in an alcove that has been designed specifically for it or can stand alone These are typically referred to as, “standard depth” meaning they will stick out past the counter about 4-6 inches, not including the door panel or handle.
Built-in/Integrated Refrigerators –
These are installed to fit flush in with the surrounding cabinets and give the kitchen a seamless, unified look. These fridges are shallower than freestanding models, reducing capacity. Average Cost = $5,000+
Counter Depth –
Provides less depth so the cabinet can sit flush with the countertop and cabinetry, Though the handles will still stick out a little bit. This is available in side-by-side, bottom mount and French door configurations. Keep in mind, the reduced depth in turn reduced capacity. Average Cost = $1,800+
Professional Refrigerator –
Professional refrigerators have a bulkier look with thick handles and an exposed grill above. They are built in, and have a shallower depth. The compressor is located on top of the unit.
Under-Counter Refrigerators –
These are great in smaller kitchens or used as a secondary fridge for beverages or parties. They typically fit into a standard dishwasher-sized cabinet opening. Their compressors are located below the units.
Ice Maker –
Stand alone icemakers are rated for poundage, producing anywhere from 15-50 pounds in a 24-hour period.
Wine Cooler/Captain –
This unit is a refrigerator with racks made for holding wine bottles with temperatures ideal for wine storage. Average temperature range: 60 – 40 degrees fahrenheit
Beverage Cooler/Center –
This differs from a refrigerator as it doesn’t get as cold as a refrigerator does (meat safe temp). It also doesn’t have the option for a mini freezer in the upper corner. And they often have a rack for wine bottles and glass door. Average temperature range: 45 – 34 degrees fahrenheit
Cubic Foot –
Unit of measurement. Refrigerators can be anywhere from 2 to 31 cubic feet. Note: the average family fridge is 18-22 cubic feet, the average apartment fridge is 14-16 cubic feet and the average mini fridge/beverage center is 5-7 cubic feet.
Basic Dimensions –
95% of refrigerators are designed to fit within conventional cabinets. Cabinet sizes are 30”. 33”, 36”, 42” and 48”.
Adjustable Shelves & Door Bins –
Adjustable shelves and door bins increase the storage flexibility of the fridge interior to accommodate for larger or odd shaped items.
Ice Makers –
This is a standard internal feature in most refrigerators.External door dispensers are also available. Note: a waterline connection is required.
Water & Ice Dispensers –
If you’re thinking about a door dispenser consider how often you use it and do you mind the look of it on the front of the fridge? There are internal water dispenser options or those that don’t care for the look of the door dispenser. Note: a waterline connection is required.
Auto Fill –
The hands-free autofill water dispenser lets you walk away while the dispenser automatically fills your container with filtered water.
Hot Water Dispenser –
In the door hot water dispenser makes it easy for you to pour hot filtered water in minutes. With pre-programmed settings hot water is dispensed at a perfectly accurate temperature every time.
Kuerig K-Cup –
With a Keurig K-Cup brewing system built into the refrigerator’s water dispenser, you get fresh, filtered water for your coffee or tea every time.
Individual Cooling Zones –
This is designed to cool designated sections at different temperatures for optimal food storage. It keeps the freezer air from ruining products in the fridge section and allows for more humidity in the fridge section and reduced humidity in the freezer section. This is typically offered in high-end refrigerators with dual compressors.
Interior lights provide thorough illumination of the refrigerator interior, preventing you from fumbling in the dark looking for that item in the back corner. Typically, a fridge has just one light at the top. LED lights illuminating the contents in your fridge and make them look nicer, side lighting illuminates each shelf rather than from the top down. Theater lighting will slowly turn on your fridge lights when the door is opened.
Once you have purchased your refrigerator make sure you follow these simple care tips to keep your fridge looking and working like new.
• Periodically clean the dust from the refrigerator’s condenser coils with a vacuum.
• Clean the door seals once or twice a year. Built up residue on the door seals can allow air to escape and make your fridge work harder to stay cool or allow humidity into the freezer.
• Change your water filter periodically. A good rule of thumb is that you should changed sometime between 3 and 6 months, at the most, or as specified by the manufacturer.
• Change air filter in your refrigerator to keep the air pure and fresh. Generally you want to replace your air filter every 6 months.