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Refrigerators Buying Guide

Walk into any department store and you will find dozens of models of refrigerators on sale. Each one offers different specs and features. They all look different, too. Buying decisions for refrigerators need to focus on efficiency, features, size, and price. Currently, the most common option is French-door style models with freezers on the bottom. Some offer a fourth compartment located between the freezer and fridge. As one of the most commonly modernized appliances, be sure to know which features are worth your investment and which may not be.

What to Expect

Newer models feature more technology-advanced features, better energy efficiency, and more space. Some have gotten very large compared to models from 10 to 20 years ago. By selecting a Most Efficient Energy Star rated refrigerator, you could save up to $200 on the cost during its lifetime of use.

However, before you go shopping, measure the amount of space you have both in height and width to ensure you have plenty of room for the system. Also, determine how much room you really need. You will pay for larger capacity significantly even for just a small amount of usable room. Note that capacity and usable capacity are often different – the usable capacity of most units is 20 percent less than what most models claim.

Common Types

There are numerous types of refrigerators on the market today. There is no one option that is better than others are since most people select based on budget and their preferences.

Top-Freezer Models

These are the most common because they are the least expensive models and some of the oldest styles available. With anywhere from 30 to 33 inches in width, they fit neatly into various areas. These models offer the most storage and have the lowest cost. Newer models now offer stainless steel trim to make them look more modern.

Bottom- Freezer

Some models feature a single door top with a single door bottom, but the bottom freezer is on the bottom. The benefit here is that the more commonly used refrigerator is at eye-level. Other models do feature French-style doors on the top. These do cost more than top- freezers but they are still an affordable option overall. Some claim to have up to 30 cubic feet of space.


Vertical doors sit next to each other and open from the center. The freezer is on one side and the refrigerator is on the others. Though these claim to offer up to 30 cubic feet of space, some comparisons indicate that as much as 60 percent of that is actually usable space. The narrow doors are ideal for a smaller kitchen, though the doors may not open enough for larger boxes. The compartments are taller but narrower, making it harder to store items within it. They are also not as energy efficient as other models.

Built-in Models

Another option is the built-in refrigerator. Most offer various style configurations. Look for 25 cubic feet or more, though not all of that is usable. The key benefit here is the built-in looks better and more higher-end. Often, they can match other appliances in the space easily. They are the least space efficient models and the highest priced models, though.

Drawer Models

A newer option is the refrigerator drawer model. Sometimes used as an additional amount of storage space aside from the main refrigerator, these often put items right on the island for easy access. They mount under the countertop. They are efficient to run but they are limited in capacity. They are expensive in most cases.

Key Features to Shop For

When buying refrigerators, some features really do make the difference. Be sure to buy those refrigerators best suited for your needs.

Shelving and Adjustability

Two factors that play a role in refrigerator selection for most families include the number and type of shelves as well a whether or not they adjust. Bins and shelving that adjusts allows the user to choose what works for their needs. The size and shape of drawers and shelves also matter.

Freshness Selects

Some systems have built-in freshness features. These may promise to eliminate bacteria or keep the climate at a specific level. Those models with a dual evaporator have a higher humidity level in the fresh foods areas. Be sure these systems are more than just drawer sliders if you want ample control over the freshness.


Most people want drawers for fresh foods, lunchmeats, and other applications. However, consider the depth of these bins as well as how long they are. Drawers and shelving on the doors of the refrigerator should be large enough for the largest items you put into them. Some systems now have built-in extensions, which provide better access to items.


Refrigerators with built-in electronics may be higher priced, but they are necessary in some homes. These do increase costs significantly. Buying this type of electronic equipment separately will save you money but if you want the convenience, this option works.

Water and Spouts

Through-the door ice and water are necessary in some homes. Keep in mind that those refrigerators with this feature often require more repairs and maintenance than others. Also, consider whether these come with a filter in place. Improving filtration can help to provide cleaner water.


The highest-end models are stainless steel, though this type does not offer any functional benefit. You can still find white, black, and other models available as well. Some have a stainless steel trim on them. This adds value and appearance benefits.


When considering refrigerators, there is a range of models on the market. Each manufacturer offers several options. Look for moderately priced models with the types of features right for your needs. However, you may not get a better product just from an increased price. Rather, seek out a well-known brand such as Fisher & Paykel, Haier or Electrolux. It may be a good idea to research individual models before making any buying decisions with refrigerators since there is such a range of difference.

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