Refrigerator Buying Guide: How do I choose the best refrigerator?

Last Updated on November 18, 2022 by E.Pery

Times have changed and so have refrigerators. If your refrigerator has given you ten years of good service, it’s time for you to look for something that does more than keep your food cold. There are several convenient options for you to choose from.

You can get a five-door refrigerator that allows you to see through the contents of your fridge without opening it. You can also get a refrigerator with humidity-controlled crispers that creates an ideal environment for your vegetables and fruits.

However, besides having refrigerators with current and intelligent features, several other factors to consider when getting a new refrigerator.

This guide will assist you in choosing the best refrigerator for your family by exploring and demystifying the claims and truths about the most reliable refrigerator. So, how do I choose the best refrigerator?

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Refrigerator Buying Guide
Refrigerator Buying Guide

5 things to check before buying a refrigerator

  1. Size and layout of your kitchen
  2. Refrigerator capacity
  3. Configurations and styles
  4. Color and finish
  5. Energy efficiency

1. Size and layout of your kitchen

Before you get a new fridge, you should give much consideration to your kitchen space. Ensure that the real estate available for the fridge is big enough to fit your desired model.

To do this, you need to get accurate measurements of your kitchen’s real estate and use the dimensions to guide you as your shop for the fridge.

How to Measure for a Refrigerator Fit? [In 5 steps]

  1. Review the standard sizes of various refrigerator types
  2. Measure the refrigerator’s depth 
  3. Measure the width
  4. Measure the height
  5. Measure the refrigerator’s pathway
1. Review the standard sizes of various refrigerator types

The dimensions of a standard refrigerator range from 28 ¾ to 39 ¾ inches in width, 28 ¾ to 34 ⅝ inches in depth, and 61 ¾ to 71 ¼ inches in height.

2. Measure the Refrigerator’s Depth 

There are two types of refrigerator depths: standard depth and counter depth refrigerators.

Recommended reading: Best Counter Depth Refrigerator Deals

If you want to get a built-in look without installing the fridge in a closet, then you could consider getting a counter-depth refrigerator. Counter depths are flush with the kitchen counters. These refrigerators don’t protrude beyond the counter depths.

The standard depth refrigerator often extends beyond the counters. So if you are more interested in getting a larger storage capacity than the in-built look, a standard depth refrigerator is best.

As you measure the depth of the refrigerator, you should leave at least one inch between the fridge and the wall. Measure the space in front of the refrigerator while the doors and drawers are open. Ensure that the area available is large enough for you to open the refrigerators without the door being dinged.

3. Measure the Width

When buying the standard refrigerator, the width measurement of the fridge is approximately equal to the size of the space you’ve got. This measurement is, however, very critical when you are installing an in-built refrigerator.

4. Measure the Height

When taking the height measurements, ensure that the fridge you want to buy is about an inch lower than any cabinets above the refrigerator. The refrigerator should not be higher than any impediment above it, such as a ceiling fan blade.

Tips for Measuring for a Fit
Add about one inch of space between the fridge and the surrounding sides to ensure proper ventilation. Once you are done, repeat the measurement to ensure that they are correct.
5. Measure the refrigerator’s pathway

Measure the entry of your home, noting the narrowest hallways/doorways. Ensure that the space can fit the refrigerator. If it cannot, consider getting a smaller refrigerator or removing the doors to fit the fridge.

Recommended reading: Refrigerator Sizes

Sizing Tips & Considerations

Ensure that the refrigerator door can swing open to 90 degrees without being dinged. Also, consider the space for leveling, hinges, and cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils.

If you have a narrow clearance, consider getting a side-by-side or French-door refrigerator because they are slim.

Ensure that the location of your new refrigerator is not close to a heat source such as a cooker, dishwasher, and microwave. The perfect temperature for a fridge is between 55°F and 110°F.

Ensure a proper electrical connection, a 115-volt grounded receptacle, and a separate circuit that only serves the refrigerator.

If you want to get a refrigerator with a water dispenser, ensure that the rear of the unit has a water supply. Ensure that the supply connection or the refrigerator inlet connection has no.

During transportation, you should keep the fridge upright because a slight tilt to the side could cause permanent damage to the condenser coils and other internal parts of the refrigerator.

Always use a dolly that is padded with blankets to protect the fridge when moving the refrigerator. When positioning your refrigerator in its final position, keep the fridge level.

2. Refrigerator capacity

You need to give a lot of consideration to your family size when choosing the fridge capacity you want to purchase. Get a fridge model with a refrigerator and freezer capacity that will fit your family’s storage needs.

Most manufacturers recommend about 8-12 cu. ft. for two people per household and an additional cubic foot for an extra person. If you have a family of four, you need about 19 to 22 cubic feet.

However, if you often buy milk in bulk or do the substantial weekly shopping, you might need 30 to 33 cu ft.

Factors to Consider while Shopping

When shopping for a fridge with the storage capacity in mind considers, the amount of shopping you do every week, and the amount of space you need for large platters and tall items.

In this case, you could consider getting a French refrigerator because it has wide trays and removable storage shelves.

3. Configurations and styles

  1. French-door refrigerators
  2. Side-by-side refrigerators
  3. Top and bottom freezer refrigerators
  4. Undercounter Refrigerator
  5. Counter-Depth Refrigerator

Get a refrigerator configuration that suits your household. Consider getting a French door refrigerator if you need a refrigerator with as much aesthetic appeal as refrigerating value. This model has two doors and a bottom freezer to put food at eye level without bending.

However, if you need a smaller refrigerator with a similar aesthetic value, consider getting a side-by-side refrigerator because it has narrow doors. Below are some popular refrigerator types that you can consider.

1. French Door Refrigerators

This model of fridge allows you to put food at eye level. The refrigerator has two doors that open to separate refrigerator compartments and a deep freezer at the bottom.

If you have a large family of four or five members, this fridge model would be ideal because it has a larger refrigerator capacity. Some French door refrigerators have four doors that give your family members, like kids, an easy way to access snacks stored in external drawers without opening the main doors.

Recommended reading: Best French Door Refrigerator Deals
Features of a French door refrigerator
  1. Dual cooling
  2. Slide-in shelves
  3. Customizable drawers
  4. Single and double ice makers
  5. Water dispensers
  6. Organized freezer storage

Not all refrigerator brands manufacture reliable French-door refrigerators. If you want to get a French door fridge, consider getting reliable brands like LG and GE.

2. Side-by-Side Refrigerators

Unlike French door refrigerators, side-by-side fridges have freezers and refrigerators adjacent to each other. This arrangement makes it easy and convenient for kids to access items from both sides at eye level.

This refrigerator model also makes it less likely for you to get foodstuff buried and lost in the freezer because it is on eye level. It also saves you more energy because you easily locate food items in the freezer.

Furthermore, this fridge model will save you considerable kitchen space needed to swing the door open because it has a narrow door.

Recommended reading: Best Side By Side Refrigerator Deals
Features of a Side-by-side refrigerator
  • Humidity-controlled crispers- these features create ideal environments for your fruit and vegetable environments.
  • Water dispensers and icemakers
  • A larger storage capacity
  • Specialized storage like can caddies for organizing soda.
  • Space-saving ice maker and water on the freezer door.

The best side-by-side refrigerator brands are LG, Samsung, and GE.

3. Top and Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators

This type of fridge does not have much aesthetic appeal. But it is a dependable model that will give you many years of service depending on the brand. This model is also convenient for apartment owners because it has standard dimensions to fit in any kitchen.

Additionally, this model is reliable and budget-friendly compared to other fridge models like the bottom freezers. Although the freezer compartment has a much smaller capacity than other refrigerators, the top freezers have a large refrigerator capacity.

Recommended reading: Best Top Freezer Refrigerator Deals
Recommended reading: Best Refrigerator Bottom Freezer Deals

If you do not need much freezer storage capacity, this fridge model will be a great choice if you are on a budget. The most reliable top-freezer refrigerator brands are Whirlpool, GE, Frigidaire, and Samsung.

Like the top freezer, the bottom freezer refrigerators have very few features. They have a single door with a refrigerator at the top and a freezer at the bottom, like French-door refrigerators.

Although they are also thinner in width, they have a good capacity size and do not require to be located in spaces that have water hookups because only a few brands make bottom freezers that have ice and water dispensers.

If you want this eye-level freezer model, you should consider getting it from Whirlpool. This brand’s bottom freezer is less prone to repairs than other brands.

4. Undercounter Refrigerator

Undercounter Refrigerators are designed to fit under your countertop in a kitchen. These refrigerators are built for use in homes and businesses where space is an issue. They are available in many different sizes and styles so that you can find one that fits your needs perfectly.

An undercounter refrigerator is smaller than a full-sized refrigerator. Most undercounter refrigerators are between two and four feet wide, but some models can be wider or narrower than this range.

Most will have an automatic defrost feature and come with glass shelves inside so that you can see what’s inside without opening the door. Some models also include LED lights to illuminate the interior of the unit while others have a single light bulb or no light source at all.

Undercounter refrigerators come in several different styles including glass doors, French door models, side-by-side doors, front-opening doors, and top-freezer models.

Recommended reading: Best Undercounter Refrigerator [Top 5 Reviews]

Front-opening and top-freezer models are among the most popular types of undercounter refrigerators because they allow you to reach inside easily without opening the door fully which reduces energy costs and increases safety by preventing children from accidentally getting trapped inside when you open the door too far.

5. Counter-Depth Refrigerator

A counter-depth refrigerator is a type of refrigerator designed for kitchen cabinets with counters. The cabinet is shorter than standard refrigerators, allowing it to fit easily beneath the countertop.

Counter-depth refrigerators are often less expensive than standard models because they take up less space, which means you can fit more appliances in your kitchen.

Standard refrigerators are taller than counter-depth refrigerators, making them difficult to install in some kitchens. If your kitchen has a small amount of counter space, or if you have an older home with narrow doors and cabinets that prevent you from installing a normal-size refrigerator, then a counter-depth model may be a good choice for you.

Recommended reading: Best Counter-Depth Refrigerator [Top 5 Reviews]

The main advantage of buying a counter-depth refrigerator instead of a standard model is the cost savings associated with its smaller size and lower height.

It also fits easily under kitchen cabinets without needing to be installed above them, which makes it easier for people living in older homes where the existing cabinetry makes it impossible to install a regular-sized refrigerator without removing cabinets or rebuilding them from scratch.

4. Color and finish

Refrigerators vary in color. Gone are the days when you could only opt between two colors, black and white. Now you can get a fridge with a striking color to match your taste and personality.

If you like playing it safe, you could consider getting a refrigerator with a particular hue of stainless steel.

Recommended reading: How To Clean Stainless Steel Refrigerator (10 Actionable Tips)

The most significant advantage of getting a stainless steel refrigerator is that it has an easy-to-clean surface. Some fridge brands with this finish also have fingerprint-resistant finishes.

There are black refrigerators that have a stainless steel finish and others with a copper stainless steel finish. Choose a finish that best fits your kitchen color theme and personal style.

5. Energy efficiency

When getting a new fridge, find the one that best suits you from reliable energy star-certified brands. Energy star-certified appliances go through a rigorous process set by the US Environmental Protection Agency to meet strict energy efficiency guidelines.

Choosing an energy star-certified refrigerator lets you purchase energy-efficient appliances that save on energy bills without compromising the performance efficiency, comfort, and features you want to get in a fridge.

To ensure that you purchase an energy-efficient appliance, look at the energy guide label. This labels a yellow tag that you will find attached to most home appliances. This label shows you whether the machine is energy efficient and tells you how much power the device consumes.

Refrigerators require quite a bit of electric energy to run. Hence getting an energy-efficient refrigerator will use less energy and cost you less to run it. This will significantly reflect in your utility bills. Moreover, you can help in reducing pollution and preserve the environment by using an energy-efficient appliance.

Recommended reading: How Many Watts Does A Refrigerator Use?

6 features to look for in a refrigerator

  1. Refrigerator door style
  2. Refrigerator door alarms and locks
  3. Fridge shelves
  4. Fridge drawers
  5. LED displays
  6. Icemaker

1. Door style

The way refrigerators are opened radically changed over the years. For example, French door refrigerators are popular today because they allow customers to access food without opening the rest of the fridge.

The side-by-side model of the refrigerator also offers more storage space for both refrigeration and freezing due to its side-by-side design.

2. Door alarms and locks 

The other key feature to look for is the refrigerator’s safety, especially if you have young children. Children could open the fridge and leave it open after getting what they needed—having a refrigerator with an alarm system that goes off when the fridge is left open for a particular duration of time.

This door alarm conserves energy by minimizing the amount of warm air in the refrigerator. You could also look for refrigerators with door locks if you do not have an alarm in your fridge. The door lock denies access to children and toddlers unless they are under supervision.

A lock on the door means you don’t have to fret over the young ones eating ice cream without permission or spilling drinks in the fridge.

3. Fridge shelves

If you use your refrigerator quite often or shop for tall food items, then the type of shelves is quite an essential factor to consider. Getting a fridge with adjustable shelves allows you to make room for unconventional food sizes.

Sliding shelves increase the ease of pulling a shelf in and out of the fridge to retrieve food. This ensures that no food is thrown to waste because it is retrieved before going bad.

4. Fridge drawers

When buying a refrigerator, consider getting a fridge with full extension drawers because they give you easier access to foodstuffs at the back of the refrigerator. Get transparent drawers that will let you see the content of your drawer without having to open everything.

Another drawer feature to look for is the climate-controlled drawers that control the humidity in the vegetables and fruit crispers to suit the cooling needs of both food items.

5. LED displays

Consider getting an intelligent refrigerator with an LED touch display. LED lighting in the fridge also enables you to organize the fridge, leave notes, access recipes and keep track of the stored food items.

6. Icemaker

If you had an old refrigerator model, it’s time to replace it with a new owner fridge model and convectional ice trays located inside the fridge with hidden ice makers that maximize space. The location of the ice maker also reduced the number of times that you open your refrigerator to get ice.


Which are the most reliable refrigerator brands?

A refrigerator is a costly investment that you make once in a long while. Hence, it is always prudent to do your due diligence before you settle on a final choice.

Getting a non-reliable refrigerator is not only money and time-consuming, but it’s also quite inconvenient as a refrigerator is an essential appliance that we cannot manage without.

Some of the most reliable refrigerator brands are LG, GE, Samsung, and Whirlpool. However, it’s good to note that not all brands make the best refrigerators by type.

For example, Whirlpool is known to make the most reliable top and bottom freezer refrigerators. However, the same cannot be said of its side-by-side and French door refrigerators.

Most customers have complained that Whirlpool’s French door and Side-by-side refrigerators often have issues with door alignment, and the ice maker experiences leaking problems that require costly repairs.

Most customer reviews indicate that the best refrigerator brands for French door and side-by-side refrigerators are LG, GE, and Samsung. These brand models use high-quality and durable materials to construct their products.

They also offer many modern features like ice makers and water dispensers, which experience a lower need for repairs than other brands. They are also relatively priced and provide good customer service, before and after sales.

Recommended reading: Which Refrigerator Brand Is Most Reliable?

Final thoughts

When buying a refrigerator, there is a checklist of various factors to consider.

The most important factors to consider are the fridge brand as it determines the reliability and the features that you get from your model, the design, the size and capacity of the refrigerator, the size and consumption habits of your family, the refrigerator styles and types and the fridge color and finishes.

Other factors that come into play in the decision-making process include:

  • The kitchen layout.
  • The available kitchen space.
  • The path through which the refrigerator will pass during installation.

Last but not least, check whether the brand model you want to get is energy star certified.

If the brand you want does not offer you an energy star-certified appliance, it’s always good to look into other reliable models that do before settling on a final choice.

If you plan to purchase a new refrigerator, please use this handy fridge-buying guide to help you go through all the different factors you need to consider before you buy the fridge.

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