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Fridge facts
Refrigerator models loaded with amenities

By REBECCA KONYA

January 2013

Photo courtesy of Appliance Gallery

When it comes to refrigerators, thereís an ever-expanding array of options. From the traditional top-freezer to the stylish French-door bottom freezer models, todayís refrigerators are equipped with myriad amenities designed to make life easier.

With so many different styles and features to consider, Stephen Erb, manager of the Appliance Gallery in Milwaukee, recommends buyers decide whatís most important to them, whether itís price, convenience or style. Before hitting the appliance store though, Erb says the first thing to do is pull out your measuring tape.

"Size and capacity are the first things to consider when fridge shopping," he says. "Find out the height, width and depth of the unit youíre looking at to make sure it will fit the space."

Although refrigerators are a practical appliance, style is a top priority for most buyers, says Rian Cain, vice president of the appliance division for American TV/Kennedy Hahn. "Itís all about lifestyle," Cain says. "The type of model you buy depends on your everyday habits and how you entertain."

Beyond basic configurations (side-by-side refrigerator and freezer, classic single door with freezer on top or bottom and French door styles), built-in models are designed flush with kitchen cabinets and countertops for a sleek, finished look. Often these models can be fitted with panels to match the surrounding cabinetry.

Starting around $5,000, built-in models are typically reserved for custom kitchens. A less-expensive alternative is the counter-depth refrigerator, which at 26-and-3/4-inches deep fits flush with your cabinetry so you get the look of a built-in for half the cost. However, the reduced depth diminishes your food storage space.

Refrigerator drawers installed under countertops are another option for supplemental food and beverage storage. But these handy little space savers also carry a hefty price tag ó $1,800 to $3,000 per unit.

Beyond exterior style, interior features are what really set refrigerators apart. Adjustable shelves, split shelves and water dispensers are increasingly available on even the most affordable refrigerators. Luxury models are packed with even more amenities like water filtration systems, LED interior lights, and temperature- and humidity-controlled drawers.

If you stock a lot of fresh meat and produce that need to be stored at different temperatures, consider a model with temperature-controlled drawers that can be set several degrees cooler than the rest of the refrigerator. Whirlpool offers several models equipped with the AccuChill Management System, which features built-in sensors to help keep your food fresh and cold. Other lines like Haier, carry refrigerators with an express chill option, that temporarily lowers the temperature in the fresh food compartment to chill newly stored foods and beverages.

"The express chill option is perfect for cooling a bottle of wine before dinner," Cain says.

In the future, look for fridges to offer more than just food storage. Several higher-end models now come with intuitive touchscreen interfaces, Internet access and docking stations for MP-3 players and cell phones. GE Profileís latest models have a 7-inch LCD media center where you can upload family photos, find simple ingredient substitutions and access calorie and fat content for packaged foods.

 

 


This story ran in the January 2013 issue of: