a refrigerator can be a complex decision, as it’s the
one kitchen appliance everyone in the house will use.
can last at least 10 to 15 years, making refrigerators
an investment. Considering that even budget types start
around $1,000 before any rebates or promotional
discounts, buyers need to think about their lifestyle
needs, said Sharon Franke, kitchen appliances and
technology director for The Good Housekeeping Institute.
good news is, Franke said, refrigerators generally have
few performance issues.
makes a refrigerator good is that it maintains a steady
temperature from place to place and, more importantly,
over time," she said. "I tell people, with
refrigerators, versus other appliances, they can really
shop by price or have the features or the look they
are also moving into a starring role in the kitchen.
used to hear the aspirational appliance was the range.
Now we’re hearing that more about the refrigerator.
… They’re more expensive, and there’s more
innovation in them," she said.
English, home improvement merchandising director for
Lowe’s, said that unless buyers are completely
remodeling a kitchen, available space may also dictate
what they buy, as some new models are wider.
generally fall into three categories: top-mounted
freezer, side-by-side and bottom freezer. The bottom
freezer category also includes the French-door style,
which is now most popular, she said.
freezers. The traditional refrigerator style may be best
for budget-conscious buyers who don’t need special
features. These can be a little smaller than other
styles, so they may have a little less capacity, said
Daniel DiClerico home multimedia content specialist for
Consumer Reports. That makes them good for smaller
kitchens, he said, and their smaller size means they’re
likely the most energy-efficient.
in the low end of the budget category, English said,
buyers can find features like adjustable glass shelves
that are spill-resistant, gallon door storage and an
said Frigidaire’s Gallery FGHT1846QF was one of
Consumer Reports’ top-rated top-mounted refrigerators
and can sometimes be found for less than $1,000.
These used to be the most popular refrigerator styles,
said DiClerico and Franke, until the advent of the
French-door style. They are easy to organize because
everything is visible.
who want a larger freezer space like these. It’s
really easy to find things in them, unlike in top or
bottom freezers where things get buried," DiClerico
disadvantage is the fresh-food compartment is narrower,
and it’s hard to put oversized items like platters in
the fresh side or a pizza box in the freezer, they all
these are good configurations for people in wheelchairs
and small children because they can get easy access to
both compartments, she said. "It means that
children don’t have to stand on a chair to get
(products)," Franke added.
side-by-side refrigerators have in-door water and ice
dispensers. Unless buyers are avid users of ice and
water, Franke said, this particular feature may not be
worth it. She and DiClerico said this is one of the
features that breaks the most.
freezer, including French door. Fresh food is elevated
in the bottom-mounted freezers, so people don’t have
to bend to get vegetables in the crisper. But people who
use a lot frozen foods tend to not like the
bottom-mounted freezer, Franke said, and this style is
not as easy to organize.
budget buyers wanting a bottom freezer, DiClerico said,
Consumer Digest likes Kenmore’s model 69313 which can
be found for less than $1,000.
refrigerator style most in demand now, and where
manufacturers are putting their innovative features, is
the French-door design, they all said. This style has
two refrigerator doors that can be opened individually
and a bottom freezer than can be a single drawer or two
love the way they look," Franke said.
refrigerators can be large, so they may not fit into
existing spaces, English said.
refrigerators come with more storage compartments, to
allow better organization of fresh food, and individual
temperature controls of those compartments, she said.
features in French-door styles include a door-in-door,
which allows users to open the front door and grab
often-used items, but a second, clear door is in front
of the main compartment to reduce cold air loss. Some of
other features include in-door seltzer dispensers or
pod-style coffee-makers, and see-through illuminated
main doors allowing users to peer into the fridge
without opening it.
innovation isn’t cheap. Basic French-door styles start
around $2,000, and average models are around $3,000.
Consumer Reports’ favorite, LG’s model LFXF32766S,
is $4,000 before rebates.
and DiClerico said some of the new innovations are worth
it, such as individual temperature controls and separate
evaporators for the freezer and fresh food compartments,
preventing odors from passing between the two
is less sold on the "connected" refrigerators,
such as the heavily promoted Samsung Family Hub, which
ranges in price between $3,800 and $6,000. He said,
"It’s great as a refrigerator," but he’s
less sold on technology part.
think obsolescence will be an issue. Samsung says they’ll
do upgrades for it, but I don’t think they’ll do it
fast enough," he said. "I just don’t think
(connected refrigerators) are ready for prime