A refrigerator is a big investment, one that needs careful consideration before making your decision. With plenty of styles, models, and sizes to choose from, it can be difficult to know which option to go for. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you, and in this guide, we lay out several factors to consider before buying a new fridge.
Freestanding Vs. Built-In Refrigerators
Freestanding refrigerators are easy to install and are more common than built-in fridges. They are plug-and-play, meaning you simply need to plug the appliance into a power outlet, and you’re good to go. Built-in fridges, as the name suggests, are built into your cabinetry and are costlier to install.
They fit better in the designated space and can even be covered with paneling to match your kitchen or home décor.
Top freezer-style fridges are the most common models, with a small freezer at the top and the main chiller section at the bottom. They are compact, versatile, and more affordable, making them great for a small budget and small kitchen.
However, they offer limited storage for frozen items.
Its layout is opposite to that of a top freezer fridge. The freezer is at the bottom, and the chiller section is at the top for easy access to fresh food. The bottom freezer model offers more storage for frozen items, but you’ll have to bend down to reach for ice cream and other frozen food.
This type of refrigerator is split right down the middle, with the freezer section on the left side and the chiller section on the right. The two narrow doors open outwards and provide easy access to both the freezer and non-freezer zone.
It's more suitable for narrow kitchens and ideal for people with physical issues who can't bend or stand on a stool to access the top shelves. However, it has narrow shelves, which may limit you from storing very large items.
This model combines both the bottom freezer and side-by-side type, with the upper side featuring two doors that open towards the user and a freezer zone at the bottom. It has excellent compartmentalization, and it's more on the expensive side.
It’s the roomiest of all the refrigerators, and you’re likely to find a few fancy features like drink dispensers and ice makers.
The Size of the Fridge
It's essential to check the width, depth, and height of the space you’ll be installing your refrigerator before heading out to select one. Check if you’ll have sufficient space to open the doors and access everything in the refrigerator with ease.
It's also important to check the entry points and the route the refrigerator will take to get into your house. Are the main doors large enough to accommodate the fridge size? When taking your measurements, be sure to leave a few inches off the wall to allow for better ventilation and warm air removal.
Assess the Features
Different types of refrigerators come with varying combinations of features. Some common features include an ice maker, water dispenser, cooling zones for meat and poultry, and adjustable shelves, to mention a few.
Others come with fancy features, like vacation mode, alarms, and voice assistant support. However, be ready to pay a premium when you go for such models.
If you want all the bells and whistles, consider buying a smart fridge. It gives you access to features that can help you save energy.
One such feature is Energy Monitoring, which can sync with energy grids (where available) and adjust energy consumption accordingly. Some come with a built-in camera that can be accessed via your smartphone. The camera lets you check what you have inside the fridge while shopping to avoid over-stocking and subsequent food wastage.
Advanced models even allow you to customize the temperature in different compartments. For example, you can freeze your beer in one compartment and set a different temperature for your lettuce in another compartment. What's more, you can do all that on your smartphone.
Generally, you should check for things like noise level, availability of compartments, and energy efficiency.
Energy Star Rating
Speaking of energy efficiency, it's crucial to consider a fridge with the Energy Star label. This mark symbolizes efficiency, which in turn reduces the operating cost of the appliance in the long run. After all, you don’t want to be spending a lot of money on power bills.
Additionally, a fridge with several energy stars means it has a low carbon footprint.
It's important to work with what you have. Your budget will determine the type or model of refrigerator you can afford. Before going shopping, it's advisable to set a maximum price limit that you’ll be comfortable with.
When you get to the stores, you’ll have a wide variety of fridges to choose from. Try as much as possible to stick to your budget. You don’t want to buy something only to end up regretting later when you go broke.
On the same note, be sure to factor in the operating cost of the fridge you want to buy. It might have a lower initial cost but with high operating costs, hence higher bills. Take your time to compare the different prices, as well as ensure that the appliance has an Energy Star certification.