Selecting a refrigerator

Since most people don't purchase refrigerators very often, the technologies and styles available in today's refrigerators may be overwhelming. That's ok, because we're going to break refrigerators down into three distinct styles, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and briefly review features available in today's models. Then, you'll have an easier time finding a refrigerator that suits your wants and needs. And remember: always measure the space the refrigerator will live in, not the refrigerator that's there now, and bring those measurements to the store when you shop. Now, let's go!



Top-mount refrigerators have the freezer on top with the refrigerator below. This style is often found in apartments, and is popular with the budget-conscious. These models are available in a wide variety of sizes, from 10-22 cubic feet. They also have a wide variety of dimensions, so people with low clearances or narrow spaces may find a top-mount suitable.

These refrigerators tend to have a very traditional look, and this style is losing market share to the other two major styles. Most models are available in white, with some available in other colors.

Prices range from $350-$1200 at most retailers.


Bottom-mount refrigerators, on the other hand, have the freezer on the bottom and the refrigerator on top. These come in four styles:
  1. Two door with swing-open freezer door
  2. Two door with pull-out freezer door
  3. Three door (also referred to as "trio" or "French door")
  4. Four door (two refrigerator doors and two separate freezer drawers)
Bottom-mounts put perishable food closer to eye level, so it is less likely to go bad in the refrigerator. They also allow for improved freezer storage with their pull-out baskets. Some models will also have a full-width pantry drawer in the refrigerator, allowing you to easily store party trays of food or sheet cakes (or even soda cans!).

Since most people open the refrigerator compartment much more often than the freezer, this layout has become very popular. 33" is the narrowest width, and 69" is the tallest height. Most models are available in white, black, and stainless steel (bisque is available on fewer models than the other colors). Some models are only available in one finish.

Prices range from $800-$3000+ at most retailers.



Side-by-side refrigerators put the freezer in a full-height compartment on the left, with the refrigerator in a full-height compartment on the right. This style allows for more precisely organized storage in the freezer, though it also means storage of large items in either compartment will be difficult, if not impossible.

This style of refrigerator is popular among people who want modern styling, prefer the layout, and/or want ice and water dispensed through the door, as most side-by-sides have dispensing standard. Most models are available in white, black, and stainless steel (bisque is available on fewer models than the others). Some models are only available in one finish.

Prices range from $800-$4000 at most retailers.


FEATURES

The more features a refrigerator has, the nicer it will be and the higher its price will be. Some features (such as an ice maker) will be standard on a given model, while other models might offer it as an option. Some refrigerators are copies of others will additional features included, creating a feature hierarchy. These are some of the most common and popular features available:
  • Ice maker: most models in all styles
  • Ice & water dispensing: some three-door bottom-mounts, most side-by-sides
  • Water dispensing:
    internal: some top-mounts, some bottom-mounts

    external: most side-by-sides
  • Counter-Depth: some bottom-mounts, some side-by-sides
  • Filtered water for ice/water: some top-mounts, some bottom-mounts, most side-by-sides
  • Pantry drawer: some three-door bottom-mounts
  • Beverage center: some three-door bottom-mount, some side-by-sides
  • Digital controls: some models in all styles
  • Vacation mode: some models in all styles
  • Frost-free freezer: most models in all styles
  • Concealed handles: some top-mounts
  • Roller bin/basket slides: some bottom-mounts
  • Rapid cooling/freezing: some side-by-sides, some bottom-mounts
  • Spill-proof glass shelves: some top-mounts, most side-by-sides, most bottom-mounts
  • Retractable shelf (store tall items without rearranging): some bottom-mounts
  • Customizable door shelves: some top-mounts, most bottom-mounts, most side-by-sides
  • Gallon door shelves: some top-mounts, most side-by-sides, most bottom-mounts
  • Smooth finish: some models in all styles
  • Metal door handles: some models in all styles

OTHER INFORMATION

If your refrigerator has a water filtration system, it is very important to replace the filter every 6 months; more often if it is heavily used. This will give you better quality drinking/cooking water, and prevent excessive growth of bacteria that are commonly found in the water. Don't wait for water flow to change. And, when you do have to change it, the best thing to do is bring the filter with you, or bring the manufacturer's model number of the refrigerator.

Most repair calls for refrigerators with ice dispensed through the door are for ice-maker repairs. Manufacturer warranties do not cover food loss, power surge damage, normal wear and tear, cosmetic defects, ice-maker repairs due to hard water, preventive maintenance checks, or repairs required after the first 12 months. For these reasons, a Protection Agreement is an easy and smart way to protect your investment and safeguard yourself against unexpected costs.