Buying a refrigerator is a big investment. You will be using it every day, many times a day.

What features should you look for, and what should you avoid? This article will help you buy the right refrigerator for your kitchen and family needs.

First of all, do your research and compare!

Ask your friends and family members what they like or hate about the refrigerator they own. Size, type, price, features all come into play when purchasing a refrigerator. Most people hope to get at least 20 years of use out of their refrigerator, so getting the one you can live with is crucial.

How much food capacity do you need?

Refrigerators come in different sizes. The measurement used is in cubic feet, which tells you the amount of space inside the refrigerator that can be used to store food.

The smallest sizes are around 18 cubic feet and they go all the way up to monstrous sizes. If you don’t have any children and do not have large gatherings of people at your house, you don’t need a refrigerator that is larger than 22 cubic feet.

As a matter of fact, today’s refrigerators are designed to utilize every inch of space, so it is possible that even a smaller model will be plenty big enough for a small family.

With a really large family, you may want to look at the 25 – 28 c.f. refrigerators.

The larger cubic foot refrigerators will, of course, be bigger overall in size. The first thing you should do before you go shopping is measure the space for your new refrigerator. Measure height, width and depth. Also, check which way you need to have the door swing open. Most units have doors that can be switched but, others do not. Refrigerators come in three types:

  • Side by side
  • Freezer on the top
  • Freezer on the bottom

Side By Side

The side by side offers two long doors that are side by side. They are not as wide as regular refrigerator doors, so they usually won’t interfere with your cabinetry.

A side-by-side model from LG

The one drawback is that both the refrigerator and freezer portion are very narrow….long but narrow.

If you have a large platter that you want to put in the refrigerator or a tray of appetizers that you want to freeze, it may not fit. Very large turkeys won’t fit either.

Freezer On Top

A refrigerator with the freezer on top, even in the smallest models of 21 cubic feet, will have more usable room inside than a side by side freezer that is 23 cubic feet.

Top freezer models use their space more efficiently, and that is one of the reasons they are the most popular.

Freezer On Bottom

A unit with a freezer on the bottom is the least popular model; probably because you have to bend down to dig through the freezer. But on the positive side, they raise the overall height of the refrigerator portion making it easier to get inside the more used part.

Refrigerators come with many options. Some of these options are standard these days such as:

  • Temperature control
  • Humidity control crisper
  • Butter and meat trays

Most refrigerators are equipped with these. There are other options to think about and look for that are not as standard. Some options only come in certain types of refrigerators, for example: if you want a water and ice dispenser in the door, then you have to go with the side-by-side.

All three types of refrigerators will come with adjustable shelves, but make sure that the model you are looking at does. A really nice feature is clear drawers and crispers so you can see what you have inside; this way you won’t be as likely to forget you have broccoli in the vegetable crisper.

Make sure the shelves are glass, it is worth the extra money as plastic breaks, gets stained and can scratch.

Another important feature is separate thermostat controls for freezer and refrigerator. Also, humidity controls on the deli or lunch meat storage and on the crispers.

An exterior cabinet moisture control for when the humidity is high is also helpful. An alarm sounds if the refrigeration should fall below acceptable levels so food won’t spoil.

A really nice feature that most people can’t do without, is an ice maker.

Another option is color: see if the model you like comes in white, almond, aluminum, black and stainless steel and more. Make sure the doors on the freezer and refrigerator are reversible in case you move and your new kitchen layout is different.

An important aspect that people often forget to check out when shopping is, looking at the space at bottom of the refrigerator. Make sure you can move the bottom panel to clean underneath it easily.

What about the price? Let’s face it: refrigerators are not cheap. But, if you shop around you can find deals. Most 19 c.f. models will run between $400 – $600, while the 22 c.f. models will be between $900 –$1,100.

If you have the space for the 26 c.f. and up model, then it’s going to cost you over $1,200. But if you ask about last year’s models or closeouts, deals can be found. When looking at price, check into how much delivery and set up costs.

One nice benefit of owning a modern refrigerator is they are all at least 30 percent less power hungry than they were before 1993. So, it will cost less to run….about $ 40 a year less.

And, new refrigerators no longer rely on environmentally damaging chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant to keep them cold, so the are better for the environment.

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