In the past, refrigerators were pretty simple and only used to keep your food cold. Now there are so many options and features that buying a new one can be daunting. It can also be tempting to spend more than you planned just for an extra gadget, so let this guide help you decide what you really want and need for your family. Read this before going to the store so that the salesman doesn’t talk you into anything that is more than you actually want.
Question 1: Where do you want the freezer? (and how big should the freezer be?)
This question may confuse you if you haven’t bought a new fridge in awhile! The design of a refrigerator has changed significantly over the years and now-a-days you have many options. Your options include:
– Side-by-side: This type of refrigerator is split vertically in half. One door opens to the fridge, the other to the freezer. Usually the fridge side is slightly wider than the freezer. The plus side to this is you have a lot more room in your freezer vertically and a lot more shelves; however the downside is that you cannot fit very wide items in your freezer. Items in a side-by-side refrigerator can be at eye-level in both the fridge AND the freezer making it a great option for those who can’t bend easily. Read reviews of side-by-side refrigerators.
– Bottom-freezer: You may be used to the common style fridge where the freezer is on the top, but you can also by Bottom-freezer models where the freezer is on the bottom. Unlike side-by-side refrigerators, you can store extra-wide items in a bottom-freezer. The other benefit of it being on the bottom is that the rest of the fridge is raised up a bit for easier viewing. The downside of a bottom-freezer is that people who can’t bend over easily may have trouble accessing these frozen items, especially if they are heavy.. Read reviews of bottom-freezers.
– Top-freezer: This traditional style refrigerator puts the freezer on top. This works really well for people who access their frozen foods a lot as they are right at eye-level. However it does mean that a lot of your fridge items are lower to the ground which could be bad for those who can’t bend down. The width of the top-freezer is wide, as with the bottom-freezer, so you can fit extra wide items. Choosing between a top and bottom freezer really comes down to which one you need at eye level for easy viewing. Read reviews of top-freezers.
– French Doors: The freezer is on the bottom in this version, but you get the extra benefit of having two doors to your fridge. Refrigerators with French doors are usually even wider than your average fridge and great for large families that need more space in their fridge. Read reviews of French Doors.
– Compact: This option doesn’t even have a freezer. It is much like the refrigerators you see in hotels and perfect for a basement, dorm room, or similar application where you just need to keep a few things cold. Read reviews of compact refrigerators.
Question 2: Do you like cold water? Do you really really like cold water?
If you and your family enjoy a fresh cold glass of water throughout the day, you might want a refrigerator with an ice and/or water dispenser built right into the door. This nifty feature is becoming more and more common on refrigerators and does not increase the price by much. You may think it’s a simple question of “water dispenser” or not, but there are a lot more options now-a-days. Read reviews of refrigerates with water dispensers.
– The Basics: Some of the cheaper models come with very basic water filtration systems that simply let you choose from crushed or cubed ice and cold water. This type will satisfy most people as it delivers what you want (cold water) in a very easy manner.
– Child Lock: Some fridges offer child lock to prevent your kids from dispensing water for safety. If you have young and curious kids, the child lock option will definitely make life easier on you, but still allow you to have cold water when you want it.
– Light: Some dispensers offer a small light that makes it easier for you to pour your water even when the kitchen lights are off. This is an nice extra that you may be able to live without.
– Filtration: It seems like all water dispensing fridges come with filtration, so this is one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about.
– Tall: Some fridges offer a Tall version of the water dispenser which allows you to fill up pitchers and glasses of various sizes. This is a great option if you often need large amounts of water for juices or ice tea, for example.
– No dispenser: Your final option is to have no water dispenser at all. The plus side to this is you don’t have any trouble shooting as water dispensers can break down at times. You also do not need to worry about providing a water source to your fridge if you choose to forgo the dispenser.
Question 3: How big do you want it?
There are many different sizes of refrigerators now-a-days. Whether you want 17.6 Cubic Feet, 19 Cubic Feet, 25.3 Cubic Feet or something in-between is a decision you will need to make based on the following two criteria:
– How much room do you have? If you have a limited amount of space, your choices of fridge sizes may also be limited. Make sure you measure before going to the store to shop.
– How much food do you store? Having a large fridge is great if you have a full family to feed, however if your fridge is normally 1/2 empty, it is best to choose a smaller fridge for energy savings. Otherwise you are spending a lot more money on electricity just to keep the empty fridge cool. Even if you have the space and the money, don’t let the salesman talk you into a fridge that is bigger than your needs.
Question 4: What color do you want?
This one is quite simple and based purely on personal preference. Do you like traditional white? How about a bold black? Or is Stainless steel more your style? You can even buy fridges in various other colors OR make them blend right into your cabinets. This is very much based on what YOU like, so you may be able to eliminate some refrigerators right off the bat if you don’t like the way they would look in your kitchen.
Question 5: How fancy are we talking here?
You’ve probably gotten used to seeing refrigerators with water dispensers on them, but you may not even be aware that you can now buy them with computer panels right on the door! An LCD Screen or Electronic Control will definitely make your fridge easier to work with, but do you really need it? When you are playing around with these controls in the store, make sure that you can figure them out for yourself without the salesman couching you. The last thing you want is to bring home a fridge with fancy controls and then not be able to use them without help. Computer-savvy people or quick learners should love these extra controls, but be careful before buying them for someone who doesn’t like complicated gadgets.
Question 6: Is the refrigerator of your choosing Energy Star Qualified?
Energy Star appliances are marked as such because they are tested and proven to reduce your energy costs. Many refrigerators are now marked with the Energy Star label making it so you should have no reason NOT to buy an Energy Star product. Energy Star appliances are great for your wallet, but also great for the environment! Ask your salesman about Energy Star before committing to a product that is not qualified. Read reviews of energy efficient refrigerators.
Question 7: Is there a certain Brand name you prefer?
I’m a firm believer of sticking with brands I know and trust. If you have a GE dishwasher that you love, for example, you might want to stick to a GE refrigerator as well. Read reviews of the following popular brands on Viewpoints if you don’t have a favorite.
– Kenmore or Kenmore Elite (Sears only brand)
Question 8: Do you even need to worry about the shelving and drawer placement?
The answer to this is yes and no. You will want to make sure the refrigerator you choose has adjustable shelves and if this is the case you can easily rearrange them to be exactly how you need it or like it. If the shelves are adjustable, you’ll usually find that you don’t need to worry about this aspect too much.
If the shelves are more static, or you don’t have a lot of options for rearranging things, then you’ll need to really examine the shelves and drawers and make sure the types of foods you buy will fit. Either way, you don’t want to get too hung up on the shelves and drawers.
The Bottom Line on How to Choose a Refrigerator
I think I’ve made it clear that the number one thing to remember is to not let the salesman talk you into something that is more than you need. There are a lot of features, but make sure you ask yourself – will I use this feature often enough to make it worth it? Refrigerators have changed a lot and become way more high-tech then they used to be. Do your research by reading reviews on Viewpoints before you go to the store so that you are well prepared for whatever the salesman throws at you.