The Ultimate Refrigerator Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Refrigerator

How to Buy the Best Refrigerator For Your Needs Most refrigerators will do a good job of keeping your food cold, but differences in the design may mean that not every fridge meets your needs. Finding the right refrigerator is about understanding your own needs and asking yourself the right questions.

Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Refrigerator

There are plenty of questions you should ask in order to determine your needs for the correct fridge.

What Is My Budget for This Appliance?

Price is likely going to play a big role because a refrigerator is a major purchase. You will find options from basic models to high-end ones with smart technology. Consider your available space, and then find a model that fits and is in your price range.

What Size Can Fit in My Kitchen?

If you already have a current refrigerator, then you will need to buy one of similar width. Refrigerators are listed by their capacity in cubic feet, but you also need to focus on external dimensions. Do you need an undercounter refrigerator? You can measure your current machine’s width, depth, and height. Keep in mind the measurements of the fridge will be up to an inch thinner in order to allow room for installation. If you are purchasing a fridge for a new space, you will need to measure the space for where you want to put the fridge. Measure the depth where your cabinetry might be and where you have a baseboard.

Take different height and width measurements to ensure that the fridge will fit. Leave at least an extra inch at the top, sides, and back in order to allow for air circulation and proper ventilation. Not only will the right size refrigerator be needed to fit in your kitchen, but keep in mind that the bigger the fridge is, the greater energy consumption will be.

What Design Do I Prefer That Will Complement My Kitchen?

It’s a good idea to think about your lifestyle when it comes to the refrigerator design that you prefer. Stainless steel tends to be more expensive than black or white. If your other appliances are of a base color, then you want to get a refrigerator that will match. There are even newer options, such as bronze or black stainless steel, that are growing in popularity. For an even higher-end look, some built-in models can be customized so they blend in with the kitchen’s cabinets.

Which Built-in Features Am I Interested In?

Once you determine the size and price requirements of your new refrigerator, think about which features are the most important to you. Today’s features have more technology then ever before. For example, you can choose from modifiable humidity levels, reversible doors, a water and ice dispenser, fast cooling compartments, and child safety locks. There are even smart refrigerators that have entertainment, communication, and energy-efficiency controls.

How to Choose the Type of Refrigerator

Options for Different Refrigerator Designs Once you find the right size, there are plenty of different door styles that can be suited to different needs. While French doors are the most popular, if you are on a budget or have other space constraints, then you may want to look at other models.

Top Freezer

Just like the name suggests, these models have a top-mounted freezer and a fridge at the bottom. This type of refrigerator is seen as the classic refrigerator. Even though other models are becoming more popular, these remain the most sold. Many can even be used as outdoor refrigerators. Top freezers are a good choice if you are on a budget., as you can buy a 30-inch fridge with enough capacity for four people and no frills for under $1,000. Many of these refrigerators don’t come with extra features, such as icemakers or water dispensers, so they have better reliability because there aren’t as many parts that can wear out or break.

The newest models of top freezer refrigerators are more energy-efficient when compared to other styles of fridges. However, this model does require a lot of space.

Bottom Freezer

Bottom freezer models are similar to top freezer options, but the freezer is located at the bottom. These models aren’t as popular today as they once were. However, they can be a convenient option because the refrigerated compartment is easily accessible at eye level. You will still have the same benefits as you do with a top freezer fridge, but you also need to keep space issues in mind. Additionally, you may have issues with the swinging doors that could have trouble opening near a tight space or kitchen island.

Side By Side

Side-by-side refrigerators are split vertically; there is a freezer on the left side and fridge on the right side. Those who eat more frozen foods than fresh foods will like a side-by-side refrigerator the most. These fridges have more vertical space for frozen food, and it’s much easier to see and organize what is in your freezer because there is shelving at eye level.

These fridges can cost less than other models, so if you want some premium features at a good price, then you can choose this refrigerator style. If you are limited in kitchen space but don’t have the budget for a French door fridge, then this can be a good choice as well, as the door’s swing radius won’t be as big as a traditional unit with a freezer on top.

French Door

A French door style fridge has a bottom-mounted freezer that will open like a drawer. For the refrigerator section, there are two half-width doors. You may want to consider this type of fridge if you eat mostly dairy, deli, or fresh produce items, which describes most people. The fridge will be at waist to eye level, so your go-to items are easy to keep in mind.

If you have physical constraints and have trouble bending down, then it’s much easier to get the food you use the most out of the fridge. The freezer in a French door style refrigerator doesn’t offer a lot of shelving, so it can be hard to keep the freezer organized. If you entertain a lot and store a wide variety of containers and dishes, then this can be the right choice.

Large baking sheets, pizza boxes, and full-sized turkeys fit better in this type of refrigerator than other models. Because the freezer pulls straight out, it’s also a good choice for those who have kitchen space constraints. The double doors on the fridge extend only about half as far as a normal full-width door, which makes it even better for narrower spaces. In order to get a French door style refrigerator, you should have a budget of at least $1,500.

However, if you want more features like stainless steel and an icemaker, then you will be paying up to approximately $2,300. Paying more will usually get you more features and capacity, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee quiet operation, longevity, or better food preservation unless you upgrade the premium built-ins.


A mini or compact fridge is best for a small apartment, dorm room, or bedroom. Compared to commercial refrigerators and merchandising refrigerators, mini fridges don’t offer as much space or as many features, but they are best if space is the biggest issue you are facing. Mini fridges vary in size from 1.7 cubic feet to about 4.5 cubic feet. Others will have a separate freezer or are only good for keeping perishable foods cold for a few days and are not to be used for longer periods of time. Many of the least-expensive models also require manual defrosting for the freezer space, which can be time-consuming.

Features to Consider

There are plenty of features to consider to determine the best refrigerator for your needs, along with your preferred style and price points.

Storage Space

Features in the Best Refrigerators The storage space in your fridge is going to be important in addition to the type of shelving you use. There are many shelving options to consider. Sliding shelves will offer you uncomplicated access to items that are further back in the fridge, and you can easily just pull a shelf out to retrieve your food. Shelves that slide also have the benefit of holding taller items, such as bottles or juice. Adjustable shelves offer good storage space because you can remove one to make room for bigger things. It’s also less challenging to see what you are getting.

You may need to consider spill-proof shelves if you plan on holding a lot of liquids, such as juice or milk, in your fridge. The drawers are also important to consider when it comes to your storage space. Full-extension drawers mean that you have easier access when you need the items. Full-width access drawers mean you have enough space to store trays of food, which is important when you have guests. If you choose a fridge with transparent doors, then you can see the contents without having to open anything, which will save time on things like finding items and making grocery lists.

Think about how much storage you want your doors to have. Many people like to store items in the doors they are grabbing most frequently.

Icemaker Location

Icemakers are a great feature to have in a new refrigerator because you will never have to remember to fill ice trays. However, the location of the icemaker can take up a lot of space in the fridge. Hidden icemakers located outside the refrigerator will help you maximize space. You also won’t need to keep opening the fridge every time you need ice, which adds more convenience. Icemakers that sit on the top shelves of many French door refrigerators leave less room for your groceries and in-door shelves.

Energy Efficiency

Newer fridges do use less energy, which means savings for you and a lower environmental impact. Be on the lookout for appliances that are marked ENERGY STAR certified, as these models have stricter efficiency guidelines and can save you money on energy bills while helping to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, you can recycle your old refrigerator if you are buying a new one to replace it. Preventing the refrigerator and foam from entering the environment can help you prevent almost 5,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

Through-the-Door Ice and Water Dispenser

Refrigerators with this extremely convenient feature are becoming more popular. The only downside with through-the-door ice and water dispensers is that the parts can malfunction or break, so you want to do your research to make sure it has reliability in this area.

Freshness Features

Freshness features include dual evaporators to help maintain higher humidity and prevent odors. There are also air purifiers that can help eliminate bacteria and keep your food fresher for longer.

Temperature Controls

If you choose a fridge that maintains humidity and temperature electronically, then it’s much easier to count on freshness. There are fridges with different temperature zones, offering a drawer or compartment in the fridge with its own temperature presets for delicate groceries, such as cheeses or meats. This will allow you to store important ingredients (like the ones needed to make ice cream from scratch, for example) at the right temperature for them, even if it’s at a different temperature than the rest. While many people use these to store more delicate items, you can also use these zones as an in-fridge wine or beer cooler.

Smart Refrigerators

Basic smart refrigerators are either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled, and more-advanced options have mounted touchscreen tablets, apps, and cameras inside. Smart fridges have become a lot more popular since 2016. The features easily allow you to control internal temperatures and create grocery lists. You may be able to do a lot with a smart fridge, depending on which one you choose.

You can use your smartphone to see what is inside, receive notes and calendar entries to appear on the screen, and get an alert if someone leaves the door open. Smart refrigerators can operate as a kitchen command center. As of right now, there aren’t a lot of manufacturers that make smart fridges, and each one has its own connected features. While these features are nice, they are not necessarily important to the function of your fridge.

If you can afford a smart refrigerator and the features are something you plan to use, then do your research to find a smart refrigerator with the best connectivity.

Find the Right Refrigerator For You Today

How to Buy the Best Refrigerator When searching for a refrigerator, no matter which style you choose, make sure to ask yourself if it’s something you need in your kitchen. You don’t need to be spending thousands on a top-of-the-line refrigerator in order to feel like you are getting the right one. With so many options available, you are sure to find one that suits your needs and fits right in your kitchen.