Refrigerator shopping, like buying a new car or computer, can start to feel overwhelming pretty quickly. There are so many brands, models, designs, features and price points that even a seasoned shopper might get discouraged by the sheer volume of information available. Fear not, fridge shopper; we’re here to help. Before we get started, let’s fire off a few general pieces of fridge-shopping advice. First, remember that the more features your fridge boasts, the more potential problems you could have in terms of repairs. Not to say that there aren’t reliable multifunction fridges on the market; we’re just pointing out that a straightforward system with fewer functions has fewer moving parts, pieces and software, with less potential to cause problems.
What to look for in a refrigerator
When you’re in the market for a new refrigerator, it makes sense to begin by familiarizing yourself with all the popular features that the best refrigerators have to offer. The best refrigerator brands provide an appealing blend of stylish looks, efficiency, storage capacity, temperature control and ease of use. They also have the smart technology that many of the best fridge brands make available to those who don’t mind paying a little more for cutting-edge tech.
If you’re on the hunt for the most reliable refrigerator brand, plenty of regularly updated research and reviews of the reliability, features and customer satisfaction with refrigerators is out there and available to you for free, if you don’t mind spending some time looking for it. You can find this information on the manufacturers’ and retailers’ sites, as well as free consumer-oriented sites such as cnet. Paying to join an impartial service like Consumer Reports, which evaluated more than 130,000 refrigerators with ice makers between 2010 and 2020 via surveys of members who purchased these models, can give you access to a more in-depth level of data and findings.
What features matter to you?
When you’re determining which refrigerator features are most important to you, it makes sense to work from the outside in. Of course, you’ll need to consider the amount of space you have available before you can start evaluating models. Refrigerator sizes vary a lot, and you may need to think about removing a kitchen cabinet from your wall or moving the wall itself — or even both — to accommodate a wider or taller refrigerator, depending on your needs.
Next, you’ll want to determine which refrigerator orientation best suits your needs. Do you prefer a freezer up top or down below? Do you like double (French) doors, four-door models, or maybe a single-door fridge that opens on the left or right? Perhaps you prefer the two long, tall doors in a side-by-side model? You might even consider a more expensive (but attractive) built-in model, designed to fit seamlessly into your kitchen. You could even look at mini fridges, wine coolers, kegerators, smaller undercounter refrigerators, or freezerless refrigerators for those who prefer a separate freezer. Refrigerators can get even more specialized than that, with fridge models built for smaller spaces or maximum capacity, with door-in-door features, child locks, extra drawers, depth to match your counters and even more.
What about more specialized features, like customizable shelving, airflow controls, climate zones, freezer shields, adaptive defrost functions or adjustable-humidity crisper drawers? Do you need an ice maker? Some fridges come with two. Would you like filtered water available for drinking right from your fridge as well? What about LED or panoramic lighting?
As we mentioned before, reliability, though maybe not as obvious, is an essential factor. No one wants to have to replace an important appliance like a refrigerator on the regular. When you’re likely going to interact with your fridge daily for years, you want to make an informed purchase to ensure your long-term satisfaction. You want to feel confident that your new refrigerator won’t require service too often, and that if and when it does, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get it fixed. Though it’s not exactly a feature, reliability may be the most crucial factor of all when considering a purchase as significant as a refrigerator. Look for one with consistently positive reviews — one that actual owners have had time to use and abuse, and they still post positive, satisfied feedback. This is another good argument against buying the latest and greatest. Last year’s models will have so much more information posted in terms of ratings and reviews because reviewers have had time to live with them and find out how well they work. No one wants to waste time with a fridge that fails to operate reliably and maintain desired temperatures.
Is one brand better than another?
You have a good idea of what size and type of refrigerator makes the best sense for you and your family, and you’ve spent some time on review sites, manufacturer sites and retailer sites. With your own fairly specific type of refrigerator in mind, now it’s time to consider the brands. While you may already have several good fridge brands in mind, it’s worth considering not only the top fridge brand in each category sales-wise, but also those that rank highly for customer satisfaction, reliability and longevity. Hopefully, you’ve already got a few ideas in mind on your fridge brand list, but chances are there are contenders you might not have initially considered. Not every brand scores well in all of these categories, but some do. Some brands spend less on marketing and advertising, so they are less recognizable, but may score just as well or even better than the big names.
Just when you thought you had more than enough factors to consider before jumping into your fridge-buying adventure, we need to mention smart refrigerators. Though they represent a smaller portion of the new models available now, their numbers are growing, and their influence on the future’s refrigerator design and features is undeniable. Smart fridges available today already include a wide range of internet-connected, smartphone-era bells and whistles, from interior cameras, exterior touch screens and voice assistants to built-in recipe apps, streaming services and expiration-date trackers. Even if you doubt you’ll be getting a smart fridge this time, it’s worth looking into which smart appliances could be right for you in the future.
Whatever you decide, home warranties, like home protection plans from Cinch Home Services, make it easy to cover all your home’s major appliances and core systems. Check out our affordable, award-winning plans that deliver peace of mind and keep your home running reliably and comfortably.
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The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.