Have you noticed how people love to hang out in the kitchen? No matter how much time and effort you put into other rooms in your home, an invisible tractor beam seemingly pulls friends and family directly into the kitchen. It’s no coincidence that the kitchen is where the food and drink are typically stored, but there’s just something indescribable about congregating in and around the kitchen. It happens during any gathering. What’s the center of that tractor beam, the focus of all that positive energy? You guessed it. It’s your refrigerator. When it’s getting all that attention, not only from those who live in your home, but also from your friends and their friends, and anyone else who happens by, it just makes sense to want a great fridge and great refrigerator coverage.
Which brand of refrigerator lasts the longest?
It’s only natural to ask this question, but the answer can and will vary. It depends on the make and manufacturer of your refrigerator, the quality of the parts that keep it running, how well it is taken care of, whether you service it when needed, and more. The question of what brand refrigerator is most reliable is a natural one, but the truth is there are multiple answers. Many depend on your situation, budget, needs, and ability to take care of your fridge purchase over time. Before you dig too deeply into finding the perfect brand, consider the idea of comprehensive appliance coverage available to you from a reputable home warranty company. A good home warranty will ensure that your refrigerator, along with every other major appliance in your home, continues to run reliably for as long as you maintain the contract, so you won’t even have to worry about repairing an old refrigerator.
The crown jewel of your kitchen
It’s tough to imagine a major appliance more integral to the entire experience of living in your home. It’s no surprise that we want our refrigerators to be functional and appropriate to our needs and look like attractive, well-designed works of art. Like cars, refrigerators have a sort of wild-card factor that defies reason and practicality. Even if we do our research and know what we should get, we’re still easily seduced by the sleek lines and smooth finishes, the high-tech LED lighting and fancy “smart” features. That’s OK because it’s possible to find all you want and need in a fridge, satisfying your desire to be a responsible consumer while indulging your appreciation for the sharp looks of a modern model.
Which brand refrigerator is the best?
Finding the right fridge for you and your family is never as simple as asking questions like “what is the best refrigerator brand to buy” because the best refrigerator for some people could be the worst choice for others. So much depends on your circumstances and needs. Before you start typing awkward phrases like “which is No. 1 brand in refrigerator” or “refrigerator best brands” into your search engine, read this post. Many factors go into your refrigerator-buying decision, like size, configuration, functionality, finish and features. You must consider your budget, how much space is available for a new refrigerator in your home and whether you need to make more, what design elements matter most to you, and what type of look suits your situation best. We’ll cover all these considerations in this article about finding the right fridge.
It’s easy to forget that there’s more to a fridge than keeping food cold. Modern refrigerators can have all sorts of added conveniences, like ice makers (some that dispense from the front of the fridge and others that do not), filtered water dispensers, transparent doors, internet connections, smart apps and coffee makers. They’re packed with layered shelving and internal drawers of different shapes and sizes designed to accommodate food categories. Some feature humidity controls for crispers, differing temperature zones for meats and cheeses, wine storage, pizza drawers and more. When choosing a new fridge, it makes sense to take some time to think about which features are important to your family.
It’s important to break out the measuring tape and spend some time with it around the kitchen so you have a precise idea of how much room is available for a new fridge before you begin serious shopping. It’s a safe bet that you’ll replace it with a taller, wider model that takes up more space, especially if you’re replacing an older model. Consider counter and cabinet space. Don’t forget to consider the space your fridge’s open doors take up too. This could influence your choice of fridge configurations when the time comes to decide.
Most manufacturers measure refrigerator capacity in cubic feet, but that’s a little awkward to visualize. Instead, think of a cubic foot as roughly the capacity of a single bag of groceries, and that should give you a better idea of how much a particular fridge can handle in terms of food storage. Most fridges range from about 15 to 30 cubic feet of capacity. Still, you’ll also want to consider the configuration of shelves and drawers inside. It’s important to note these can sometimes adjust to your needs. Freezer capacities generally range from around 4 to \10 cubic feet of food storage.
A fridge can come in many colors and finishes, from fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel to classic white, a cabinet-paint-matched color to carbon fiber, customized patterns and beyond. Rose- and gold-tinted steel are also options in some cases. For help deciding on a fridge finish, look at your existing appliances, cabinets, paint colors and kitchen style.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, which create standardizing criteria for Energy Star certification of appliances, Energy Star-rated refrigerators are “at least 15% more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard.” With a more efficient fridge, you’ll use less energy and spend less money on utilities.
There are five main categories of refrigerator configurations to choose from, and we walk through more detail on each option below. While top-freezer, bottom-freezer and side-by-side models are the most popular, there are valid reasons to consider each of the five options.
- Counter-depth models: Slimmer than a standard fridge, this configuration lacks 5-6 inches of depth compared to the standard 36 inches. Designed to align with counter depths, they must sacrifice some capacity but tend to cost a bit more than standard models. They achieve a built-in look for less, saving extra room in tight kitchens.
- French-door models: With double doors that span the width of the fridge and a full-width freezer at the bottom, this configuration keeps food at eye level and offers split shelving in multiple configurations. With large capacity, these appeal to those needing more storage and take up less space than others when opened. A popular style, this configuration offers multiple variations and options, though the basket-style freezer is harder to access, the unit extends beyond the depth of other models, and energy costs are high.
- Side-by-side models: This configuration offers unit-length freezer and fridge sections, which puts both at eye level but limits storage of larger, wider items like cakes or pizza boxes. Stacked shelves hold their appeal, and shallow doors take up less space. With some similar features to French-door models, this configuration typically costs less.
- Bottom-freezer models: With a similar layout to the French-door model but with a single, wide door that takes up space when open, bottom-freezer orientations use a shelf that sits on top of a larger, sometimes divided main freezer drawer, both of which slide out. This drawer sometimes contains an ice maker and bucket on one side. Fridge food stays at eye level, and prices are lower, but water and ice dispensers are uncommon on these models, which typically feature fewer high-tech or smart features.
- Top-freezer models: Here’s the classic fridge configuration going back to when freezers were first added to what was once called the “icebox.” Typically, this is the most affordable refrigerator style. It is still popular, and many versions and options are always available. Though they usually lack dispensers, the doors are typically wide, and the style is somewhat retro. With a door for the freezer up top and one more for the food underneath, you’ll have to stoop to get into the fridge. Doors open wide and therefore use more space, so make sure you have it. These more basic models have fewer features, but they often have bright LED lights, large, adjustable shelves, and get the job done with plenty of choices for colors and finishes.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, homeowners who plan on spending at least $4,000 on a kitchen-improvement project are about 85% more likely to upgrade their appliances. A new fridge, while usually less expensive than a new range/oven, is often the second-largest expense among kitchen appliance upgrades. Based on our findings, the average price of a new refrigerator is around $2,150, though they can range from as low as $600 to as high as $10,000 and beyond. While French-door and four-door styles tend to be the most expensive, the simpler, classic two-door top-freezer models are typically the most affordable. Extra features like dispensers, touchscreens, onboard coffee makers, Wi-Fi capabilities and transparent doors usually increase the price, as will color deviations from the more popular stainless-steel finishes.
Average price by configuration
[AVERAGE PRICE TABLE HERE]
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, most refrigerators last about 11 years. The best refrigerator warranties cover the compressor (typically the most essential and expensive-to-replace part of the fridge) for up to a decade. At the same time, some brands only offer a single year of coverage. While some warranties are written in simple language and easily understood, others rely on a frustrating puzzle, making it difficult to discern which parts and what labor is covered and for how long. While some complex warranties even divide separate portions of coverage into widely divergent timespans that don’t necessarily converge or make sense, a home warranty will cover the entirety of your fridge for as long as you maintain the agreement, not to mention all your other major appliances. It can also include your home’s systems, like plumbing, electrical and HVAC, if you elect to cover them as well.
Where to buy
Researching your new refrigerator purchase online before visiting a store is always a good idea. You definitely want to be well-informed before a salesperson approaches you on the sales floor. If you look at a particular brand’s website and find models you like, you can use their store locator to find stores that sell the models you’re after. Still, it helps to see refrigerators in person to get a feel for their actual dimensions in relation to the room, so allow yourself some flexibility with your decision-making process. When visiting a big-box store with a wide selection, you might change your mind from what seemed settled during your online research.
Testing and rating
Based on up-to-date findings on performance and efficiency from researchers at U.S. News & World Report, Good Housekeeping Institute’s Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab and the National Kitchen & Bath Association, we’ve assembled our top picks for some of the best refrigerator buys in late 2022. Refrigerators are thoroughly tested and rated on consistency of their temperature regulation, uniformity of temperature and variations over time, as well as their ability to maintain moisture when necessary, ease of use, comfort of handles and helpfulness of manuals. Features ratings also include the type of shelves, meat, deli and crisper drawers, and basket functionality while noting unusual features like Wi-Fi or coffee-making.
Best refrigerator under $1,000
Despite our findings indicating that the average refrigerator costs around $2,150, it’s still possible to find a good fridge for under $1,000. However, you might have to adjust your expectations for your preferred configurations. Many or even most of the best refrigerators under $1,000 are the more traditional, top-freezer models. Still, here are some options we can recommend for those looking for a reliable, functional refrigerator for under a grand (that are not top-freezer configurations):
- Best bottom-freezer refrigerator under $1,000: If you’re determined to find a bottom-freezer model for less than $1,000, you’ll need to consider lesser-known brand names like iio, Forno, Midea, Hisense or Unique Appliances, although Frigidaire does make one bottom-freezer model that tends to sit right at the $1,000 mark at most retail locations.
- Best side-by-side refrigerator under $1,000: Unless you’re willing to shop for scratch-and-dent sales or are lucky enough to catch a break on a flawless yet previously displayed floor model, finding a side-by-side refrigerator under $1,000 is unlikely. That said, Frigidaire makes a model you can find between $1,000 and $1,200, as does Amana and the fairly lesser-known yet well-rated Insignia brand.
Best refrigerator under $2,000
Want a few more features or a little more capacity? Perhaps you need a specific finish that costs a bit more? Either way, here are a couple of recommended models from our findings that remain under the average cost of a new refrigerator while offering a little more bang for your buck:
- Best bottom-freezer refrigerator under $2,000: The Energy Star-certified stainless-steel 25.5 cubic-foot bottom-freezer refrigerator from LG (model LRDCS2603S) can be had for around $1,600. It’s a great choice for those who like this particular configuration. With excellent temperature control, an easy-to-use digital interface, and an ice maker that stores cubes in the handy transparent freezer drawer above its larger, divided freezer bin, this model offers basic features. It doesn’t have a water dispenser, but its simplicity, ease of use and reliability are good selling points.
- Best side-by-side refrigerator under $2,000: The extra-large Whirlpool 36-inch side-by-side refrigerator with ice maker in fingerprint-resistant stainless steel (model WRS588FIHZ) can be found for around $1,800 and includes filtered exterior water and ice dispensers with a measured fill feature. This standard-depth model includes an extra shelf due to the ice bin’s relocation into the door, and the frameless glass shelves create more room. With adaptive defrost and an LED dispenser night light, this model’s FreshFlow air filter is 15 times more effective than baking soda at reducing odors from stored foods.
So, which brand is best for a refrigerator? Hopefully, you have some ideas to help you navigate all the options. While you’re at it, remember that protection plans from Cinch can be the solution you need to keep every one of your home’s crucial systems and appliances — including whatever sort of refrigerator you have or plan to buy — running strong for as long as you have the plan. For a single, predictable, affordable monthly or annual payment, you can rest easy, knowing that you’ll be covered anytime any of these essential systems or appliances you rely on daily need to be repaired or replaced. Avoid expensive, budget-bursting surprises and enjoy perpetual peace of mind.