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How To Choose a New Refrigerator

There are five key things to consider when choosing a new refrigerator:

  • The dimensions of the space where the refrigerator will go.

  • How much capacity do you require?

  • Will the layout inside the fridge hold the things you will store?

  • What features do you require?

  • What design and appearance do you prefer?


Measure the opening (height x width x depth) to determine how large of refrigerator will fit in the space available. If you have flexibility because you are designing the kitchen around your appliances, then knowing the approximate amount of space available will be good enough. You can fine tune the cabinet sizes and positions once you know the exact measurements of the refrigerator you have selected. Keep in mind that most refrigerators require some air space around them to allow for airflow. Check the specifications of your selected model.


The capacity of refrigerators is measured in cubic feet. How much space you need varies by personal habits but our rule of thumb is 14 cubic feet plus 2 cubic feet person. So, a family of four would need about 22 cubic feet. Not all cubic footage is equal because some of it may be unusable space. When comparing two refrigerators with equal claimed cubic footage, one may have a significantly greater amount of usable space because of a better design. Check the inside of a fridge and look for shortcomings that will interfere with storage. Things like lights, knobs, icemaker and protrusions into the storage space will reduce the useful space. If you are purchasing separate refrigerator and freezer units, then the typical ration is between 25-35% freezer and 65-75% refrigerator space. If you have a large family, you may tend to need more freezer space. If you tend to entertain a lot, you may need more refrigeration space.

Interior Layout

Another consideration is the configuration of shelves, drawers and storage features. Will the things you are likely to store in the refrigerator actually fit. The internal space will vary be design. For instance, side-by-side refrigerators have narrower spaces; will a large cake or a pizza box fit if you need it to? If you need more width for storage, a French door style or freezer above or below may be a better choice. If you need to maximize the depth of shelves, then a counter depth fridge may not work for you. Do you need space for taller items, like 2-liter bottles or cut flowers? Choose a model with adjustable shelf heights for more versatility in storage. Models with adjustable shelf heights, adjustable door shelves, and useful drawer sizes should be considered based upon your particular needs.


In addition to features like shelf height adjustment, what features do you desire/ Many refrigerators come with icemakers, many more offer it as an option. Do you want ice and water through the door? This feature saves some energy by keeping the doors closed for ice and water use. Some refrigerators offer water filtration. How about spill proof shelves? They help contain spills to a single shelf instead of spilling throughout the fridge. Do you need a temperature controlled meat drawer? If you want an especially quiet appliance, LG, among others have a good reputation for quiet operation.

Popular features include:

  • Adjustable shelving - some allow shelves to be adjusted by removing them and reinserting them in a different position, while a few offer a crank to allow infinite adjustment without removing food from the shelf first.
  • Spill-proof shelving - spills on steel grills go everywhere. Glass shelves with a lip around the edges help to contain a spill.
  • Quick access through the door compartment - this feature provides a small compartment that can be accessed from inside or through the door for a few popular items. This is designed primarily to let kids get a drink or snack without opening the door every time.
  • Ice and water through the door is a convenient feature. Choose one with a filtration system for the best tasting ice and water. A down side to filtration is that it tends to reduce the water pressure, making it take longer to fill your glass. Make sure the service panel is large enough to accommodate your drinking glasses.
  • Water filtration - takes the incoming water supply and runs it through an internal, replaceable filter. It improves the taste of the water and the ice - if both are run through it. A drawback is that the filter must be replaced periodically and they can be pricey.
  • Extra deep door storage - Gallon jugs of milk don't fit in the average sized door shelf. If you use a lot of milk or store other large, frequently used items, large door shelves are a worthwhile feature.
  • Door alarm - an alarm will sound if either door is left open for too long. Useful for reminding kids not to stand there staring into the fridge and to warn you if the door didn't seal tightly.
  • Reversible doors - a fairly common feature of top or bottom mount freezers. The door is easily changed from left hand to right hand opening, or vice versa, by detaching the handle and hinges and swapping them to the other side of the door.
  • Temperature regulated drawers and bins allow greater control of temperature which allows you keep meat colder and vegetables a little warmer.

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