As someone who tests refrigerators as part of his job, it's a question that comes to mind quite often. And exactly six years after joining the CNET Smart Home and Appliances team, I still do not have an easy answer. Sure, there are many(and many that are ) ̵
However, if you need a new refrigerator, you will not feel overwhelmed. The trick is to focus on the key features and themes (and even better to figure out which ones to skip over). From then on, it's all about looking for a good price for a reputable refrigerator that complies with the bill. Here are some quick tips to remember along the way.
Start with what you know.
We use our refrigerators every day without thinking too much about it. The next time you open yours, ask yourself what you like and what you do not like. You may fill your glasses more frequently with the water dispenser than with the sink or jug. Maybe your fridge has adjustable shelves that can be folded in or out – but you never need to use them. You may never seem to have a good place for a particular grocery store that you like. Maybe your fridge is a freezer or side-by-side, and you do not have to bend over to get into the fresher trash cans.
Such small insights are really helpful because they depend on the best data you have – of your ordinary one refrigerator use. It may seem obvious, but before you begin browsing and talking to salespeople, make sure you pause and think about what's really important to you and what upgrades might be most useful to you.
Narrow Things  Next, you want to break out the tape measure and figure out how much refrigerator your kitchen can hold.
In addition to the basic width, depth and height dimensions, you should also consider how much space you have for the doors. Side-by-side and French door models usually need a little less – if the doors are split in the middle, you only need to open half the width of the refrigerator if you use one.
As a rule of thumb, you need 4 to 6 cubic feet of storage space and a few extra cubic feet of contingency for each family member. For example, if you are married to two children, you will probably need at least 20 cubic feet of storage space. If you want to buy large quantities of food or hold many parties, it's worth upgrading to something even bigger. And do not forget to look up the capacity of the refrigerator you already have. If it feels tight when you push in a full load of food, a few extra cubic feet are probably too much.
Setting a Budget
Apart from the size, the other major limiting factor to your buying decision is obviously how much you want to spend. The prices vary depending on the brand, season and novelty of the model. In general, however, you should expect to find around $ 700 to $ 1,000 for a new top freezer, $ 900 to $ 1,500 for a new bottom freezer, and $ 1,200 to $ 3,000 for a new side-by-side. French fridges are the most popular with homeowners, so they get the highest premium. Expect to pay between $ 1,500 and $ 4,000 for a new refrigerator.
In order to stand out from the competition, manufacturers tend to focus on unique-sounding features and characteristics eye-catching designs. For the past five years, however, we have largely failed to notice any dramatic improvements in refrigerators (and efficiency standards have not risen since 2014). In other words, a 2019 refrigerator is unlikely to be significantly better than a comparable refrigerator from 2015.
That means it's a good idea to keep track of last year's retail sales models that retailers may have closure to make room for new inventory. Refrigerators like these typically offer the best discounts, and they also have a better track record for user reviews. Thepictured above is an excellent example – it debuted in 2017 for about $ 4,200, but now it's available for $ 2,700 to make room for large items. If you are dealing with such moving parts in the business, you can get an idea of which refrigerators offer the best workmanship.
Tyler Lizenby / CNET
Getting a feel for things
Okay, you have a basic sense of what kind of refrigerator you need and how much you want to spend. It's best to go to the store now and choose the models that interest you. Literally. Open and close the doors and drawers, press the buttons, try rearranging the shelves … whatever you want.
Your goal is to find out if any of the refrigerators on your list feels cheap or not are any little things about the way they were designed that would put you off during your daily use. I focus on all the moving parts first – the sharper drawers, the hinged lid over the butter bowl, the fold-up shelves, etc. If I pay thousands, they should all move smoothly and comfortably (and as you'll probably see, many do not) ,
I like to reach into all drawers and feel the overhang from the shelf above. It is a general point that manufacturers like to overlook. In many cases, it is a bit rough or even sharp and can scratch the hand when grasping and grasping it out.
This is also a good time to get information from the stores where you are shopping for warranties. I would recommend to stay at least 5 years and preferably 10 years on models that cover the sealed system (condenser, compressor, evaporator and hose of the refrigerator).
Three refrigerators – which one would you buy?
Let us give you a short example of how you would like to make a purchase. Let's say you're the happy couple with two children I've already talked about, and let's say you're fed up with the narrow freezer on your side-by-side refrigerator and the way you need to bend over to bring in fruits and vegetables and from the fresher containers. This puts you on the market for a refrigerator with a full-width freezer, access from the waist to all your fresh food and at least 20 cubic feet of total storage space.
A French door appears to be the obvious upgrade, and you may do so – but you should not exclude floor freezers. They are usually not as fancy or feature-rich as French door refrigerators, but they still check all your boxes and it's much easier to find a good deal for a great one.
Whirlpool Freezers. So let's take a look at the WRB322DMHV hot tub, a 22-cubic foot black stainless steel model for about $ 1,700. We compare this with the equally large Frigidaire Gallery FGHD2368TD, a French black stainless steel door model that costs $ 3,300, and the Electrolux EW23BC87SS, a French high-end door model that is currently priced at $ 4,450.
I We tested all three in our air-conditioned laboratory and found that they are not very separated in terms of performance. The Electrolux model had some hot spots on the door racks, and the Frigidaire noticed that the temperature-adjustable drawers underneath affected the keepers, which I down-regulated to the lowest setting during the test. Neither are deal breakers.
The important point is that none of these French doors surpasses the freezer, even though it costs thousands of dollars more. This is quite typical for both the cooling performance and the efficiency. There are definitely outliers, but most of today's refrigerators play in the same stadium, regardless of what they cost. And again, all three are about the same size – 22 cubic feet.
Characteristics and design remain the most important distinguishing features. The whirlpool freezer has an ice maker in the freezer, but no in the door and no water dispenser. And unlike Frigidaire and Electrolux fridges, it does not have a temperature-adjustable supply drawer. It is up to you whether such amenities and the appeal of French door design are worth the price. Other high-end models could replace other subtle baubles to tempt you – for example, the automatic water dispensers of someand models.
If it's my money, I'll either save my money and go into the freezer or – if a French door model is a must – look for a model that is about two years old and of at least $ 1,000, if not 1,500 USD.
Would you like more buying advice? Read.