Need a new refrigerator? Here are the things you need to look for and consider before choosing!

Buying a refrigerator is a major appliance purchase. You shouldn't start shopping for one until you become familiar with the basics, i.e., the location of the freezer section, ease of accessibility and use, the price, the size of space available in your kitchen, etc., are all factors to consider in making an informed decision and choosing one you'll be happy with.

Perhaps the most important consideration when buying a refrigerator is the capacity. Two people generally need 8-10 cu. ft. of fresh food storage, adding an extra cubic foot for each additional person in your family.

Buying a refrigerator that is the right size for your family is very important. If you buy a refrigerator that is too big and don't keep it filled, it wastes energy and costs more to operate.

If you buy one that's too small, you'll end up wasting much of your time rearranging all the items trying to make room for them all. When thinking about upgrading in size, consider the capacity of the one you currently have and how well it fits your groceries before you decide to increase or decrease the size of your model. The average refrigerator provides between 18-26 cu. ft. of storage space. Models that aren't side-by-side typically have a capacity ranging from 10-12 cu. ft. For the typical family of four, a 19-22 cu. ft. appliance is ideal. A very large side-by-side model could have a capacity as large as 26 cubic feet.

The capacity of the freezer section can widely between models and brands. You will need to think about what items you typically store in the freezer. If you typically buy a lot of frozen goods, the boxed items, such as pizzas and microwave dinners alone will take up a lot of that space. If you stock up and do a lot of freezing, or use a lot of ice, the size and configuration of the freezer section will also need to accommodate those items as well.

Another important factor to consider is size in comparison to how much space you have available in your kitchen. You need to measure the width and depth with the doors open. Make sure the unit fits the area with additional room to spare. The appliances need a little "breathing room" for maximum efficiency. If you have limited space, then you'll probably want to get a side-by-side model. These models take up much less space with the doors open. Side-by-side models also allow easier access to the freezer and regular refrigeration compartments.

Another thing to consider before you shop is to figure out how much shelf and bin space you need and the shapes and sizes of the items you usually buy. The ability to organize groceries and manage space is just as important as having enough room. There are some models that offer options of how and where you arrange your shelves and storage bins.

A Closer Look at Side-by-Sides:

Side-by-side models are useful for putting food items at eye-level. When considering a side-by-side, look carefully at capacity and interior flexibility. Watch out for the models that have narrower compartments. This makes it much harder to find room to put those large items, especially those square pizza boxes that need to be squeezed into the freezer section or that gallon of milk in the refrigerated section. When possible, select an appliance with adjustable shelves and storage bins. This makes it is to conform space to suit your needs. Look for a model that offers an in-door ice maker that moves the ice to the freezer door; this is an important feature as it frees up a lot of valuable shelf space in the freezer compartment.

The standard side-by-side models range from approximately 31-36 in. in width, a depth of anywhere from 28-34 in., and between 66-69 in. in height...these models begin taller than the top mounts. Typically this type of appliance will require more kitchen space than other types because of the overall size and the area needed to open both doors.

What About the Freezer on Top?

This is the most common type of refrigerator available, with the most extensive selection of styles. Narrow down your choices before you shop - first by price range, then by the interior's features. Think about capacity and which performance options will be most beneficial in your household.

The standard width for the top-mount models range from 23-36 in. with a depth of 27-33 in. (this includes even the door handle). Most top-mount refrigerators are 60-69 in. tall. Because of the way they are configured, the top-mounts usually offer a larger capacity than do other model types. When you have your freezer compartment located at the top, this makes it easier to access your frozen items because they are at eye level.

Want the Freezer on the Bottom?

The bottom-mount freezer models are not as commonly found as other refrigerator types, however, most of the major manufacturers offer at least one or more to choose from. The bottom-mount design is a good option for households that want fresh food selections at eye level.

These models are generally the same as those of the larger top-mounts, averaging a width of typically 33 in., depth averaging 32-35 in., and a height of around 66-69 inches.

Other Options and Features:

Extra features such as special temp-controlled compartments, water dispensers, and see-through bins only enhance the performance of your refrigerator and make food storage and accessibility easier.

Door-mounted ice makers and ice-water dispensers are generally easy to find on side-by-side models, but not as common on other, freestanding models. Most side-by-sides dispense ice and water through the door and have a water filtration system. It's best to find a model that has the water filter located in the base unit, making it easily accessible to change.

Shelves and Bins:

To maximize interior space it's best to avoid wire shelves and go with a refrigerator that has the wide, glass shelves. The glass shelves actually give you increased surface area as opposed to the wire shelves. Some models and brands feature shelves that you can slide out, which makes it easier to use the whole shelf by putting food all the way to the back. Adjustable shelves will provide flexibility as your storage needs change. These are usually shelves that are divided down the center so that they can be arranged to accommodate your own personal needs. Clear shelves and door bins help you see what you have, no matter where it is in the refrigerator, and provide better access to items stored in the back. Look for this feature if you generally store a lot of food at a time and plan to purchase a large-capacity refrigerator.

The storage bins are designed for organization. Some models come with bin areas that have separate or special temperature control mechanisms. Bins can also come as either opaque or clear. Some are designated for specific storage items, such as meat or vegetables. Keep in mind that the see-through bins are going to allow you to see what your storing in there, no matter where it is in the refrigerator. Most refrigerator models have 2-4 storage bins.

There are compartments for storage located inside the door for condiments and beverages. Most of the newer models have interiors that are designed for storing the taller items, such as ketsup bottles and gallon-size containers, in the door as well as on the shelf.

We hope we have given you enough insight into what's most important in buying a new refrigerator for your home, as the one you choose will become of service to you for many years to come.



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