Shopping Guide: Refrigerators
Refrigerators are one of the more complex appliances to shop for.
With so many different styles, sizes, and features, it can become tricky to identify what's different between that $1200 Bottom Freezer, and the $3500 French-Door next to it.
This overview will help.
Talk directly to our appliance team if you have specific questions or want instant answers.
With over 50 years of combined experience, Vicky, Bob and Greg can answer your questions in a jiff.
Most Common Refrigerator Styles
Refrigerator Sizing and Capacity
While you're shopping for refrigerators, keep handy the dimensions of your current refrigerator (or the space where your fridge will stand).
Think about where the doors will open up and if there are spacing restrictions on any of the 5 sides of your refrigerator that need space (Left, Right, Front, Top, Behind).
You will need about ½” of space on all sides of your refrigerator.
Widths typically range from 27” to 36”
Top Freezer models will be a slimmer option
Side-by-Side, Bottom Freezer typically start at 30”
French-Door models are wider, and start at 33"
Heights typically range from 60” to 70”
Side-by-Side, Bottom Freezers, and French Door models start at about 68” and go to 70” tall
Top Freezer models will be a shorter option
Depth typically ranges from 29” to 36”
Bottom Freezers are typically 34” deep or more
Side-by-Side, French Door, and Top Freezers will also have options ranging from 32” to 36”.
Counter-depth options are available for options with shallow spaces.
French Door, Side-by-Side, and Bottom Freezer counter-depth models will have depths of 28”-32”
Average Refrigerator Capacity Ranges
A good rule of thumb is to consider having 4-6 cubic feet of space for each person in the house, plus an extra 4-8 cubic feet depending on how much you entertain, have guests stay with you, or store lots of/larger food items.
- Top freezers: 14.5 - 24.0 cubic feet
- Bottom freezers: 19.0 - 24.9 cubic feet
- Side-by-sides: 20.0 - 29.0 cubic feet
- French doors: 18.0 - 32.0 cubic feet
Now that you know your dimensions, you can decide which refrigerator style will fit best in your kitchen
French Door Refrigerators
High-quality refrigerator option that is becoming one of the most popular styles
Full-width, double door refrigerator allows for maximum space and flexibility for storing refrigerator items
Slide out freezer door (often times with multiple levels) makes freezer items easy to access
On the larger side, but counter-depth and narrow-width options are available
Options to equip your refrigerator with numerous features, like Keurig coffee maker and smart technology
Price does correspond with included features, and these refrigerators are rarely below $1500 at MSRP.
Best Suited For…
Homeowners who need plenty of interior refrigerator/freezer space and have few if any size limitations; who may want additional “nice to have” features, and have few budget restrictions.
Top Freezer Refrigerator (also known as Top Mounted Freezer)
An economic choice for kitchens with limited space
Less interior capacity than other styles
Since the refrigerator section extends down to the floor, some items can only be reached by bending over or squatting (and some homeowners aren’t fond of this)
Best Suited For...
Homeowners looking for an affordable, no-frills refrigerator option
The most popular category of refrigerator available
Wide variety of features and styles (as well as pricing)
Fairly large interior space, with doors that save space by opening more shallowly
Does not offer as much horizontal shelf space as other options
Best Suited For…
Homeowners looking for a stylish-looking refrigerator with a plethora of options, who may have limited clearance in front of the refrigerator doors.
Bottom Freezer Refrigerators
Similar to the top freezer option, although with more features, design styles, and capacity options
A freezer drawer makes it easier to access frozen items
Slightly deeper than other refrigerator options (few models available with less than a 34” depth)
Best Suited For…
Homeowners who will need to store plenty of food and have few space limitations
Some additional refrigerator/freezer features to consider
Adjustable glass shelves
Shelves that slide in and out within the refrigerator cavity and shelves that flip vertically from hinges on the outside edges of the shelf create customized space.
Refrigerator-width pantry drawers create a separate temperature zone for party trays and snack foods.
These display fruits and veggies clearly while keeping them fresh with customized humidity settings.
Oversize door bins
Gallon-size door bins efficiently store milk, juice and 2-liter bottles of soda, making them easier to grab while taking up zero shelf space.
Dual-cooling system: This system allows freezers to circulate cool air separately from the fridge to help keep your ice from tasting like garlic bread.
Air filtration system
A built-in carbon filter keeps air in the refrigerator fresh.
Programmable control pad
Set the temperature, lock the ice and water dispenser, check filter condition and pre-set the amount of water to dispense with the push of a button.
In-door ice storage
These systems free up more freezer space by moving the ice bin from the freezer interior to the door. On some models, the ice bucket can tilt out or be removed with one hand for bulk dispensing.
Dual ice makers
These create ice for the door and ice for the party in a separate bin, usually in the pull-out freezer drawer.
ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerators use a minimum of 20% less energy than non-qualified models — saving you money on utility bills. You may also be eligible for rebates from your city when buying ENERGY STAR qualified models.