6 Things to Know Before Buying a New Refrigerator

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

If you’re looking to purchase a new fridge, you’re probably a bit perplexed about where to start — especially if you’ve never gone through this before. Well, we’ve got you covered with a few of the most vital need-to-know items. Read on and you’ll be sure to stay savvy as you navigate the fridge market.

1. The difference between freestanding and built-in refrigerators.

Freestanding refrigerators are much more common than built-in refrigerators, but it’s important to know the difference between the two before you begin shopping — especially if you’re looking for options.

Freestanding fridges are easiest to install because they’re simply plugged into an outlet and slid into place. Built-in refrigerators, on the other hand, are, well, built into your cabinetry! They fit into the space seamlessly and can even be covered with paneling to match the cabinets in the space. There are also counter-depth freestanding fridges, which give more of that built-in look. They’re shallow and don’t stick out past the countertop, creating a more custom look.

2. The orientation options.

Do you want a side-by-side fridge-freezer model? Or a freezer drawer below your fridge? Maybe you’d prefer the classic freezer-on-top scenario? Figure out what suits you, your space, and your lower back best — after all, there’s bound to be some serious bending and reaching involved with some of these models. The amount of available storage space can differ between orientations and brands, so keep that in mind, too.

3. The features that are important to you.

Take a good look at the refrigerator you have now and think about all the things you like about it, or what you wish it had. You might not ever be able to live without an ice maker, but most European models (many of which are available in the States) don’t have those. Or maybe you know you want a water dispenser in the door? Or one of those fun alarms when you leave the doors open for too long? Make sure the model you like has all the things on your wish list. Of course, the more bells and whistles you want, the more you can expect to spend.

4. All the dimensions.

Fridges take up more space than you realize. There’s the actual unit itself, but you will also need space behind the unit for it to “breathe” and vent out heat. These requirements should be listed with all the information of the refrigerator, so be sure to check for that. You’ll also need to measure the doorways and around any islands or obstacles that the appliance will have to go through. Always play it safe and allow for some extra wiggle room.

5. How the doors open.

If you opt for anything other than a French-door style fridge, you’ll want to make sure the doors open to give you good access to all the stuff inside. If the doors only open up one way that will require you to crane your neck to get inside, this is not the fridge for you. If the doors are reversible, specify which way you want them to open before it’s delivered.

6. A fridge’s energy efficiency.

Most new fridges are going to be a lot more efficient than the ones that were on the market a decade ago. That said, you should still look for the EPA Energy Star rating to make sure you’re getting an option that can help you save money on our energy bill.

More on Fridges