How to Choose a New Refrigerator

It's a match, even though a different brand than the range and hood.
It's a match, even though a different brand than the range and hood. | Source

I Need it Now

Most of us depend on our refrigerators every day. When it suddenly stops working and it seems unrepairable, we may rush to the nearest store to get a replacement as soon as possible.

Often it can be a matter of replacing what you had with something very similar, but you may be more satisfied with your new appliance if you explore all of the available possibilities.

Different Styles

What type of refrigerator do you prefer?

  • Top Freezer
  • Bottom Freezer
  • Side by Side
  • One with ice and water in the door and all the bells and whistles.
  • Just something to keep the butter and beer cold.
See results without voting

Repair or Replace?

When you first find a temperature drop, you first want to check your connections and settings. Next consult your appliance owner's manual for troubleshooting tips. Pull out your fridge and vacuum the vents and openings. It is possible to have a serious expensive failure, even if the lights and fan are still working.

If you call a major appliance service provider they will likely charge a fee of nearly $100 just to come and take a look-- only to tell you you need a new one. These days refrigerators only last about 10-12 years -- if you are lucky. If the compressor goes, repair costs can be more than half of what a new one would cost. If you can find a local repair person, you might get a cheaper service call (or a free look, if they are real nice), along with some advice.

Before shopping, you need to consider your likes and dislikes; your needs and your wants, as well as your budget.

You Need to Consider ...

  • Size of Inside Space: Know the cubic ft. measurement of your refrigerator interior. It is usually printed on a label inside or on the back of the fridge. Decide if you could live with a slightly smaller capacity or if you really need more cold storage space. This is very individual depending on family size and how often you shop.
  • Size/ outside space: Measure the outside dimensions of your old refrigerator. Also measure the dimensions of your refrigerator space. Don't assume they are all standard. My new appliance has a slightly smaller capacity, but it is an inch and a half taller and almost three inches less in width.
  • Function and Convenience: Most new refrigerators have adjustable shelves that can be adapted to your needs. Do you need a door shelf that will hold gallon jugs of milk? Do you want extra large vegetable crispers? Do you really need a cold water dispenser or an ice maker? Maybe you do. Or maybe you just think it is something extra to clean.
  • Cost: Costs can vary on the very same model and brand depending on the dealer, sales discounts, etc. Also make sure you know if the price includes delivery, installation and take-away of your defunct appliance. These additional charges can add up to $200 or more. Some stores include them in the price.
  • Color: Many refrigerators come in white, black or stainless steel. (Stainless usually costs about $100 more than black or white for the same exact model.) Gone are the days when you could get bisque, and you will probably never see an avocado green or harvest gold finish again. Yes, they used to have those.

Can You Shop Online?

Looking at internet sites from appliance manufacturers, big box stores and other dealers can give you a good idea about features and prices. Some of them, such as Lowe's even have interactive sites where you can pick out several models and compare various models.

Reading the reviews may also give you a hint about what problems and advantages particular brands may have.

Once you have a general idea about what you want, it is advisable to go see some refrigerators in person so you can actually see and feel how the doors open and close, what the interior lighting is like, and how easy (or difficult) it might be to organize, and access the food items you will be storing.

If you make a firm decision, you may want to order online-- or you may feel more comfortable making the deal in person where you can talk to and ask questions of an actual human.

Inside space should be adjustable and adaptable
Inside space should be adjustable and adaptable | Source

Adjustable Shelves and Drawers

The model shown here is a Whirlpool 22.1 cu ft bottom freezer model. The door provides lots of easily visible storage for small items and the lower shelf is wide enough for gallon jugs of milk or juice.

Easily adjustable shelves allows you to make room for tall bottles or short jars.

In the main compartment the glass shelves are also adjustable on each side. Lights are placed so contents are easy to find.

Crisper drawers are slightly smaller than  the old ones.
Crisper drawers are slightly smaller than the old ones. | Source

Crisper Drawers

Crisper drawers were a little bit disappointing. They are one piece of clear plastic and seem less sturdy and somewhat smaller than the ones I was used to. On the other hand, since things are easier to see, and they can't be over-filled, they make it less likely that an old stalk of lettuce might be buried and forgotten.

They do seem to slide easily. One of the drawers has a little gadget that is supposed to keep produce fresher. Not sure yet if it is worth losing a little space in the drawer, but it can be removed if necessary.

Easy access to the freezer is a good feature.
Easy access to the freezer is a good feature. | Source

Freezer Compartment

I have had at least four refrigerators with bottom freezers. It makes so much more sense to me to not have to get down to floor level to access fresh vegetables every day. Especially since I open the freezer far less often.

I have always had a swing-open freezer door before, but the roll-out drawer with its deep baskets makes it very easy to actually see what is in your freezer. I have seen other models with a drawer, but they had opaque plastic bins which made it much harder to see what was at the bottom. There is also a slide out shelf at the top level of the freezer with the ice bin and space for more items with easy access.

The freezer bins are what sold me on this particular model.

Old Faithful in the Garage

The 33 year old garage refrigerator came in handy. Yes, they used to make things that last  that long... even thoguh the door shelves were not adjustable.
The 33 year old garage refrigerator came in handy. Yes, they used to make things that last that long... even thoguh the door shelves were not adjustable. | Source

My kitchen refrigerator died on Christmas Day.

I had noticed the night before that it seemed a little warmer than usual, but credited the condition to the fact that we had house guests and there had been a lot of opening and closing of the door during the previous day.

Luckily, I have another, older refrigerator purchased in 1982, in the garage. I usually use it for extra soda, juices, and overflow storage during holidays or times when I have house guests.

Also our garage is right outside the kitchen door, and the weather at that particular time was freezing, so the garage was below 40 degrees F-- essentially a walk-in refrigerator.

I moved the necessary things from the dying refrigerator out to the garage, and though we did lose a few frozen foods, Most things were ok. I decided I could live with a little inconvenience while I figured out exactly what I wanted as a refrigerator replacement.

Luckily, I was able to take a little time instead of rushing out to buy something that wasn't quite right.

Leftover Management

This pyrex glass set of round straight-sided bowls is a great way to keep leftovers ( or planned- overs). I keep mine on the eye-level shelf of the refrigerator to make sure I see and use the food, and to prevent the "lost spontaneous developing science experiment" from flourishing in a forgotten corner.

When not in use, the heavy glass containers nest, saving cupboard space.

Pyrex can be reheated in the oven or microwave and is dishwasher safe... the perfect refrigerator accessory.

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Comments 23 comments

mactavers profile image

mactavers 19 months ago

Good Advice! We are waiting for a new dishwasher. Our old one was 15 years old and we had already had another repair for the same problem.


tlcs profile image

tlcs 19 months ago from Hampshire, UK

Yes, good advice, I never liked the crisper drawers in refrigerators, my new one has glass shelves and I dislike them because they always look wet!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 19 months ago from California Gold Country Author

Fifteen years is a pretty long run, these days. We replaced one a couple of years ago, but it was sort of an inexpensve one. The new one is better in many ways, and i hope it lasts awhile.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 19 months ago from California Gold Country Author

It takes a little time to get used to the glass shelves, but really-- after you get used to them-- I think they are easier to clean than the wire ones. If the 'look wet' I suppose they are bright and clean.

My new stainless steel refrigerator door, still looks a little odd to me, being used to a neutral bisque exterior. My counter tops and floor are more of a beige/tan color and I previously had appliances to match. When we bought a new range and exhaust hood a year ago, my best choice came in stainless-- so I decided the same finish would go best for the fridge.


Marina7 profile image

Marina7 19 months ago from Clarksville TN

I wish they were not so expensive!!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 19 months ago from California Gold Country Author

I know! The one I got was 'relatively" reasonable, even though they have gone up a lot. To rationalize the cost I have to think, "It should last at least ten years"-- then divide the price by 10 and think if I am willing to spend that much a year to keep my food fresh and convenient without having to shop every other day.

I know Brie Hoffman wrote an article about living without a refrigerator. It was very interesting, but I live 30 minutes from a store and it wouldn't work for me


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 19 months ago from Home Sweet Home

Our fridge doesn't have crisp drawers, is it expensive?


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 19 months ago from California Gold Country Author

Here in the US, most large refrigerators have crisper drawers. They are covered so they help prevent lettuce and other vegetables from drying out. The drawers themselves are probably not expensive, but a full size refrigerator/freezer is probably the most expensive kitchen appliance for most people. When it stops working, most people are in a hurry to replace it. Taking a little time to consider the options can make a difference in the price . Thanks for commenting, peachpurple.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 17 months ago from Houston, Texas

Like you, we have a secondary refrigerator so could take our time in figuring out what to purchase when our older one eventually dies. The old appliances were made to last! We have an old chest type freezer in the garage that used to belong to my parents. I have no idea just how old it is but it still functions. My dad died in 1985 so it is older than 30 years! We have to defrost it manually which we need to do again sometime soon. Other than that...it just keeps plugging along!

Your new refrigerator looks nice. Stainless steel is all the rage now. I remember those old colors well and thought that they were pretty. :)


Marina7 profile image

Marina7 17 months ago from Clarksville TN

A very good hub about refrigerators!!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 17 months ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks Marina and Peggy-- after having my new refrigerator for awhile, I am pretty happy with it, but I do miss the larger crisper drawers. The door storage is better than m old one and the Freezer is much more accessible. I have learned not to touch the steel exterior doors, and found that a microfiber cloth is good for cleaning fingerprints


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 15 months ago from East Coast, United States

Christmas Day is the worst time for a refrigerator to fail! We just lost our old fridge. Shopping for a new one, I so wanted a bottom freezer model but we stuck to the old top freezer model. It was so much cheaper!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 15 months ago from America

My refrigerator was bought in 1990 so I'm waiting any day for it to fail. Thanks for all the information on refrigerators. Voted up.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 15 months ago from California Gold Country Author

Yes, you bring up a good point. Top freezer models are usually less expensive and are also a little more energy efficient, saving on average about $13 per year in electricity cost. It doesn't seem like there should be so much difference, but it has to do with the location of the compressor. I still like the convenience of the bottom freezer, for me it's a back-saver.

Thanks for your comment. Cost is certainly is certainly an important factor to consider.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 15 months ago from California Gold Country Author

Don't give up yet. The older ones lasted longer. My 1987 model in the garage still works fine. The ones I bought in '97 and '05 both expired-- got 10 years out of each. I'm hoping for more out of this one, but my hopes are not that high. I'll bet the old one will still be working.

Thanks for commenting. Now I'm wondering about my 18 year old water heater, which has already exceeded my expectations.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 15 months ago from Home Sweet Home

i still have my old fridge, just rusty doors and the whole fridge is functioning well. Anyway, I bought a new fridge, two doors and you know, I didn't use the new fridge until 2 years later after I bought it.!!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 15 months ago from California Gold Country Author

Seems like the old ones were made to last. Thanks for commenting.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 12 months ago from Southern California, USA

I like the stainless fridge and stove. Good advice for purchasing appliances. I met someone the other day who said her main complaint was walking into Home Depot and not having the service people even ask if they needed help looking at fridges. Apparently they had been there for a long time at that point. I hope most customers service people would be more helpful than that.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 12 months ago from California Gold Country Author

You are right, but don't go to Home Depot for customer service. They will help-- but you have to hunt them down.


marinagcorbin@gmail.com 12 months ago

I wish the prices for the nice ones were not so high. I like the one that has a little freezer on the bottom then you don't have to bend down so much for the fridge :-)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 12 months ago from California Gold Country Author

They are expensive. That is one reason it's important to take all of the factors into consideration.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

We bought a new refrigerator a year back and possibly the biggest as yet. As I can see I followed most of the tips you mention. I'm glad it has lived up to our expectations though these days the quality of the plastic trays and holders is not as sturdy as it used to be once.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 4 months ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks for the comment, rajan jolly, and -- yes -- the plastic bins are not only smaller, they are much thinner than the older ones. I'm thinking they will be cracked before the appliance dies. Other than that, I'm happy with it.

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