Choosing a refrigerator calls for a combo of passion and practicality. You don’t want to get your heart set on a style to discover it doesn’t work with your specs. To help find the perfect match for you (and your family), we pressed industry pros for the cold, hard facts on the five main styles and their picks for each. Whichever one you choose, the latest models are sleek and streamlined, as well as energy-saving and space-enhancing—making the hub of your home an even happier place to hang.
To help inform your decision on selecting a refrigerator, start with these considerations on the size and space you have available for the appliance:
Measure the height, width, and depth of your existing refrigerator and the space it occupies to use as a guideline of what you can replace it with.Take care to ensure that wherever the refrigerator is placed, the vent system is not obstructed by cabinets or flooring requirements. It’s important to keep in mind that poor ventilation diminishes performance and shortens the lifespan of a refrigerator, regardless of built-in or freestanding. When considering size and placement options, be aware of any walls, cupboards, kitchen islands, or opening drawers that could block the free movement of refrigerator doorsAdd the depth of the door hinge on to the width of the unit to account for the swing of an open door, as well as the handle - you don’t want the refrigerator door putting a dent in the wall. It’s best to account for two inches or more with most doors. Measure the width and height of the refrigerator against every doorway the appliance will have to pass through between the driveway at delivery and the kitchen for installation. It doesn’t matter that the refrigerator will fit in your kitchen space if it can’t fit through the doors to get it there!
With those basic considerations accounted for, you’ll have a good idea of what your family’s requirements are from a refrigerator. Keeping them in mind, the next step is to decide on the style. How do you want the refrigerator to look? What design will best meet your needs while making the rest of your kitchen look good?
Separate freezer and refrigerator compartments.Freezer section above the larger refrigerator area.Features wide shelves for plenty of storage space.Produce bins primarily located on the bottom for best accessible use of space.Most common style and typically the best priced option.
Separate freezer and refrigerator compartments.Refrigerator section above the freezers space.Fresh food storage at eye level for easier access.Pull-out drawer freezers.Utility racks or baskets can be used to make sorting and storage easier.A popular style in the modern home.
Separate freezer and refrigerator compartments.Refrigerator section above the freezers space.Fresh food storage at eye level for easier access.Pull-out drawer freezers and humidity-specific zones.Utility racks or baskets can be used to make sorting and storage easier.Narrow doors work for small kitchen spaces.Wider interior spaces than a side-by-side refrigerator.Great for larger items and food organization.
Separate freezer and refrigerator compartments.Compartments take up one entire vertical section, from top to floor.Fresh food storage at eye level for easier access.Produce bins primarily located on the bottom for best accessible use of space.Narrow doors work for small kitchen spaces.Energy efficient design.Narrow interior storage shelves.
Available in most styles, from top freezers to french Doors.Designed to fit flush with existing cabinets at the standard depth of most modern countertops.Less interior space in exchange for more floor space and walkway.Great for small floor plan or galley kitchens.
Drawer storage available for both freezer and refrigerator capabilities.Smaller size in height, width, and depth.Stand-alone, built-in, or undercounter options.
Designed to be built-in to existing counter spaces or as freestanding units. Front-facing vent systems to allow for enclosed-area placement. Commonly designed as beverage storage.
For those finishing touches, look for the smaller details. These are generally more flexible features, but can make a difference in how happy you are with your purchase in the long run.
White - Durable, universal fit with many kitchen styles.Stainless Steel - Durable, easy to clean, easy to match with any kitchen style, tends to show fingerprints.Black Stainless Steel - Smudge and fingerprint proof, easy to clean, however it is susceptible to scratching.Customizable Front Panels - Depending on the brand and model, these can be swapped out for the closest fit to match your existing cabinetry.
Glass - Easy to clean, tempered for strength, scratch-resistant, contains any spills to one spot.Plastic - Easy to clean, contains spills. Baskets - Moveable, easy organization.Customizable organization - Some shelves can be slid securely out of the way, or fold up to latch to the interior, to make more space for taller items.
Customizable - Features temperature, humidity control, and even air purifiers to keep your food fresh for longer.CrispersFreezersTemperature-Controlled Pantry
Ice Makers -
Built-in - These take up the same space as stacking refillable ice trays in the freezer, and you have ice at the ready whenever you want it, without the work.Through-the-door - Many offer cubed or crushed ice options.
Water Dispensers -
Through-the-door - Hold your glass up to the panel and it will dispense the water with the press of a button.Filtered - Optional, as the filters will need replaced periodically.Hot and cold - Some refrigerators offer either room temperature dispensing, chilled, or even hot water on the door.Auto-fill Pitchers - Some refrigerators offer a water-pitcher docking station inside the refrigerator, and it will refill the pitcher whenever it is replaced in the dock. The mobile water pitcher can save on trips to the door dispenser, and some of them even have a diffuser in them for fruit or herbal flavoring.
Certified to save energy consumption, saving you money on the monthly bills. Meets US Department of Energy standards. Use 20% less energy compared to other models.