A refrigerator is a big and expensive appliance but is also almost a compulsory item to have in your home. Though its importance is most felt during the summer season, it is used throughout the year as it keeps your food fresh for a long time. So, if you are thinking about buying a new refrigerator for yourself, you must consider every feature and factor that helps in determining what type of refrigerator is best suited for you. As refrigerators are expensive and also add to your energy bill, making an informed purchase is crucial. In this article, we are discussing the refrigerator buying guide to help you get the best refrigerator for you.
Things to consider before buying a refrigerator
Follow the points below from our refrigerator buying guide and you will have the perfect refrigerator for your perfect home.
You can measure the capacity of a refrigerator in liters and one important point that helps in deciding the right capacity of the refrigerator that you need is the size of your family. It helps in determining the average amount of food that will be stored in the refrigerator. The larger the refrigerator, the higher the energy consumption is, and it will be a waste of energy if you buy a huge refrigerator that mostly remains empty. For example, for a small family with 2 to 3 members, a 150-250 liter refrigerator will be sufficient, but a large family with 6 to 7 members will need a refrigerator with a capacity of 550-850 liters. Smaller refrigerators with a capacity of 40 to 100 liters are also available and are best suited for a person living alone. Decide about the capacity after taking into account the important facts like the size of the family and the amount of food you will need to store.
- Space available in your house:
Always remember to consider the space available in your home for your refrigerator before buying one. Take the measurements of the space where you want to keep your refrigerator and the measurements of the refrigerator that you want, to make sure it fits. One more thing to keep in mind while measuring the space is to include an extra inch at the top and back to allow an easy escape for the heat coming from the system, and also include enough space in the front for the refrigerator doors. Additionally, if you have to take a staircase or elevator to reach your home, make sure that there is enough space in there to bring the refrigerator to your home without much hassle.
Some best-recommended refrigerators for you:
1. Best refrigerators of 2021 in the USA
2. Best refrigerators of 2021 in India
- Defrosting method:
There are two different defrosting methods for refrigerators, i.e., Direct Cool and Frost Free.
a) In the case of direct cool, the cool air circulation is done through natural convection and without any external help. The biggest disadvantage of direct cool is uneven distribution, leading to ice formation inside the refrigerator, which means that you will have to regularly defrost the refrigerator manually. The advantage of this method is that they consume less electricity and are very economical.
b) In the frost-free method, the cool air is circulated evenly throughout the refrigerator through the electric fans and doesn’t allow any ice formation inside the refrigerator compartments. This means that there is no ice or frost for you to deal with and your food is safe from freezer burn. One disadvantage of the frost-free method is that they are expensive in comparison to the direct cool refrigerators and also consume a higher amount of energy because of the usage of the electric fans.
- Types of refrigerators:
There are many types of refrigerators available in the market but deciding what type of refrigerator you need depends on several factors including capacity and space. Based on their design and size, there are six main types of refrigerator, which are:
a) Single door refrigerator: These refrigerators have a capacity ranging from 150-250 liters and are the most economical type of refrigerators with a decent refrigerator and freezer space. Mostly these refrigerators come with direct cool technology, but nowadays, many companies offer a digital auto defrost method in single door refrigerators as well.
b) Double door refrigerator: As the name suggests, these refrigerators have two separate compartments and doors where the upper compartment is the freezer part while the lower compartment is reserved for regular use. The capacity of double door refrigerators ranges from 250 to 500 liters and they also have larger freezer space. These refrigerators always use the frost-free method, consume less energy, and usually come with toughened glass shelves inside.
c) Triple door refrigerator: The tall and slim triple door models of refrigerators are ideal for those who have less floor space in their home. These refrigerators have a capacity of 250-350 liters and come with toughened glass shelves and frost-free technology. These refrigerators usually have the top compartment as the freezer, the middle compartment for regular use, and the bottom compartment as the vegetable drawer.
d) Side-by-side refrigerator: The side-by-side refrigerators have a capacity of 550 to 850 liters and are the most expensive refrigerator models in the market. These refrigerators have huge storage space and come equipped with the latest technologies in the field. These are frost-free, have shelves made of toughened glass, and some of these refrigerators even have water and ice dispenser in the front.
e) French door refrigerator: These refrigerators are a combination of side-by-side refrigerators with a bottom freezer. They are equipped with the latest features such as smart and connected functions with special compartments. Though expensive than others, these refrigerators are the most popular type of refrigerator.
f) Mini refrigerator: These tiny refrigerators offer basic cooling, enough to keep your food fresh, and sometimes even have a small freezer inside them. Mini refrigerators always have direct cool technology and have a capacity of up to 100 liters.
The temperature inside the refrigerator is maintained by the compressor and two main types of compressors are used in refrigerators. The type of compressor used in a refrigerator depends on the size of the unit. The two types of compressors mostly used are:
a) General compressor: General compressors start at high speed and then keep running at a constant speed, meaning it keeps running at the same speed until it reaches the optimum temperature. The compressor switches off after reaching optimum cooling, making a ‘tick’ sound that you hear now and then. General compressors are normally used in small-sized refrigerators.
b) Inverter compressor: Most compatible with the medium and large-sized refrigerators, the inverter compressors run at different speeds based on the amount of cooling required. These inverters start at low speed and increase their speed only when the cooling is low, making them more energy-efficient.
- Energy ratings:
Star ratings or Energy Efficiency Ratings (EER) are given to appliances and signify their energy efficiency. A higher star rating means higher energy efficiency and higher efficiency means higher cost savings as well. The ratings range from 1star to 5 stars and you should always try to go for a refrigerator with a star rating ranging from 3 stars to 5 stars. Also, make sure to look for a blue and green symbol of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) to ensure that the EER tag on your refrigerator is authentic.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Price is one of the most important factors in making a decision when you want to buy a refrigerator. The price of the refrigerator differs as per the size and type of refrigerator. So, before you make up your mind about your purchase, calculate your budget and get information about different types of refrigerators. Though buying a refrigerator is a huge investment, remember to consider that it is a long-term investment.
- Brand warranty:
Since buying a refrigerator is a big investment, it is important to get yourself a branded appliance with a good warranty period. Go for the brands that offer an extended warranty period. Though this extra warranty may not come free, the benefits that you get during the warranty period make the extra cost worth paying.
An additional feature to look out for
Besides all the points that we have discussed, there is one more that you should look out for before making your decision i.e., the refrigerator’s configuration or the placement of the freezer in the refrigerator. The location of the freezer affect your daily use of the refrigerator, so it is important to know the difference between the two types of configuration, the top freezer and bottom freezer.
- Top freezer: The top freezer is the classic, decade-old design where the freezer is smaller than the refrigerator and is located on the top of the fresh food compartment. This type of refrigerator is more affordable and compact but they come with basic technology and features, lacking automatic ice makers, in-door water dispensers, etc. If you need more room for frozen food, then a top-freezer is not an ideal option for you. You can go for a top-freezer configuration if the space in your kitchen is smaller or you just need the basic features or if you don’t plan to spend too much on the refrigerator.
- Bottom refrigerator: Compatible with the larger refrigerators with the latest features, the bottom-freezer configuration offers a larger freezer compartment located beneath the fresh food section. It provides more storage space for frozen food and easy access to fresh food items, but you will have to bend down every time you want to grab something from your freezer.