Refrigerator Buying Guide
The refrigerator—probably the biggest and most expensive appliance in your kitchen—is also the hardest working. It’s plugged in and chilling all day, everyday. If you’re in the market for a new one, there’s a lot to consider. Cost, of course, is a big factor: it doesn’t just take money to buy a fridge, but to operate it too. The good news is that innovative advancements in refrigerator design have made a big impact on energy use and can directly lower your electric bill and costly food spoilage too. And manufacturers aren’t stopping there—they’re literally thinking outside the [ice]box to enhance how a fridge functions for you.
Start With the Finish
A stainless steel fridge isn’t going to set your kitchen apart from all the others, but there’s a good reason why this finish is so popular: it looks good with almost every imaginable cabinet surface. And it’s economical—if you opt for a specialty finish, the cost of the fridge can increase and, over time, availability of that finish may decrease (finding replacements may be difficult). A downside for stainless, though, is the smudge factor. New finishes, like black or matte stainless steel, can be more user-friendly (smudge-resistant) and still neutral enough to blend in no matter what your kitchen style. You can also purchase front panels so the fridge finish will match your cabinets—that seamless look will help a small kitchen look bigger.
Measuring Up (Click for Your Refrigerator Comparison Chart)
When you shop for a refrigerator, make sure you measure the opening where your fridge will go and always allow one inch of space on the back and both sides for air to circulate. It's important that the salesperson with whom you work takes this measurement into account.
What kind of food shopper are you? If you eat out often, a basic fridge with 20 cubic feet of storage space will work well. If you shop for a family of four or buy in bulk once a week, think about springing for 25 to 33 cubic feet of storage space.
And gone are the days when an ice/water dispenser in a refrigerator door was exciting. In fact, many consumers are opting to forego models with that feature because it greatly increases the chance that repairs will be needed at some point in the life of the appliance.
Keep It Fresh
Why should you care about whether a fridge has linear compressors or dual evaporators? Suffice it to say that they limit temperature and humidity swings inside the fridge, which not only decreases power consumption, but also helps preserve food. In higher-level brands, like Sub-Zero, an air-purification feature reduces ethanol gas emitted by foods, resulting in longer food life. Dual evaporators (which keep dry, frigid air in the freezer separate from humid refrigerator air) help veggies stay fresh.
Cool optional extras
•In-door coffeemaker or a hot-water dispenser that offers water ranging from 90°F for a baby’s bottle to 185°F for a cup of instant soup (set temps with your smartphone)
•“Elevator shelves” can be raised or lowered without taking items off the shelf
•Door-in-door option saves energy—you don’t open entire door to access items
•Fridge “columns”—completely separate fridge and freezer units can be placed separately in the kitchen
•Internal temperature control adjusts temp when hot items are added to the fridge
•Interior platinum or stainless steel finish and LED lighting (sometimes with color options)
•Wine cabinet protects from UV light, temp fluctuation, humidity, vibration
•Draft beer dispenser assures a consistently frothy pour
Did You Know?
•ENERGY STAR® ratings allow you to compare appliance energy efficiency. Ask about their rebate program—earn even more if you recycle your old fridge.
•Fridge doors may have designated areas for eggs or milk, but the most consistently cold area of a fridge is in the middle, where food is less likely
• Set the temp to 37°F to keep food fresh, 32°F for meat, 0°F for the freezer.
WHERE TO BUY REFRIGERATORS IN ATLANTA
BSI/CR Home | BuilderSpecialties.net
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery | Ferguson.com
Howard Payne Company | HowardPayne.com
NorthPoint Kitchens | NorthPointKitchens.com
Noland | atlantanoland.com