With the advancement in technology, whereby nowadays most electronics get upgraded as fast as the snap of a finger, the decision to buy a kitchen appliance such as a refrigerator can be overwhelming.
While you might be thinking pricing, specs and features are the most important determiners to look at, the truth is the devil is in the detail.
That’s why in this guide, we lay out everything you should consider before buying such a large appliance as a refrigerator.
Refrigerators come in different ranges of shapes, designs and sizes. Each of these factors have a huge impact on the strengths and weaknesses to expect. That said, buying a wrong appliance could mean no-frills, no fit and at worse bloated bills. Therefore, consider the pros and cons of following types of refrigerators and match what you want vs what they offer, before buying.
- Top-mount refrigerator
This refrigerator is a classic design and comes with the freezer compartment above the main chiller section. It has the basic functions and therefore more affordable than any other type of fridge.
- It is affordable.
- The best choice if you have a small kitchen or apartment.
- It is relatively small in size and it has no fancy features, meaning you get to save more on energy costs.
- It lacks plenty of freezer space, and therefore not ideal for someone who’d need a lot of room for freezing items.
- Bottom mount refrigerator
This refrigerator has the freezer section at the bottom. Bottom mount freezers are larger than top freezers and provide easy access to preserved food since the main chiller section is at the top.
- Larger than top-mount freezers, hence more room for frozen items.
- The main chiller section is at the top which means easy access.
- Consumes more energy as compared to top freezers.
- Relatively expensive compared to top freezers.
- Can be exhausting since you have to bend to access the freezer compartment.
- Side by side refrigerator
If you are looking for a balance between storage space, style, effective organisation and extra functionalities, then consider the side by side refrigerator. This fridge is convenient due to its ample freezer room as well as fridge storage. The fridge is usually on the right while the freezer is found on the left side. It is split down in the middle and hence it has two doors. If you are considering this refrigerator for the dispensers, ensure the area where you’ll place it is plumbed for water.
- Has ample storage room than other units. It can also accommodate bigger bottles and vessels.
- More freezer shelf space as compared to the bottom or top-mount freezers.
- Can fit in a narrow kitchen since the doors don’t swing out as far.
- Comes with the latest bells and whistles. Such include; touch controls, water dispensers, ice makers.
- Has an enhanced cooling effect than single door refrigerators and thus can preserve food for longer durations.
- Lacks special drawers for easy access to drinks and snacks.
- Consumes more energy due to the extra features.
- If the refrigerator is packed it can be taxing for the appliance to maintain correct temperatures at both sides.
- More expensive.
- French door refrigerator
This is the embodiment of the side by side refrigerator but with a freezer at the bottom. The french door refrigerator comes with special compartments, smart functions and extra features. Since they are the most popular you can find them in different colours and finish, hence more options to choose from.
- Comes with handful features and add ons such as water dispenser, ice maker, AI and other smart functions.
- Large storage capacity.
- Very expensive, hence not ideal if you’re budget-conscious.
- The ice maker makes it more prone to failure and subsequent repairs.
- Consumes more energy than traditional single door refrigerators.
Size is paramount especially when it comes to choosing kitchen appliances. In regards to the fridge, the bigger the size, the more the energy it consumes. You also want to consider the space in your kitchen.
Therefore, when investing in a refrigerator, choose one that can fit in your kitchen, one that can handle your storage needs and just as important one that is energy efficient.
Do not forget to look at small factors such as the fit of the refrigerator when opened in relation to the space available. For instance, can the style of refrigerator you pick allow you to open drawers fully in the space you plan to put your fridge? How easy is it to open and close the drawers? Does your fridge have sharp edges and bulging features that could cause accidents? It is best to look at such factors as doing so will determine whether the dedicated space you plan to put your fridge will be convenient or not.
- Food storage needs & Family capacity
If food doesn’t bring the family together, a refrigerator will. This is where most family members will converge to store or retrieve their favourite snacks. Therefore, aside from investing in a refrigerator that has ample storage space for your needs, choose one that suits your tendencies too. For instance, do you keep lots of items on ice for longer? If so, then a fridge with lots of freezer space is your best bet.
Do you have a large family? Do you host subsequent dinners and family gatherings where leftovers are usually in the big roasting pan? All these factors will contribute to the size and style of the refrigerator you will purchase.
- Energy rating
You rely on a good refrigerator to keep your food fresh and in the condition you wish to find them; whether cold or frozen. But the last thing you want is to invest in an energy hog and end up spending huge amounts of money paying for energy bills. Given that the fridge is the next big energy consumer only second to heating, it is wise to invest in an energy star certified model, to ensure you conserve energy at home. New models are equipped with insulation and compressors, hence they consume less energy than the older version. Therefore, if you are wondering how to cut on your energy bills, perhaps an upgrade is the answer.
Find out energy-saving tips for your house
- Smart technology and features
A refrigerator can serve your food storage needs as well as provide any other convenience. Modern refrigerators come with different features such as artificial intelligence, cameras, water dispenser, auto-fill pitchers, through the door ice, hot water and other smart features. As such you want to consider whether a refrigerator with any extra functions will serve you so that you only pay for what you will use. Bear in mind that different features could ratchet up your utility bills, hence consider that before making the final purchase.
- Colour and finish
Even though the appearance of your refrigerator shouldn’t supersede performance, it is worth to consider how the colour and finish of the refrigerator you pick will impact your room decor. The right finish can pull your room aesthetics together while the wrong finish can make your kitchen look cluttered and incomplete. Besides, how you use your refrigerator, and type of family members will play a huge role in your selection. For instance, if you cook a lot, or your household is ever active and with little children, a finger resistant finish is worth considering as it can hide smudges and grease.
Some refrigerators cost less but won’t have certain functions and features. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses and this is reflected in the price. Case in point bottom mount fridge will be more expensive than top mount fridges. On the other hand, french door refrigerators will consume more energy than a fridge with a single door.
Someone looking for a secondary refrigerator for a small apartment or kitchenette will put more consideration in price over storage. This might not be the case if a prospective purchase is to serve as the primary fridge for a huge family.
Ultimately, if the cost is a key factor, keep in mind the purpose and energy rating, so you don’t end up spending more in future than you could’ve during purchase. Here are 17 ways you can conserve energy in the household and save money.
Check out the considerations you should make when buying general appliances. Lifestyle: 7 Things To Look For When Buying General Appliances. Also, check out these other tips on things you may need to buy or replace in your house.