What to Look for in a Refrigerator  View Refrigerator Models >>

Buying the best refrigerator - For the dormitory, office, house, or garage.

There are many features to consider when looking to buy your next refrigerator. Whether you are in the market for a compact dorm refrigerator, office refrigerator, built in under counter refrigerator, beverage or wine refrigerator, or full size refrigerator, it is important to first know what features you are getting for your money as well as which features are most important to you.

You may be under the impression that all refrigerators are big, come only in the color white, and have a freezer. We want you to know that there are other options out there that may be a better fit for you. Some things to consider before making your buying decision:

Freezer Options
Built In or Free-standing
Ice Maker Option
Warranty Information
Inside or Outside Use
Temperature Settings
Energy Ratings
Other Features To Consider


In the past almost all refrigerators came in one color: white. Today, you have many more options as to the color or your refrigerator. Popular colors include: Stainless steel, titanium, platinum, black, and bisque. There are subtle differences in stainless steel, platinum, and titanium, so it is important to understand the distinction between the three when buying one. Stainless steel doors are one of today's most popular colors. However, stainless doors can be expensive and hard to maintain. To combat these tendencies, manufacturers have rolled out other options that keep the stainless steel look, but cost less and are easier to clean. Titanium and Platinum finishes feature coloration similar to stainless steel, but they can be wiped clean with window cleaner- don't worry about scrubbing them with stainless steel cleaner! View our Stainless Steel, Platinum,and Titanium refrigerators.

Freezer Options

Are you looking for a refrigerator and a freezer? Or is a freezer not important to you? If you are no tin need of a freezer, then you should consider buying an All Refrigerator. These models range in size from 1.8 cubic feet up to 18 cubic feet or more and provide you for more refrigerator space than a unit that has a freezer built in. These units also tend to be more energy efficient than models that have both a refrigerator and freezer option.

If you are in the market for a refrigerator with a freezer, it is important that you know that there are different freezer types. Some freezer types will require more maintenance than others:

Defrost Options:

  • Frost Free: Keeps the refrigerator and freezer frost-free automatically. This means you will not have to worry about icy build up in the freezer section. These models will generally be less energy efficient than Manual Defrost models. Also, frost free freezers are generally worse for long-term storage than manual defrost models.
  • Manual Defrost - Requires the user to turn the refrigerator off and remove the ice and water by hand. These models are generally more energy efficient and best for long term storage.
  • Push Button Defrost: This is a manual defrost system, but you push a button to turn off and defrost the unit, rather than simply pulling the cord
  • Cycle Defrost (Refrigerator Only) - This ensures that your refrigerator does not develop an icy build up. Although refrigerators do no maintain freezing temperatures throughout the unit, there can sometimes be some frost build-up on the evaporator. Cycle defrost disposes of this frost periodically.

Freezer Temperatures:

  • Zero Degree Freezer - If you need a refrigerator for medical storage or for maintaining a temperature below 32° Fahrenheit, you will need to buy one that specifically lists it as capable of maintaining a lower temperature. Most freezers in compact refrigerators will not maintain freezing temperatures far below 32°F.
  • Chiller Compartments: This is the most common type of freezer on compact refrigerators. This chiller section is below freezing (32°F), but it is not far below freezing. It will freeze water for ice, but it should not be used for food storage for anything longer that a few hours or days. For example, icecream stored in a chiller section will turn soupy within a day or two (ideal storage for frozen dairy products ranges between 0°F and about 8°F)

Built In/Undercounter Refrigerators vs. Free-standing Models

True built-in refrigerators are designed to be installed in almost any space and require no clearance. The main difference between these refrigerators and other models is that they are able to vent in the front, requiring no space on the sides, top, or back. Other types of refrigerators must have approximately 2-3 inches in the back and sides, and 1-2 inches on top in order to allow roomto vent. Built In refrigerators are typically more expensive than their freestanding counterparts. View our built in models.

Back To Top

Ice Maker Option

Most ice makers in refrigerators can typically produce 3-4 pounds of ice per day and reduce the freezer space on average by a cubic foot. If you are throwing a lot of parties or have the need to product larger volumes of ice, a stand alone ice maker would be a safe bet. The ice bin is generally located below the ice maker, but some new models have it on the inside of the freezer door, providing a bit more usable volume. With many models, the icemaker includes a water filter, designed to reduce lead, chlorine, and other impurities, a capability you may or may not need. An icemaker or water dispenser will work without one, however.

Warranty Information

Be sure you know how long the warranty service is on your refrigerator as well as what type of service it entails. Most models will at least have one year parts and labor coverage. Labor is not usually covered after the initial one year term.

Outside Use

Most refrigerators are not specifically designed for outdoor use - Which means they are not meant to withstand extreme hot or cold temperatures for significant periods of time. If you are concerned about buying a refrigerator that is going to last a long time in an outdoor environment, it is important to locate one that is UL Approved for outdoor use. View our UL approved outdoor models.

Temperature Range

Most refrigerators can maintain a temperature range from mid 30 degrees to mid 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are looking to store wine exclusively, you would be better served buy purchasing a wine refrigerator. These units have higher temperature ranges that can accommodate wines that need to be stored at different, higher temperatures.

Energy Ratings

Keep in mind some refrigerators are more energy efficient than others. ENERGY STAR qualified models use high efficiency compressors, improved insulation, and more precise temperature and defrost mechanisms to improve energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR qualified models use at least 10% less energy than required by current federal standards, and 40% less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001. For more information on energy efficiency go to www.energystar.gov

Other Refrigerator Features To Consider

  • The Hinge: Do you want the unit left or right hinged? A left hinged model will open to the left, while a right hinged model opens to the right. Some models come with field reversible doors that will allow you to have the door sit on either side of the refrigerator.
  • Lock - Do you need a refrigerator with a lock? Most models do not come with locks. If it does not specify that it comes with a lock, it is best to assume that it does not.
  • Glass Shelves - Glass shelves are easier to clean than wire racks.
  • Pull out Shelves - Allow you to mix and match shelves to give you more or less height as needed.
  • Coils vs. Flush Back Design: Most new refrigerators are flush back design which means that the back is enclosed. Many older models have the refrigerator coils exposed to the open air.

Back To Top