A refrigerator is one of the most important purchases you can make for your kitchen. We’ve poured hours into research and evaluating refrigerators with a variety of features and capabilities. And we’ve even had the chance to try out a few models, so we know how a variety of the top brands work. Here are some of the best options, along with some hints on how to decide which one will work best for your home. We've compiled several different styles, including a mini fridge and a wine refrigerator.
A popular choice for families
The Kenmore 50049 refrigerator has a built-in ice maker with a door dispenser. It distributes both cubed and crushed ice and includes an option to lock the controls so young kids can’t play with them. There's also has a clear window so you can see how much ice is being stored. This side-by-side fridge has 25 cubic feet of storage, including two clear drawers on the fridge side, adjustable shelves on both sides, and adequate door storage. On the fridge side, you can easily fit four gallons of milk at the same time.
A compact design
The Galanz GLR10TRDER refrigerator has a fun retro style and comes in several colors to complement your kitchen décor. It has almost 7.5 cubic feet of storage in the fridge and an additional 2.42 cubic feet in the freezer. One convenient feature is the can holders located in the door. It also has door storage in the freezer, which isn’t very common in more compact refrigerator models. The two shelves in the fridge and the one shelf in the freezer are all adjustable. It also has separate controls for both areas.
This fridge features two drawer-style freezers with the top freezer holding the automatic ice maker and holder. The upper side-by-side door fridge has compartments specifically designed to hold fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meats. Some of the shelves are adjustable so you can store taller items. The in-door shelves are extra deep, with a couple large enough to hold a gallon of milk. If you forget to close the doors when you’re done, an alarm sounds to alert you. Temperature controls are located on the outside fridge door.
Fits in apartments
Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a mini fridge as your only option. The Frigidaire EFR751 is a compact model specifically designed for apartments with smaller kitchens. You still get 7.2 cubic feet of internal storage in both the fridge and upper freezer areas. This is more than twice the space of a mini fridge. It has two adjustable glass shelves in the main compartment and a metal-coated shelf in the freezer. The fridge also has a crisper compartment and lots of door storage.
A tiny igloo
The RCA RFR322 mini fridge has two adjustable shelves, plus a freezer tray that can hold very small items. There is lots of door space, too; it can easily hold a two-liter. Inside the door is a built-in can rotator to make it easier to store and grab cold beverages throughout the day. You can manage how cold it gets with the knob controls located inside the unit. The mini fridge uses a compressor to cool, so it will work regardless of the surrounding temperature.
The Nutrichef PKCWC120 refrigerator is made especially for chilling wine. It has a temperature range of 41 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. That means it can be set to properly chill either red or white wines. It holds 12 bottles, including extra-wide and tall bottles, and will keep the temperature you set consistent throughout the entire fridge because it uses a compressor cooling system. The wire shelves are adjustable or can be removed completely if you need more room.
What to know before purchasing a refrigerator?
Most refrigerators are cooled using one of two systems, a compressor or a thermoelectric system. A thermoelectric cooling system pushes hot air through two conductors and out and away from the unit. This is done so quickly that the inside doesn’t have a chance to heat up and it, instead, remains cool. Thermoelectric cooled refrigerators are more energy efficient because they don’t use as much electricity to run as compressor cooling systems. They also run quieter.
Compressor cooling systems use refrigerant, a naturally cool substance. This system pumps the refrigerant continually through the fridge to keep it cool. It uses temperature sensors to monitor the internal temps and adjusts how much coolant is used based on these measurements. Compressor cooling systems are louder than thermoelectric and use more power. However, compressor-cooled refrigerators keep more consistent and cooler temperatures throughout the unit.
How long should a refrigerator last?
We asked experts this question, namely Vaughn Johnson, brand manager for Maytag, and Elise Barsch, social media manager and copywriter for iFixit. Johnson didn’t give a specific number of years but said the expected life of a refrigerator will depend on usage, environmental conditions, and other factors. Johnson suggested people should always check and follow their appliance and product use and care instructions.
Barsch cited Wirecutter and other sources in estimating that refrigerators should generally last 10 to 15 years. “Research done in Europe suggests that refrigerator lifespan has decreased over the past couple of decades—down from an average lifespan of 20 years in 2000,” Barsch said. She said that while refrigerators don’t last as long as they used to, they are more energy-efficient. “Fortunately, legislators in Europe are working to make sure refrigerators are not only more energy-efficient while in use, but also more repairable over the course of their entire lifespan,” Barsch added.