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.
Kenmore 35" Side-by-Side refrigerator with ice maker (opens in new tab)
A popular choice for families
The Kenmore side-by-side fridge has 25 cubic feet of storage, including deep door storage that easily fits four gallons of milk at the same time.
- Deep door shelves
- Built-in ice maker
- Water and ice dispenser
- Slim design limits room
This refrigerator has two clear drawers on the fridge side and adjustable shelves on both sides. It also has a built-in ice maker with a door dispenser. It dispenses both cubed and crushed ice and includes an option to lock the controls so young kids can’t play with them. Inside the freezer, the ice maker has a clear window so you can see how much ice is being stored.
The slim design of the Kenmore refrigerator makes it look sleek and fit in most kitchens, However, this does limit the side of the dishes and trays that will fit inside. Plus, the ice maker takes up a lot of room in the freezer.
SMETA counter-depth French-door refrigerator (opens in new tab)
This fridge from SMETA features two drawer-style freezers with the top freezer holding an automatic ice maker. There is a lot of space in this fridge.
- Lots of storage space
- Dual freezers
- Temperature alarm
- No dispenser
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.
The temperature alarm will alert you if the inside of the fridge begins to get warmer so you can check to make sure the doors are closed properly, or that the controls are set correctly. The only real downside to this refrigerator is it doesn't have an ice or water dispenser.
Galanz retro refrigerator (opens in new tab)
A compact design
The Galanz refrigerator has a fun retro style and has 9.4 cubic feet of storage in the fridge and over 2.42 cubic feet in the freezer.
- Good for smaller spaces
- Unique can holder
- Fun retro style and colors
- Limited space
This refrigerator is only 5.5 feet high and less than 2 feet wide. This is pretty small, but it works for apartments and other small spaces. Despite its limited space, the Galanz fridge utilizes its space very well to give you optimal use of every inch of storage.
The two shelves in the fridge and the one shelf in the freezer are all adjustable. It also has door storage in the freezer, which isn’t very common in more compact refrigerators. One convenient feature is the can holders located in the door. It also has separate controls for both areas.
RCA RFR321 mini fridge (opens in new tab)
A tiny igloo
The RCA RFR321 mini fridge has two adjustable shelves, plus a freezer tray that holds very small items. There is lots of door space, too; it can easily hold a two-liter.
- Adjustable shelves
- Compressor cooling
- Can rotator
- Not a lot of freezer space
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.
Nutrichef PKCWC120 refrigerator (opens in new tab)
The Nutrichef PKCWC120 refrigerator has a temperature range of 41 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit to properly chill either red or white wines.
- Chills red or white wines
- Adjustable shelves
- Digital controls
- Compressor cooling
- Single cooling
- No child lock
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. But this also means it doesn't have dual zones to cool different parts of the ridge to chill different types of wines at the same time.
The wire shelves are adjustable or can be removed completely if you need more room. The digital controls are located on the front of the door for easy adjustments. The door doesn't have a lock to keep children out, but the fridge is compact enough to set out of reach on a counter.
What to know before purchasing a refrigerator?
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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.
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About the author: Sophie Bird
Sophie is Home Editor at Top Ten Reviews. Starting off her career in print journalism, Sophie then moved to digital and now specializes in lifestyle, home interiors and social media. While she has scooped awards for her journalism, Sophie likes to whip up a storm in the kitchen when she's not writing.