Top 5 Refrigerator
- 2 Full Width Glass Shelves
- 2 Full Width Door Shelves accommodate 2 Liter and Tall Bottles
How We Rate Refrigerators
In our labs, each refrigerator we test gets wired up with temperature sensors. We then monitor them for more than a month in a temperature-controlled chamber to evaluate thermostat control and temperature uniformity. CR’s test engineers collect more than 5.4 million temperature readings for each model to detect warm and cold spots and determine which refrigerators will keep your food fresh longest. The results reveal that many refrigerators simply don’t do well at their primary task, and that could mean more wasted food and bigger grocery bills.
To test the freezer compartments of refrigerators, our engineers fill the appliances with boxes and boxes of frozen spinach, then evaluate how well they keep the packages frozen. In addition, we measure usable storage capacity, which rarely matches what manufacturers claim. Our engineers then use these measurements to calculate energy efficiency. Finally, we incorporate survey data collected from CR members to judge predicted reliability and owner satisfaction for each brand and refrigerator type.
Pick A Style
There’s a refrigerator configuration to suit every household. French-door models are exploding in popularity. Some consumers prefer the convenience of bottom freezers, which put fresh foods at eye level, but top freezers and side-by-sides can make more efficient use of space in a smaller kitchen. Here’s what you need to know to make the best choice. See our full refrigerator ratings for how models in the different sizes and styles below performed in our tests.
Most refrigerator configurations come in a range of sizes and capacities. Always measure where you plan to put the refrigerator before you shop. And check that it can fit through doorways. Allow room for the refrigerator’s doors to swing open, and for a one-inch clearance around sides and back for adequate airflow.
As for capacity, most manufacturers recommend 19 to 22 cubic feet for a family of four. But if you do a big weekly shopping trip or buy in bulk, you may need more—up to 30 to 33 cubic feet. Note: Our tests found that the amount of usable storage capacity was often less than the amount claimed. Check our refrigerator ratings for more.
Decode the EnergyGuide Label
Energy efficiency has become a big selling point with consumers. All new refrigerators are a lot more efficient than they were a decade ago, but here’s a look behind the label—to help you go as green as possible.
The EPA Energy Star rating is a good place to start when shopping; it means that a product is in or around the top 25 percent of the market, but efficiency varies by model (i.e. an unlabeled top-freezer might be more efficient than an Energy Star-approved French door model). Additionally, we test for energy consumption, which can add up to a $50-60 difference a year, more than $500 over the life of the unit.
How to Find the Right Refrigerator for You
Measure your space
Fridges vary by height, width, and depth, and it’s important to know exactly what size you need to be looking for. Too large, and you risk not being able to fit your new fridge through the kitchen door, let alone fit it inside your kitchen. Too small, and it might look out of place.
Depending on the amount of space available, you might find that certain types of refrigerators won’t work for your space. If you are working with a small space, your most likely option will be a top freezer. If there is only a narrow gap between your refrigerator and your kitchen island, however, a refrigerator with two doors will make it easier to reach in and grab the carton of milk without hitting the door on the cabinetry.
Consider your ideal depth size
After height and width, the most important measurement you’ll need to note is depth. Most fridges are not counter-depth; most counters are 26 inches or shallower, while most fridges stick out at least 2 or 3 inches beyond that. If you prefer your fridge to blend in with your counters, look for counter-depth refrigerators. These typically have less space to hold food but won’t stand out from the rest of your kitchen.
Determine your refrigerator type
After factoring in physical constraints, choose your fridge based on the features that are most important to you.
- Top freezers are the most economical, but they don’t look particularly fancy and usually don’t come with ice or water dispensers in the door.
- French door refrigerators look like they belong in Martha Stewart’s kitchen and typically have nicer glass shelving options and drawers. That said, they tend to be among the most expensive of the refrigerators.
- Bottom freezers look fairly attractive, typically coming in stainless steel finishes, and are user-friendly. By tucking away frozen foods at the bottom, they keep your everyday food at eye and hand level. This can make it more difficult to dig up your frozen peas, however, though some models come with freezer baskets to help organize the space.
- Side-by-side refrigerators usually take up more space in your kitchen than other styles, in exchange for giving you more freezer space than with any other type of refrigerator. The freezer space tends to be slightly narrow, making it difficult to fit in large pizza boxes.