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What you should know if you plan on buying a fridge

Are you thinking about getting a new fridge? Replacing such a large appliance should not be taken lightly. Our FAQ will go through everything you need to know about purchasing a new refrigerator the right way.

When is it time to replace a refrigerator?

Kitchenaid fridge in kitchen while a woman cooks at the counter.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you are happy with your current refrigerator, it’s a good idea to use it until it starts to malfunction. You may notice it emitting odd clicking or rumbling sounds (a sign the AC components are struggling), or features like the water dispenser or lights will stop working.

You can check our guide on appliance life spans for more information, but a refrigerator can usually last anywhere from 14 to 19 years. The less cool air that escapes the fridge, the longer it will last, so the design and how it’s used will have an important impact.

What are the best fridge brands?

You can take a look at our guide on the best refrigerator makers for more information, but the brands we rate the highest include Whirlpool, LG, Samsung, and GE. The best brand for you will depend on a number of factors, including how much money you want to spend (some brands are known for lower prices than others) and how many smart features you want on the fridge. You may also want to have all your appliances from the same manufacturer, so that may narrow your search.

How can you make sure a new refrigerator will fit?

Always measure before you buy! Take a tape measure and measure the width and height of your fridge space — don’t measure the fridge itself, as the space is far more important. If there is any chance of drawers or doors bumping into the fridge, you’ll want to measure the depth as well. Then you’ll know what to look for when researching fridge models. Every fridge should have its dimensions recorded in the specs section of the product page (or the product card if you are shopping in person).

Standard-depth refrigerators are generally 30 to 34 inches in width and around 70 inches high. Each model can vary in exact measurements, and since fridge spaces in kitchens can be tight, it’s important to get exact numbers. If you are measuring depth, note that depth specs are often separated into with handles/without handles for more precise specs. Keep in mind that many single-door fridges have doors that can be reversed to open from either the right or the left.

There are counter-depth refrigerators that are much more shallow than standard models and designed to stay flush with your counters for a smoother look. If your refrigerator is part of one of the counter-depth setups, make sure the replacement is also a counter-depth fridge with the right measurements.

How much does a new fridge cost?

Whirlpool fridge in kitchen with door open.

That really depends on the size of the fridge (how much cubic feet of space it has), extra features, the type of freezer, and similar factors. The cheapest fridges are generally $800 to $1,000, although small fridges can go even lower. More standard refrigerators starts at around $1,500 to $2,500. Larger models with lots of smart features can cost several thousand dollars or more. You can check our guide on the best refrigerators to get an idea of current price ranges.

Should you buy a fridge online?

You certainly can. Many websites have an excellent collection of fridge models, including Best Buy, Lowes, Home Depot, and more. Refrigerators don’t usually hold many surprises, so shopping online tends to be a safe option and an easy way to compare prices.

However, there are also some reasons to visit a brick-and-mortar store before you buy. There may be deals or additional bundles available in person that cannot be found online. You may also want a to open the fridge and freezer up and see how easy they are to use.

Does refrigerator style matter?

As long as the model fits in your kitchen’s dedicated space, it’s really up to you. It’s a good idea to explore other styles, although some may work better for your needs than others. Common options include:

  • Side-by-side: This option offers two vertical doors, one for the fridge and one for the freezer. It’s a very versatile design, but can also waste a lot of energy if mismanaged.
  • French door: These models include a double-door fridge on top and a pull-out freezer section covering the lower third of the fridge. They are roomy and efficient, but require a bit more space to use than other styles.
  • Bottom freezer: This style has a single large door on top for the fridge and a freezer drawer at the bottom. With a model like this, it’s important to note which way the large door swings. Compact versions of this style are a good way of saving money and energy.
  • Top freezer: Here, the smaller freezer door is on top, with the larger fridge door below (both generally open the same way). A top freezer is often easy to access and a good choice if you frequently use the freezer.
  • Quad door: These fridges divide both the fridge and freezer into two separate sections, there are four doors in all, often divided between cooling zones or other functions.

What smart features are important on fridges?

Samsung Family Hub fridge touchscreen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Quality of life smart features can be a major advantage when using a fridge. Look for things like the ability to monitor the inside temperatures and control them with an app, advanced temperature sensors in each section of the fridge, or doors that will automatically seal or sound alarms when left ajar. Many fridges also let you connect to them via Wi-Fi to get alerts about replacing filters or running diagnostics. Quick-chilling sections are also a nice bonus.

Fancier features can be found on a smart fridge. Voice assistant compatibility, fridge cams (to see what ingredients you have left), and incorporated touchscreens for smart shopping are all innovative ideas, but have less everyday value.

What do I need to do for the installation?

We highly recommend adding an installation package to your purchase for a small fee, which includes delivery, attachment, and carting away your old fridge, saving you a lot of trouble.

On the day of the delivery, empty your fridge and freezer entirely — it’s good to have an ice chest for this project, as delivery windows can be pretty broad and you don’t want anything melting or spoiling. Finally, pull out your fridge to reveal the space behind (you don’t have to disconnect it), and do a quick vacuum to remove dust and debris so that’s not a concern later. Installers should be able to take care of the rest: Removing fridge door handles or even entryway doors during installation is common.

Where can I find deals on refrigerators?

There’s a great place to start: Our guide on cheap refrigerator deals is constantly updated and the perfect way to keep an eye on current deals. Otherwise, shop in mid-spring and late summer. Memorial Day and Labor Day are both great times to look for deals. Black Friday also has discounts, but competition over limited inventory can be fierce.

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