How to choose

Last reviewed: July 2011

See Choose the type that matches your needs and budget for the pros and cons of the four main refrigerator styles. Then keep these tips in mind:

Check the specs

If you’re planning a total kitchen renovation, you can probably go with any size refrigerator. If not, carefully measure the height and width of the existing space and look for a model that will fit. Remember to add an inch to the height and width for air circulation and to factor in the door swing in relation to other appliances, walls, and fixtures, such as a center island.

Assess features

Pullout shelves, split shelves, and deep door bins make the most of available storage space. Through-the-door ice and water dispensers are convenient, though they can add to the cost and energy use, and refrigerators with those add-ons tend to be more repair-prone. Stainless-steel finishes provide a polished look but they usually cost more and can show fingerprints.

Consider buying online

The Internet has been the place to shop for small appliances for years, and in 2010, 8.7 percent of people who bought a refrigerator did so online, up from 2.2 percent in 2003, according to Synovate, a market-research company. We suggest you always visit a showroom first to see how the fit, finish, and features compare in real life. Then compare the online shipping costs with the walk-in store’s delivery fee.