What's behind our refrigerator Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 272 models in refrigerators to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    This gives more weight to energy efficiency and temperature performance than to noise and ease of use. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.
  • Temperature performance
    This combines results of tests measuring the accuracy of initial temperature settings along with how well a model 1) kept optimum temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer at the same time; 2) kept temperatures even throughout each compartment; 3) kept temperatures constant despite changes in room temperatures; and 4) maintained set temperatures even with very high room temperatures.
  • Energy efficiency
    This reflects electricity consumption (based on our tests) per cubic foot of measured usable storage space. For example, two refrigerators with the same energy cost per year may have different energy efficiencies -- the unit with more storage space being more efficient.
  • Noise
    Noise level was measured when the compressor started up and during steady running. Subjective judgments by a panel of listeners supplemented our noise-meter readings.
  • Ease of use
    This assesses features and design including layout, controls, and lighting.
  • Total usable capacity
    Usable capacity is the volume, in cubic feet, of usable interior space, based on our measurements. We included ice-makers in the storage measurements for top-freezer and bottom-freezer models, but not for side-by-sides.
  • Fridge usable capacity
    Our measurement of usable volume.
  • Freezer usable capacity
    Our measurement of usable volume.
  • Exterior height
    Our measurement, including the top hinge and rounded up to the nearest inch. (We measured only tested models, but the similar models we list should have the same dimensions.) Built-in models have the compressor on top, making them about a foot taller than regular refrigerators. They fit flush with cabinets and counters.
  • Exterior width
    Our measurement, including all protrusions and rounded up to the nearest inch. (We measured only tested models, but the similar models we list should have the same dimensions.)
  • Exterior depth
    Our measurement, rounded up to the nearest inch. We include tubing or other protrusions in the back but exclude the handle. (We measured only tested models, but the similar models we list should have the same dimensions.)



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Recommended refrigerators

Recommended refrigerators are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
When choosing a refrigerator, consider your space, the unit's capacity, and your budget. Stylish variations on top-freezer, bottom-freezer and side-by-side refrigerators are in the stores, including some refrigerators with French doors as well as refrigerator drawers. Because refrigerators are on 24-7, make sure the one you buy is energy efficient. If you're looking for information about refrigerator, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ refrigerator reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our refrigerator buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and refrigerator reviews to help you choose the best refrigerator for your needs.

Recently reviewed refrigerators

This 25.6 cu.-ft. (claimed) side-by-side Whirlpool WRS586FIEM refrigerator has
  • an external water dispenser
  • an air filter
  • a door open alarm
  • a built-in water filter
  • digital controls on its front door

Refrigerator buying guide

Americans are buying more fresh food than ever, and that's changing the way refrigerators are designed. We're seeing more models with flexible drawers and compartments that allow you to create more fresh-food storage space as needed. Other features that claim to extend the life of your food include air filtration systems, sealed crisper drawers, and door-in-door compartments that limit how often you have to reach into the refrigerator's main compartment. These innovations are worth considering, but it's still the day-out performance that matters most. That's what our tests are designed to capture, measuring things like temperature control, noise, and energy efficiency. Our buying guide will help you zero on the best fridge for your needs and desires.

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