Consumer Reports spends a lot of time telling you about the top-performing refrigerators in our tests. After all, those are the ones we want you to end up with in your home. But aren’t you curious about the stinkers, too? Here’s a breakdown of what it takes to become a bottom dweller in our refrigerator Ratings—and why you definitely don’t want one sitting in your kitchen.

Inconsistent temperatures. Flunking our temperature performance test is the surest way to sink in our Ratings, since we put the most weight on this test. We like refrigerators to maintain an optimum 37 degrees F in the refrigerator and 0 degrees F in the freezer, whether we're measuring temperatures on a top or bottom shelf, in the back of the unit or on the inside front door. Temperatures should stay uniform even as we crank up the heat in our climate-controlled chambers where refrigerators are tested. Bottom-rated models fall well short of the mark. For example, hot spots inside the Maytag MRT318FZDM top-freezer climbed as high as 41 degrees F in the refrigerator compartment and 4 degrees in the freezer. Those kinds of inconsistencies can really affect food quality.

Big energy draws. Refrigerators have become much more efficient in recent years, thanks to tougher federal standards. But we still come across some energy hogs in our tests. Take the Samsung RF28HMELBSR, a four-door French-door refrigerator that, based on our energy-use tests, would cost an average of $158 per year to operate. That’s more than double what the most efficient models in the category cost. Over the life of the unit, that could mean $1,000 or more in added energy costs.

Raucous compressors. Noise is especially important if you have an open kitchen where the refrigerator is within earshot of the adjacent living area. We measure it using a panel of listeners along with noise-meter readings. Loudness alone usually isn’t enough to a ruin a refrigerator’s score, but it can definitely contribute. For example, the Frigidaire FFTR1831QS top-freezer was hurt by a combination of subpar noise and inconsistent temperatures.

As for the very best models in our refrigerator Ratings, they excel in all three of these performance tests, delivering pinpoint temperature control, the lowest energy use, and whisper-quiet operation. It’s worth noting that the manufacturers of the three duds mentioned here also have top-rated models—a reminder that when choosing a refrigerator, or any product from Consumer Reports' tests, you can’t buy by brand alone.