5 things to consider when buying a refrigerator

How to find a refrigerator that fits your lifestyle and budget

Published: June 23, 2014 04:00 PM

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LG LFX28991[ST]

Consumer Reports latest tests of more than 250 refrigerators revealed an expanding array of options, including roomier models designed to keep food fresher and make it easier to organize, at every price. We’re also seeing more refrigerators made in the U.S., as GE and Whirlpool bring the bulk of production back home. But, as we found, certain refrigerators aren’t so hot no matter where they’re made. Here’s what to consider:

Decide: side-by-side, bottom-­freezer or top-freezer models. Bottom-freezers put the most used compartment at eye level. French-door and four-door versions save space with narrow door swings for the upper fridge and, with four-door models, two separate freezer doors below. Side-by-sides also have narrow door swings but require more reaching and bending. Top-freezer refrigerators cost the least but are also the least stylish. Built-in refrigerators sit flush with cabinets, but they cost the most and hold the least overall; cabinet-depth models offer the same look for less.

Check the features. Adjustable shelves can make room for tall items, and temperature-controlled drawers offer cooler temperatures for fish and other delicate fare.

Check the dimensions. Width is usually the most critical one, because most refrigerators fit between counter space. Also be sure that a new refrigerator will fit through halls and doorways en route to your kitchen.

Choose a finish. Stainless still tops the charts because of its neutral, unifying look. Some versions resist fingerprints. Black or white appliances, including Whirlpool’s Ice Collection, can also complement many kitchens. Built-in models usually offer panels that can blend in with your cabinets.

Factor in noise. It’s a big deal in open-plan kitchens. Kenmore, LG, and Samsung stand out for quietness among standard refrigerators; Jenn-Air and Thermador are among the quietest built-ins.

Top refrigerators from our tests by type

—Daniel DiClerico (@dandiclerico on twitter)

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