You use your fridge every day, so chances are you already have some ideas about what you like. But refrigerators last a long time—almost 20 years, according to researchers at Berkeley Lab—so it’s possible your next fridge will come with features that didn’t even exist when your last one was built. What does that mean for you? For one thing, it’s a good idea to do some research before buying. And for another, there are lots of cool fridge styles and features to get excited about! Find everything you need to know here.
1What should you consider before buying a fridge?
Here are some key things to contemplate before making this big-ticket buy:
- Brand: Models, configurations, features and warranties vary from brand to brand, so it’s worth checking out who makes what (read more on popular fridge brands below).
- Type: Fridges take many forms, from freezerless or side-by-side fridge and freezer options, to mini or under-counter fridges, apartment-sized fridges, dedicated beverage chillers and more. Understanding your needs will help narrow down your selection.
- Size: It’s important to be precise when taking measurements—height, width and depth—if you’re looking for a fridge to fill a specific space. Account for counter protrusion, cabinet moulding and clearance room on all sides.
- Capacity: Refrigerator capacity is measured by cubic feet and can range from just one cubic foot all the way up to 30. Allow around four to six cubic feet per adult, plus extra for holidays and big shopping trips—generally you’ll want at least 10 cubic feet for a two-person household, and a minimum of 20 cubic feet for a family of four.
- Features: Basic models include shelving, drawers and manual temperature control. To level up, consider models with modular shelving, water and ice dispensers, filtered water, energy efficiency technology, connected elements like calendars and notes, voice control and more. (Learn more about fridge features below.)
- Energy: On average, Energy Star-certified fridges use 10 per cent less energy than standard models. Look for the Energy Star logo on your appliances, or for an EnerGuide label that details energy consumption.
- Finish: Plastic and stainless steel are the most popular finishes, but fridges do come in a variety of different colours and surfaces, including fingerprint-resistant finishes. You can also have a fridge built into your kitchen and made to look like a cabinet, for seamless integration.
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2What are the different types of fridges?
Here are some of the most common fridge types, and the pros and cons of each, so you can find the style that works for your family:
Bottom Freezer Fridges
Bottom freezer refrigerators are great for people who have trouble bending down frequently to look inside their fridge (there will still be bending required to get to the freezer, but most of us don’t use it as much as the fridge). Plus, having the freezer on the bottom makes everything in it easier to find.
|Having the fridge’s shelves at eye level means easy scanning.||Bottom freezer fridges are often pricier than traditional top freezer models.|
|Bottom freezers often have extra drawers or shelves for more efficient use of space.||Bottom freezers tend to be less energy efficient.|
|Some bottom freezers have locking mechanisms to keep kids out.|
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Top Freezer Fridges
Top freezer fridges are the “standard” model so many of us grew up with, and while they might not feel that exciting, they do have their benefits. They’re more energy efficient than bottom freezer models, tend to be a little cheaper and potentially offer more space than their bottom freezer counterparts.
|Top freezer models are usually narrower than bottom freezer styles, a bonus in tight spaces.||Doors often swing wider than the doors on bottom freezer models.|
They’re usually less expensive.
|You have to bend down to see into the fridge or to clean its depths.|
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Freezerless fridges are less popular, but there is merit to an all-fridge model. Obviously they maximize fridge space by eliminating the freezer entirely, and there are energy savings that come with only having to maintain one temperature.
|These models provide more space for fridge items than fridge-plus-freezer models do.||If you need a freezer, you’ll have to buy a separate unit.|
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Mini fridges aren’t just for dorm rooms. They’re also great in offices, workshops and sheds, rec rooms and basements, as well as campers and trailers. Relatively lightweight, they’re easy to move whenever you need portable refrigeration.
|They’re compact, so it’s usually pretty easy to find a spot for them.||They’re called ‘mini’ for a reason and have limited capacity.|
|They’re inexpensive, so if you need a temporary refrigeration solution, they won’t break the bank.||Although some have small freezer units, they typically don’t maintain temperatures as well as larger units.|
|Some models are lockable, which can come in handy for medications, alcohol and edibles.|
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French Door Fridges
These sleek models are the newest kids on the refrigerator block. Aside from sophisticated design, French door fridges have both doors at eye level, making it easy to see everything in the fridge at once. You can also open just one side at a time to conserve cool air.
|These models have a modern, sophisticated look.||These fridges are usually a little larger, so and may not fit into spaces built for standard-size fridges.|
|The doors don’t require a lot of clearance space.||They tend to be more expensive than other options.|
|As French door options are usually newer, many come with Wi-Fi-connected features.|
Side-by-size fridges are vertically divided between fridge and freezer. They usually allow more space on the fridge side, but it’s possible to find models with a 50/50 split. The doors open the same way as French door fridges, so there is less room required for door clearance.
|These models usually offer more space in the freezer.||They can be bigger than standard models, so it may be tricky to find a fridge to fit in a specific space.|
|They’re usually energy efficient, with no loss of cooling when you open one door or the other.||Side-by-side fridges tend to be a little more expensive than other models.|
|These units usually come with modular drawers and shelving on both sides, so you can easily see what’s in the fridge and the freezer.|
Beyond the standard models, there are specialties fridges that might suit your needs, too (and some of them are just cute!). Here are a few:
- Undercounter fridges: These small appliances fit under the counter (much like a dishwasher) and offer many of the benefits of a full-sized fridge. They’re usually a little bigger than mini-fridges.
- Apartment-sized fridges: Slimmer and shorter than standard-size fridges, they take up less room when space is scarce.
- Beverage fridges: These are exactly as they sound—dedicated fridges just for drinks. Most people use them to free up space in their everyday fridge.
- Wine fridges: These small appliances come with dedicated shelving for wine bottles and keep wine at a consistent temperature. And because their doors aren’t constantly being opened and closed, wine fridges keep bottles away from natural and artificial light.
- Novelty fridges: It’s all about the look with this category. Vintage-looking and branded fridges can add styled pops of colour and aesthetic flair (while also keeping food and drinks cool, of course).
Shop Specialty Fridges
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3What special features should you look for?
Features vary by manufacturer and model—here are some cool ones to look for:
- Ice and water dispensers: Details vary—some models offer filtered water, some dispense hot water for a quick afternoon cuppa, and some offer variations on the standard ice cube, such as ice spheres or ice crescents.
- Door open warnings: Many fridges now come with a noise alert when the fridge or freezer door is left open.
- Freshness features: Most fridges come with a single evaporator to regulate airflow in the unit, but some models now come with dual evaporators. This feature helps to regulate the air flow in the fridge and freezer separately, which helps food to stay fresh. Some fridges also come with ethylene filters to help produce last longer.
- Sectional temperature and climate controls: Most fridges have some degree of temperature control, though they range from a simple dial inside the fridge to connected sensors with touchscreen displays.
- Smart screens: Some models have customizable touchscreens to act as a family hub—a high-tech spin on magnets and calendars. Smart fridges may also be app-enabled, so you can manage everything from temperatures to expiry dates from your phone.
- Convertible compartments: Being able to configure drawers and shelving makes food shopping and storage easier than ever.
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4What are the differences between popular fridge brands?
Different brands focus on different things in product development. Read on for popular fridge manufacturers and what they typically offer.
- Sunbeam: This brand is a household name in home appliances, making toasters to fans and everything in between. They are usually reasonably priced, offering good bang for your buck.
- Whirlpool: When a company has been making machines for over 100 years, they must be doing something right. Whirlpool is known for household appliances. They also sell repair pieces to make fixes easy for consumers.
- Hamilton Beach: Chances are many of the first small appliances you ever bought were Hamilton Beach. The company is best known for its food prep products, so of course they’d know refrigerators, too.
- Galanz: You probably equate this brand name with microwaves—Galanz makes about half of the world’s microwaves—but they make well-priced, reliable fridges and freezers too.
- Frigidaire: From the company that created the world’s first home fridge,you can expect products that match their long track record of innovation and dependability.
- Danby: With head offices based in Guelph, Ont., Danby makes everything from portable air conditioners and microwaves to dehumidifiers and a range of refrigerators.
- Arctic King: This brand is a branch of Midea, a parent company headquartered in China. The subsidiary focuses on small household appliances like fridges and air conditioners.
- Marathon: Headquartered in Elora, Ont., Stirling Marathon focuses on fridges, freezers and electric ranges. They’re also a family-run business, with three generations of the Greenway family working for the company.
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- Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Using National Survey Data to Estimate Lifetimes of Residential Appliances.
- Natural Resources Canada. Refrigerators.
- Natural Resources Canada. EnerGuide in Canada.
- Whirlpool. Our History and Heritage.
- Case Centre. Galanz: From Price Killer to Consumer Brand Innovator?
- Galanz. DNA of Thoughtful Manufacturing.
- Frigidaire. Celebrating 100 Years of Innovation.
- Stirling Marathon. About Us.