Which Is the Best Refrigerator?

by Ryan Way

Experts use a variety of criteria to determine the characteristics of a good refrigerator. The reliability of the refrigerator typically is first on the list. You don’t want to make a purchase on a large, costly appliance that keeps your food cold and fresh and your family healthy and not have the ability to rely on that product. You also want to ensure that the refrigerator is doing its job at preserving your food as long as possible. Finally, you want the refrigerator to look attractive and complement your kitchen decor.

The refrigerator that meets all these needs better than any of its competitors is the Sub-Zero. Not only is the Sub-Zero a stunning appliance, but it also performs at a level higher than any refrigerator made today. The Sub-Zero features two compressors, one for refrigerating and one for freezing. Having two compartments means the two never share air, allowing the refrigerator to have a moist compartment and the freezer to remain at a constant zero degrees. The refrigerator section also comes with an air purification system that removes any unwanted odors such as onions or leftover fish dinners. The Sub-Zero is an extremely reliable refrigerator with a life expectancy of 30-plus years. Sub-Zero’s after-sale policy is also one of the best in the industry. As a company, they are extremely responsive and fully back their appliances if issues ever develop.

Freestanding Refrigeration

Buying a freestanding refrigerator is a little different process from buying a built-in refrigerator. When selecting a built-in refrigerator, you’re typically considering its expected longevity, the value it adds to the home, or the sleek look added by its full integration your cabinetry. Most of the current brands of freestanding refrigerators on today’s market have similar lifespans; they don’t add much value to a home; and they can’t be fully integrated into the kitchen cabinetry.

When choosing a freestanding refrigerator, take a few variables into consideration. Size is typically the most important criteria, since many homeowners have size constraints. For a typical French door refrigerator, the most common widths are 30 inches, 33 inches and 36 inches. Side-by-side refrigerators are typically 33 inches or 36 inches, while top-freezer models are typically 28 inches or 30 inches. Height is the second critical measurement. Many homes have cabinets above the refrigerator that can limit the refrigerator’s height, which needs to be taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis. Finally, the depth of the refrigerator is important as well. When choosing a refrigerator, decide whether you want a counter-depth or full-depth refrigerator unit. Typically, standard cabinetry is 24 inches deep, which means a counter-depth refrigerator fits nicely into standard cabinetry, and only the doors will project beyond the cabinet. A full-depth refrigerator, however, has no set depth, and it will often protrude 4 or 5 inches beyond the cabinetry. This protrusion can be unsightly: The side of the refrigerator will be exposed, and the refrigerator itself is not aligned with the cabinet.

The next step when choosing a refrigerator is to determine which style fits your decor best. Currently, the most popular style of refrigerator is the French-door refrigerator, which has double doors on the top and a pull-out freezer at bottom. A couple of major benefits to this style include easy access to the items in the refrigerator compartment, without bending all the way over to get to those items at the bottom. If you use crisper drawers, often this can be a major benefit. Secondly, wide items fit better in the French door-style refrigerator than they do in the side by side.

This side-by-side-style refrigerator has the refrigerator on the right and a freezer on the left. These typically offer the same storage as a French-door model, and they often cost less. This lower price tag is certainly attractive. The other benefit of this style is that they have a larger freezer capacity with better organizational capabilities. If you use a lot of frozen items, this feature is attractive.

The last style, top-freezer models are at the lowest price point, and they offer familiarity in storage and access. This type of refrigerator is also not as wide and tall, which makes it often work as a replacement when size restrictions are an issue.

Once you’ve determined the correct size and style, decide which features or conveniences you need. Many homeowners want an external ice and water dispenser on the refrigerator door, which, unfortunately, has both pros and cons. The ability and convenience of having filtered ice and water readily available is obvious; however, these systems often have a higher service rate. Some people also believe these models aren’t particularly aesthetically pleasing as they can look a little clunky. Therefore, many manufacturers now offer an internal water dispenser in the refrigerator compartment and an internal ice maker in the freezer section to appeal to those homeowners who want this feature. Many buyers feel that this is the best of both worlds as it doesn’t take away from the look of the refrigerator while still offering the convenience of cold filtered water and ice.

Other conveniences currently offered by some manufacturers include features like a window on the refrigerator, allowing you to see what’s inside quickly without having to open the door. A similar feature called “door in door” allows only part of the right-hand door to open, allowing you to quickly grab an item without having to open the entire door. Standard French door refrigerators have three doors: two for the refrigerator compartment and one for the freezer. Some manufacturers now offer four- or even five-door refrigerators. Four-door models may include a pantry drawer or have a freezer that opens like a French-door refrigerator with pull-out drawers. Whirlpool and KitchenAid now offer a five-drawer refrigerator that splits the pantry drawer into two separate compartments, allowing for even more storage flexibility.

Obviously, the question: “Which is the best freestanding refrigerator” isn’t as simple as a recommendation of any one brand. So many styles and features are offered today that before you make your choice, you must decide which features matter most to you, which size fits, the style you want and your budget. The refrigerator that checks all of your boxes is your best refrigerator.