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When you are choosing a new refrigerator/freezer, there are many things you should think about as you begin shopping and comparing various brands and models. Refrigerators are a significant investment and you want to be sure that your new purchase will continue to meet your family’s needs, not just this year, but in years to come. What Type, Size and Style of Refrigerator- Before you begin shopping you should determine what type of refrigerator will work best in the space and best for the way you and your family will use it. Available types include:

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-Freestanding full-size refrigerator/freezers
-Counter-depth refrigerator/freezers (front is flush with front of base cabinets)
-Built-in refrigerator/freezers
-Professional built-in refrigerator and freezers pairs
-Compact or undercounter refrigerators and freezers

Unless you are remodeling your kitchen, you will want to find a unit with will fit into the same location and space occupied by your current refrigerator. Be sure to measure the width, height and depth of both the space where your refrigerator is located and the exterior dimensions of your refrigerator itself on freestanding units. You may find a slightly larger model that will still fit within the available space. Just be sure to measure carefully and accurately. Another size factor to consider is capacity. If the unit is going to be used as a beer/soda fridge or as a secondary refrigerator, less than 11 cubic feet may be adequate. However, typical families of 4 may need at least 14 cubic feet of storage space in their primary refrigerator. Larger families may want to consider refrigerators with at least 18-22 cubic feet of capacity. Once you narrow down the types of refrigerator, you also need to think about the style you prefer and what will work best for the space. Styles include:

-side-by-side
-top freezer / bottom freezer
-French door

Side-by-side units may work best in narrow galley kitchens or when space is limited due the positioning of a center island. However, side-by-side models may not be able to accommodate large items like whole turkeys or large containers of food in either refrigerator or freezer compartment. Top freezer refrigerators are the most affordable style for freestanding units. Bottom freezer models are less common, but are more convenient since the refrigerator compartment is on top and it is accessed more often than the freezer. French doors refrigerators have grown in popularity in recent years and feature two side-by-side refrigerator compartments above a bottom freezer, combining the best features of side-by-side and bottom freezer models.

What Features To Consider

Extra features mean extra cost, but selecting the right features for your family can make a world of difference in usability and convenience. Here are key features to think about:

-Energy Star Rating – Greater energy efficiency will cut your annual operating costs.
-Make sure shelving is sturdy, easy to clean and can be easily reconfigured.
-Temperature and humidity controls should be easy to reach and adjust.
-Icemaker in the freezer compartment (requires water line to refrigerator)
-Ice and water dispenser in the door (requires water line to refrigerator, may increase likelihood of repairs and potentially higher repair costs).
-Water filtration for ice makers and water dispensers (typically requires replacement filters at 6 month intervals).
-Good lighting in both refrigerator and freezer compartments.
-Separate compartments with adjustable temperature and humidity controls for meats, vegetables and deli items.
-Exterior Finish – You want to select a finish that will coordinate with your existing appliances and complement your kitchen dcor. White and beige/bisque are the most affordable and most neutral appliance colors, followed by stainless steel and black. Bolder appliance colors have become more popular in recent years. In addition, cabinet panels may be available from your cabinet manufacturer or cab be fabricated by a cabinet maker that will allow your refrigerator to blend seamlessly with your cabinetry. Darker finishes like stainless steel and black tend to show smudges and scratches and may require more frequent cleaning.

Finally, one last thing to consider: if it is important to you that all your appliances match as closely as possible, you may want to narrow your focus to the same brand and series as your other kitchen appliances; i.e., Frigidaire Gallery Series, Frigidaire Professional Series, G.E. Monogram, G.E. Caf, G.E. Profile, etc.