• Frigidaire Gallery FG4H2272UF

  • What To Look For When Buying A Refrigerator

  • How We Tested

  • Other Counter-Depth Fridges We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Frigidaire FG4H2272UF Organization
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

There's plenty of fridge space.

What To Look For When Buying A Refrigerator

If your refrigerator just died, chances are that you're in a hurry to replace it. When looking for a new or replacement refrigerator, consider the following topics carefully before buy.

Food Preservation

No one wants to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a refrigerator that can't keep your food cold. Preserving your food is the most important facet of our refrigerator testing methodology; we gather temperature data in the fridge and freezer, and humidity data from the veggie bin to make sure every fridge can hit and maintain temperatures and humidity values best suited for keeping your food fresh. If you're out shopping for a refrigerator at a store, be sure to ask the sales associate about the refrigerator's cooling abilities. Additionally, you can look through our refrigerator reviews and our refrigerator roundups to see which refrigerators did the best when it comes to maintaining the right environment for your cold foods and beverages.

Your Refrigerator Cutout

If you're replacing a fridge with a very specific cutout (usually surrounded by countertops and/or cabinetry), measure your cutout carefully—it's not unheard of for consumers to buy a beautiful new fridge, only to have to return it because it's too large for the cutout. Measure the height, width, and depth of the cutout multiple times, then be sure to leave at least one to two inches between the top of the fridge and above-fridge cabinetry, as well as a couple inches between the back of the fridge and the wall. Leaving those extra inches behind the refrigerator is especially helpful for the fridge's air circulation.

Lastly, when looking at the depth of your cutout, be sure to account for the depths of the fridge doors. If the distance your fridge sticks out from your cabinetry is not as wide as the thickness of the refrigerator doors, then you might not be able to open the fridge doors all the way.

Through-Door Water and Ice Dispensers

When looking for through-door ice and water dispensers, be sure to check out the number of ice types available in that fridge—if you're an ice connoisseur, then you may want more than just cubed ice. Other ice options include crushed ice and cylindrical ice. Additionally, some of the more expensive refrigerators have additional dispensing options, such as hot water dispensers or a built-in Keurig pod coffee maker.

In lieu of through-door water dispensing, some fridges offer built-in water pitchers that fill automatically or interior water dispensers, in addition to interior ice makers.

Storage Options

The most basic storage options include built-in shelves in the fridge, one or two crisper bins, and some shelving options on the fridge's doors. When it comes to extra storage, though, the possibilities are endless. In addition to moving shelves to different heights in the refrigerator, some shelves can flip up or retract; some door bins can slide and expand.

Some fridges have door-in-door storage, which allows you to access popular fridge items without opening the whole refrigerator door. French door fridges often have the most extra storage options, including an extra drawer, temperature-controlled deli/pantry drawers that can be set for specific fridge temperatures, pocket storage at the bottom of the refrigerator that make for easy access for kids, or a fourth compartment/drawer that can be set to fridge or freezer temperatures.

Efficiency

If the prospect of using less water and energy is appealing to you, consider the Energy Star rating for a refrigerator for an idea of what your utility bills might look like. Typically, the more complicated your fridge (in features and design), the more energy it uses. In our experience, it's not a lot more than your more basic fridges, but it can add up over time. Only you can decide if the added convenience is worth the increase in running costs.

Fit and Finish

While black and white refrigerators finishes are still available, most refrigerators these days come in some variation of stainless steel options. You should be able to find a refrigerator that matches your kitchen setup and your other appliances, but be ready to pay more money for any finish more sophisticated than black, white, or basic stainless steel.

Price

Don't worry: Whether you're on a budget or have a blank check, you can find a fridge that will keep your food and beverages at the right temperature. Mostly, the price difference between high-end refrigerators and more affordable fridges is usually down to the number of available features, storage options, and finishes.


How We Tested

The Testers

Hi there! We're Reviewed's appliance testing team. Between the three of us (Jon Chan, Kyle Hamilton, and Julia MacDougall), we've spent many years testing major appliances including washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, and robot vacuum cleaners.

We have plenty of experience testing these products in the lab, but we've also used them as normal people would in the course of their daily lives, which means that we have a great sense for what appliances are bargains at their price points, and which appliances have really useful extra features (as opposed to the kitchen-sink approach to features).

With all this in mind, you can feel confident that when we recommend a product, we're giving it our Reviewed stamp of approval, which means two things: firstly, this appliance performs well, and secondly, this appliance is easy to use. We're always reviewing new products, so stay tuned for our reviews and roundups of the latest products in laundry, refrigerators, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners.

At first glance, most refrigerators don't look like anything special. All they have to do is keep your food and beverages from going bad, right? It turns out that there's a lot more to these big, heavy, cold boxes than meets the eye, and between our specially calibrated refrigerator lab and our rigorous testing standards, the testers and writers at Reviewed can recommend specific fridge models, and back up those recommendations with hard data and personal experience.

The Refrigerator Test Lab

Fridge_chamber
Credit: Reviewed.com/ Julia MacDougall

Just by living in the real world, you've probably noticed that appliances operate best in certain temperature conditions. Because an appliance involves a number of electronic and mechanical parts working together in harmony, the air in your home can inhibit certain parts from working at their best, especially in extremely hot or cold climates.

Refrigerators in particular can be very sensitive to the ambient air conditions. To make a long story short, refrigerators pull in air and cool it down to temperatures cold enough (usually around 37°F) to preserve food and inhibit bacteria growth. In hot weather, the condenser and cooling coils have to work harder to cool the warmer air. In cold weather, the fridge struggles to operate in general. This is why, if you happen to have a second fridge in your burning hot or freezing cold garage, you may have noticed that the air inside that fridge is not as cold as the air inside your kitchen fridge.

To mitigate these possible temperature effects, we test each refrigerator in a special lab that conditions the air to a temperature of 72°F +/- 5°F, and a relative humidity of 50% RH +/- 15% RH (basically, room temperature). This way, each fridge can get the chance to perform at its best, and doesn't get inadvertently penalized for having to deal with warmer or colder air than its competitors experienced.

The Tests

Fridge_testing_temp
Credit: Reviewed

Over the course of a week (including a day for calibration), we put each refrigerator through its paces. After filling the fridge up with water ballast (since fridges operate better when there's less empty space, we measure the fridge's temperature, humidity loss, freezing time, usable space, and energy use.

Temperature — Our ideal temperature settings for the fridge and the freezer are 37°F and 0°F, respectively. With fridge temperatures higher than 37°F, you might have to start worrying about bacteria growth, as 40°F is the start of the bacteria "danger zone". Freezer temperatures warmer than 0°F mean that the food isn't being truly frozen. Once we set each fridge to those temperatures, we collect temperature data throughout the week's testing that tells us not only how close the temperature in the fridge and freezer are to 37°F and 0°F, respectively, but how close the air temperature stayed to those ideal values.

Humidity Loss — For this test, we focus on the refrigerator's veggie crisper. We add water to a floral foam ball, and then record how much of the water is evaporated away each day. Humidity loss rates are important because if the crisper is too dry, your leafy greens will dry out very quickly. If the crisper is too humid, then your fruits will rot. Fridges that can strike a balance between these two extremes will help you to preserve your fruits and veggies for as long as possible.

Freezing Time — Once the fridge is plugged in, we measure the time it takes for the freezer to cool down from room temperature to 32°F (the freezing temperature of water). This is a good measure of how quickly your fridge and freezer can cool down food or beverages that have just been placed inside the refrigerator.

Usable Space — One of the most common refrigerator specs is the storage capacity, or the volume of the inside of the fridge, in cubic feet. You'd think that a higher capacity means that you can fit more in that fridge, but that's not always the case. We measure the usable space, which is how much empty space is actually available in the fridge's interior. Any number of things can reduce the usable space in a fridge—the ice bucket and/or ice maker, a water filter, air filters, shelf arrangement, etc. The closer the usable space value is to the fridge's stated storage capacity, the more food you can fit in your refrigerator.

Energy Use — Using an electric meter, we measure the fridge's energy usage (in Watt hours) over the week of testing. The less energy used, the more efficient that fridge is, and the more money it'll safe you on utility bills in the future.

We also use each fridge in a more casual sense so that we can answer usability questions about the fridge's specs and features, like the doors, shelves, controls, water/ice dispenser, and extras like smart connectivity, door-in-door or flexible storage options, etc. If a refrigerator keeps the the temperature at a perfect 37°F, but it's very difficult to open the doors and the control panel makes no sense, we're going to penalize that fridge with respect to its ease of use.

We test each fridge from two perspectives—first, from a data-driven objective point of view, and second, as a regular person trying to get at the leftover Chinese food. The combination of these two types of experiences allows us to recommend the best fridge for you at any price point.


Other Counter-Depth Fridges We Tested

Haier HRF15N3AGS

Do you love the look and functionality of french-door refrigerators, but don't have the space to actually fit one in your kitchen? We have just the fridge for you: the Haier HRF15N3AGS. As a counter-depth fridge, this model is considerably narrower and shallower than most french-door fridges; while that means you'll be able to fit it in a smaller kitchen, that also means you'll be able to fit less food in the fridge in the first place.

Because it's compact, the fridge itself is pretty bare-bones. There's no ice maker or water dispenser, and the shelves aren't very adjustable. The cooling on this fridge is top notch, though, and it easily maintained fridge and freezer temperatures of 37°F and 0°F throughout our week of testing. If you don't need a lot of extra features, and want to make the most of a relatively small kitchen, the Haier HRF15N3AGS compact french-door fridge is a great pick.

Pros

  • Great juice yield

  • Well designed

  • Easy to use and store

Cons

  • No through door ice or water dispensers

  • Limited shelf adjustability

Samsung RF23J9011SR

The Samsung RF23J9011SR french-door fridge is all about customizability. Its unique four-door design is bound to be a great conversation piece when guests enter your kitchen. The upper two doors open to reveal the usual shelf configuration that comes with a french-door refrigerator, but the bottom two doors are more reminiscent of a side-by-side fridge, with separate compartments for each door. The bottom left door is a freezer, and depending on your food preservation needs, the bottom right section can be either a fridge or a freezer.

In additional to those useful features, this refrigerator also runs efficiently, and can maintain cool temperatures when and where you need them. Between its intriguing looks and solid performance, you won't regret buying the Samsung RF23J9011SR.

Pros

  • Can empty itself

  • App allows you to choose what rooms to clean

  • Powerful dirt pickup

Cons

  • Limited freezer space

Kenmore Pro 79993

Kenmore products with the "Pro" designation usually have a few luxury touches on top of an already solid design, and the Kenmore Pro 79993 french-door refrigerator is no different. This fridge has one of the best crispers we've ever seen; it easily maintains humidity levels that will preserve both leafy greens and fruits/veggies. The temperature in the fridge can run a bit warm at times, but that's easy enough to fix—just bump the temperature controls (located on the inside of the top of the fridge) down a couple degrees.

As for those other luxury touches, this fridge also comes with an additional temperature-controlled drawer that has three settings (for meat, deli, or produce), a wine rack, and rubber liners for the door shelves that make for easy clean-up after a spill. With its classy stainless steel finish, outstanding crisper, and clever extra features, we're happy to recommend the Kenmore Pro 79993 french-door refrigerator.

Pros

  • Powerful suction

  • Carries attachments onboard

  • Worked well on pet hair

Cons

  • Fridge temperatures run a bit hot

Samsung RF23HTEDBSR

We're on the record as loving most of Samsung's refrigerators with door-in-door storage, and the Samsung RF23HTEDBSR is no different. This french-door refrigerator has door-in-door storage with sliding shelves on the right side door; this allows you to pull out the stuff you need most frequently without disrupting the cooling that goes on in the rest of the fridge.

In addition to that cleverly-designed storage option, this fridge is also right on target when it comes to temperature control. While the crisper wasn't the best one we'd ever tested, the third temperature-controlled drawer option was very handy and easy to use. If you want the benefits of door-in-door storage without having a full-sized refrigerator, be sure to check out the Samsung RF23HTEDBSR.

Pros

  • Powerful suction

  • Designed to work on ultra plush carpets

  • Excellent pet hair pickup

Cons

  • Crisper has trouble maintaining humidity

KitchenAid KRFC704FBS

The KitchenAid KRFC704FBS french-door fridge is all about style. From its black stainless finish to the wood and metal trim on the interior shelves and drawers, this fridge metaphorically struts down the runway and says "Look at me!", and we're happy to say that this fridge is definitely worth a look.

Even better, it also has spot-on temperatures for food preservation, a retractable middle shelf that makes room for taller items, soft-close drawers, and a control panel above the ice/water dispenser that is easy to understand and operate. For those of you out there that have some extra cash on hand and who want something more interesting than white plastic inside your refrigerator, you'll love the KitchenAid KRFC704FBS.

Pros

  • Good suction for the price

  • Removable battery

  • Powerful LED lights help find dirt

Cons

  • Drawers feel rickety

Electrolux EI23BC82SS

Electrolux is an appliance company whose products tend to straddle the line between luxury and high-end, and the Electrolux EI23BC82SS counter-depth french-door fridge is no different. One feature that really sets it apart from its competitors is the additional drawer with a temperature that you can dial in, rather than having to pick from two or three preset temperature options. This added storage flexibility can be a real boon if you have no real estate left in your crisper.

As for performance, this fridge's temperature hit its marks in the fridge, but had less success in the freezer. We noticed that the temperature swings above and below 0°F were large enough that to avoid freezer burn, we'd recommend setting the freezer temperature a couple of degrees below zero. The Electrolux EI23BC82SS is usually part of an appliance package, but it can also be purchased by itself.

Pros

  • Able to stand and charge without drilling

  • Brush heads for both hardwood and carpet

  • Rechargeable and removable batteries

Cons

  • Freezer temperatures can run a little warm

  • No through door ice or water dispenser

Haier HRQ16N3BGS

Haier knocks it out of the park again with the Haier HRQ16N3BGS, a unique french-door fridge with four doors. When it comes to temperature, this fridge does pretty well—the fridge can run a little warm at times, so be sure to bump down the temperature settings by a couple of degrees, but the freezer does just fine.

As for its fun, four-door design, the top two doors open to reveal the refrigerator, and the bottom two doors are for two separate freezer compartments. The freezer only has drawers, rather than shelves, so you won't be able to fit a frozen pizza box in here, but most smaller items and prepackaged meals should be fine. Because of this freezer limitation, though, we think that the Haier HRQ16N3BGS is best for homes with smaller families and/or a very organized person who does the grocery shopping.

Pros

  • Powerful suction for its size

  • Compact design

  • Comes with head for hardwood and carpet

Cons

  • Fridge temperatures can run a little warm

  • Limited freezer space

Frigidaire FGSC2335TF

With the Frigidaire FGSC2335TF, you're getting a lot of bang for your buck. While it may look like a normal counter-depth side-by-side fridge with a smudge-proof stainless steel finish and through-door water and ice dispensing out the outside, on the inside, there are a few neat features that really add to the overall value of the fridge.

Once you open the door, the clever design touches become apparent: there's a third cold drawer (in addition to two crispers) with adjustable temperature settings, multiple lights throughout the refrigerator, and wine/bottle holders on the bottom of the refrigerator door. While both the fridge and the freezer run a little hot, you can easily bump the temperature down on the control panel to compensate. With this pleasantly surprising feature set and low price, the Frigidaire FGSC2335TF is an easy choice to make.

Pros

  • Powerful suction

  • Easy to use

  • Good design and balance

Cons

  • Fridge temperatures can run a little warm

Meet the testers

Matthew Zahnzinger

Matthew Zahnzinger

Logistics Manager & Staff Writer

@ReviewedHome

Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.

See all of Matthew Zahnzinger's reviews
Jonathan Chan

Jonathan Chan

Lab Manager

@ReviewedHome

Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.

See all of Jonathan Chan's reviews
Julia MacDougall

Julia MacDougall

Senior Scientist

@reviewed

Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.

See all of Julia MacDougall's reviews
Cindy Bailen

Cindy Bailen

Editor

@orangesandlemon

Cindy Bailen loves writing about major appliances and home design and has spent over 15 years immersed in that. In her spare time, Cindy hosts pledge programs for WGBH-TV in Boston and other public television stations.

See all of Cindy Bailen's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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