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  • No through-door dispensers

  • Limited shelf adjustability

In the rest of the world, the compact French door refrigerator is extremely popular. It squeezes all the benefits of a French door—fresh food at eye level, compartmentalized storage, sleek design—into a 28-inch wide platform. Unfortunately, such fridges have never been available in the U.S.

Until now. As part of its plan to expand into the U.S., the Chinese appliance titan unveiled an all-new small kitchen appliance lineup at the Dwell on Design show in 2015. The fridge just hit stores earlier this month.

We spent two full weeks testing and using the unique, 14.9 cu. ft., 28-inch wide HRF15N3AGS (MSRP $1,899)—an affordable, counter-depth apartment fridge that's just under 30 inches wide, and can be found for just $800 on sale. It brings the French door style to small kitchens—and small budgets. We uncovered a few minor flaws during that time—but also found a lot to love about this curious little fridge.

Stainless-ish, seamless, and striking

Haier is breaking ground by offering the HRF15N3AGS's design layout in such a compact size.
Credit: Haier

Haier is breaking ground by offering this design layout in such a compact size.

Call to mind an $800 refrigerator, and you won't picture this Haier. A stainless-style finish, counter depth design, and specialty width would typically command a price tag more than twice as hefty as this one.

Recessed handles leave the front panels seamless, and free up a few more inches of valuable workspace in your kitchen. And a minimalist, capacitive touchscreen control panel is one more feature that makes the HRF15N3AGS seem more expensive than it is.

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Dig a little bit deeper, though, and you'll find evidence of cost cutting. That finish isn't actually stainless steel, and the front door scratched pretty easily while we were unpacking it. If you're putting it in your own home, take care. Inside, plastic abounds and shelves offer virtually no customization or spill protection—similar to competitors in the same price range. But at least the aesthetics are good: Blue trim gives the shelves some pop, while bright LEDs illuminate your groceries and the clean white walls.

This model's door shelves also lack the adjustable storage we're used to seeing even on entry-level fridges like Frigidaire's new Custom-Flex lineup. There's just one extra height level available, and none of the bucket shelves are deep enough to hold gallon jugs. You'll either store your milk in the main section, or you'll be buying half-gallon jugs.

Instead of one large pull-out freezer with drawers, Haier designers opted for two separate freezer compartments that can be opened independently of each other. Neither compartment gets its own light, but the drawers are so shallow that your ambient room light should be enough.

Many compact and counter depth fridges tend to do poorly in terms of overall temperature. The HRF15N3AGS is both a compact and counter depth fridge, yet virtually aced our temperature tests. The primary storage area maintained average temperatures of 36.55°F at the top, 36.62°F in the middle, and 38.31°F down by the crisper, deviating by an average of just ±0.1°F over time. These are numbers that most full-sized fridges almost never achieve.

To our surprise, the freezer scored just as well, with average temps that were both low and stable—great news for folks concerned about freezer burn. The upper drawer averaged -1.65°F and deviated by just ±0.18°F over time, while the lower drawer averaged -0.33°F and deviated just ±0.11°F over time.

Impressive performance

We spent a week testing this fridge in controlled conditions, evaluating how well it preserves food over time, and we can confidently say that this fridge does a great job. Temperatures are consistent and accurate, energy consumption is low, and freezing times are fast.

Our only gripe is the crisper, which won't keep your greens quite as fresh as the competition. Of course, with a fridge this size, it'd be hard to even fit more salad than you could eat before it goes bad.

Note some features have also been left out to cut costs. There’s no ice maker or water dispenser to speak of, but the fridge does come with a small ice cube tray, so... at least that's something.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Test Results Page.

While one of its most attractive interior features, the crisper was actually the Haier HRF15N3AGS's most underperforming aspect.
Credit: / Matthew Zahnzinger

While one of its most attractive interior features, the crisper was actually the most underperforming aspect.

The crisper was the most disappointing aspect of this Haier. Over the course of three days, our test materials lost an average of 0.2 grams of water each hour. You won't be able to store many greens in this small drawer anyway, but remember to eat the ones you do buy before they wilt.

While one of its most attractive interior features, the crisper was actually the Haier HRF15N3AGS's most underperforming aspect.
Credit: / Matthew Zahnzinger

While one of its most attractive interior features, the crisper was actually the most underperforming aspect.

Haier offers a standard one-year limited warranty, with partial coverage that extends out for fives years from the date of purchase. You can read more about it in the user manual.

One elephant in the corner of the room that we must address: Though Haier is rapidly expanding all over the world—it has a factory in Camden, SC, owns Fisher & Paykel and recently announced plans to purchase GE Appliances—some American customers may balk at the relatively unknown brand on the outside, or the "Made in China" label on the inside.

Haier has a long history selling compact and wine refrigerators in the U.S., and although we haven't done any long-term testing on this full-size fridge, we still haven't found any reasons to worry in the short time we spent with it.

If you buy the HRF15N3AGS, please let us know more in the comments.
The faster you freeze food, the more taste and texture is preserved. That's why flash-freezing is so great. On average, it took 1 hour 22 minutes for the HRF15N3AGS to freeze our sensors down to 32°F from room temperature. This result is a few minutes faster than the average freezer.

A winner in almost every way

A counter depth, 30-inch wide, four-door French door with stainless finish for between $800 and $1,100? It’s unheard of, but Haier has made it a reality.

Our tests proved this Haier not only looks good, but does a great job preserving and storing food. If you don't need an ice maker or water dispenser, this is an exceptional choice for your apartment or small kitchen remodel, especially if the budget's tight.

Now, the only problem is finding it. We’ve tracked this model down at a number of online retailers like AJ Madison and HH Gregg, but until Haier expands its sales network, it may prove a bit difficult to find. Still, we think the extra legwork is worth it.

For such a cozy fridge, the Haier HRF15N3AGS actually has a pretty decent amount of usable storage.
Credit: / Matthew Zahnzinger

For such a cozy fridge, it's actually got a pretty decent amount of usable storage.

It may be compact, but this Haier used its internal storage space fairly well. In the fridge, wide shelves are bolstered by the lone crisper drawer, as well as six bucket shelves on the doors. In total, you get 8.06 usable cubic feet of space. The downside? Most of that space is pretty much stuck where it is, and none of the door shelves are deep enough to hold gallon containers.

The two independent freezer drawers are both pretty straightforward. The upper drawer is just a big plastic bucket. (You can even remove it for easy cleaning.) The lower drawer is essentially the same, except it's slightly taller and has an adjustable partition. Overall, you get 3.48 usable cubic feet of freezing space.

Without an ice maker to suck up power, it's no surprise that the Haier is an exceptionally efficient machine. The fridge uses about 0.06 kWh per usable cubic foot per day, and assuming the national average cost of $0.09 per kWh, that works out to roughly $24.02 per year.

Meet the tester

Matthew Zahnzinger

Matthew Zahnzinger

Logistics Manager & Staff Writer


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

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