While the price is hard to beat, certain buyers should still be careful. If you store frozen foods, watch out for freezer burn, and if you live somewhere with frequent brownouts, know this fridge has trouble keeping its cool when the power goes out. Otherwise, consider the LTC20380 an adequate but unremarkable everyday fridge.
Clean design betrays the tiny price tag
Even thought it's at the low end of LG's lineup, the LTC20380 is treated to bright LED interior lighting, as well as convenience features like spill guards for most shelves. Two shelves, one in the freezer and one in the fridge, are adjustable. They're plastic on plastic—no rollers here—but the action is smooth for such a simple design, and that goes for all the drawers too. The door shelves all use LG's classy diamond pattern, and recessed handles mean it's easy to switch which side the door opens.
The refrigerator's controls don't have proper numeric temperature readouts, but that's common for this segment of the market. Instead, you'll adjust the freezer on an arbitrary scale from 1-5, and the fridge from "cold" to "coldest." For our testing, we set each to the middle option. Inconveniently, both controls are near the back of the unit, so you'll have to reach in and move groceries to operate them.
The fridge temperature control also houses the compressor, and therefore obstructs much of the top shelf of this compartment. In the freezer, the icemaker blocks much of the adjustable top shelf, and the highest setting for this shelf doesn't leave room for the ice bucket. All told, we measured 15.91 cu. ft. of usable storage space—pretty close to the official measurement of 20 cu. ft.
Adequate, but not without problems
Average temperatures inside the fridge are a little high and a little inconsistent for our liking, but it's nothing that'll ruin dinner. For the real problems with this model, we turn to the freezer. Here, temperatures fluctuate wildly, which can lead to freezer burn and adversely affect the taste and texture of your food. All this fluctuation also averages out to a temperature that's a bit higher than we'd like. To combat this problem turn the freezer dial up to at least 4.
The LTC20380 also proved pretty bad in a power outage. It's one of the few refrigerators ever to outright fail our power loss test, which simulates a 36-hour electrical outage. The poorly insulated freezer was only able to keep food frozen for 28 hours without power.
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Fine for most
We're sure the LG LTC20380 will be perfectly adequate for many consumers, but if you plan to do a lot of freezer storage, or live in a rural area prone to power outages, consider stepping up to a fridge with better consistency and insulation. If, on the other hand, your priorities are cost and design, the LTC20380 is a good compromise. Remember: there are even more affordable options out there, but you'll have to forgo LG's attractive lighting and smoothly gliding drawers.
The LG LTC20380 failed a couple key tests, and this should make a specific subset of potential customers look elsewhere. But if you don't use the freezer for long-term storage and you don't live in an area prone to power outages, this refrigerator is otherwise adequate.
Consistency inside the fridge compartment is adequate but unremarkable. The shelves at the top and bottom of the chamber all average approximately 37°F, with a one- or two-degree variance over time. The doors are too warm though, they average 40.35°F with a ±1.5°F variance. Long-term food storage over 41°F may speed spoilage and bacterial growth, so you'll want to set the fridge for a little colder than normal.
The freezer is much worse than the fridge. Internal temperatures vary wildly by ±9°F, with a mean temperature of 2.51°F, far warmer than the ideal 0°F. Temperature swings like this will cause severe freezer burn, and negatively affect the taste and texture of frozen meats and other foods. All is not lost, however. Just do your own calibration, and the LTC20380 should have no problem staying at ideal temperatures.
Inside the crispers, our test materials lost an average of 0.22 grams of moisture per hour. This is worse than average, but not bad for this price point. Of course, for the best moisture retention, set those sliders to the "vegetable" setting.
The LTC20380 took 1 hour and 21 minutes to freeze the meat substitute we use for testing. That's fairly average, but might negatively affect the texture of frozen foods. The real story here is on the other side of the coin: thawing. During a simulated power outage, this freezer was only able to keep our test materials frozen for 28 hours, far short of the 36 hour goal. It's infrequent that a refrigerator fails this test, and indicates poor insulation.
Despite LG's claim of over 20 cu. ft. of storage space, the actual usable space is only 15.91 cu. ft.: 11.06 cu. ft. in the fridge, 4.86 cu. ft. in the freezer (and plenty of that is occupied by the ice bin). All manufacturers measure total interior space, even if it's unusable, and this one actually comes close to the advertised claim.
That being said, the fridge is exceptionally efficient. Assuming an average American KW/h price of $0.091, and based on typical use habits, this refrigerator should cost only $32.34 to operate annually. That works out to only 0.06 KW/h per cubic foot, which is exceptionally efficient.
Meet the testers
Chris was born and raised less than ten miles from our editorial office, and even graduated from nearby Merrimack College. He came to Reviewed after covering the telecom industry, and has been moonlighting as a Boston area dining critic since 2008.See all of Christopher Snow'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.Shoot us an email