There's plenty of demand for slimmer, cheaper refrigerators from those who live in smaller residences, but such low prices often result in an appreciable performance drop.

Thankfully, Whirlpool's little top-freezer manages to dodge many of the pitfalls associated with "budget" appliances. Solid scores came back in just about every test except the crisper drawer, making this model an easy recommendation for apartment dwellers or those who need a smaller, second fridge.
Even if you don't have a ton of cash, you should still care about how performance can make or break a big purchase. With that said, this Whirlpool proves you don't have to spend a lot to get a decent, small fridge. It's terrible at keeping produce fresh, but it proved perfectly adequate in every other test we put it through.
In our temperature consistency tests, we measured spot on accuracy in the fridge compartment: a near perfect 37°F average, with a variance of only 1°F. That's amazing for this price range, or any price range. Freezer consistency was less impressive. There, the temperatures could swing by as much as 5°F over time. But hey, it's a cheap fridge.

The freezer ran warm at about 4°F on average, so perfectionists should use the control dial to get that down to 0°F.

There just isn't much here.

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Refrigerators are relatively passive appliances once they've been set up, so "usability" is really more a question of what could go wrong. In this case, the wire racks could be easier to move, the door shelves are removable but not adjustable, and the freezer is just a big old chasm that really could've used an additional rack.

Controls take the form of two circular dials: one in the fridge and one in the freezer. You cannot specify the exact temperatures at which you'll be preserving your food. Instead, they're labeled ambiguously from Min to Max. Still, most fridges at this price range have but a single control for both fridge and freezer, so this is an upgrade. A little experimentation may be all that's required.

One exception to the relative unimportance of this refrigerator's design is the crisper drawer, because you will be using this thing all the time, and it's terrible. Plastic slides on flimsy plastic, without any rollers or smooth action of any kind. The drawer will twist around and become stuck, and it's a real pain if you've got anything heavy in there.

On the plus side, we love the reversible door design. Recessed handles mean you can swap the door hinge from left to right without reattaching a handle.

Eat your veggies... quickly.

Problems with the crisper drawer extend to performance too. The refrigerator's single crisper is incapable of doing its job: namely, keeping produce crisp. Fruits and vegetables are best refrigerated in a humid environment, and that's something this model does not provide. It's probably the WRT111SFAW's biggest flaw.

Otherwise, performance is far better than we expected from a refrigerator in this price range. Fridge temperatures held steady around 37°F, and freezer temperatures were stable too, which is important in keeping freezer burn at bay. The freezer chamber did run a bit warm on the recommended setting, but you can crank down that dial and make it colder.

Freezing times were also respectable. The freezer required just over an hour and a half to cool room-temperature materials down to 32°F, which means less damage to the taste and textures of your frozen food.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Moisture retention? There isn't any. The "Humidity Control" (yeah, right) drawer lost an average of 0.38 grams of moisture per hour. That's ten times as much moisture as the best fridges we've tested. Expect fruits and veggies to lose their freshness much quicker than they would in a more expensive refrigerator.

We'd buy it.

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The Whirlpool WRT111SFAW is a steal at the MSRP of $550, and even if you spring for the faux stainless finish for $100 extra, you're still making a wise financial decision. This is, of course, assuming your lifestyle can handle roughly half the food storage of a modern full-sized fridge, and you can deal with imperfect produce storage.

If you've got a small space and a small budget, this fridge is a great choice. And we think it would make a good second fridge or a garage fridge, too. It isn't perfect, but for 1/8th the price of high-end apartment-sized models, this Whirlpool will do the trick.
The WRT111SFAW needed only 1 hour and 33 minutes to freeze our room-temperature test materials. That's an average result for many expensive refrigerators, and downright impressive for this budget model. The faster your foods are frozen, the better off they'll be in terms of taste, texture, and—some say—nutritional value.

On the other side of the coin, the freezer's insulation was able to keep food frozen for long periods of time. Even when starved of power for 36 hours, the closest our test materials came to room temperature was 26.19°F, so it passed this test with flying colors.
It's a small fridge, but the simple design ensures space is used well. Whirlpool claims the total interior storage space is 11 cu. ft. (between both the freezer and the fridge), and our measurements of usable storage space weren't too far off. By our calculations, the fridge offers 6.26 cu. ft. of storage, while the freezer offers 2.58, for a total of 8.84 cu. ft. of usable storage.

Meet the testers

Christopher Snow

Christopher Snow

Managing Editor

@BlameSnow

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
Christopher Snow

Christopher Snow

Managing Editor

@BlameSnow

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

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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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