Whirlpool WRT311FZDM Refrigerator Review
This fridge is designed to fit wherever it needs to go.
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The Cold Hard Facts
While imperfect, the Whirlpool WRT311FZDM (MSRP $1,099) is a fantastic deal. Our tests show this fridge is one of the most efficient available, and is more than adequate when it comes to preserving food. If you don’t mind a crisper that should be kicked to the curb, this fridge won’t disappoint.
A decent 20-cu.-ft. top freezer with a stainless steel finish might cost you anywhere from about $850 to $1,000 or more... unless you’re shopping for the Whirlpool WRT311FZDM (available at AppliancesConnection for $743.80).
This fridge currently retails for about $740, and we've seen it drop to as little as $699 on sale. Considering all the savings, this fridge also works surprisingly well. Temperatures are stable, energy consumption is low, and it makes great use of the available space. Even better, Whirlpool redesigned all its top-freezers for 2015 so they fit in smaller spaces while still offering similar storage space. The 33-inch wide WRT311FZDM, for instance, is just 65.5 inches high (not including hinges).
The crispers aren't great, and you’ll want to turn down the thermostat, but if you’re looking to keep costs low and don’t need a pre-installed ice maker, you can't go wrong with this fridge. Whether you need a replacement unit for the kitchen or an attractive second fridge, this Whirlpool is a great bargain. (Or check out our other picks best fridges for under $1,000)
Design & Usability
Style on the cheap
What really surprised us about this Whirlpool was just how good it looks for the price. Stainless steel normally comes with a premium, and that's the case here: White, black, and biscuit (Whirlpool's name for "off-white" or "bisque") are also available, and they all cost about $100 less.
The inside of the lower section features LED lighting, something that—like stainless steel—is often limited to more expensive models. Its inclusion here gives the interior a sharp, clean look, and makes it easier to find food tucked in the back.
You’ve also got lots of adjustable storage at your disposal. The Flex-slide Bin glides smoothly from left to right, and both the main shelves and the door bins have lots of storage slots to choose from. Also on the door, you’ll find a small flap at the top next to the dairy bin. This can flip down to serve as an additional shelf, or you can pop it up to make room for tall items like bottles of wine.
The freezer is more consistent with the price range: There’s no light, and the height of the lone wire shelf can’t be adjusted. There’s also no ice maker, but the WRT311 is prepped for Whirlpool’s EZ Connect ice maker kit, which typically retails for about $99.
Despite the recommended mark on the thermostat (signified by three snowflakes), you’re going to want to turn this fridge down for optimal performance. The main section averaged 39.14°F at the top, 38.79°F in the middle, and 39.49°F down by the crispers. The compartment is consistent over time—we tracked an average fluctuation of just ±0.27°F—but those temps should be one or two degrees lower.
The freezer had a similar issue: We measured average temperatures of 1.41°F and 2.91°F at the top and bottom, respectively. You want temperatures to stay at or below 0°F to avoid freezer burn, so be sure to tweak that dial as well.
These crispers performed poorly. The WRT311’s drawers lost 0.3 grams of moisture per hour, or about three times the average. Salad lovers, be sure to eat your kale quickly.
Performance & Features
Efficient and steady
Temperatures in both the fridge and freezer were stable over time, which isn’t always the case with affordable top freezers. However, our tests found that the "recommended" setting on the thermostat, well... shouldn’t be. Both sections ran too warm, so be sure to turn it down for superior food preservation.
This model is also very energy efficient, which is great news for folks living with high utility bills.
The crispers, on the other hand, are some of the worst we’ve ever tested. These drawers lost about three times more moisture per hour than the average fridge, which means there’s a good chance your produce will start to spoil sooner than expected.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
This basic top freezer features an industry-standard warranty. One year of parts and labor coverage will take care of anything that fails due to faulty components or workmanship. Problems caused by the consumer are not covered.
Freezing time is adequate. This Whirlpool needed 1 hour 33 minutes to chill our room-temperature sensors down to 32°F. Not great, but not bad either.
Storage Space & Energy Efficiency
Even with lots of adjustable storage—which can often eat into usable space—this Whirlpool makes the most of its shelves and drawers. Things like the Flex-slide Bin and the flip-forward door shelf offer plenty of ways to customize the layout of the lower section, which we measured at 12.01 cubic feet of usable space for groceries. That’s very impressive for a top freezer this size.
The freezer was also roomy, which is unsurprising given its basic layout: The compartment is just a large ice box divided by one wire shelf. Add in the door storage, and you’ve got 4.9 cubic feet of usable space available for frozen goodies.
If energy efficiency is your biggest concern, this is the fridge for you. We gauged this model at just 0.05 kWh of electricity consumption per usable cubic foot, making it one of the most efficient fridge we’ve tested. Assuming average American rates, that works out to about $26.81 per year in utility costs.
A Bargain Beauty
Getting more than you pay for
Among 20-cu.-ft. top freezers, the Whirlpool WRT311FZDM is a bargain to keep in mind. If you can find it on sale for under $800, it's a great deal—and even at a lesser sale, it's still worth a look.
It's also a legitimately good product, with excellent energy efficiency, an attractive interior, and plenty of flexible storage. If you can tolerate a sub-par crisper, then there’s little reason to spend more on something else.
To save even more, the alternative finishes—white, black, and... biscuit—shave off another $100 or so. If this is just a second fridge for the garage or basement, those extra savings make this model even more appealing.
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