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Last updated on May 18, 2020

The Best Refrigerator

How do you choose between nearly identical fridges? ​

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80 brands considered

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40 hours of research

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4 top picks

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The Best Refrigerators

The truth is, all major appliance brands offer nearly identical refrigerators. The new models you’ll see today are far more energy-efficient than those produced even five years ago, and repairs are only as difficult as finding the nearest technician. So, how do you choose what’s right for you? First, you’ll need to measure your space, then figure out the refrigerator style and size best for your lifestyle. Don’t worry — we’ll show you how.

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The 4 Best Refrigerators

    The Best Refrigerators: Summed Up

    Whirlpool Bottom Freezer Refrigerator
    Whirlpool Double Drawer French Door Refrigerator
    GE Side-by-Side Refrigerator
    LG Electronics Top Freezer Refrigerator
    The best
    Bottom freezer
    French door
    Side-by-side
    Top freezer
    Price
    Starting at $1,400
    $3,886.65
    $1,099.99
    $1,199
    Exterior water/ice dispenser
    No
    Yes
    Yes
    No
    Size
    21.9 ft3
    25.76 ft3
    25.8 ft3
    23.8 ft3
    Annual energy use
    584 kWH
    767 kWH
    643 kWH
    501 kWH

    Whirlpool Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

    Best Bottom Freezer Refrigerator
    Image for Product-Card-for-Whirlpool-Bottom-Freezer-Refrigerator
    LG Electronics

    Whirlpool Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

    Pros

    Cost-effective
    Plenty of usable space

    Cons

    Fewer high-tech upgrade options

    Why we chose it

    Temperature system

    One feature that stood out to us was the Whirlpool Bottom Freezer Refrigerator’s temperature management system. Dubbed the Accu-Chill Temperature Management System, it uses built-in sensors to measure the internal temperature of the fridge and make necessary adjustments. Not only does this automatic feature take the guesswork out of proper cooling, but it also makes the fridge more energy-efficient.

    SpillGuard glass shelves

    Spills are inevitable, and cleaning out a refrigerator can be a real hassle. That’s why the Whirlpool’s SpillGuard glass shelves stand out. The raised edges of these shelves contain small spills and prevent dripping onto lower shelves, and the glass facilitates easy wipedowns.

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    Most food is easily stored at eye level

    The greatest perk of a bottom freezer model: All of your daily food items sit right at eye-level, so you don’t have to bend down to reach into the fruit or vegetable drawer. This makes bottom freezer refrigerators excellent choices if you don’t use your freezer very often, as well as for elderly people or those with joint issues.

    Points to consider

    Poor freezer layout

    Unlike the two-door layout of top freezers, most bottom freezers have one door for the refrigerator and one large drawer pull-out for the freezer. This style of freezer makes it difficult to see and remember that there is food sitting at the bottom of the bin, and it can be tricky to rummage through layers of frozen food just to check for a pint of ice-cream. Even though most models include baskets inside the freezer to help organize your frozen food, you’ll still have to place everything strategically in order to see it.

    Whirlpool Double Drawer French Door Refrigerator

    Best French Door Refrigerator
    Image for Product-Card-for-Whirlpool-Double-Drawer-French-Door-Refrigerator
    Whirlpool

    Whirlpool Double Drawer French Door Refrigerator

    Pros

    Temperature system
    SpillGuard glass shelves
    Most food is easily stored at eye level

    Cons

    Poor freezer layout

    Why we chose it

    Fashionable and feature-heavy

    French door refrigerators are a modification of a typical bottom-freezer refrigerator. In addition to having two small doors for the refrigerator section, they frequently have an external water and ice dispenser. Some also come with up to two drawers that you can open — without opening up the rest of the refrigerator. This relatively new design (a variation off of the bottom-freezer refrigerator) has been gaining popularity over the last five years – Martha Stewart includes it in her kitchen – and can come in a variety of finishes (from stainless steel to matte black) to fit in with your home.

    Dual cooling

    A standout feature of the Whirlpool Double Drawer French Door Refrigerator is its dual cooling system, which detects the internal temperature of the fridge and adjusts humidity levels automatically. The end result is fresher food and a lower chance of freezer burn.

    Space-efficient

    Even though French door refrigerators tend to offer some of the most cubic feet for the space, both French door and side-by-side refrigerators are easier to use if your kitchen is on the smaller side. The doors are smaller than those on either a top- or bottom-freezer refrigerator, so they don’t open as far into the kitchen — you’re less likely to block yourself into the kitchen or block someone else out if you have a French door refrigerator.

    Points to consider

    Less energy-efficient

    Because French door refrigerators are trending right now, even a basic model will be more expensive than a great quality top-freezer model. French door refrigerators are also typically more expensive to run, as they frequently use more electricity than refrigerators of a similar size but different design.

    This might matter less if you live in a state with a low cost of energy, where the difference between running our best French door ($67) and our best top freezer ($44) refrigerators over a year is only $23. However, if you live in Hawaii (or another state with high energy costs), that difference might climb up to an extra $100 you’d have to spend annually.

    GE Side-by-Side Refrigerator

    Best Side by Side Refrigerator
    Image for Product-Card-for-GE-Side-by-Side-Refrigerator
    Whirlpool

    GE Side-by-Side Refrigerator

    Pros

    Fashionable and feature-heavy
    Dual cooling
    Space-efficient

    Cons

    Less energy-efficient

    Why we chose it

    Lots of freezer space

    If you tend to keep your freezer well-stocked, a side-by-side refrigerator is likely the best style for you — they offer the most freezer space of any style.

    The GE Side-by-Side Refrigerator has more than 30% more freezer space than our picks for the best top or bottom freezer, and it still outcompetes the French door refrigerator for freezer space. Additionally, these refrigerators provide shelving units for your freezer, helping it stay more organized than any other style.

    Points to consider

    Narrow shelf space

    Side-by-side refrigerators don’t give exactly even amounts of space to the refrigerator and the freezer — the refrigerator section will still be larger. However, while there is more freezer space in this style of fridge than any other, this space is tall and skinny. Depending on the height of the shelves in your freezer, you might struggle to store a full-size pizza box.

    LG Electronics Top Freezer Refrigerator

    Best Top Freezer Refrigerator
    Image for Product-Card-for-LG-Electronics-Top-Freezer-Refrigerator-
    GE

    LG Electronics Top Freezer Refrigerator

    Pros

    Lots of freezer space

    Cons

    Narrow shelf space

    Why we chose it

    Cost-effective

    Top freezer refrigerators are some of the most plentiful on the market. Their basic, no-frills appearance means that they are easy on the wallet, too — you’re much more likely to find a good quality top freezer for under $1,000 than any other kind. Additionally, top freezers typically consume the least amount of electricity compared to other styles, so you’ll save most on your energy bill by choosing this option. The LG Electronics Top Freezer Refrigerator is a great option if you want to make the most of your investment over time.

    Plenty of usable space

    Top freezers are a popular design for good reason: They offer some of the best usable space. Many of them carry their simplistic design into their interior, with only a few shelves and a couple of drawers to help sort your groceries. This means that top freezers have some of the most usable space out of any refrigerator design. Manufacturers measure a refrigerator’s total cubic feet by calculating all of the space inside of a fridge when it is completely empty of shelving and food. So, by having fewer drawers, top freezers have less plastic and glass and more space for your food.

    Points to consider

    Fewer high-tech upgrade options

    When it comes to basic, top-freezer-style refrigerators, what you see is what you get. While you may have a few color options (stainless steel, white, and black are common), you’re unlikely to find any kind of external water or ice dispenser. Some models don’t include an ice maker at all. Top freezers are a good choice economically, but if you’re building a state-of-the-art kitchen, their plain designs might not blend in with other high-tech equipment.

    How We Chose the Best Refrigerators

    Variety of styles

    Finding the best refrigerator for your home is highly personal. For some, refrigerators with a top freezer will prove to be the best since they fit into small spaces. For others, refrigerators with a bottom freezer (whether standard or french door) mean that they don’t have to bend down frequently to reach vegetable and fruit drawers. Side-by-side refrigerators tend to be larger, so they take up more space in your kitchen but also offer more space for your food.

    If you’re not sure where to start, check out our refrigerator buying guide below. We’ll walk you through each type of refrigerator — and why you might or might not want a french door or a top freezer — then help you figure out the right questions to ask in your search.

    Top-rated models at multiple price points

    Since no one refrigerator can be the best for everyone, we set out to find options that would be a good place to start, no matter your needs. We looked at consumer reviews on websites like Consumer Reports, Home Depot, and Lowe’s to find models that have proven themselves to be reliable and convenient. Our picks are favorites for performance, style, and affordability.

    How to Find the Right Refrigerator for You

    Measure your space

    Fridges vary by height, width, and depth, and it’s important to know exactly what size you need to be looking for. Too large, and you risk not being able to fit your new fridge through the kitchen door, let alone fit it inside your kitchen. Too small, and it might look out of place.

    Depending on the amount of space available, you might find that certain types of refrigerators won’t work for your space. If you are working with a small space, your most likely option will be a top freezer. If there is only a narrow gap between your refrigerator and your kitchen island, however, a refrigerator with two doors will make it easier to reach in and grab the carton of milk without hitting the door on the cabinetry.

    Consider your ideal depth size

    After height and width, the most important measurement you’ll need to note is depth. Most fridges are not counter-depth; most counters are 26 inches or shallower, while most fridges stick out at least 2 or 3 inches beyond that. If you prefer your fridge to blend in with your counters, look for counter-depth refrigerators. These typically have less space to hold food but won’t stand out from the rest of your kitchen.

    Determine your refrigerator type

    After factoring in physical constraints, choose your fridge based on the features that are most important to you.

    • Top freezers are the most economical, but they don’t look particularly fancy and usually don’t come with ice or water dispensers in the door.
    • French door refrigerators look like they belong in Martha Stewart’s kitchen and typically have nicer glass shelving options and drawers. That said, they tend to be among the most expensive of the refrigerators.
    • Bottom freezers look fairly attractive, typically coming in stainless steel finishes, and are user friendly. By tucking away frozen foods at the bottom, they keep your everyday food at eye and hand level. This can make it more difficult to dig up your frozen peas, however, though some models come with freezer baskets to help organize the space.
    • Side-by-side refrigerators usually take up more space in your kitchen than other styles, in exchange for giving you more freezer space than with any other type of refrigerator. The freezer space tends to be slightly narrow, making it difficult to fit in large pizza boxes.

    Choose the right size

    When it comes to refrigerators, bigger is not always better. Your ideal fridge size depends first on your available kitchen space, and second on your household size and cooking preferences.

    In general, you should estimate between 4 and 6 cubic feet of storage for every adult in your home, or around 20 cubic feet if you have a family of four. If your family makes a lot of home-cooked meals, or keeps a large stockpile of frozen or fresh food, err on the larger size rather than figuring out where to house a second freezer later on.

    Locate your nearest repair center

    One of the most important aspects of purchasing a major appliance is determining where you can repair it. We hope that our fridges will run smoothly for at least 10 years without repair; however, if your fridge won’t stay cold or your circuit breaker trips frequently, having a repair shop handy can be the difference between a $130 service call and replacing your fridge entirely. Most manufacturers have refrigerator service centers across the country, and each company maintains a search page to help you find the one closest to you.

    You’ll want to especially keep an eye out if you’re looking at either a LG or a Samsung refrigerator. These brands started in South Korea, which means that they have been slower to set up service centers in the U.S., and many repair technicians will refuse to work on them if they lack the expertise.

    Refrigerator FAQ

    About the Authors

    The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.