The Best Refrigerator
How We Found the Best Refrigerator
80 Brands Considered
40 Hours of Research
4 Top Picks
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.
How We Chose the Best Refrigerator
The right style is a matter of personal preference
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.
We looked for 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 refrigerator models that have proven themselves to be reliable and convenient. Our top picks are favorites for performance, style, and affordability.
The 4 Best Refrigerators
- LG Electronics Top Freezer Refrigerator -
Best Top Freezer Refrigerator
- Whirlpool Bottom Freezer Refrigerator -
Best Bottom Freezer Refrigerator
- Whirlpool Double Drawer French Door Refrigerator -
Best French Door Refrigerator
- GE Side-by-Side Refrigerator -
Best Side-by-Side Refrigerator
Why we chose it
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.
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 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 might see a couple of color options (stainless steel, white, and black are common), you’re unlikely to find any kind of external water or ice dispenser — and 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.
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 5 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.
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.
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.
This particular model 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 somewhat tall and skinny. Depending on the height of the shelves in your freezer, you might struggle to store a full-size pizza box.
Guide to Refrigerators
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 two or three 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 refrigerators, but 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 four and six 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, you err on the size of larger, rather than figure 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 ten 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 $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 nationally in the states, and many repair technicians will refuse to work on them if they lack the expertise.
The Best Refrigerator: Summed Up
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|Exterior Water / Ice Dispenser|
|Annual Energy Use|