It is always helpful to do some product research before spending your hard-earned money on any product. A well-documented buyer’s guide is generally a good source for starting your product research. Here is our refrigerator buyer’s guide to help you check out all the necessary features that you might want from a refrigerator you are buying.
Consumers no more visualize a refrigerator as an appliance that only supplies cold water and keeps drinks and ice cream chilled. The options with the refrigerator are overwhelming these days. You can get cool water or ice from it without even opening the door. The fridges are not limited to 2 doors nowadays. The new model offers 4 to 5 doors. It is even possible to order a custom-built refrigerator to exactly match the size of your kitchen.
Refrigerators are now smarter than ever. The smart fridge comes with a digital panel that lets you know all the items it stores. It can even alert you when you are low in grocery stock.
The refrigerator is a fairly old consumer product. It took its place in the kitchen of common people nearly 100 years ago. But during the last 2 to 3 decades, revolutionary changes took place in the design, technology, features, and utilities of the refrigerator.
In this refrigerator buyer’s guide, I will discuss every aspect of the refrigerator in a step by step manner. So let’s get started.
Guide to The Best Suited Refrigerator Style for You
There is a refrigerator configuration in the market today to meet everyone’s requirements. Refrigerator models distinguish themselves based on the number of doors, door configuration, freezer and refrigerator placement, available capacity, and energy and cooling efficiency.
Based on the door style, refrigerators can be categorized as the following types:
- Single door refrigerator
- Double door refrigerator
- Side by side door refrigerator
- French door refrigerator
Based on the freezer position of the double door refrigerator, it can further be classified as:
- Top freezer double door refrigerator
- Bottom freezer double door refrigerator
Now, let us discuss what each of these refrigerator types offers to their users.
Single Door Refrigerator
As the name indicates, a single door refrigerator has one door. The freezer compartment is placed inside and generally on the upper part of the refrigerator.
Single door refrigerators have a smaller capacity. These refrigerators are designed focusing on the requirement of most of the small families in India.
The capacity of the single door refrigerator is within 150 liters to 250 liters on average.
In general, a single door refrigerator comes with a direct cool technology. The direct cool technique in the refrigerator is very energy efficient. So, single door refrigerators tend to be more energy-efficient and economical than other categories.
It keeps your monthly electricity bills low.
One shortcoming of direct cooling is that it builds up ice in the freezer. So the user needs to manually defrost the ice periodically to keep the refrigerator performing well.
Double Door Refrigerator
Double door refrigerators have a separate compartment for the refrigerator and freezer unit. Each compartment has its individual door. Thus the name of this type of refrigerator is the double refrigerator.
As this type of refrigerator has a separate freezer, you are getting a bigger freezer space to keep lots of frozen foods.
The capacity of the double door refrigerator varies from 250 liters to 500 liters. From small to large, this type of refrigerator is suitable for every family size.
Double door refrigerators have several cooling techniques. Both direct cool and frost-free cooling technology are found in this type of refrigerator.
The direct cool double door refrigerator model has the problem of ice formation inside the freezer.
One can easily avoid this problem by selecting a frost-free double door model. Most of the double door refrigerators are frost free which means it prevents the formation of ice inside the freezer.
Check carefully if the model you selected has the frost-free option or not before buying.
The freezer section can be situated on the top part of the bottom part of the double door refrigerator. Depending on the position of the freezer, the double door refrigerator is categorized as a top freezer double door refrigerator or a bottom freezer double door refrigerator.
In general, the frequency of accessing the refrigerator section of the fridge is more than that of the freezer section. You may want to have a glass of chilled water or juice or a piece of cake or some fruits from the refrigerator at any time of your day.
From this viewpoint, it is better to go for a bottom freezer double door refrigerator. This will provide effortless access to the frequently used refrigerator section of your fridge creating a positive user experience.
Moreover, the bottom freezer comes with more storage capacity than the top freezer model.
Don’t worry. Not everything with the top freezer double door refrigerator is bad. It has its own advantages.
The top freezer refrigerator is generally a bit more energy efficient than the bottom freezer refrigerator. The compressor of the refrigerator is placed on the bottom side of the refrigerator.
The heat generated by the compressor during operation can make a way to the freezer if the freezer is placed at the bottom part of the fridge. So it requires a bit more energy to negate the heating effect of the compressor and chill the freezer.
The heating effect of the compressor has no effect on the top freezer refrigerator.
Side by Side Door Refrigerator
This is another type of Double Door Refrigerator-a premium one. Due to the popularity and facilities offered by this type of refrigerator, we are discussing it separately.
In a Side by side door refrigerator, fridge, and freezer compartments are placed side by side. Each compartment has its own door. So, users are getting more or less equal amounts of freezer and refrigerator capacity.
The refrigerator section is on the right side of the fridge.
This model comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. As the door is placed side by side, so the door width is half compared to other refrigerators. So, if you have a narrow walkway in the kitchen, the opened door is not going to block your path if you are using a side by side door refrigerator.
The freezer section is placed on the left side of the refrigerator.
It is easier to access the whole freezer section of this model than any other refrigerator types as the full left part of the refrigerator is the freezer.
Some of the side by side refrigerators also come with the optional water or ice dispenser.
It is not free from the downside. The refrigerator, as well as the freezer section, is not wide enough to keep large size items in the compartment.
French Door Refrigerator
A French door refrigerator is actually a three-door refrigerator with the freezer component at the bottom. The top portion stores the refrigerator section.
The refrigerator section has two doors that are mounted side by side.
French door refrigerator has the most modern look among the refrigerators. It has lots of advantages as well over the other types.
First of all, as the refrigerator section has two doors, so when you open one door for accessing the refrigerator compartment, the cooling does not transfer outside the refrigerator from the other half of the refrigerator compartment where the door is closed. This increases the efficiency of the refrigerator.
The refrigerator compartment of the French door refrigerator is not divided into half like the side by side door refrigerator.
With this type, you can store items of large size like a large birthday cake in the refrigerator compartment without any problem. This was not possible with the side by side door refrigerator.
In households, normally the refrigerator section is accessed more often than the freezer section in a fridge. The upper refrigerator section makes it easier to access the foods as most of the foods are at your eye level.
You don’t need to bend down to get the food out of the shelves or crisper of the French door refrigerator. This gives an enriched user experience that most of the models fail to provide.
The freezer section is also of ample capacity. It usually comes with a pull out drawer. The frozen foods are to be stacked on top of the other in the freezer of the French door model. It seems to be a drawback of this model.
On the other hand, you are getting several sections in the freezer drawer to keep different types of frozen foods separate from each other.
Now that we have discussed all the refrigerator types available in the market, in the next section, we will discuss the cooling technology used in modern days refrigerator.
Refrigerator Cooling Technology
Refrigerators come with different types of cooling technology. It is important to know about these technologies and their advantages and disadvantages over one another to choose the right refrigerator model to buy.
Based on cooling technology, refrigerators can be divided into two main categories:
- Direct cool refrigerator
- Frost free refrigerator
Direct cool is the legacy cooling technology found in commercial refrigerators. In this type, chilling is done through natural conversion.
As a result of the natural conversion, the air and food items inside the refrigerator cools down almost instantly.
The main advantage of this cooling technology is that it is very energy efficient. The manufacturing cost of a direct cool refrigerator is cheap. As a result, these refrigerators are less expensive in the market.
The problem with direct cooling is the ice accumulation inside the refrigerator and freezer cabin. So, it requires manual defrosting from time to time to keep its operation normal.
Another drawback of direct cool is the freezer burn. It is very important to set the regulator knob correctly for this type to avoid freezer burn. Please refer to this article to know about the freezer burn in detail.
Frost free cooling is a more advanced cooling technology. This technology was developed to overcome the shortcomings of direct cool technology.
In frost free technology, cooling is done using cool air. Fans are strategically placed around the refrigerator cabin which blows cool air all around the cabin. This air cools down foods inside the refrigerator.
As the name implies, frost free refrigerators do not accumulate ice inside the refrigerator cabin. Manual defrost is not required for this type.
There is a heat pipe surrounding the condenser pipe of the frost free refrigerator. This heat pipe activates periodically to get rid of any ice deposited on the condenser pipe. This happens without interfering with the natural cooling cycle of the refrigerator.
Frost free refrigerators are able to maintain a more stable temperature inside the cabin. Freezer burn is less common in frost free models compared to that of direct cool models.
Frost free models keep food fresh for much longer than Direct cool refrigerators.
The operational efficiency of this technology is much better due to these mechanisms. But running the heat pipe and cooling fans require more electricity. So, power consumption is higher in frost free models than direct cool ones.
To maintain the same temperature, a direct cool model requires less electricity than the frost free model. But because of the continuous improvement and technological advancement of frost free technology, frost free refrigerators are also becoming as efficient as the direct cool nowadays.
Though frost free refrigerators are more expensive than direct cool, the price difference is reducing day by day.
Guide to The Perfect Refrigerator Size Selection
One of the most important factors to consider while buying a new refrigerator is the capacity of it. Each person has different requirements. Size preference varies from one person to another.
The choice of refrigerator-size depends on family size, food habits, available budget, and space available in the kitchen to put the refrigerator.
Refrigerators are available in the market in different sizes.
Generally speaking, for a single person capacity of around 100 liters would be enough.
For a family size of 2 to 3 members-may be a couple with a single child, a capacity of 150 to 250 liters would be ok.
A family size of a bit bigger than this will require a higher capacity. Families having 2 children and their granny (family member of 4 to 5 members) will require a refrigerator of 250 to 350 liters capacity to better serve the purpose.
Families of more than 5 members will require even larger sizes. A capacity of more than 350 liters will work for them.
|Family Size||Family Members||Capacity (Liter)|
|1 Person||Self||around 100|
|2 to 3 Person||Couple with one child||150 to 250|
|4 to 5 Person||Couple with two children and parent||250 to 350|
|More than 5||Large family||more than 350|
All the sizes are mentioned in net capacity. Net capacity is the actual cabin capacity of the refrigerator to store food.
Sometimes, capacity is mentioned in gross capacity for some models. Gross capacity includes the refrigerator wall volume. So the actual storage space you are getting is less than the mentioned one. Keep this aspect in mind while asking for the capacity of any refrigerator.
Now that we have gained an overview of the required size of the refrigerator based on the family size, let us see what are the available options regarding each size band.
|Capacity||Refrigerator Type||Cooling Technology|
|Less than 100 L||Single door||Direct cool|
|150 to 250 L||Single door, Double door, French door||Direct cool, Frost free|
|250 to 350 L||Double door, Side by side||Direct cool, Frost free|
|More than 350 L||Double door, Side by side||Direct cool, Frost free|
Let us now consider the freezer capacity. If you are a vegetarian, then a small freezer will work for you. It would be sufficient to store some dairy products and ice cream for your family.
For this type of small family, single door refrigerator would be the best choice.
For non-veg families, a comparatively larger freezer size is crucial. Freezing fish, meat, and other frozen items require larger space.
So it would be wise to go for a refrigerator with at least 20% of overall capacity for these types of families.
Guide to Selecting Energy Efficient Refrigerator
A refrigerator is an equipment that runs 24/7 without any break. So energy efficiency is one of the important aspects to consider while buying a new refrigerator.
The energy efficiency of the refrigerator depends on manufacturing technology, the cooling technique of the refrigerator, materials used, and other aspects.
The good news for us as consumers is that every refrigerator model in the market comes with a BEE rating. This represents the energy efficiency of the refrigerator.
BEE rating is the score provided to the electronic equipment by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, an agency of the Government of India, under the Ministry of Power. This agency works for increasing conservation and efficient use of energy in India. It is mandatory for refrigerators to have an energy rating by the BEE from January 2010.
Based on how efficiently electrical energy is used for operation, BEE provides a score to the equipment on a scale of 5.
The score is stated in stars. That is why the BEE rating is also called a star rating.
The higher the score or star rating is, the more efficient the model in using electrical power. A rating of 1 star means the least efficient and 5 star means most efficient.
When searching for refrigerator models, you will find models in all categories of the refrigerator with BEE rating from 2 to 5 stars.
Lower star rated models are cheaper than higher star models. But as this equipment will likely run continuously without stopping, it is better to go for a higher star rated model than a lower one. Otherwise, the extra electricity consumed by a lower efficient model will make a noticeable impact on your monthly electricity bills.
The accumulated amount you will pay for the extra electricity consumption over the lifetime of the refrigerator will definitely be higher than the price difference between an efficient and inefficient refrigerator model. Things will become even worse if there is a hike in the per-unit cost of electricity.
Special Features to Consider While Buying a Refrigerator
After considering all the above points, it is also important to consider what special features the model is offering compared to its competitors.
Though some features seem to be gimmicky, yet there are some important features offered by the different brands that will ease your life and enhance the user experience. We will discuss some of the must-have features here.
Door Lock Alarm
If the door of the refrigerator is not locked properly, an alarm triggers to attract your attention. If you keep the door open for long, you will hear a beep sound generated by the refrigerator.
This is definitely a must-have feature in the refrigerator because if someone unintentionally keeps the door open or if the door is not closed properly, hearing the sound someone could check and make sure the door is closed.
Otherwise, the cooling will dissipate in the outside environment and foods will be stale. Not only that, the compressor will try to bring the inside temperature down and start working at full potential. This will increase electrical energy consumption which will result in a waste of energy.
Generally, most of the models come with a door lock alarm. Even then you need to make sure the model you selected is having one.
Adjustable shelves are another important feature in the refrigerator. Adjustable shelves provide you with the facility of adjusting the height inside the shelves to keep bigger boxes inside the fresh food area. As a result, the usable storage space inside the refrigerator increases.
Large capacity refrigerators usually come with adjustable shelves. But for small capacity refrigerators, it is more important to have this feature as the storage area is often congested.
The vegetable drawer of the refrigerator is an important component of the refrigerator. The larger the capacity of this drawer, the better it is for you to keep more vegetables stored inside the refrigerator.
The transparent drawer is always preferable to the non-transparent one because it allows you to see what is inside the drawer without opening it.
Some vegetable drawers come with moisture lock features which keeps the moisture of fresh vegetables intact for a longer time.
Climate-controlled drawers allow you to adjust the temperature and humidity of each one to suit the cooling needs of the foods you keep in it though this feature is found in premium models.
Stabilizer Free Operation
The latest models come with the ability to operate confidently without the need to use separate stabilizers for protecting against voltage fluctuation. As a result, you don’t need to spend extra money on buying a separate stabilizer and able to use the space which would be taken by the stabilizer in the kitchen.
The refrigerator is one of the most important kitchen appliances nowadays. It keeps your food fresh and serves you with chilled water during hot summer days.
There are several reliable brands that are producing plenty of refrigerator models every year in the market. These refrigerators are of different types, capacity, and loaded with different features. So, it is important for you to choose the refrigerator model that best serves your purpose.
We tried to present a comprehensive guide for you to help you choose the best refrigerator in 2020 for your family. Hope you will find the best deal for you.