Although keeping the groceries and beverages cool might not seem like a huge deal today, only a century ago, finding a way to keep meat or dairy products fresh was a nightmare. Our guide to home refrigeration will walk you through the options you have at your disposal while searching for a new fridge.
The market for these home appliances may seem uniform since most models are large enough to store the family’s entire food supply.
A closer look at the refrigerator market reveals nuanced differences from model to model that start from the refrigerator’s design and extends to its storage and cooling capacities. Besides, not all fridges are designed for the same purpose, some options are only suited to store beverages.
In this guide to home refrigeration, we’re going to provide you with the information you need to choose a fridge that is best suited for your needs, and we’re going to take you through some of the best refrigeration solutions on the market.
The basic principle of refrigeration
Also known as the Joule-Thomson effect , named after its inventors James Prescott Joule and William Thompson, the basic principle of refrigeration uses gas expansion to create low temperatures.
All cooling devices from a simple water cooler to a high volume chest freezer use the same refrigeration principle, although their cooling systems vary in complexity.
These systems are equipped with a heat pump that compresses the refrigerant, and in doing so, it increases its temperature and pressure. Once the refrigerant reaches the evaporation unit, it expands rapidly, resulting in a sudden temperature drop.
In this manner, the amount of refrigerant in the system decreases marginally at the end of one cycle unless the leakage occurs. This cycle is repeated continually, which enables the refrigeration appliance to maintain a constant temperature.
Styles of home refrigeration appliances
All home refrigeration appliances can be divided into two main categories, depending on the purpose they’re designed for. Fridges serve temporary food storage solutions, while freezers are used for long-term food storage options.
The vast majority of fridges are also equipped with a spacious enough freezer to freeze meat and numerous other types of foodstuff. In fact, most homeowners don’t need a separate freezer as the storage capacity of these devices usually exceeds the needs of most families.
The external and internal design, the installation process, or the maximum depth of a fridge determines its type. Here are some of the most common styles of fridges you’ll encounter.
- Top freezer fridge – Arguably the most common style of fridges, top freezer fridges have two separate compartments with two separate doors. The freezer is located at the top of the appliance, and it usually isn’t spacious, while the main door gives you access to the fridge’s main compartment.
- Bottom freezer fridge – As its name indicates, this fridge style features one or more freezer drawers at the bottom end of the appliance. The main compartment is usually spacious, while the freezer drawers are large enough to store essential groceries you don’t want to freeze permanently.
- Freezerless refrigerator – Units that don’t include freezers have grown out of fashion, but they can be a good space-saving solution if you want to get the freezer separately.
- Side by side refrigerator – The term side by side refers to the position of the fridge’s doors. Most models offer plenty of shelf space, while their fridge and freezer compartments are arranged vertically.
- French door fridges – Although bulky, French door fridges can store high volumes of foodstuff in their freezers and fridge compartments. The upper fridge compartment has a side-by-side design, while the lower end features one or more freezer drawers.
- Counter-depth fridge – Fitting a fridge into your kitchen isn’t always easy since the model may be too deep for the counter you have. Even though they limit your storage capacities, counter-depth fridges make it easier to find space for the appliance in your kitchen.
- Built-in fridge – Instead of worrying about how you’re going to fit a fridge with the rest of your kitchen cabinet, you can get a built-in fridge that is installed directly into the cabinet to save space and achieve stylistic cohesion.
- Column refrigerators – These single door models resemble columns, and they don’t occupy a lot of space, and they match different types of kitchen layouts.
The emergence of refrigerator models with spacious freezer sections has largely contributed to the reduced usage of standalone freezers. Nonetheless, freezers are still the most reliable high-volume food storage solution you have at your disposal.
So, if you need some extra space to store frozen food, you can choose between these types of freezers.
- Chest freezer – This classic freezer type has a simple design, as its horizontally oriented chest-like cooling chamber is closed with sliding or lift-up lids. These home refrigeration appliances are available in a broad spectrum of sizes so that you can choose the one that meets your food storage needs.
- Upright freezers – In case you’re struggling to find space for a chest freezer, you should consider getting an upright model that offers ample storage space while occupying the minimum amount of room in your kitchen or garage.
Additional Home Refrigeration Options
Besides home refrigeration appliances designed to store large quantities of food and beverages, you can also opt for smaller units or models designed to keep alcoholic drinks cool. You can choose from the following options, depending on your needs.
- Compact refrigerators – The size of compact refrigerators makes them a great choice for tight spaces in which you need quick access to the goods you want to keep in a fridge. The majority of compact refrigerators don’t have a freezer which limits their storage capacities.
- Under counter fridges and beverage centers – Although they are best suited for party venues or homeowners who invite guests into their homes often, under counter fridges can be a space-saving solution for crowded kitchens. Beverage centers are essentially under-counter fridges specifically designed for cooling drinks.
- Wine and beer coolers – Also known as dual-tap keg coolers, these appliances enable you to keep large quantities of beer at an optimum temperature. Wine fridges protect wine bottles from direct light exposure and allow you to choose the temperature zone that is best suited for the type of wine you are cooling.
The Most Common Home Refrigeration Finish Solutions
Despite being the beacons of kitchen style and luxury, fridges are available in just a handful of finishes. Most models are entirely white, and they’re generally a good fit for kitchens that don’t get a lot of daylight as they reflect the light and make the space brighter.
Fridges with stainless steel finishes are more stylish than those with white finishes, but both options attract stains and fingerprints. You should consider models with black or slate finishes if you want to avoid cleaning the fridge’s doors frequently.
In addition, you should opt for the finish that matches the kitchen cabinetry and furniture, so black or dark stainless steel solutions can be a good choice if the rest of the kitchen furniture is in dark hues.
On the other hand, white refrigerators match a wide range of kitchen styles, while red or blue options could be a perfect fit for vintage-themed kitchens.
Understanding Energy Labels
Energy efficiency has become one of the refrigerator’s most important features since, in the past, they consumed high amounts of energy, which often resulted in astronomic utility bills.
Even though modern fridges and freezers are much more energy-efficient, their daily power consumption still varies from model to model. On average, the fridge consumes around 225 Watts per hour, and it adds approximately $80 to your utility bill on the annual level.
Models that have either an Energy Star or EnergyGuide label meet all the federal power consumption regulations. The Energy Star label indicates that the product exceeds the government’s minimum energy efficiency requirements.
The EnergyGuide label provides information such as the model’s size and serial number, and it displays its approximate power consumption on a yearly level. Optionally, you can get a smart refrigerator that optimizes the amount of power it uses automatically.
The Most Important Factors to Consider While Choosing Home Refrigeration Appliances
A good refrigerator offers a perfect balance of style and functionality, its exterior should be sleek and stylish, while its exterior should provide ample shelf and drawer room. Ultimately, the budget and the amount of available space you have at your disposal will determine which model you can get.
Even so, there are several factors that can assist you in choosing the refrigerator that fits your budget, storage needs, and stylistic preferences. We’ve selected some of the most important aspects you need to consider while searching for a new home refrigeration appliance, so let’s take a closer look at them.
Size and Storage Capabilities
The physical size of a refrigerator can be why you choose one model over another, as you might not be able to fit the larger model into your kitchen.
However, the refrigerator’s size is usually an indicator of its storage capacity since relatively compact models lack the depth of sufficient storage room in the freezer compartment.
The total storage capacity of refrigerators is measured in cubic feet, and most standard models can store between 20 and 30cu/ft of food. It would be best if you keep in mind that manufacturers only include the maximum storage capacity on the model’s label, but the model’s actual storage capacity is usually lower.
Refrigerator Style and Luxury Level
One of the first things you’ll have to do while searching for a new fridge is to decide which style you want to get. Two-door models are better solutions for small kitchens with enough space for a bulky French door fridge.
In addition to the style, you’ll also have to pay attention to the model’s luxury level, some models can feature a built-in coffee maker, WiFi connectivity, and LED lighting. All of these functionalities enable you to use your fridge much more than just to keep your food fresh.
Energy Star Certification
The refrigerator’s power efficiency can lower your electricity bill for the next decade or two, which is the reason why you should check if the model you’re interested in has an Energy Star label.
Models that offer more than 30 cubic feet of storage space usually consume more energy than models that can store between 20 and 25 cubic feet of food. An Energy Star certified refrigerator uses around 350kW per year, which means that you’ll be spending less than $3 on the power your fridge used.
However, maximizing the power efficiency might limit your storage options, and you should find a balance between power consumption and functionality.
Internal or External Water Dispenser
Some refrigerators can be connected to your home’s water supply and provide you with a source of cold water via an internal or external water dispenser. This eliminates the need to store water bottles in the fridge and frees up space for other beverages and groceries.
The choice between an internal and external water dispenser is mostly an aesthetic one, as an internal water dispenser enables you to preserve the fridge’s appearance. Regardless of the option you choose, you’ll have instant access to cold water and the ice-making machine.
The Cost and Warranty
Home refrigeration appliances are available in all price ranges, from inexpensive ones that cost hundreds of dollars to high-end models that are priced well over $10,000.
Broadly speaking, you’ll have to spend over a thousand dollars if you want to get a fridge that has a WiFi connectivity option and other useful accessories.
The refrigerator’s warranty period depends on the manufacturer, so you can get a one-year or a five-year warranty depending on the brand you choose.
Only a handful of companies offer a 20-year warranty for their refrigerators, but models with such long warranties usually cost several thousand dollars.
The advantages of home refrigeration
Easy Way to Keep Food Fresh
Refrigeration changed the world, as today we no longer have to worry about keeping our food supply fresh for days or even weeks. All fridges you can find on the market allow you to control the temperature and adjust it to the requirements of the food you’re storing in them.
Fridges Add Style to Kitchens
Imagining a kitchen without a fridge is hard, if not impossible, but these home appliances are more than just cool food storage boxes. An elegantly designed fridge can add character and style to a kitchen, especially if it matches the rest of the room’s furniture.
Home Refrigeration Appliances Can Cool Beverages
Wine and beer fridges enable you to cool these alcoholic drinks before your guests arrive, and they’re compact enough that you can keep them under a kitchen counter or a bar. Although their storage capacities very much, even the smallest models offer enough room to cool several bottles of wine or beer.
Fridges Usually Have Freezers
Having a fridge and freezer requires you to have enough space for both of these appliances, and it increases your household’s power usage. Opting for a top or bottom fridge freezer is a space-saving solution that will provide you with enough room to store frozen food and groceries you’re using every day.
Some Home Refrigeration Appliances Are Energy Efficient
Energy Star certified refrigerators consume as much power as a 60W lightbulb, so you won’t have to cover huge monthly utility bills just to keep your fridge running. It is worth pointing out that the fridge’s power consumption needs to depend on its storage capacity.
The disadvantages of home refrigeration
Sodas Are Harmful to The Environment
All refrigerants contribute to global warming and, to a certain degree, damage the ozone layer. Modern fridges use refrigerants that are less harmful to the environment, but they still leave an ecological footprint.
Short Warranty Period
Despite being a relatively expensive home appliance, most fridges come with a one or two-year warranty, so you’ll be stuck with the repair costs if one of its components breaks down after the warranty period expires.
Top 4 Home Refrigeration Options
Homeowners have different food and beverage storage needs, only if or not a 25cu/ft bottom freezer offers enough storage space depends on how much food you want to keep in it. Also, the amount of frozen food you want to stock in your house determines if you should get a fridge with a freezer or you should get a fridge and a freezer as separate appliances.
In addition to the practical side, you should also consider the aesthetic side since the fridge’s color and design can make your kitchen more elegant. We’ve selected some of the best home refrigeration options you can find on the market, so let’s take a look at what they have to offer.
GE French Door Refrigerator
The impressive list of features the GE French Door Refrigerator offers exceeds the expectations of most homeowners. Besides a modern and elegant design, this fridge is relatively compact given its huge storage capacity.
This GE’s model is WiFi-enabled, so you can use an app to adjust its settings or ever preheat the water for coffee. It is also compatible with Amazon Echo, and you can control it through your home’s virtual assistant. The GE French Door Refrigerator is equipped with a Keurig K-Cup Brewing System that efficiently maintains its temperature and a Keurig coffee maker.
Frigidaire Retro Refrigerator with Top Freezer
With a vintage design reminiscent of fridges from the 1950s and 1960s, the Frigidaire Retro Refrigerator with top freezer is a perfect fit for stylish kitchens. The unit’s storage capacity is limited to just 7.5cu/ft, while the freezer has 0.5cu/ft storage capacity.
The two-door model has chrome handles on both doors, while the shelves are made of spill-proof glass. This top freezer fridge doesn’t have the automatic defrost function, smart features, or built-in water dispensers. Even so, it is an affordable and elegant choice for homeowners who don’t need a fridge with a huge storage capacity.
Whirlpool Side by Side Refrigerator
Manufactured by one of the industry’s leading brands, the Whirlpool Side by Side Refrigerator is moderately priced for the features it offers. The Energy Star certification guarantees minimum power consumption for a 26cu/ft fridge, while the EveryDrop™ technology grants you access to ice and water without opening the door.
The Whirlpool’s side-by-side fridge has interior LED lighting and frameless glass shelves that increase visibility and the available storage space. In addition, the door storage bins are customizable so you can adjust them to the shape and size of the bottles you want to store.
Samsung Counter Depth Fridge
A beautiful stainless steel finish makes the Samsung Counter Depth Fridge easy to match with a broad spectrum of kitchen styles. Even though it is a counter depth fridge, this Samsung model still offers 23cu/ft of storage space, including 6.6cu/ft of freezer storage capacity.
It uses the twin cooling system that controls the fridge and freezer temperatures separately, and it is equipped with the Ice Max storage unit that can hold up to 2.7lbs of ice. This Energy Star certified fridge features a built-in pitcher that is filled automatically with cold, filtered water.
Although it has numerous advantages, the Samsung Counter Depth Fridge is not a budget-friendly option.
Question: Do I have to keep home refrigeration appliances full to maximize their efficiency?
Using almost all of the fridge’s or freezer’s storage capacities will reduce their power consumption since empty home refrigeration appliances need more energy to maintain the temperature and humidity.
Question: Can I change the color of home refrigeration appliances?
Yes, you can, but only if you have access to epoxy and enamel paints that don’t peel at low temperatures.
Question: Can a refrigerator run out of refrigerant?
Answer: Yes, it can. The amount of the refrigerant in the fridge’s cooling system gradually decreases over the years, which causes the appliance to operate at higher temperatures.
Question: How often do I have to replace home refrigeration appliances?
Answer: You can use a fridge for ten to fifteen years without noticing signs of deterioration, depending on the model and how well you take care of it.
Final thoughts: What is the best home refrigeration appliance for your household?
Home refrigeration appliances are an irreplaceable part of every kitchen setup around the globe, but the size or the style you’re going to choose depends on a wide range of factors. For instance, some fridges might be too large for your kitchen, or you may not have a suitable spot for an under-counter fridge.
You should decide if you want to get the fridge freezer separately, or you’d prefer the bottom fridge freezer. The built-in water dispenser, adjustable door bins, or freezer drawers with preset temperature settings are among the features that can make using a fridge more enjoyable.
In case you’re looking for a stylish but simple and affordable fridge, we recommend the Frigidaire Retro Refrigerator with top freezer because it offers enough storage space for a small kitchen, and it won’t burn a hole in your budget.
However, if you’d like to get a fridge stacked with advanced features, you should consider the GE French Door Refrigerator or the Samsung Counter Depth Fridge . Was this guide to home refrigeration useful? Let us know in the comments.