Consumer Reports empowers consumers with the knowledge they need to make better and more informed choices.
So we took a detailed look at what refrigerators their Lab evaluated in 2014. Using temperature-controlled chambers, they loaded more than 100 refrigerators with 35,000 10-oz. boxes of frozen spinach! (Do you think they had a party to eat it all when they finished?) Then they measured every inch of usable capacity, and checked energy consumption. They looked at features, both traditional and new, to include in their evaluation.
Twenty-two models made the coveted Recommended Refrigerator List; these refrigerators are the best of the best. From these reports, we have pulled out some of the categories that they evaluated and briefly summarized some of the newer features to help you to know what’s available.
Looking for capacity?
Apparently, many of us are desiring capacity. The newer models are getting bigger and bigger (We’re also seeing this trend in washer and dryer models.). The largest refrigerator carried a whopping 23.4 cubic feet of usable space. Features like slimmer insulation, less bulky ice-makers, movable shelves and dividers also create more space.
At the same time capacity is expanding, many units now boast that they are counter-depth, so your refrigerator will not protrude into the kitchen. We like that idea when we are 3D-designing your new kitchen.
Perhaps you want a savvy, sophisticated design?
Refrigerators have come as side-by-sides for many years. Now imagine that they are French doors, yet only on top, and below them are pull out drawers. Samsung now offers a 4-door model (pictured right). It has adjustable and removable dividers in the pull out drawers that allow you to customize the space for small treats or accommodate a large party tray.
Considering smarter storage?
Refrigerators now include door-in-door units; a shallow compartment in the door of the refrigerator opens with the press of a button and allows you to grab condiments, beverages and other convenient foods – without reaching into the main area. How convenient is that?
Some units have French doors with a twist. You can open the entire side with the horizontal handle, or you can only open the top half with a click of a button – demonstrated on the left.
Having a party?
Imagine that you’re hosting a party. You turn to your guests and offer them to help themselves to the organic beer, natural sodas and raw food hors d’oeuvre with just the push of a button. You’ve just impressed them significantly, and given them carte blanche to help themselves, freeing you up to sip that glass of Chardonnay.
Newer water dispensing units have morphed to allow you to fill large pitchers and containers, and a few are actually dispensing hot water. So now you can serve your tea hot or cold, by the cup or by the gallon!
Feeling overwhelmed by all the choices?
Manufacturers continue to enhance all of the traditional features – good temperature control, energy efficiency, lighting (such as LEDs) and shelving to better serve clients. So you’ll still get great benefits if you go with what you know.
Considering Your Options.
So one thing is for sure. You have a lot of choice in style, convenience, size and features. Consider how these features will support your current lifestyle and needs. Do you have little ones that need access, or that you don’t want to have access? Do you have family members with limited ability or special needs? How often do you entertain? What will the needs of your family be in a few years — are you just beginning to have children, are they going away to college, moving back home after college, or will your mother-in-law be moving in? All these situations are important to think about so that you can pick the best refrigerator — for you.
Making a List and Checking it Twice.
It’s important that you become clear about what you want.
Here are some suggestions:
- Know about how much money you want to allocate towards your refrigerator
- Jot down the features you absolutely love – and call them must have’s
- Identify those features that you call would be nice
- Create your not important list
- Put the list away for a few days.
- Review the list again, redefining any features as needed
- Browse refrigerators online to identify which ones you want to explore in person
- Make a date to meet your refrigerators
When was the last time you bought a refrigerator? If you’re like many of us, it’s been quite a few years. So, the last suggestion – have fun! Because 10-20 years from now, you’ll have a whole new set of amazing features to peruse.