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Size Needed

In general, a 2-person family needs 8 to 10 cubic feet to store fresh food and 4 cubic feet for freezer space. For each additional family member add another cubic foot for fresh food and 2 cubic feet for freezer space. Refrigerators usually last around 15 years. When sizing your refrigerator, also plan for family size changes you may have in the next 15 years.


Look for adjustable shelves. Adjustable shelve make it easier to store larger containers in the refrigerator. Also, consider the types of packages and size of items you tend to have in your refrigerator. Pullout shelves are easier to clean. Look for shelves that are spill proof to reduce cleanup of messes (spill proof shelves tend to be solid and have ledges to retain spills). Transparent shelves make it easier to find things and help light reach more areas inside the refrigerator. Some models offer pullout shelves and bins in the freezer to make it easier to access items. Half shelves take up half the width of the refrigerator and allow you to make more adjustments of shelf height.


It's helpful if a refrigerator has wheels that make it easier to move. This simplifies cleaning around the refrigerator. Also, dust can accumulation on the coils on the back of the refrigerator. The dust should be removed from coils occasionally to help maintain energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency

Compare the energy guide labels of similar sized refrigerators to see how much it costs to run the refrigerators. The efficiency between different models can vary greatly. Refrigerators use more energy than any other appliance in the home. In fact, refrigerators use about 20% of the electricity needed in an average household.

Refrigerator Door Swing

Pay attention to the direction the door will swing on the refrigerator. Avoid having the door swing in a direction that blocks traffic or hits other cabinets. Also, get a refrigerator that lets you change the direction of the door swing. If you ever remodel or move, you may need to change the direction the door's swing.

Refrigerator Depth and Width

The refrigerator should not be much deeper than cabinets it will be by. Otherwise, it can interfere with traffic flow. Also, remember to allow at least an inch of space between the wall and the back of the refrigerator. The coils on the back should not touch the wall. When choosing a width, remember that some doors need an extra inch or two of space to the side where the door hinge isr. If the space you have for the refrigerator is too tight then you may not be able to open the door.

Take Food Containers When Shopping

When you go shopping, you may want to take a variety of food containers that you normally use in your refrigerator. Having the containers with you will make it easier to see how well they fit in a refrigerator you are considering buying.

Types of Refrigerators:

Freezer on Top

Refrigerators with the freezer on top and refrigerator on the bottom are the most common type of refrigerators. These models make it easier to see things that are in the freezer, tend to be more efficient, and are usually less expensive. However, to reach some areas of the refrigerator portion you will have to bend down.

Side by Side Door

A side-by-side door puts the freezer and refrigerator compartments side-by-side. This provides a larger freezer area and lets you access common items in the freezer at a comfortable height. However, although the freezer is bigger it is also narrower and large objects such as a frozen turkey or frozen pizzas might not fit very well in the freezer. The refrigerator compartment also becomes narrower and it may be more difficult to store large items in the refrigerator. Side-by-side refrigerators have less useable capacity then refrigerators with top or bottom freezers. If you get a side-by-side then you may want to buy a wider one to increase the storage area of both sides. On a side-by-side, the doors are narrower and this may make it easier to use the doors in tight spaces. Side-by-sides are usually less energy efficient and they usually cost more to buy.

Side-By Side Refrigerator With Zigzag Doors

You can get side-by-side refrigerators with a zigzagged storage space. These refrigerators have doors that allocate larger storage space to the refrigerator near the top of the door and then gives a larger storage space for the freezer near the bottom of the door. Having a staggered door makes it easier to store wider items in either side (such a frozen pizzas, sheet cakes, party trays, turkeys).

Freezer on Bottom

These models tend to be more expensive then models that have the freezer on top. The main advantage is that more items in the refrigerator will be at eye level. If you have the freezer on bottom, you may want to get a model with drawers that pull out to make it easier to see things in the freezer.

Built-in Refrigerator

If space is tight, consider using a built-in refrigerator. Built-ins can be shallower and match the depth of your cabinets. You can also make built-ins taller or wider than standard refrigerators. Built-in refrigerators usually offer fewer features or options than other types of refrigerators. Also built-ins are more expensive.

Drawer Refrigerators

You can buy small refrigerators that are concealed in cabinet drawers. This can be a convenient way to put a refrigerator in a room without being conspicuous. Drawer refrigerators can be nice to have in the master bedroom, master bath, family room, wet bar or home theatre. This can also be a convenient way to add extra refrigeration space to a kitchen or a cabinet island.

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