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Refrigerator Reviews

By: Kelly Burgess on April 06, 2016

A refrigerator is one of a homeowner's most important purchases. The best refrigerator is energy efficient, with versatile, adjustable storage options. It should also have easy-to-adjust temperature controls and excellent temperature stability. And, since it occupies such a prominent place in your kitchen, it should look good too. ConsumerSearch editors analyze expert and owner reviews to find the best refrigerators for any kitchen.

Experts and owners agree, if you just need a basic fridge that performs like a pricier option, look no further than the 14.6 cubic foot GE GTE15CTHRWW. It gets good scores in professional tests for its consistent temperatures and excellent energy efficiency. Users agree, and also give it high marks for its quiet performance, attractive appearance, and generous capacity in spite of its small footprint. The same fridge with a larger, 17.5 cubic foot capacity is available as the GE GTE18CTHWW (Est. $630).

It's rare to see any major appliance get the kind of across-the-board raves that the 23.8 cubic foot LG LDC24370ST gets. All agree that it's great at maintaining an even temperature and keeping food fresh. They also like the way it makes use of space with its adjustable shelving and gallon-size door bins. Features are sparse, but it does include a built-in ice maker and the fridge earns top scores where it counts, with terrific performance, low noise and great energy efficiency.

Professionals give the Samsung RH29H9000SR good marks for temperature control and great marks for quietness and energy efficiency; owners love its many features and attractive styling. In addition to an external water dispenser, it has a popular door-in-door design that gives users quick access to the most frequently used items while keeping the rest cool as a cucumber. The stainless steel finish is surprisingly smudge-resistant, and there's plenty of room for even the largest family's refrigeration needs.

It seems as if no one has anything bad to say about the performance of the 29.9 cubic foot Kenmore 72483. It's at or near the top of several expert roundups, all agree that this fridge excels both in temperature consistency for its handy features. They also praise its attractive design and useful layout. Owners are happy too, saying it's quiet and offers a plethora of well-designed storage options. The 72483 has a stainless steel finish, it also comes in white as the Kenmore 72482 ($3,200) and black as the Kenmore 72489 (Est. $3,200).

If you want a solid performing, good looking French door refrigerator at a hard to beat price, the 25 cubic foot LG LFC24770ST is a top performer in expert testing, as well as a favorite of owner reviewers. Temperature control is rated as Excellent, as is noise and energy efficiency. It's nice to get a stainless-steel French door refrigerator at this price, and you can save even more by opting for the same fridge in white or black.

The 21.6 cubic foot LG LSC22991ST is a side-by-side fridge with a counter-depth cabinet for a semi-built-in look. It's a top performer in expert tests and is attractively styled with a stainless-steel exterior. The big feature is a door-in-door design that gives you access to often used items by opening an outer door, while leaving the rest of your perishables safe behind a glass inner door. Owners express very high satisfaction with this fridge, praising its roomy interior, flexible storage options and quiet operation.

There are more choices in refrigerators than ever

If you're in the market for a new refrigerator, you have more choices than ever before. Basic cooling technology hasn't changed in decades, but there have been major advances in efficiency, organizational options, and other features. The four basic types of refrigerators are top-freezer, bottom-freezer, side-by-side, and French-door models, and each style has a different set of pros and cons. If you need a very small counter-height or "cube"-style refrigerator, suitable for dorms and other small spaces, we cover those in our separate report on mini fridges.

The old-fashioned top-freezer refrigerator is the least expensive option. They also offer more usable space for their size than other types, while using less electricity. (A typical top-freezer fridge costs between $40 and $65 a year to run.) In addition, they are less repair-prone than other fridges. Their biggest downside is convenience: since most people use the fridge more than the freezer, they'll have to bend over frequently to reach the lower half of a top-freezer's refrigerator compartment. Also, most top-freezer models have limited storage options -- especially in the freezer, which often has just a single shelf. In professional tests, top-freezer fridges also tend to be a bit noisier than other types and not quite as good at maintaining a consistent temperature.

Bottom-freezer refrigerators are pricier than top-freezer types. However, they're generally more convenient to use because the more frequently accessed area is on top. On current bottom-freezer models, the freezer compartment is often a drawer, which makes it easier to see the contents at a glance, though some bottom freezers are accessed via a door, the same as top freezers. Regardless of the type, you'll still have to bend over to reach the food. Baskets in the freezer compartment of drawer-style freezers help with organization, while the best door-type bottom freezers will have pull-out bins.

Side-by-side refrigerators are great in narrow kitchens. The biggest advantage of side-by-sides is their narrow door clearance, which can be a plus in a narrow or galley kitchen. They're also convenient for families with kids, who can reach both the fridge and freezer compartments easily. Side-by-side fridges don't use either space or energy as efficiently as other models; though some, more innovative models do much better than others when it comes to sipping kilowatts. Their narrow widths may not accommodate common wider items and food stored in the back may be harder to reach.

French-door refrigerators are the most recent fridge design. These attractive appliances pair side-by-side doors on top with a full-width freezer below. This design lets you open just one side of the fridge so less cool air escapes while still providing space for wider items such as sheet cakes and pizza boxes. French-door models are the priciest refrigerators overall; however, they provide a lot of machine for the money. Most range in size from 20 to 30 cubic feet and come with lots of convenience features such as adjustable shelves and water filters for the ice maker. Many fridges of this type also include through-the-door ice and water dispensers. Some French-door refrigerators have four doors, splitting the freezer section into two independent compartments.

Counter-depth refrigerators are specially designed so that they don't protrude beyond the edges of cabinets and countertops. These come in side-by-side, bottom freezer and French-door styles. Some models accept panels that match your cabinets so they seem to almost disappear in your kitchen. Counter-depth fridges create a streamlined look, and are generally the priciest type of refrigerator overall. One major downside is that counter-depth refrigerators are the least-space-efficient type. They also lag in energy efficiency, though many are efficient enough to earn Energy Star certification.

Finding the best refrigerators

ConsumerSearch editors looked at dozens of refrigerators, narrowing it down to the top picks by examining reviews by experts and owners. Up-to-date, hands-on expert reviews can be found at a few sites, most notably ConsumerReports.org and Reviewed.com.

Owners are very passionate about their refrigerators, rightfully so for such a big investment, and it was not unusual to find hundreds of reviews for individual fridges at sites like HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com and elsewhere -- a few even had thousands. The one issue is that sometimes those reviews have quite a bit of overlap as these appliance stores usually mix in reviews from the manufacturer's website with their own, unique reviews. We took the existence of those duplicate reviews into consideration in deciding which refrigerators are truly Best Reviewed. It's worth noting that at least a few sites, such as BestBuy.com, largely continue to keep their user ratings unique. Sears.com provides the best user feedback for Kenmore fridges.

Once all of the review data is analyzed and distilled, we consider features, performance, ease of use and appearance to help you find the perfect refrigerator for your cold storage needs.

Top-freezer refrigerators
Refrigerators buying guide

What every Refrigerators has:

  • A flexible layout.
  • Convenient features.
  • A well-lit interior.

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