How to choose the right refrigerator for your home

Written by Anuj Bhatia
| New Delhi |

Published: August 2, 2020 12:16:52 pm





Here’s what to look for when buying a new fridge for your home. (Image credit: Whirlpool)

Whether you are a bachelor or living in a joint family, you always need a refrigerator. But zeroing in on the right one for you is not easy. There are many aspects to consider from the size to door style, energy efficiency, brand and price. Here is a refrigerator buying guide that will help you find the right fridge for your budget and needs.

Consider the cost

Price is, of course, an important criterion in deciding a new fridge. Start with an estimate of how much you want to spend. A basic single door refrigerator can cost in the range of Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000, while side-by-side options are north of Rs 65,000. This is a long-term investment, so the budget should take that into consideration.

Study the size

Before you consider buying a fridge, make sure you know what size will fit in your kitchen, especially if it has a modular design. A fridge’s capacity is listed in litres. For larger families, a bigger fridge makes more sense, even if it costs more. If you are a single person and living in a rented room, there is the option of a mini-fridge.

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Shop for door style

Once you figure out the size of your kitchen and determine the spot to place the fridge, it’s time to choose the right door style and type of fridge you want to get. There are primarily six types of refrigerators: Single door, Double door, Triple door, Mini, Side-by-Side, French Door.

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Single door: The most common type of refrigerator, this model is for a single person or a family of two. These fridges have only one door for the refrigerator and the freezer. They are smaller in size and have an average capacity of between 165 and 280 litres. Given the small size, single-door refrigerators have limited shelves. In terms of cooling technology, most single-door refrigerators come with a manual defrosting freezer where you have to press a button manually to defrost the ice. Single-door refrigerators cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000, depending on the features on offer.

Top brands: Samsung, LG, Haier, Whirlpool, Panasonic

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Double door (Top freezer/bottom freezer): They are the most popular type of fridge, where the freezer is situated above the main fresh-food storage compartment. A double-door fridge has more space and is therefore aimed at households with four members. Double-door refrigerators usually come with a capacity of 235-415 litres. Compared to a single-door fridge, double-door refrigerators need more energy to function. However, thanks to energy-efficient star ratings, you can choose double door refrigerators that consume less power. Unlike single-door refrigerators, double-door refrigerators are frost-free. This technology allows for even distribution of cool air inside the fridge by electric fans. Simply put, there is no formation of ice, and there is no need for defrosting. Double-door refrigerators cost anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 45,000.

Top brands: Samsung, LG, Haier, Whirlpool, Godrej, Panasonic

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Bottom freezer: The bottom-freezer design hasn’t caught up among Indian consumers, but some brands do offer double door refrigerators where the freezer is located on the bottom. The big advantage of refrigerators that feature a freezer in the bottom is a slightly bigger deep freezer. Another advantage of bottom freezers is the convenience factor. For most people, the main fresh food storage area is more frequently used, whereas the freezer unit is used in less frequency. With a bottom freezer, your fridge will be at eye level. This makes it easier to find commonly used items such as vegetables, milk and other commonly used food items. While a bottom-freezer unit does have several advantages, there aren’t too many models available in the market. Bottom freezer refrigerators cost anywhere between Rs 23,000 and Rs 50,000.

Top brands: Haier, Godrej, Panasonic

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Side-by-side: Side-by-side refrigerators are split in half with the freezer on the left and the fridge on the right. They don’t come cheap, though. The cost is anywhere between Rs 65,000 and Rs 267,100. The side-by-side refrigerator design allows you to place food items at eye-level in both the fridge and freezer, so you don’t have to reach or bend over to get them. Side-by-side refrigerators are spacious and come with numerous adjustable deep shelves and bins. They are big with enough capacity for a household of six or seven. Most side-by-side refrigerators usually come with a capacity of 531-700 litres. Also, side-by-side units have built-in ice and water dispensers. One of the biggest disadvantages of a side-by-side refrigerator is its size. These units are commonly wider than standard refrigerators, making them less than ideal for small kitchens.

Top brands: Samsung, LG, Haier, Hitachi

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French doors: A French door refrigerator is a confluence of style and practicality. French door units have two doors for the refrigerator compartment and a freezer drawer on the bottom. There are several advantages to a French Door refrigerator including plenty of storage space, wider shelves and larger door bins and a deeper space to store frozen items. These units look stylish, but unfortunately, very few brands offer French door-style refrigerators in India.

Top brands: Samsung, LG

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Counter-depth: The counter-depth side-by-side refrigerators sit virtually flush with your kitchen counters. They are designed to align with the depth of counters which is typically 24-25 inches. They typically cost more than side-by-side refrigerators and target wealthy households.

Top brands: LG

Smart fridge: As the name suggests, a smart fridge is connected to the internet through Wi-Fi as well as provide additional features that aren’t available on the standard fridge. For instance, Samsung’s The Family Hub is a smart fridge with a giant touchscreen and built-in food-recognition technology. The fridge can recognise what kind of food you’ve stored inside, control internal temperature and even makes a shopping list. The high-end fridge also supports voice recognition and comes with several apps. Such smart refrigerators cost over Rs 250,000, making ideal for upscale homes.

Top brands: Samsung, Haier

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Mini fridge: These compact fridges are perfect for a dorm room or small office. They are great for drinks, snacks, and perishable items. The advantage of compact refrigerators is that they don’t take much space. Mini fridges are available with a capacity of 50-90 litres

Top brands: Haier, Whirlpool

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The appearance of a fridge matters

Since you will be using your refrigerator every day, the finish and style can have a huge impact on the decor of your kitchen. Choose a fridge with a clean look that blends with the interiors of your kitchen. Stainless steel is the most popular finish among consumers, though keep in mind that it won’t hold magnets. Some new refrigerators also come with the black stainless steel finish, which is not only easier to maintain but also less messy. You also go with bold colours like red, though such finishes are not available on high-end models.

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Check for essential features

When buying a fridge, you should never ignore basic and essential features. Features like the Ice maker and water dispenser might be convenient, but they aren’t something most consumers want in a fridge. Look out for features that really matter to you at the end of the day. If you are someone who likes to store a lot of Diet Coke tins and bottles of Pepsi, make sure you can adjust the height of the shelves. Always look out for refrigerators with spill-proof shelves and built-in controls for adjusting the temperature so that your foods stay fresh for as long as possible. If you consume a lot of meat, buy a fridge that has separate compartments for meats and other dairy products like cheese.

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Look for energy efficiency

When you buy a new fridge or a used model, always look for the Energy Star label, which tells consumers how much electricity a refrigerator consumes per unit. More the number of stars for a fridge, the lesser energy it uses. Obviously, a 5-star refrigerator costs more than a 2-star. But this will help cut down overall costs in the long run.

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Touch-and-feel experience

A fridge is something you end up touching almost every day. So before buying it, do not hesitate to get the feel of your choice. If possible, measure the height and width of the refrigerator. Note down the specifications of the fridge and compare it with similar models from different brands. Even if you end up buying the fridge online, it is recommended to visit your nearby retailer just to feel the product in-person.

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Ask for extra warranty

Since most new refrigerators come with a limited warranty, ask the retailer or the brand for an extra warranty on the fridge. Although an extended warranty might not come for free, it’s something you should consider. Brands like Samsung and LG do provide extended warranty on refrigerators, so it is worth the additional cost on an already expensive product. Similarly, Whirlpool offers something called an annual maintenance cost that extends beyond the typical one-year period.

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