Today’s refrigerators come in a dizzying array of configurations and with a long list of features. Not surprisingly, refrigerators with more advanced features also cost more. Fortunately, not all of the available features are even necessary. The top six features, though, are worth considering when purchasing a new refrigerator.
Arguably, the refrigerator is the most essential appliance in the home. It is also one of the most expensive kitchen appliances, ranging in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. For this reason, shoppers want to make sure they are getting an appliance that will last a long time and will meet their food storage needs today and tomorrow.
Identifying those food storage needs is the first step when searching for a new refrigerator. Shoppers should inventory the types and quantities of food they usually store, as well as make a list of things they don’t like about their current fridge.
Think about what your current fridge doesn’t do that you wish it would. With that list in hand, shoppers will have an easier time sorting through all available options to find the perfect refrigerator for their needs and budget.
Refrigerators typically have a large refrigerated section for foods that need to stay cool and a smaller freezer section for things that need to be frozen. Not that long ago, refrigerators only had two doors, and the choice was between a side-by-side and a top-freezer refrigerator.
Modern shoppers now have even more choices of door configuration. The one to consider is the newer five-door configuration. Similar to a French door refrigerator, the top half of a five-door refrigerator is refrigerated with two doors opening that section. This allows for large trays and pizza boxes to fit easily on a shelf.
Also, like the French door refrigerator, the five-door’s freezer section is a large drawer along the bottom third of the unit. This drawer can also feature pullout wire baskets, making it even easier to keep foods organized.
What makes the five-door different and better than a traditional French door refrigerator is the addition of two drawers located just above the freezer drawer. These two drawers are refrigerated and designed for keeping produce at the perfect crisping temperatures. However, in some models, one of these drawers is flexible, meaning it can also switch to being a freezer drawer as needed with a simple touch of the temperature setting.
While five-door refrigerators allow for separate drawers to change temperature as needed, some other refrigerator models—typically French door or top-freezer configurations—offer in-refrigerator compartments that can do the same. These models feature a temperature-controlled drawer within the refrigerated section that can be adjusted to freezing temperatures when needed. Having this drawer as an optional extra freezer space can be great when storing food for a large party or just stocking up on frozen goods.
Automatic Water Dispenser
In-door water dispensers have been around for decades, but now refrigerators have taken them to new levels. Some refrigerators now have a pullout shelf on the door onto which a cup, pot, or pitcher can be placed. At the touch of a button or screen controls, the refrigerator can fill any vessel with water.
The refrigerator can sense when the vessel—no matter what size—is almost full and will automatically stop dispensing. These refrigerators can also be programmed to dispense only a specific volume of water. This is particularly ideal when making soup, rice, or any recipe.
Water isn’t the only beverage refrigerators can dispense. Coffee lovers will appreciate that GE offers a few refrigerator models with an in-door Keurig coffee maker. Having the coffee maker in the refrigerator door also eliminates the need for a free-standing coffeemaker to take up valuable counter space.
Refrigerators with built-in Keurigs can dispense hot or cold water at the touch of a button. The specially designed Keurig brewer uses regular K-Cup Pods and is easy to use. It can even be programmed remotely using smart technology.
These days, more and more things can be controlled with touchscreens—refrigerators are no exception. A few brands offer large touchscreens in the refrigerator door and may feature “family hub-style” apps for meal planning, making grocery lists, playing music, watching television, and more.
Some of these refrigerators even have cameras, so the touchscreen can display the refrigerator’s contents without opening the doors!
These refrigerators also incorporate smart technology so that the refrigerator’s touchscreen controls and camera feed can be accessed from anywhere using a smartphone. This feature makes it easy when at the grocery store, for example, to see if there is enough milk in the fridge.
Currently, touchscreens are only available on high-end models—and not surprisingly, this extra technology drives up their price.
Refrigerators aren’t childproof. Any toddler can—and does—enjoy opening the fridge if only to thrill at seeing the light come on. Parents who want to keep children from getting into trouble or from over-snacking between meals might want to consider a refrigerator with a built-in locking system.
Adults can easily unlock the doors, but children can’t reach the lock. This feature can give busy parents peace of mind.
Three Features You May Want to Reconsider
Ultimately, the purpose of the refrigerator is to keep food fresh. In the pursuit of making one model different from others, manufacturers sometimes dream up features that sound good but end up not living up to the hype. The following three features are good examples, and may not be right for every family’s needs.
1. In-Fridge Temperature Zones
Being able to change a section of the refrigerator from cooling to freezing temperatures when needed sounds like a great feature and is part of what are known as “flexible fridges.” Be aware, though, that the only refrigerators with effective flexible compartments are those with separate drawers with temperature controls, like in four and five-door models.
In other models, where the flexible compartment or drawer is located within the refrigerated section, the flexi-drawer can rarely reach true freezing temperatures.
2. Door-in-Door Access
When manufacturers dreamed up door-in-door access, they were trying to make it even easier to reach the most used items while also preventing the loss of too much cold air. The result was that the full door of the refrigerator could stay closed while only an outer panel on the front of the fridge would open, providing access to all the foods and beverages stored on the door’s shelves.
Several brands offer this feature, but unfortunately, almost no model keeps the food on the door’s shelves as cold as the rest of the refrigerator’s interior. When staples like milk, juice, and butter are typically stored in the door, not being able to keep them cold enough is a problem.
3. Over-Sized Ice Makers
Typical in-freezer ice makers produce an average of four pounds of ice each day, and their storage trays hold about eight pounds. Several manufacturers have developed over-sized ice makers that produce and store a bit more ice, but the larger size of the unit means less space in the freezer or fridge for food.
Although the over-sized ice maker may seem helpful during parties, it often keeps lots of extra ice that goes stale the rest of the time. Consider how much ice your family typically uses to ensure that you are getting the right-sized ice maker for your needs.
Gochnauer’s Appliance Center Has All the Refrigerators You Want
Shopping for a new refrigerator can be a stress-free experience if shoppers do a little research before heading to a showroom. And our website here at Gochnauer’s Home Appliance Center is an excellent shopping resource. Know your food storage needs and then shop for the perfect refrigerator for your family and budget right from your computer or smartphone now!
Have questions? Our knowledgeable appliance sales staff members are available by phone during the current COVID-19 situation to help with purchasing decisions. Call us today at 717-569-0439 during business hours to learn more!