With so many types and designs out there, it’s not easy to choose the best refrigerator (or freezer).
Prices, quality and energy consumption vary a lot and depend increasingly on design and style: 1) Top mounted vs. Bottom mounted refrigerators 2) Side-by-side refrigerators; 2) Two side-by-side doors refrigerators (French refrigerators); 4) Refrigerators with freezer vs. without freezer; 5) Stand-alone chest freezers vs. upright freezers 6) Compact refrigerators.
Design of refrigerators and Freezers & advantages and disadvantages of each type
... Refrigerator-freezer with a single door
The simplest refrigerators have a single door, behind which there is a freezer space (usually small) and a refrigerated space. Typically these refrigerators are less energy efficient than top-mount and bottom-mount refrigerators.
... Two doors refrigerators: French-door refrigerators
French-door models offer two side-by-side doors, with a refrigerator section above a freezer drawer. Though they come in most standard sizes, they may require extra space for the doors to open properly. This type of refrigerators tends to be expensive, and large units are energy intensive.
... Top-mounted refrigerators vs Bottom-mounted refrigerators
The most traditional and economical type of refrigerators have two separate doors for the refrigerator and the freezer (above or under the refrigerator). Bottom-mounted refrigerators are usually more expensive and less energy efficient than top-mount models.
... Side-by-side refrigerators (with freezers)
These models of refrigerators have a freezer on the left, alongside a refrigerated section. This style of refrigerator is more expensive and less energy efficient than top-mounted and bottom-mounted refrigerators. The design works better with larger sizes. The freezer area may be relatively small.
... All refrigerator type
You can buy a refrigerator without a freezer. That’s a simple and inexpensive design, with a a large refrigerator capacity. But it may require a separate freezer.
... Stand-alone Chest freezers vs Upright freezers
Freezers can open from the top (chest freezers) or look like common refrigerators (upright). Chest freezers are the most energy efficient (if properly insulated) ant the most economical. But they also have disadvantages: chest freezers have a larger horizontal footprint and need space above them; besides, sorting and organizing their contents is more complicated. Upright freezers may have adjustable shelves or other similar features, making using them easier.
... Compact refrigerators and freezers
They may have the advantage of saving space, or being relatively inexpensive or even portable, but they a limited capacity and other obvious disadvantages, including high energy consumption.
Criteria to choose a refrigerator
Do not forget the basics:
Low purchase prices can be misleading. You should also consider the energy cost of the refrigerator (for at least 12 years).
Refrigerators can be very energy intensive appliances. They run 365 days a year, day and night, and their energy costs can amount to high values. New energy-efficient units can minimize the problem. They can reduce their average energy consumption to $500-$800 during a lifetime of 12 years, which is a lot less than that of standard older refrigerators (3 to 5 times more). Refrigerator purchase prices vary with many factors… It's not just a matter of features such as the capacity of the refrigerator, compressors and overall quality. The style/type counts a lot.
Bottom line: Consider the 1) price or 2) volume (overall and freezer volume) of the refrigerator but also its 3) energy consumption and 4) style.
Top freezer vs. French door units
You can buy a large and energy efficient top-freezer for $600 or $700, while most French-door units will cost you $2,000-$3,000 or more.
Refrigerator prices vary widely, depending mostly on style and design (not on energy efficiency, or overall quality):
Range of prices of Energy Star refrigerators:
$450 - $7600
Top refrigerator brands with the lowest prices:
Frigidaire and GE.
There are several Energy Star refrigerators (mostly top-freezer models) with a capacity between 14,8-18,2 cubic feet with a price around $500-$600.
Refrigerators with the best Energy Cost + Lowest purchase price units:
These refrigerators belong mostly to the top-freezer type.
Best TopTen brands, USA and Canada: Frigidaire, Whirlpool and GE.
top vs. bottom Mounted freezer models
10 best rated top freezer refrigerator models (TopTenUsa):
Whirlpool WRT771RWYM, WRT771, WRT771RWYW and WRT351SFYB
Whirlpool WRT371SZBW, Whirlpool WRT371SZBM
Maytag M1BXXGMYB, Maytag M1BXXGMYW, Maytag M1BXXGMYM
All these units have a capacity of about 21 cubic feet, and a freezer volume of about 6,2 cubic feet.
Best rated bottom freezer models:
The top brands are those listed above for top freezer models.
Bottom freezers can cost you $200-$500 more than top freezers.
Small vs. Large refrigerators
Make sure that you really need a large refrigerator. Large refrigerators are more expensive to buy and to run.
Energy Star refrigerators with a capacity of about 30 cubic feet can cost you something around $1,700-$3,700, plus $800 in energy costs (12 years).
Side-by-side refrigerators are a lot less expensive than French-door refrigerators, for the same capacity (Energy Star models).
Brands with the best price+energy cost for large and extra-large refrigerator models:
LG (French door models) and Whirlpool (mostly side-by-side models).
Most popular Energy Star refrigerator models
Popularity depends on many factors including fashion and subjective evaluations by many buyers, mixed with factors like the capacity, design or price. But it's an obviously relevant indicator, to take into account.
Top Side by side refrigerator
Whirlpool has the 3 most highly rated side-by-side refrigerator models, according to TopTenUSA:
Whirlpool WRS325FNAM, WRS325FNAH, WRS325FNAE.
Their purchase price: $1,000-$1,100; Volume: 25,5 cubic feet; Energy cost (12 years): about $660.
Top French door refrigerators
Electrolux has the 3 top ranked French door refrigerators:
Electrolux EI27BS16JS, EI27BS16JW, EI27BS16JB
Prices: $1,900 - $2,200; Volume: 26,7 cubic feet; Energy cost (over 12 years): about $580.
Certified refrigerators list
For a complete list of certified Energy Star refrigerator 2015 models and their brands, see: Energy Star.
Top refrigerator Manufacturer brands 2015
chest vs upright freezers
When selecting a freezer – whatever its volume or its type – do not forget its energy cost.
The energy cost of most freezers – chest or upright freezers, over a period of, say, 15 years – is typically higher than its purchase price.
Even the most energy-efficient freezers are energy-intensive units. They consume at least as much energy as average refrigerators.
And the smaller the freezer the more energy it consumes, proportionally. The small Danby DCFM246WDD - an energy efficient chest freezer with a capacity of 8.7 cubic feet, probably the most efficient freezer in its class in 2015 - consumes about $655 in energy for a purchase price of about $450 (TopTen organization estimations).
top rated small chest freezers:
- Danby DCFM246WDD, chest freezer;
capacity: 8.7 cubic feet; price: $300; energy costs over 16 years: $480.
- Frigidaire FFCH13M2MW, chest freezer;
capacity: 12.9 cf, price: $480; energy costs over 16 years: $600;
- GE FCM15PUWW, chest freezer;
capacity: 14.8 cf; price: $450; energy costs over 16 years: $655.
Cheap chest and upright freezers
As mentioned above, the purchase price of the freezer can be misleading. Many cheap freezers can actually be expensive units, if we consider the eletricity costs over their lifetime. Criteria to select a freezer
Consider 1) the price, and 3) volume and size (small vs. large freezers) but do not ever forget 3) the energy consumption of the freezer and its 4) type or style. The energy consumption and price of refrigerators depend largely on style.
Even energy-efficient units can cost you $50/year (or more) in power, which means $700 or more over the lifetime of the unit.
More important than the purchase price, is the “true costs” of the unit (how much you really pay: purchase price + energy costs).
Chest vs. Upright Freezers
Chest freezers consume less energy than upright freezers.
Free-frost freezers vs. Manual defrost Freezers
Free-frost freezers are more expensive and consume a lot more electricity than units with manual defrost.
The only high-energy efficient free-frost freezer selected by EnergyStar/TopTen is the…
- Frigidaire FFCH15M1NW; chest freezer; capacity: 14.9 cubic feet;
price: $510; energy costs over 16 years: $655.