When buying a refrigerator, is bigger better? Most people think so. However, you should consider the space in your kitchen, the number of people in your household, your cooking style and frequency of refrigerator use to determine what size refrigerator you really need.
Start with your current model. To find the size, take out the tape measure. Standard side-by-side refrigerators range from 31 inches to 36 inches. Depths range from 28 inches to 34 inches, and the heights of most models range between 66 inches and 69 inches. There are larger and smaller models available too.
How many cubic feet do you need? The average-sized refrigerator provides between 18 and 26 cubic feet of storage space. When deciding how much internal space you need, take a look at your current refrigerator. Do you need more space or less? Do you ever refrigerate large items such as full sheet cakes or whole turkeys?
To figure out the cubic feet of your current model, empty your refrigerator and measure the height, width and depth of the inside in inches. Multiply those measurements together and divide by 1728. Then use this number for reference when checking out the cubic footage of new models, which is usually displayed on the product label on the store models or in the product details field online.
What size do you need? If the size refrigerator you have suits you and you're ready to purchase a newer model, then stick with what works. If you want a larger or smaller refrigerator, consider the following:
How spacious is your kitchen?
How often do you cook?
Do you throw a lot of parties?
Do you have a large family?
Do your groceries fit?
Obviously in a large kitchen, you can have a big refrigerator. Small galley kitchens require standard and smaller refrigerators. If you love to cook, entertain often and have a large family, bigger is indeed a wiser choice.
What about refrigerator door options? Most standard refrigerator models allow you to place doors opening on either side, so when the door opens, it can swing to the left or the right. When deciding on which direction to place the door, consider what is on both sides of the refrigerator; you want it to open and not block anything or hit furniture or cabinetry. Or you may want to consider a french door refrigerator, which features double doors that open from the center.
Refrigerator door styles to consider:
Standard refrigerator models come with the freezer on the top (known as "top mount" refrigerators); others come with freezer drawers on the bottom (known as "bottom mount"). The benefit of a freezer on the bottom is that since you don't use the freezer as often as the fridge, you won't bend down as often. Plus, when you do open the freezer drawer on the bottom, you can see more of the food. If you want kids to have access to frozen snacks, consider a bottom mount model.
Side-by-side models -- with the freezer on one side and the refrigerator on the other -- give you a fair amount of freezer space. However, the interior space of the refrigerator tends to be smaller and narrower in these models. So, if you order a lot of takeout pizza, it may be harder to store the oversized box in the fridge.
French door models are nice because you can open one half of the refrigerator at a time. French door models typically feature the freezer on the bottom. If you entertain a lot and need to refrigerate large platters of food, this may be the option for you.
Is energy efficiency a concern? Energy-efficient refrigerators may cost more, though in the long run they will save you money on your electric bills because they cost less to operate. Remember that refrigerators with in-door ice-makers and water dispensers are more costly to operate as they use more energy. Look for the Energy Star label for energy-efficient models. EnergyStar.gov for more information.)
Should you buy two refrigerators? When considering what size refrigerator to purchase, you may want to buy a second smaller fridge for a bedroom, basement, family room or outdoor kitchen. You can store cold drinks in them, which can be handy if you entertain a lot. This is an especially good idea if you have kids that stand in front of the fridge with the door open staring for what seems to be an endless amount of time. If you have room in your kitchen, a smaller additional refrigerator can hold pastry items, produce or other foods that you want to keep cold and separate from your main refrigerator. You may also consider a wine refrigerator to keep bottles of wine at the optimal temperature.
Michele C. Hollowwrites about home, health and pets and has contributed to the Kitchen and Bath Business, Log Home Living, Country Decorating, Small Rooms Decorating and WomansDay.com. Her husband is an excellent cook who always makes sure the refrigerator is full.
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