Table of Contents
- A Brief History of Refrigerators
- Best Refrigerator Brands: Buying Guide
- 8 Best Brand Refrigerators to Buy In 2021: Review
- 1. FRIGIDAIRE: Frigidaire FFHB2750TS 36 Inch French Door Refrigerator
- 2. SAMSUNG: SAMSUNG RF28T5001SR 28 Cu. Ft. Stainless Large Capacity French Door Refrigerator
- 3. LG: LG LFXC22596S 22 Cu. Ft. Stainless Smart Counter-Depth Refrigerator
- 4. BOSCH: Bosch B36CT80SNS 36″ 800 Series French Door Refrigerator
- 5. GE: GE Profile PVD28BYNFS 27.6 Cu.Ft. Stainless French Door Smart Refrigerator
- 6. Whirlpool: Whirlpool 18 cu. ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator in Stainless Steel
- 7. KitchenAid: Kitchenaid 20 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator
- 8. SMEG: Smeg FAB32URPG3 50s Retro Style Series 24 inch Counter Depth Freestanding Refrigerator
- Final Word
Replacing an old fridge is a big decision every homeowner has to make at some point. Modern refrigerators do so much more than keep your food fresh, with features we could hardly imagine just a decade ago. Logically, though, you want to upgrade with the best refrigerator brand within your price range. The good news is whatever your needs are, there is a fridge out there for you.
Our buying guide will give you all the knowledge you need to choose the right fridge for your needs and available kitchen space. When you have a clear idea of what shape your new fridge should take, we will review 8 of the best refrigerator brands in 2021 to help you make your final selection.
First, let’s retrace the road the refrigerator has traveled.
A Brief History of Refrigerators
Humans have been devising ways to keep food and drink cool for thousands of years, but the iterations of the modern electric fridge came around 1918. Those early versions by Frigidaire and Kelvinator had to have the compressor unit stationed in the basement and the cooler storage box up in the kitchen. Only the super-wealthy could afford these refrigerators, however imperfect they were.
Those early versions made a lot of noise, weighed a ton, and consumed a lot of energy. Compressors back then used toxic gases like sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and methyl chloride that could kill people if there were leaks.
The fridge units of today are much smaller, a lot more energy-efficient, and have advanced so much you can now remote control yours from the couch using your smartphone. As the technology has advanced so has the market expanded, with the appliance no longer a status item. Refrigeration is now by far the most popular means of food preservation.
Now let’s dive right into the buying guide!
Best Refrigerator Brands: Buying Guide
As the central appliance in your kitchen, it makes sense that you want to avoid making the wrong refrigerator choice. That choice has a bearing on the freshness of the food you eat and how much energy your home consumes.
In this section, we will answer the top questions you have on buying refrigerators and break down some of the features you need to pay closer attention to as you shop so you don’t end up with a choice you will regret.
What To Look For In A New Refrigerator
Mercifully, you no longer have to go from store to store checking out the refrigerator options available. You can now buy it online and have it delivered to your doorstep. So what should you consider when you open that browser on your iPad, smartphone, or laptop to shop for a new fridge?
You can now get a glass of cold water or a few rocks of ice without even opening the fridge. Some water dispensers even come with sensors that allow for automatic filling. But before you consider features, you have a decision to make on what fridge configuration is best for you.
Types of refrigerators
There are different types of refrigerators available and all of them come with unique strengths and some weaknesses you need to be aware of. And while marketers will try to convince you otherwise, there are some refrigerator features you may not need.
When picking a fridge style/configuration, you are essentially deciding on what you value most between aesthetics, function, and convenience. A function is a factor of qualities like temperature uniformity, usable storage space, and energy efficiency.
On a basic level, though, you need a fridge that does its primary task well. That task is to keep your perishable food from going bad. A fridge that cannot maintain a cold temperature spoils food and wastes energy. The following are the types of fridges you have to choose from:
- Top Freezer
This fridge configuration has the freezer box at the top and the food compartment at the bottom. The bottom chilled compartment is typically the larger of the two. This type of fridge is the most traditional and least expensive. If you store your favorite foods frozen, this style will be convenient as the eye-level freezer is easier to access.
While top freezer fridges lack most of the fancier extras of the more expensive styles, they are compact and still have the basic features, like adjustable shelves. Choose this type of fridge if you are low on budget and space and don’t mind a configuration many now consider to be outdated.
- Bottom freezer
Bottom freezers are the opposite of top freezers and are usually larger. They have the freezer at the bottom and the chilled food compartment at eye level. The freezer can feature drawer-style or simple adjustable shelves.
An upgrade on top-freezer fridges but still light on features, some bottom freezers are outfitted with ice and water dispensers in the door. While they are more expensive than top freezers, they are still fairly affordable.
One disadvantage you have to budget for is the larger door that encroaches into the kitchen when open. The complication from this is that a nearby feature, like the island, may obstruct the door from opening fully. So make sure there is enough space for the door to swing into before you buy.
- Side-by-side fridge
If you prefer both your chilled and frozen food at eye level, a side-by-side fridge is ideal. What sets this style apart is the design that has the freezer and chilled food compartments positioned side-by-side, behind two large doors that extend from the top to the bottom.
Though roomier inside, with lots of shelves that make organizing easy, the shelves are rather narrow, which makes it tricky to store large items and position awkward-shaped dishes. These fridges have shorter door spans that suit cramped kitchens but are wider than the top and bottom freezer styles.
- French door fridge
With French door fridges, the pull-out drawer freezer is still on the button, but the food compartment has two instead of one door. The main advantage of the two doors is that the fridges are fairly narrow when open, which is perfect for small kitchens. One wrinkle is the drawer-style freezers that are harder to organize and you have to crouch to reach them.
The double doors do mean the fridge is wider. That guarantees more storage space. Features like water and ice dispensers, LED lighting, and digital displays come standard in this class. Because of the premium features, French door fridges tend to be more expensive than the other freestanding styles.
Other French door fridge models even come with connected features that allow remote control and smartphone-connected cameras that show what’s inside the fridge without opening it. French door refrigerators are the most popular style, which translates to a wide choice of models to select from.
- Counter-depth fridge
Featuring a slimmer design, this fridge configuration is a compromise between a built-in fridge and a standard movable model. Although the fridge frees up more space to move around the kitchen, it does give up storage space.
Counter-depth fridges are also more expensive than standard depth fridges. However, the appearance of a custom, built-in fridge at a more approachable price may be enough to gloss over its space constraints.
According to JD Power’s 2020 Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study, Samsung makes the most reliable French door refrigerators, followed by LG. The Korean brand is pipped to the top spot by LG for the best-rated side-by-side fridges. For the top freezer fridges that consumers are most satisfied with, Samsung again takes the top spot.
Measuring Space for Your Fridge
Make sure your preferred new fridge fits the space your current one occupies. With fitted kitchens it’s likely your new fridge will live in a recessed nook, so make sure to accurately measure the width and the height of the space if it’s a new kitchen.
For old fitted kitchens simply measure the dimensions of your old fridge. Your new fridge has to be smaller or the same size as your old one. A fridge that does not fit well in your space is a hassle to use and will make removing internal drawers for cleaning unnecessarily complicated. Remember that the fridge will also need some extra space for ventilation.
While it isn’t as important to measure as the width and height, you should also measure the depth of your space. You want to make sure your new fridge does not stick out into your kitchen as that can make it hard to move about and work. Just as important is measuring the width of the doors and hallways in the route your new refrigerator will follow into the kitchen.
It is easy to get bogged down by the massive array of refrigerator features and forget that a fridge is primarily a food storage appliance. Let your needs guide your selection. If you mostly store your food frozen, you are going to need a fridge with a large freezer. A side-by-side fridge will be your best option.
On the other hand, a French door fridge will suit your needs best if you store most of your foods chilled and don’t mind reaching down to access your frozen chicken and veggies. If budget is a hindrance, then a bottom-freezer should satisfy your most basic storage needs.
Note that refrigerator brands are not always totally accurate with their claims on storage capacity. Some of their claimed capacity isn’t usable. Features like the water filter, ice maker, and the arrangement of the shelves may make it difficult to fit some items in the fridge.
Energy-efficient fridge models
When you buy a new fridge, make sure you factor in how much it will cost you to operate. Chief among the costs you have to budget for is energy. The good news is you are already saving energy by replacing your old fridge with a newer model. According to Energy Star, a 15-year old fridge is 33% less energy-efficient than an Energy Star-certified, newer model.
By choosing an energy-efficient model you are not only saving on running costs but are also helping to preserve the environment. The easiest way to choose an energy-efficient fridge model is to look for the Energy Star endorsement.
Another way of saving energy is buying an appropriately sized fridge. The least demanding in terms of energy consumption are top freezer fridges. Remember, the larger the fridge the more energy it uses. Of course, a top freezer model will not make a practical choice if it does not meet your food storage needs.
Features of Refrigerator
Do you need an ice dispenser or a door-in-door compartment in your fridge? It is critical to separate gimmicky features from the genuinely useful ones that add functionality to your fridge unit. The top fridge brands know to make a compromise on which features to prioritize.
When you look at it, a door-in-door compartment isn’t nearly as convenient as it is made out to be. Are these compartments as cold as the rest of the fridge? An argument has been made that they can make the main fridge warmer than average.
Aside from features that aren’t as useful as we assume, we don’t need or may never get to use others because they don’t fit our lifestyles. Take a smart fridge for example. While they are an important advancement, if you aren’t tech-savvy it doesn’t make sense to spend a few hundred dollars more on a smart fridge?
To get the best value, you may have to forgo some features. That said, there are some features you need on your new fridge. Below are fridge features we feel the best refrigerator brands must have in 2021.
Flexible fridge shelves make it easy to organize items in your fridge. Make sure your new fridge lets you adjust your shelves as your needs dictate, whether that means fold-up or slide-in shelves.
Sliding shelves make it less taxing to reach items deeper in the fridge. For taller items like juice bottles, removing a shelf can ensure the bottles have more clearance. Also, watch out for fridges with shelf snugglers that make it easier to secure jars and bottles.
If you have settled on a French door fridge, it is worthwhile to consider how the freezer drawers are configured. Full-width access drawers are best as they give you ample space, as are transparent ones that make it easy to find what you are looking for without actually opening the drawer.
Through-the-door water and ice dispensers
This is a highly desired fridge feature that, while eminently convenient, is also one of the most common fridge repairs. And aside from higher energy costs, you will also give up some storage space by choosing this feature.
Do you have young children? If you do, then you know how they sometimes open and bang the fridge door just for the fun of it. Most times they will leave it open, which will warm the temperature inside. The fridge has to consume more energy to cool the temperature back down. A fridge that you can lock can remove these headaches.
If you can’t find a refrigerator with a lockable door, shop for one with a door alarm that will sound if the door has been left open. This will keep your food fresh for longer, which is good for safety and lowers your energy bill.
Color and finish
Your new fridge is going to be a prominent feature of your kitchen. If you are an aesthete, you will want a fridge that matches your kitchen decor. Thankfully, you have many colors and finishes to choose from. If you like to put a colorful mark on your kitchen, a SMEG fridge will be an absolute delight.
The most practical choice for busy households is a stainless steel finish. Stainless steel has a timeless appeal and a look that matches more decor styles. The modern versions also resist fingerprints, which will save you from a lot of cleaning if you have young children. Besides the classic stainless finish, black and white color finishes will also match most of your appliances.
Other features you may consider
Depending on your lifestyle and special interests there are other seemingly gimmicky features that may be of real utility to you. Keen entertainers will always appreciate the convenience of a built-in wine rack and a craft ice maker.
Temperature-adjusted drawers will help keep your different foods at their ideal temperatures. Air filters, as dual evaporators, will help keep your food fresher for longer. It may be worth your while to look into fridges with smart features and the ever-fancy door-in-door feature.
8 Best Brand Refrigerators to Buy In 2021: Review
It is tough to tell if it’s a curse or a blessing, but you have more than enough options to choose your new fridge from. Either way, we are here to help ensure you end up with a choice that fits both your needs and lifestyle. Below are 8 of the best refrigerator brands to choose from in 2021, alongside models we think you will love.
1. FRIGIDAIRE: Frigidaire FFHB2750TS 36 Inch French Door Refrigerator
Frigidaire is one of the most recognizable refrigerator brands in the American market. Its reputation for manufacturing reliable, energy-efficient refrigerators means it is one of the first names many people consider when shopping for a new fridge. Whatever price point or fridge style you have set your sights on, you are guaranteed to find a Frigidaire model worth considering.
The Frigidaire FFHB2750TS is a 36-inch French door model with a smart stainless steel finish on the doors and a dark gray for the rest of the body. That bit of detail on the finish could be a deal-breaker if you prefer an all-stainless finish. Despite that, there are some very nice features worth checking out. With the in-door ice dispenser also comes a PureSource Ultra II water filter, meaning your drinking water is as clean as it can be.
With over 100 ways to adjust your storage, you are bound to find a shelf arrangement that suits you. In terms of storage capacity, you won’t struggle for space. The pull-out freezer drawers extend fully, giving you unrestricted access to your frozen foods.
We found mixed reviews on the water dispenser, with some saying the water drips too slowly while others are satisfied with it. For the ice maker, the general sentiment is that it is slow, which can be a concern if you are a keen entertainer.
Samsung is known to push the needle in terms of new features, with smart refrigerators that can prepare shopping lists, order food from Grubhub among many functions your usual fridge would not do. With quality standards that tend to match, consumers love the brand, as the annual JD Power satisfaction surveys show.
The Samsung RT28T5001SR is light on fancy features, though it still has digital controls that show the current temperature, spill-proof shelves, a built-in water filter, and a door-open alarm. This French door fridge has been rated highly by most editorial reviews for reliability, thermostat control, energy efficiency, and temperature uniformity. It is low on noise and has a good storage capacity.
As you would expect from a design-forward brand like Samsung, this fridge features a sleek yet unpretentious design and a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish on the doors. Inside you will find two humidity-controlled crisper drawers, five tampered glass spill-proof shelves, and six 1-gallon door bins.
The doors on this Samsung fridge are CoolTight for greater temperature uniformity. If it seems there is something missing, though, it’s because there are no ice and water dispensers on this model.
The LG brand is known for high-tech devices and appliances and their fridges are no different. From craft ice makers to WiFi-enabled touchscreen fridge controls, you can trust LG for the most innovative features. Thankfully, they have found a way to offer refrigerators across various price points.
If you want a French door fridge that will sit flush with your cabinets and stove and you don’t mind the slightly reduced storage capacity, you will not do much better than this LG LFXC22596S Counter Depth fridge. WiFi and Smart Home-enabled, you can use your smartphone to operate and troubleshoot this fridge.
No feature perhaps illustrates LG’s innovation mettle that this fridge’s door-in-door, with a tinted glass InstaView panel that illuminates with a double knock to show you what’s inside the easy access compartment. The ColdSaver innovation solves the biggest complaint people have with door-in-door compartments by minimizing cold air loss from the main fridge.
The fridge comes with dual ice makers, with one in the usual dispenser cavity in the door and another in the freezer. The Slim Space Ice System optimizes space that is already reduced by the counter-depth design.
Bosch fridges belong in the premium ranks of the refrigerator market. The German brand is highly rated for its fridges’ advanced features, beautiful design, and reliable cooling power. The fridges don’t come cheap but you get a lot for your money.
Part of the 800 Series, the Bosch B36CT80SNS combines class-leading temperature uniformity in both the freezer and fridge, smart home features, crisper drawers with customizable temperatures, and excellent organization options in both the freezer and fridge.
At first glance, the French door fridge seems like another regular model, but look closely and you will see hidden door hinges and feet. Add that to a design that sits flush with your countertops and a stainless steel internal back wall, and it becomes clear this is a fridge designed to be functionally classy.
Inside the fridge, there is sufficient storage space for the average family, including more freezer drawers than most fridges, which is great news if you are a stickler for organization. What we are most impressed about are the crisper drawers that come with customized temperatures, giving you precise storage conditions for your meats, vegetables, beverages, and snacks.
What’s also worth mentioning is the Home Connect smart capability that allows for remote control of such fridge features as lighting, temperature control, and diagnostics using your mobile phone.
With so much going for it, is there something the Bosch B36CT80SNS lacks? Well, you will notice straight away that the fridge has no water dispenser. You have to open the fridge to access one. The fridge also has less storage space in the freezer because of the extra drawers.
GE fridges are highly regarded for their build quality, innovative features, and reliability. Unless terribly abused, a GE fridge will not break down within one year of use. This is unsurprising for a revered American manufacturer that has been making appliances for over 125 years.
Storage space comes at a premium in most high-end fridges that typically seek to cram in as many features as possible. The icemaker, for example, while highly desired by consumers does take away considerable storage space. GE positioned the icemaker for its stylish GE Profile PVD28BYNFS French door fridge in the door to fix this conundrum, which means more storage space for your favorite foods and drinks.
Staying with the doors, we like the innovative door-in-door that cleverly creates room for a rotating drinks bin that can accommodate tall wine bottles. The water dispenser stays outside the door where it’s convenient to access drinking water. Even more convenient is the fact the dispenser has a sensor that allows automatic, hands-free filling. The dispenser will know when the glass is full, which eliminates messy spills.
Besides the smart features that are always nice to have, users have sung praises of the advanced water filtration system that guarantees cleaner drinking water. In terms of lighting, this fridge is one of the best we have reviewed. An entire back wall of LED lights illuminates the whole refrigerator compartment.
There are only so many innovative features you can force into an 18 cu. Ft. top freezer refrigerator, but if there is a brand that’s going to try it is Whirlpool. The company values the household market, for decades its bedrock, and puts as much care into its designs for top and bottom freezers as it does for the more premium French doors.
Top freezers are mostly designed to be reliable and hardy, with uniform cooling capabilities. Whirlpool deserves praise for putting a few premium features into this 18 cu. Ft. Top-Freezer model. Immediately noticeable is the polished stainless steel finish. The storage options are convenient, thanks to the FlexiSlide Bin that moves from side to side.
Electronic temperature control allows you to set just the right temperature for your food and drinks. The shelves are adjustable, which makes organizing easier. There is no onboard ice maker but you can order separately. Whirlpool fridges are always reliable, so if you have no viable use for a larger capacity side-by-side or French door, this one will work great for you.
7. KitchenAid: Kitchenaid 20 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator
KitchenAid markets a wide variety of refrigerator models. It is a premium brand with a stellar reputation for stylish, well-built refrigerators. KitchenAid refrigerators are, therefore, not the cheapest, but you get great value for your money. As a premium model, this 20 cubic feet French door counter depth fridge checks a lot of boxes.
The fridge’s PrintShield black stainless steel finish is bang on trend and makes a big statement. The metallic feel extends to the shelf trim in the interior. The counter depth configuration means the fridge sits flush with your kitchen cabinets, giving it a harmonized, built-in look. There are sleek design touches everywhere you look, including the Satin Textured handles that give the fridge an industrial yet polished look.
The premium features extend to the inside of the fridge. The ExtendFresh temperature management system is particularly noteworthy. Using sensors in both the freezer and fridge compartment, temperatures remain at optimum levels to preserve the freshness and taste of your foods.
The crisper drawers that can be individually adjusted for humidity create precise storage conditions for your different vegetables. Standard for this price point, the five glass shelves are spillproof. Two sliding wire baskets in the fridge and five transparent door bins expand storage.
The water dispenser on this fridge is inside, which is about as practical a solution you can have for the space limitations of a counter-depth fridge. It also gives the fridge a cleaner look.
No kitchen appliance does retro-style design quite like SMEG. A luxury brand that has positioned itself right at the top of the refrigerator market, the fashion-forward SMEG brand’s record for quality and performance is rather spotty. But there is no denying the Italian brand’s inimitable charm.
In a less striking pastel green color, this Smeg FAB32URPG3 counter depth bottom freezer does not quite dominate everything around it. But the ‘50s retro design hallmark of the Fab line still stands out, with the rounded corners and thick stainless steel handles.
While looks definitely matter in this price range, the fridge will eventually be judged on its ability to keep food cool and fresh. Notoriously a form-over-function brand, the cooling capabilities of this SMEG fridge are fair but far from outstanding.
Storage features include three adjustable glass shelves in the fresh food compartment that benefit from a Multi Flow Cooling System. The freezer has a Fast Freezing compartment that speeds up things when you really want your meats or vegetables quickly frozen. Also, the Super Cold drawer will keep your more delicate meats like fish lightly frozen for a longer time in the freezer.
SMEG’s aren’t just mere fridges. In a Hollywood glamour meets Italian design, they are bold fashion statements that suit homeowners who like their appliances sculptured and pretty. Not so heavy on modern features, these fridges are designed to stand out, wherever they happen to find a home.
One of the more environmentally-conscious refrigerator brands, SMEG fridges come packed in non-polluting recyclable materials. Admittedly though, few people will have the money to invest in a high-priced fridge that mostly sits there looking pretty and is far from being the best at its primary function.
According to Consumer Reports, look in the 19 – 22 cubic feet capacity bracket if you are shopping for a fridge for a family of four. That said, refrigerator storage needs also depend on lifestyle. Keen entertainers and avid cooks and bakers may require a larger freezer or fresh food compartment. Others may prefer more customizable storage options.
Your choice should be guided by your needs and budget. Side-by-side fridges are more expensive but have significantly more storage capacity and premium features. If you are low on budget, have a small kitchen, and don’t care for the fancier features, a bottom freezer will be a great option.
The best refrigerators last around 12 years. But how long yours lasts will also depend on how well you care for it. If handled roughly, the fridge may not last as long. Ultimately though, some brands have better build quality, so check user reviews and seek expert opinion before choosing a refrigerator.
If your current refrigerator is over 10 years old, you will find a more energy-efficient fridge with better cooling capabilities if you replaced it today. Besides that, if your fridge is constantly breaking down, it shows signs of condensation, is hot to the touch, and you notice that your food is constantly going bad, it is time to upgrade.
Generally, yes they have. You are also more likely to ring the repair technician if your fridge has a water and ice dispenser on the door. The reason is usually that the more parts you have on a fridge the more likely that something will break or fail.
The refrigerator market is crowded, with lots of options, whether you are big on high-tech features, prefer a fridge that stands out in terms of looks, or are low on budget and simply want a fridge that works.
The options we have reviewed are therefore not necessarily the best out there, but if you take our buying advice to heart and you shop these refrigerator brands you should certainly find a refrigerator that will serve you well for years to come.