Table of Contents
- How Are Refrigerators Priced?
- How Much Should a Good Value Refrigerator Cost?
- When and Where Are the Best Refrigerator Deals?
- Refrigerator Buying Guide
- 5 Best Value Refrigerators Review
- Final Word
The most critical home appliances tend to break down at the most inconvenient times. And none is more critical than a fully stocked refrigerator. When the fridge breaks down, you have to act fast. Otherwise, your groceries will waste away.
If you are in between paychecks, you don’t have many options other than to shop refrigerator sales and specials for the best refrigerator you can find. And even if you aren’t dealing with a fridge emergency and have long planned a new fridge purchase, not many of us can afford a $3,999 smart fridge.
As anyone will tell you, the value segment of any market is a tough place to shop. While you are almost guaranteed that the cheap refrigerator you are looking for is out there, you know you have to sift through a lot of duds.
You will be pleased, however, that you don’t have to shuffle between physical and online stores, comparing features and prices. We have done that grunt work for you.
We have narrowed your options for the best affordable refrigerators. We will review later. First, though, you need to discuss refrigerator pricing and the fridge features you should prioritize when you’re short on budget.
How Are Refrigerators Priced?
Generally speaking, a fridge that is made from the best quality materials, uses advanced proprietary technology and modern features and has a roomy interior with flexible storage options will be more expensive to produce. Accordingly, you should expect to pay top dollar for it.
On the opposite end of the scale are basic fridges that do the job but don’t offer any premium features. So even if you are not paying much for your fridge, it still has to be built to last and rate well for temperature consistency and storage capacity.
Some fridge manufacturers charge a premium for the power of their brands. SMEG, for example, milk their brand appeal by charging a premium of up to 75 percent on copmarable products. When you drill down you, therefore, will realize that a significant portion of what you are paying for are unnecessary extras that don’t add much to the fridge’s primary function.
There are also fridge features that add convenience to the experience of using your fridge. Take finger-proof stainless steel finishes. They can save you from a lot of cleaning and polishing to rub off fingerprints and smudges but do not make the fridge any cooler or roomier.
The good thing is that fridge prices have generally settled down into specific bands. If you shop within these price bands, you should have a good idea of what features and quality you will get for your money.
How Much Should a Good Value Refrigerator Cost?
Anything under the $999 price point is considered a budget fridge. But there are good fridges costing as low as $500 that still have good cooling capabilities and boast reliable build quality. Below $500, you are now scraping the barrel.
Fridges below $1,000 aren’t necessarily low quality. Neither are they all minis. They simply lack the more premium features. The top brands, including Frigidaire, GE, Maytag, LG, Whirlpool, and Kenmore all have very good options in this category.
When shopping the sub $1,000 segment of the fridge market, one characteristic is immediately apparent. You will notice that your options are limited to top freezer, bottom freezer, and side-by-side models.
Unless the fridge is heavily discounted, you will not get a French door fridge below $1,000. You are definitely not getting a full-feature smart fridge for that money. But who says you need all those extra features?
Even within the aforementioned price limits, it is worth noting that you still have a lot of wiggle room. If you widen your search and time your purchase, you can still get a very decent side-by-side refrigerator below $1,000. Stretch your budget a little and you should be able to get a good French door fridge.
It has to be said, however, that you can snag a good refrigerator at a low price without giving up on the fridge features you love:
When and Where Are the Best Refrigerator Deals?
One of the best ways to buy a good fridge on the cheap is by timing your purchase. The leading big-box retailers regularly hold refrigerator specials to clear space for new models. These sales usually coincide with major shopping seasons and three-day holiday weekends.
If you time your purchase well, it is possible to buy your preferred refrigerator at 20, 30, or even 50 percent off its regular price. Amazon’s Prime Day is popular for its heavily discounted sales and is a good place to find inexpensive refrigerators.
Besides retailer-specific sales, there are seasonal sales that commemorate specific historical events like Memorial Day and holidays like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.
Black Frida has also grown into a global sales event that generates billions in revenue for retailers. If you have a new fridge in your items to buy this year, you will do well to mark Black Friday on your calendar. Remember the sale actually starts weeks before the actual sale date.
The top reviews sites regularly publish articles for the cheap refrigerator deals for every peak shopping season. It’s a good idea to search Google for those at the start of your search.
Refrigerator Buying Guide
You have a lot to consider when buying a new refrigerator. It pays to be intentional about the qualities you want if the fridge is going to give you long, trouble-free service.
Whatever the cost, your new fridge will need to perform. It has to maintain a consistent temperature. You also want it to be quiet, spacious, and look the part. So what features does an affordable fridge need to have?
Features and Qualities to Look for in a Budget Refrigerator
We are happy to report that user reviews for the majority of the inexpensive fridges we considered for our picks show owners are fairly satisfied with the fridges’ ability to keep food well preserved. We did land on a few complaints on freezers that frosted up and others that tend to warm, but not too serious for the food to spoil.
Affordable or not, your fridge must have enough storage space for your fresh and frozen foods, ingredients, and treats. According to Consumer Reports, a family of four needs a fridge with 19 to 22 cubic feet of usable storage.
The distribution of the storage space also matters. Since your options in the budget segment tip heavily towards top freezer and bottom freezer fridges, you have to be content with a one-third to two-thirds space ratio between the freezer and the fresh food compartment.
For most people, having a freezer that’s smaller than the fridge compartment works OK. But if you store most of your food frozen, you may be forced to consider the more expensive fridge styles that have more freezer storage.
Top freezer fridges, which will be your cheapest option, have the freezer at eye level. This isn’t always convenient as your most frequently used items will usually be in the refrigerator compartment below.
Having to crouch down every time you want to get drinking water or milk may not be the best form of physical exercise. In this case, a bottom freezer fridge is a better option, albeit a more expensive one. A side-by-side fridge is even better as it places both the freezer and fresh food compartment at eye level, although the capacity isn’t always evenly split.
Although not all models will have it, gallon door storage bins are now fairly standard. These bins not only expand storage but are a more convenient storage solution for tall items like your wine, milk, and juice bottles.
Fridges in the lower end of the market, however, don’t come with flexible storage solutions. Yes, the shelves may be adjustable/removable, but it’s unlikely there will be flexi-drawers, integrated bottle shelves, and foldable shelves.
There will be a way to adjust the temperature inside your fridge, but you are not going to find a top freezer fridge that displays specific temperature readings outside of the fridge.
The dial for adjusting temperature will be inside the fridge compartment. This means you will have to open the fridge to adjust the temperature. Instead of setting actual temperatures, you also can only adjust between ‘low’, ‘medium’, and ‘high’ settings.
Although the design for top and bottom freezer fridges isn’t meant to turn heads, modern models now come with some aesthetic features that can even include a fingerprint-proof stainless steel finish.
What you can be certain of, however, is that your fridge will be built to last. Manufacturers have had decades to perfect these designs and know which hinge designs and materials are the strongest as well as which finishes have the best rust resistance, among other quality factors.
It’s perfectly normal for a fridge to make some noise, which comes across as a humming sound. That sound actually comes from the compressor that is responsible for cycling the refrigerant. That said, the noise shouldn’t be so loud as to be distracting.
It should be noted that modern fridges also have thermostats that turn off the compressor when the fridge reaches a specific temperature. So there are times the fridge is actually quiet because the compressor isn’t running.
Fridges in the lower end of the market aren’t traditionally known for low noise. But ou research show that top and bottom freezer fridges from the leading brands hum along without much of a noise.
Choosing an energy-efficient fridge model can save you hundreds of dollars a year in electricity bills. The challenge for budget-sensitive consumers is how to resist the short-term savings of choosing a cheap fridge that isn’t as energy efficient against one that has a higher sticker price and yet uses less energy.
Choose a fridge with an Energy Star rating, which is guaranteed to use no more than 20 percent over the federal recommendation for energy usage. These fridges are usually more expensive but the high-cost price is offset by the energy savings you will enjoy over the life of the fridge.
Proper sizing is also important when shopping for a refrigerator. Buying an oversized fridge wastes energy and leaves too much space unutilized. Some premium features also use more energy than a value fridge would. For example, automatic defrosting also uses more energy than manual defrosting.
Some fridge styles are also more energy-efficient than others, with bottom freezers being the most efficient. So you are already saving money by buying a bottom freezer over a less energy-efficient side-by-side fridge.
Even though your fridge is almost guaranteed to not take up a lot of space for the mere reason it is likely to be a top or bottom freezer, you should still make sure it will fit your space. If yours is a built-in kitchen, make sure the fridge fits the cutout and that it leaves at least an inch behind and on top of the fridge for ventilation.
Even before it gets to your kitchen, the fridge needs to fit through the door and whatever route it will take to the kitchen. So measure everything to avoid any nasty surprises on delivery day.
Warranties on refrigerators rarely run longer than one year. And these are also limited warranties that are subject to terms and conditions. Regardless, this seems to be the standard for refrigerators.
For sealed components like compressors, evaporators, and condensers, some manufacturers are happy to offer warranties as long as 10 years. So it may be worthwhile choosing a fridge with such a warranty.
5 Best Value Refrigerators Review
Top freezers are the classic budget saver refrigerators. But you will be surprised at the other bargains that can be had with a bit of shopping. The fridges we will review make great options for buyers on a strict budget as well as those looking for a secondary fridge for their garage.
For our picks of the best budget refrigerator deals, we compared actual sales on the major online retailer and read both editorial and owner reviews. Let’s get shopping!
With this top freezer offering from Frigidaire, looks truly can be deceiving. It looks small at first glance but, open it, and you will be surprised by how roomy it is inside. That it is small enough to fit in most spaces is, in fact, one of the reasons it is so popular with buyers. How popular?
The Home Depot has sold a shipload of these fridges. Over 14,000 buyers have left reviews, with over 12,000 of them happy enough to give at least 4 stars. Editorial reviewers have also written glowingly about the fridge’s excellent energy efficiency and temperature consistency.
Since we are talking of cheap fridges, at prices that can go as low as $600 you are not likely to do much better than this fridge. But what are you giving up for the low price?
There certainly is no storage capacity to spare. But the fridge makes up for it in other ways, like the humidity-controlled crisper drawers that keep your fruits and veggies fresh and delicious.
We also like the gallon door storage bin that is roomy and tall enough for your milk bottles and a clear dairy bin that keeps your butter and margarine well organized.
Among the less complimentary reviews by some buyers is that the white color is somewhat dated, but it still remains clean and practical. If you live alone, in a camper, or in a small apartment, this fridge will be just about perfect.
Not big enough for an average family’s Thanksgiving holiday food storage needs, but this fridge is as close to the premium ranks as a top freezer fridge will get. We are talking of a fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel finish and a versatile fridge compartment that converts from fridge to freezer
The option to expand freezer storage space is endlessly convenient. So is the automatic ice maker that produces up to 3.7 lbs. of ice per day. Samsung also promises that the no-frost technology it uses on this fridge truly reduces frosting, which is a major concern with fridges in this category. The one concern is that the ice maker does eat into the already limited freezer storage.
If the black stainless steel finish does not quite match your kitchen’s decor theme, you can choose the white or regular stainless steel options. Staying with looks, we love the recessed/reversible handles. We also feel the reversible hinge/swing was a thoughtful design touch.
While the fridge doesn’t deliver a lot of space inside, the slide & reach pantry that neatly tucks away when you don’t need it, and the flexizone mean the storage is more flexible than is standard in this category. The compact size also gives the fridge the versatility to fit in almost any space.
This fridge is a great fit for small families and empty nesters with not a lot of groceries to pack in. The Home Depot where the fridge starts at $949 and is frequently on special has had over 700 buyers give this fridge the maximum 5 stars.
This side-by-side fridge from GE may not be everyone’s idea of cheap, but for all it packs in it’s certainly affordable. The 25.3 cubic feet of storage is generous for its price. Also not common in the $1,500 range is a through-the-door water dispenser that places your drinking water where you can easily access it.
The advantage of the side-by-side fridge configuration is it allows you to have your frequently used items at a level that’s most comfortable for you, whether you keep them fresh or frozen.
GE appliances are trusted for their build quality and performance, and this GE GSS25GSHSS does so at a more affordable price. It comes with features you would normally expect at prices significantly higher than this.
Among the fridge’s noteworthy features are a factory-installed Arctica icemaker with a special access door, multi-level crisper drawers that keep your fresh fruits and veggies separated at their most optimum temperatures.
Worried the little ones may leave the doors open, which increases energy consumption for a fridge style not known for efficiency? There is an audible door alarm for that. In terms of storage, the glass shelves are adjustable, spill-proof, slide-out, and benefit from an integrated shelf support system. For your taller items, the door bins are also adjustable.
LED lighting keeps the whole fridge well-lit, while the upfront electronic control panel displays precise temperature levels. The downside is the fridge isn’t as energy-efficient.
Don’t we all wish we could afford a top-of-the-line French door fridge? Well, depending on where and when you shop the fridge isn’t necessarily out of reach. Admittedly, this fridge – in a gorgeous black stainless steel finish – isn’t cheap as in a low price. But it is certainly an affordable French door fridge when you consider its many premium features.
This fridge comes with ample storage, with options that include two crisper drawers that keep your fruit and vegetables fresh and tasty. Under these humidity-controlled crispers is a full-width drawer for your party platters, sheet cakes, and large pizzas.
The adjustable half-width fridge shelves are purposely designed to provide an extra storage solution for tall items that you can’t find space for in the gallon door bins. These shelves are also spill-proof to localize messes and reduce the cleaning burden.
Your drinking water, accessible via a through-the-door dispenser, is filtered clean using the PureSource Ultra II Ice & Water Filtration System. Getting items from the freezer isn’t a hassle because the drawers glide out smoothly and fully extend.
Fridge manufacturers are notorious for charging an arm and a leg for extra features that don’t add much to the appliance’s primary function. Smart fridges are the latest such feature that many consumers aren’t convinced they should be overpaying for. But what if we told you that a smart fridge can be had for around $2,000?
This Samsung French door fridge comes with all the standard premium features, including a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish, through-the-door water/ice dispenser, high-efficiency LED lighting, and a FlexZoneDrawer with 4 different temperature settings. WiFi connectivity and Bixby – Samsung appliances’ voice assistant help unlock the full potential of the appliance.
WiFi connectivity allows you to remotely monitor the fridge and to adjust the temperature using your smartphone. However, whether the computer board lasts the full life of the fridge is a common area of concern for buyers.
A no-frills top freezer 16-20 cubic feet capacity fridge should cost anything between $500 and $700. With more capacity and more premium styles, prices will quickly climb and will pass the $3,000 mark for the full-feature French door models.
All the major big-box retailers and refrigerator dealers regularly hold refrigerator specials where they discount old stock. In fact, you are bound to find a good fridge on sale at retailers like The Home Depot, Best Buy, Walmart, and Costco, whatever time of the year it is. And you don’t have to go from every local store to the next. Simply shop their online stores from the comfort of your home.
According to owner surveys, refrigerators last 7 to 8 years on average. Most manufacturers build them to last at least 10 years. In truth, many refrigerators will continue to work for much longer than that, even though they may do so less efficiently.
The best times to buy refrigerators at a discount are around holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th Of July, which is around the time manufacturers also turn over the previous year’s models. Retailers also time their own specials around these times to clear warehouse space. If you time your purchase well, you can get as much as 50 percent off the sticker price.
Seasonal sales and holiday specials aren’t the only ways to save money when buying a new refrigerator. Search manufacturer and retailer websites for rebates and deals on specific fridge models. Another good place to look for rebates is your local power utility and energystar.gov where rebates are often offered for buying Energy Star-certified refrigerators.
Not every refrigerator on sale will be a fit for your needs. But you can be sure if you look in the right places, you should find one that is. Our picks fit people with specific needs but aren’t at all exhaustive.
We are confident that at least one of those will meet your needs. But if you can stretch your budget a little, we feel the Frigidaire FFHB2750TD 36 Inch French Door is an excellent, economical buy.