As the largest appliance in the home, a refrigerator is a basic necessity and is often a young consumer's first major appliance purchase.
With proper care and maintenance, refrigerators can operate for 15 years or more, so you may want to plan ahead for change in family size over the years.
Are you in the market for a refrigerator? Evaluate features and extras before you buy.
The most popular model may be the two-door, top-freezer design. Bottom freezer units put fresh food at eye level and frozen items below, while side-by-side models have narrow doors that open at the center.
Newer on the market are three-door models, also called "French door" styles, that feature side-by-side doors on the top refrigerator and a freezer on the bottom.
Which door style is best for you? It really comes down to personal preference and the types of foods you buy and store in a refrigerator or freezer.
Refrigerators also vary widely in size and required clearance space. Very small models might be perfect for a small apartment while large homes may benefit from large models with separate freezer and refrigerator units.
When replacing a refrigerator, measure the height, width, and depth of your existing space, and take those dimensions with you when you shop.
Cabinet-depth refrigerators are shallower models that extend from the wall about as far as standard cabinet front (though handles may protrude farther). These can be a boon for small kitchens and can look sleeker than models that extend beyond countertops, blocking traffic flow or a doorway.
Average refrigerator capacity ranges between 9 and 30 cubic feet. A family of two needs 8 to 10 cubic feet of fresh-food space. Add an extra cubic foot for each additional family member.
Freezer space: A family of two needs 4 cubic feet of freezer space. Add 2 cubic feet for each additional person. Increase the freezer space if you stock frozen products or shop infrequently. Top and bottom freezers offer the most storage flexibility. Side-by-side models may offer more total storage space, but sometimes it's difficult to store large or wide items in them.
Continued on page 2: Features to Look For