You’ve come here looking for a detailed explanation of all the aspects to consider before buying a new refrigerator. And you can rest assured that you’ll be getting just that. We’ve created this buying guide keeping in mind everything that one must know to understand the all-important kitchen appliance. These days, refrigerators do so much more than just keeping our food fresh, and it’s imperative to understand all these features before making a decision. Here are all the aspects you should consider before purchasing a new refrigerator.
The capacity of a refrigerator is measured in litres. The range from the lowest capacity to the highest has grown exponentially these days. But for you to be able to decide your requirement, one key factor needs to be considered – the size of your family. This determines the amount of food you will be keeping inside your fridge. For a couple with one child, a 150 to 250-litre refrigerator should suffice. For a larger family of four to five people, you might want to go for a 250 to 500-litre one. But if it’s a family of four comprising of two adults and two children, a 250 to 350-litre fridge is good enough. Large families of six to seven people will of course require a big refrigerator with a capacity of anywhere between 550 to 850 litres. On the other end of the spectrum, you have refrigerators with capacities of 40 to 100 litres. These are the best fit if you live alone. Sometimes, you might require a higher capacity despite not having many family members, so it’s always advisable to consider your requirements in detail before deciding the capacity.
The amount of space available in your house is also a big consideration while choosing your fridge. You can always read the measurements of the refrigerator of your choice and see whether it fits in your available space. While doing this, don’t forget to consider that the fridge doors will also need some space in order to be opened freely, and you’ll need at least an inch of space at the top and back to allow heat to escape easily. Sometimes, bringing the fridge inside your house can also be a hassle due to the shortage of space in a starcaise or elevator. This is a major aspect to consider before buying the model of your choice.
Defrosting: Direct cool vs Frost free
All fridges require cool air circulation inside their compartments. When it comes to direct cool options, this circulation is handled through natural convection, without any external help. A major disadvantage of this method is uneven distribution, which leads to the forming of ice in the refrigerator. You hence need to manually defrost the fridge regularly. A few advantages of this technology are the fact they these refrigerators are economical and consume less electricity.
The name frost free itself tells us that there’s no frost or ice to deal with. These refrigerators circulate the cool air evenly with the help of electric fans. This method does not allow ice to form inside the compartments, and hence does not subject your food to freezer burn. But they are more expensive than direct cool refrigerators, and consume more electricity due to their usage of fans.
Types of Refrigerators
Depending upon their sizes and the way they are built, refrigerators can be classified into five main types:
1. Single door
As the name suggests, these refrigerators have just one door, and range from a capacity of 150 to 250 litres. These are the most economical options available out there, and apart from fridge space, even offer modest freezer space. Single door refrigerators are mostly direct cool in nature, but even this is changing nowadays with many companies introducing a digital auto defrost option on their models.
These feature two doors, one on top of the other. While the upper compartment is reserved for the freezer, the lower one is meant for regular use. This way, you get more freezer space to use. A double door fridge usually has a capacity of 250 to 500 litres. Such refrigerators are also built to use less energy, and they are always frost free in nature. Double door models are energy efficient, and they ship with toughened glass shelves too.
3. Triple door
Triple door refrigerators are taller and slimmer than other models, and are great for homes with less floor space. They come in capacities of 250 to 350 litres. The door at the top is for the freezer, the middle one is for regular use and the lower one is a crisper – aka vegetable drawer. Triple door models come with frost free technology and toughened glass shelves.
4. Side by side
Side by side refrigerators are the most expensive models out there, and hence are equipped with the latest technologies. With capacities ranging from 550 to 850 litres, these refrigerators offer huge storage space with several different sections. Some even come with water and ice dispensers in the front. They are of course frost free in nature, and come with toughened glass shelves.
Mini refrigerators are tiny in size and just offer basic cooling for keeping your food fresh. They can be up to 100 litres in capacity. They might have a very small freezer integrated into them, but this is not always the case. They are always direct cool in nature.
EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) or star ratings are given to appliances signify how energy efficient they are. The higher the star rating, the more energy efficient they will be. If you wish to go deeper into this aspect, you should look for the total units of electricity (kWh) that your model will use in a year. A 1-star rating for a refrigerator will offer around Rs 300 in savings per year, while a 2-star rating will save you around Rs 800 a year. A 3-star rating is even better, as it offers savings of up to Rs 1,200 a year, while a 4-star rating ensures that you save around Rs 1,500 a year. As for a 5-star rating, it will deliver savings of up to Rs 1,800 a year. One should always look for a blue and green coloured Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) symbol to ensure the authenticity of the EER tag.
Compressors are responsible for maintaining the temperatures inside the fridge. One should note that smaller fridges usually come with general compressors, while medium and large-sized refrigerators ship with inverter compressors.
These compressors start off at very high speeds, and then continue running at a constant speed. This way, even if there is no cooling loss, they will keep running at the same speed and switch off only when optimum cooling is reached. This is why you hear a ‘tick’ sound from your refrigerator every now and then.
Inverter compressors are adaptable in nature, in the sense that they can run at varying speeds depending on the amount of cooling that is required. They start at low speeds, and speed up only when there’s a loss in cooling. This allows them to be more energy efficient.
There are plenty of additional features that modern refrigerators offer to make your lives easier. Let’s have a look at the main ones among them:
1. Water/ice dispensers
Water and ice dispensers are found mostly on side by side models. They allow you to grab cold water or ice cubes without opening the fridge. You can simply press your glass against an inbuilt lever to dispense cold water or ice.
2. Toughened glass shelves
If long-term use of your refrigerator is a priority, always look for models with toughened glass shelves. They are more durable than plastic shelves, and can take more weight.
3. Convertible fridges
Some refrigerators offer convertible technology, and are incredibly useful if you’re constantly running out of space in your fridge. That’s because they allow you to easily convert the freezer compartment into fridge space.
4. Adjustable shelving
Brought a large cake for a birthday party and have no space to keep it in the fridge? Adjustable shelves come to the rescue at such times, as you can remove a few to allow bigger items to be stored.
5. Cool pack
Cool pack is a feature that’s capable of keeping the freezer cool for up to 12 hours without any power supply. Such refrigerators are very handy in areas where there are constant power cuts.
6. Voltage stabiliser
If you live in areas where there are frequent voltage fluctuations, a refrigerator with a built-in voltage stabiliser is the best choice. These models can protect the compressor from high voltage fluctuations.
Deodorisers remove odour from your fridge with the use of powerful filters. This ensures that there’s no foul smell coming from the fridge each time you open it.
Modern refrigerators are being equipped with plenty of smart features to bring them in line with the IoT progression. Smartphone integration is one thing, but some models even come with huge displays of their own that showcase stuff like tasks, calendars, photos, videos and more. In India, there are a handful of smart refrigerators available from Samsung and LG, but these will set you back a couple of lakhs.
We hope this refrigerator buying guide helped you in your endeavor to buy a new fridge. If you have any related questions, feel free to drop a comment in the box below. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our television buying guide, washing machine buying guide and laptop buying guide.