How to Buy a Kitchen Refrigerator

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I grew up in Needham, Massachusetts in a family of 5. Our refrigerator was an Amana 23 cubic foot top mount. It had the kitchen panels installed on it.

At that time Amana was the best refrigerator you could buy, and top mounts were the most popular refrigerators. The refrigerator protruded 10 inches into the kitchen, but at that time every product did protrude.

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Flash forward 35 years, refrigerators have completely changed in almost every aspect from prices to configuration. We will look at the reasons for the changes and what you should look for in your new refrigerator.

How to Buy a Refrigerator

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Energy Standards

Look at this mammoth of a refrigerator, it is 800 pounds with a 30-cubic foot interior. This refrigerator uses less energy than a 75-watt bulb. Energy laws have been particularly stringent for manufacturers especially for refrigerators.

Sub-Zero Pro 48


My family’s 23 cubic foot refrigerator couldn’t exist today. In fact, the trend towards more energy efficient French door bottom mounts and integrated refrigerators is a direct result of energy law compliance.

That said, lets’ look at what you should know before buying a refrigerator.


Refrigerators follow the size of cabinet widths. The average size of a refrigerator is 24, 30, 33, 36, 42 and 48 inches with 30 and 36 inches being the most popular.

However, heights and depths have changed as refrigerators have become taller. If you are replacing a refrigerator, measure the space, not the existing refrigerator.

You also want to measure the points of entry on delivery because your hallways and doorways may not accommodate a new refrigerator. We perform free site checks of your space in the Metro and Boston area.

Here is a delivery checklist to help you with other aspects of delivery.

Counter Depth vs. Regular Depth

Counter depth looks better. You will not see the textured sides of the refrigerator, but you lose usable cubic footage in depth.


There are three types of counter depth: regular or a less deep refrigerator, professional with a compressor or an integrated counter depth refrigerator, which is even shallower and made to fit seamlessly with your cabinets.

Now that you understand the different depths of refrigerators there are, you are ready to look brands and types.


The most popular refrigerator is a French door with the refrigerator on the top and freezer on the bottom. There are many types. There are two drawer, French doors, as well as 4 doors and, now, 5 drawers.


You would have to assess how much freezer versus refrigerator space is needed before choosing a type.

Top mounts are inexpensive and have good usable size. The suddenly less popular side-by-sides have more freezer capacity and are less expensive than French door refrigerators.


Fifteen years ago, Whirlpool owned the French door market, but now, Samsung and LG have very compelling technical products, from internet-ready products to different 4-door refrigerators with sleek style.

When Should you buy it

The best time to buy is always around national holidays like President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Black Friday.


Well, you will save tons of money replacing your current refrigerator. The flip side is reliability has dropped for refrigeration. Be prepared to call service within 5 years.

For more information, read our post on French door refrigerator’s reliability.

Final Thoughts

If you have not replaced your refrigerator in 10 years or so, it is almost a whole new assortment. However, the most important key factor is knowing the size you need for your home.

After that, choose the product most suited to your preferences. Do you use more freezer or refrigerator space? Do you want counter depth or do you need more cubic footage?

You, at the very least, have plenty of options. 

Additional Resources

Download the Yale Refrigerator Buying Guide with features, specs and inside buying tips on all refrigerators. Well over 200,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

View our Refrigerator Buying Guide

Why Should You Trust Us?

It seems that every appliance review has nothing but glowing comments about almost every product, yet you read customer reviews and they are almost universally bad.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll give you the best features, and the drawbacks as well, including reliability based on over 37,000 calls performed by our service team just last year. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.

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