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Aztec's Cool Refrigerator Buying Guide [Bonus: Freezers!]

by Pam Silvia

Our experts at Aztec Appliance have a question for you: Have you reassessed the state of your fridge lately? Across all refrigerator types, the average refrigerator lifespan is said to be approximately 13 years. What’s more, if your refrigerator was originally purchased more than 16 years ago, it could be using twice the amount of energy as most Energy Star models—and costing you an additional 300 dollars on your utility bills annually.

If you’re in the market for a new fridge, we created a refrigerator buying guide just for you. Brimming with information, including refrigerator types, price points, and must-have features, this blog is bound to point you toward an informed purchase—and find the best refrigerator for you and your family.

At a Glance:

Types of Refrigerators

Refrigerator Sizes and Dimensions

Other Refrigerator Features to Look Out For

Types of Refrigerators

First things first: Let’s find your style. We’ve listed the most popular refrigerator types from our catalog along with their price points—as well as some pros and cons for each.

French Door Refrigerator

This refrigerator style entails two side-by-side fridge doors and one or two bottom freezer drawers. French door refrigerators are more energy-efficient compared to models with just one door since less cold air escapes the appliance when opened, keeping your foods more chilled for longer. In addition, thanks to its unpartitioned space, the fridge compartment can fit larger items, like party platters. And the two narrow French doors require less clearance on either side of the appliance since the potential outswing is not as obstructive.

On the other hand, some consumers find ice dispensers in the freezer drawer inconvenient, as they limit the amount of storage space; however, many French door fridges are stocked with a water and ice dispenser on the exterior of one of the doors for easier access. Compared to traditional styles, these models are among the most expensive, falling under an upper mid-end to high-end price bracket of $1,500 to $2,700.

Related Article: All About Our Top Rated French Door Refrigerators [FAQ]

Pictured: LG 29.7 Cu. Ft. PrintProof™ Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator (LRFVS3006S)

Side-by-Side Refrigerator

Like a French door model, this refrigerator type entails two vertical doors, but instead of having a bottom freezer, its freezer is right next to the fridge compartment—taking up roughly half of the appliance. Ideal for small kitchens, side-by-side refrigerators require less space on either side of the appliance for door outswings. In addition, with a maximum refrigerator width of approximately 40 inches, side-by-side models boast the largest interior capacity, enabling bulk purchases since freezer capacity is greater.

That said, be warned that, because both compartments are narrower, this model may not be able to hold wide (or oddly shaped) items, including pizza boxes and party platters, on the shelves. Among the pricier options, the average side-by-side model is valued at around $1,800.

Pictured: GE® Profile™ Series 21.94 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel Counter-Depth Side-By-Side Refrigerator (PZS22MSKSS)

Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator

True to its name, a bottom-freezer fridge entails a drawer freezer at the lower level. Hailed for its convenient organization, this refrigerator style lets you access the items you reach for the most often, without straining your back and neck. Compared to its top-freezer counterpart, this style has a larger interior capacity in the freezer compartment.

Unfortunately, while you are not forced to bend down to reach refrigerated items (see: Top Freezer Refrigerator), if you want that post-dinner ice cream, your body is going to have to work for it.

This option is solidly a mid-end purchase, as upfront costs range between $1,000 and $1,800.

Related Article: Top Freezer vs Bottom Freezer Refrigerator: Which Are Better

Pictured: GE® Series 20.9 Cu. Ft. Bottom Freezer Refrigerator - Stainless Steel (GBE21DSKSS)

Top-Freezer Refrigerator

This tried-and-true style entails a larger fridge compartment at the lower level. The top-freezer refrigerator is the most popular by virtue of its affordability, as most models are typically priced between $500 and $800.

Among its drawbacks, a top-freezer fridge may force you to bend your body to retrieve or load items in the fridge compartment toward the bottom, which is the cavity we access the most. Due to their positions, bottom shelves and crisper drawers can be a pain to open, shut, and clean.

Pictured: Samsung 18 Cu. Ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator - Black Stainless Steel (RT18M6215SG)

Freezerless Refrigerator

This style only entails a fridge compartment; the freezerless fridge is ideal if you’re looking to maximize fridge space and keep a separate freezer. This category encapsulates compact refrigerators as well as full-sized refrigerators—the price range varies accordingly.

Pictured: Monogram® 17.58 Cu. Ft. Custom Panel Integrated Column Refrigerator (ZIR301NPNII)

Refrigerator Sizes and Dimensions

To determine the ideal capacity for your prospective purchase, we recommend looking at the size of your family. Will your family be growing soon? Are you always the host for family gatherings?

Experts opine that each adult will need at least 4 to 6 cubic feet of refrigerator space, and a typical family of four will need at least 20 cubic feet of capacity—and likely more as your family grows and as long as holidays continue to be celebrated.

In the case that you have many mouths to feed (or just several very hungry family members), not having enough fridge or freezer space is a major inconvenience. Large-capacity fridges are typically evaluated as such if they offer 25 to 29 cubic feet of volume. And if your space can afford your ambition and necessity for more, ultra-large capacity starts at 30 cubic feet.

Now, onto measuring!

Measure the Kitchen Space

Ideally, your first bout of measurements should denote the full extent of the available space you hope to partially fill with your new fridge.

As you assess the height, width, and depth of the space (as applicable) with a tape measure, be sure to take several measurements from different locations in case your cabinets or floors are uneven.

Measure the Ventilation Space

To help the refrigerator run efficiently (and last its full lifespan), air must be able to circulate around the box to avoid overheating. Industry experts assess that a fridge requires at least: two (2) inches from the back wall, one (1) inch of overhead space, and an 1/8 of an inch on either side of the fridge.

As you’re shopping our inventory, subtract these minimum clearances from your initial measurements to discover the maximum dimensions for fridge models that are compatible with your kitchen.

We recommend checking the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding ventilation space for each contending option and adjusting your measurements accordingly—as well as noting other considerations for installation, like whether you need to add a water line. This information can be found on our product pages as you scroll down.

Measure the Refrigerator Door

In addition, as you’re narrowing your selections, remember to note the measurements of each model’s doors.

If you’re zeroing in on a bottom-freezer drawer, be sure to take the angle of the door outswing and the drawer path. Such forethought will ensure there is enough room in front of the fridge to accommodate the unit when it is open.

Across all refrigerator types, try to visualize your body position relative to the door outswing or drawer path. Will there be enough space for you to stand in front of the unit with the door open? By the same token, make sure there aren’t other potential obstructions. If you have a kitchen island, for instance, you want to make sure it won't block the door outswing. And if there is surrounding cabinetry, you should make sure the door(s) will clear the cabinet on either side.

And for your final words of wisdom: Door hinges may add an inch (or more) of refrigerator height, so it’s important to see if the hinge can operate without scraping your wall or overhead cabinet. In this case, you may need to pull the unit farther out from the wall so that the hinges have clearance.

What is the Standard Refrigerator Size?

Well, it depends on the refrigerator type. Here are the standard dimensions for the most popular configurations:

French Door:


<>Bottom Freezer:

Top Freezer:

Other Refrigerator Features to Look Out For

Here are bonus features worth considering as you hunt down your next refrigerator.

Related Article: Top 6 Refrigerators San Diego Locals Love

Energy Efficiency

It goes without saying that energy conservation is a worthwhile pursuit as far as both your wallet and the planet are concerned.

Since energy efficiency in refrigerators comes down to the amount of cold air escaping the appliance, we recommend investing in a model that maximizes energy with improved insulation and compressors. Just look out for the Energy Star label!

Water Dispenser

A built-in water dispenser within your fridge is awfully convenient. Many French Door and side-by-side refrigerators feature a water (and sometimes, ice) dispenser on the exterior of the appliance while certain top-freezer and bottom-freezer models may host one inside the fridge compartment.

WiFi Connectivity

The possibilities are endless with a smart refrigerator. Thanks to WiFi connectivity, you can remotely monitor the contents of your fridge, keep track of expiration dates, easily compile a shopping list, and control other home automation devices—all from your smartphone.

Some refrigerators come with a touchscreen panel on the door (including many Samsung options) that allows you to create a virtual bulletin board for family memos and view recipes as well as video tutorials.

It should be noted that smart features vary across brands and models, so be sure to read user manuals closely to see whether a product has some or all these capabilities.

Let Us Help You

Don’t lose your cool—let our refrigerator buying guide help you find the right appliance for your home. Not only that, but our friendly staff is always happy to help. Call or visit us today! More available than ever, our experts can also be reached via chat.