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Top freezer or bottom freezer? Smart capabilities or French doors? Choosing a refrigerator isn't just a matter of picking the nicest one within your budget. It's all about defining your needs and making sure your appliance meets them so your life is easier and more efficient. If you're someone who buys a lot of frozen food at the store, then a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer model may be the best fit for you. If your kitchen is small and space is limited, then compact fridges may be more in your wheelhouse.
Luckily, there are tons of options on the market, so you never have to settle for a refrigerator that only meets some of your needs. From reversible doors, to water and ice dispensers, and low-level shelves that make it easy for kids to grab their own snack, the modern design of these appliances has thought of it all.
Here, the best refrigerators on the market, across every style and budget.
Best Overall: GE GSS25GSHSS 25.3 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator with Ice and Water Dispenser
Ice and water dispenser
Freezer could use more storage options
Can be noisy
When it comes to function, appearance, and cost, you won’t find a better model than the GE GSS25GSHSS. This model has a spacious 25.3-cubic-foot interior, with the fresh food side being designated 15.7 cubic feet of this space, and the freezer 9.7 cubic feet. Overall, it measures 36 x 32.75 x 69.5 inches and can be installed in your home at a standard depth.
This appliance combines its functional build with a timeless appearance that'll go well with any kitchen. The stainless steel finish is combined with adjustable spill-proof glass shelves, humidity-controlled crispers, and door bins inside. You'll love that the interior is lit by incandescent lighting, and enjoy a built-in ice and water dispenser on the freezer door that includes an advanced water filtration system.
Ultimately, this GE refrigerator is spacious, well-made, and features a thoughtful design. With an ice maker that can hold up to 10 pounds of ice, you really can’t beat this appliance and it's affordable price tag.
Best Budget: Maytag MRT118FFFH 18 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator
Has a deli drawer
Comes in three finishes
No ice maker
No ice or water dispenser
Modern refrigerators can get quite pricey. However, there are some high-quality models that cost less than $1,000, including the Maytag MRT118FFFH. It has a top freezer, and 18 cubic feet of space to store your fresh and frozen goods. It's not equipped with an ice maker or water dispenser, but does provide a functional design and user experience.
This fridge has three glass shelves inside, along with a gallon's worth of storage on its door. There's a pull-out drawer specifically designed for deli, and you can control the temperature using precise, internal, digital controls. On top of these little, luxe details, you'll enjoy this model's LED lighting in both sections—which makes it easy to find ingredients for lunch or dinner. All in all, this fridge delivers the basics plus a little more at a decent price, and won't operate too loud either.
Best French Door: Whirlpool WRF555SDFZ 24.7 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator with Ice and Water Dispenser
Factory-installed ice maker
Has a stylish build
Ice and water dispenser
Can be noisy
Modern amenities meet an upscale design in this French door refrigerator. With a stainless steel exterior, two swinging doors, and a bottom freezer, it's no stranger to functionality or style. Although it doesn't come with the technology features of other models—such as WiFi capability—it does provide thoughtful storage in the refrigerator and freezer portions. The refrigerator is 18 cubic feet in size, which is plenty of space for a large family or a couple week's worth of groceries.
The freezer portion offers a little under 7 cubic feet of storage for your meats, ice cream, or tubs of homemade tomato sauce. It has a two-layer design, so you can organize your goods by how much you use them. Fill the two sliding bins with the items you need to access most, and then tuck the others below. The interior LED lighting in both the refrigerator and freezer compartments ensures you're able to see your food, and grab it quickly.
Now, despite its high price tag, this Whirlpool model isn't perfect. It can be noisy, especially if its factory-installed ice maker is making ice. If you're willing to deal with a bit of noise though, you'll find this appliance to be convenient, stylish, and an upgrade.
Best Side-by-Side: Whirlpool WRS321SDHZ 21 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator
Ice and water dispenser
In-door can caddy
Drawers don't slide easily
Side-by-side refrigerators, which have the fresh food section on one side and the freezer on the other, are a solid pick for any household. They make items easy to reach and organize. The Whirlpool WRS321SDHZ takes this to the next level.
This appliance measures in at 33 x 33.6 x 66.25 inches and has a 21.4 cubic feet of space to store fresh goods. The freezer uses 6.8 cubic feet of this space. With this model, you'll enjoy amenities like an in-door can caddy, specialty deli drawer, adjustable gallon door bins, and exterior ice and water dispenser, complete with filtration. The doors open to bright, LED lights, and frameless glass shelves that let you store more items. When it comes to the exterior, the stainless steel finish is fingerprint-resistant, so it’s easy to maintain a spotless appearance.
Best Door-in-Door: GE Profile PVD28BYNFS 27.9 cu. ft. Smart 4-Door French Door Refrigerator with Door-in-Door
Swiveling door bin
Very spacious interior
Smart home compatible
Ice cubes are smaller than normal
A door-in-door refrigerator lets you access items in the door bins without opening the entire fridge. This GE Profile model takes the accessibility feature to the next level with its swiveling door bin, which can help you reach even more items than usual. It works to make your life easier in other ways, too, including the AutoFill water dispenser which senses the size of the glass you want to fill, and lets you walk away to complete other tasks while it reliably does its job. Although the ice maker does create smaller cubes than normal and dispenses them in a spraying matter at times, this model prioritizes organization by building the ice maker into the door which is game-changing.
This leaves the top refrigerator compartment with 15.7 cubic feet of space. The small, chilled drawer below is perfect for storing ready-to-go snacks for kids, or commonly reached-for items. The bottom freezer isn't the largest on the market, and the model as a whole is quite wide at nearly 36 inches. However, soft-close drawers, built-in WiFi, and the fingerprint-free finish do make this item worth its price tag. The LED light wall, which illuminates the interior of the fridge from the back, is also a feature you probably wouldn't look for but makes your experience better.
Best Counter-Depth: Samsung RF24R7201SR 23 cu. ft. Counter-Depth 4-Door French Door Refrigerator
Has a flexible compartment
Ice and water dispenser
Some people don’t like when their refrigerator sticks out past the counters, and if you feel the same way, you’ll want to get a counter-depth appliance like this one from Samsung. The RF24R7201SR has all the modern features you could ever want, and its slim profile will create a seamless look with your counters.
The counter-depth Samsung fridge is 36 x 28.5 x 68.8 inches—with a fresh food capacity of 13 cubic feet, and freezer capacity of 6.5 cubic feet. It also features a FlexZone drawer that has four temperature settings and an adjustable divider, so you can expand your fridge or freezer to your liking. The adjustable shelving can flip up to allow more storage for large items. In addition, this appliance is Energy Star-certified to help you save electricity and comes in three fingerprint-resistant finishes, making it perfect for families.
Best Smart: LG Electronics LFXS26973S 26.2 cu. ft. French Door Smart Refrigerator with Wi-Fi Enabled
French door design
Can be controlled via a smartphone
Ice maker can be noisy
Dispenser isn't lit well
Smart appliances are a common addition to modern homes. If you're in looking to add one to yours, so you can control the temperature of your fridge with your phone, you should check out the LG Electronics LFXS26973S. With WiFi and a French door design, it's certainly high-end and will make your kitchen feel like a luxe space. To make use of the smart design, adjust the temperature with voice commands, receive notifications if the door is open, and diagnose issues from a remote location with your smartphone.
This fridge is 36 x 32.4 x 69.75 inches, with a fridge capacity of 17.4 cubic feet and a freezer space that’s 8.8 cubic feet. It’s Energy Star-certified and features dual ice makers both in the door and freezer compartment. If you typically host friends and family, you'll enjoy how the water and ice dispenser is tall enough to accommodate large containers. In addition, any home can benefit from various organizational features within the fridge, that give you tons of space to store all your food.
Best Compact: Frigidaire FFET1022UV 10.1 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator
Plenty of storage options
No deli drawer or butter keeper
No ice maker
Don't have enough room for a full-size refrigerator? No problem! The Frigidaire FFET1022UV is a compact option. This fridge is more spacious than a traditional mini fridge, with 7.4 cubic feet of fresh food space and 2.7 cubic feet of frozen food space.
This model has most of the same features as a full-size fridge, as well, including two clear produce crispers, two adjustable shelves, and door storage. It has the space to accommodate tall items like bottles of orange juice, and a reversible door allows the piece to swing open to the left or right. There may be no deli drawer, butter keeper, or ice maker, but this appliance is Energy Star-certified, so it will help you save electricity and bring down your bills. Overall, this compact fridge is a good choice for small kitchens, break rooms, offices, or even basements.
Best Modern: Samsung RF28R7351SG 27.8 cu. ft. Food Showcase 4-Door French Door Refrigerator
Viewing technology on door
Built-in water pitcher
Ice maker can freeze up
If you have a sleek, modern kitchen, you may want a modern refrigerator to go with it. One option is the Samsung RF28R7351SG, which has a contemporary exterior and a variety of high-tech features. This appliance has both a versatile FlexZone drawer and Food Showcase door, that lets you peek at what's inside your fridge without having to open it up. Whether you work from home and are constantly reaching for snacks, or like to meal plan before going to the store, a door like this will make your routines easier and more energy efficient.
The model measures at 36.5 x 35.75 x 70 inches, and has a fresh food capacity of 19.5 cubic feet and a freezer space of 8.3 cubic feet. You can shop for it in a sleek fingerprint-resistant finish, which adds to its modern feel. Inside, there are five spill-proof glass shelves, including one slide-out and one foldable option. It also comes with a child lock that prevents unwanted entry.
When it comes to refrigerators, there's no shortage of options. But, the GE GSS25GSHSS (view at Home Depot) is our top pick because it’s spacious, well-made, and has a variety of useful features. The built-in ice and water dispenser, quality lighting, and adjustable shelves make this piece a good fit for any household. If you’re looking for something that costs a bit less, the Maytag MRT118FFFH (view at Lowe's) is a great pick as well. Although it doesn't have an ice or water dispenser or smart features, it's spacious and features a deli drawer.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was edited and updated by Marisa Casciano, who is our large appliance expert for The Spruce. Throughout her career, she's researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, cooktops, and more in the home and lifestyle space. She's lived with both French door and top freezer refrigerators, and is very well-versed on the latest advancements in refrigerator design and technology.
Style Refrigerators come in many styles. There are two-door top freezer models, which are more traditional, or bottom freezer options, which put more commonly used refrigerated items within easy reach; a popular variation of the latter style is the French door refrigerator, but you’ll need enough space to open the wide doors. There are also four-door and showcase refrigerators, which let you take a peek inside without opening them.
Dispensers Ice and water dispensers provide convenience, but where they’re located and how they operate can vary by model. Some dispensers are external while others are inside the door. Some refrigerators only have an in-freezer ice maker without a door dispenser at all. The choice is yours, but keep in mind that an in-door dispenser may eat up some shelf space.
Size Carefully measure the space where you plan to put your refrigerator and find a model that fits. Standard refrigerators come in a range of widths, with many sized between 29 inches and 35 inches or more. Also consider whether you want a counter-depth refrigerator, which will sit about flush with the edge of your kitchen cabinets for a more custom look and open feel.
Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Refrigerator
For the vast majority of households, a refrigerator is a must-have kitchen appliance. After all, the climate-controlled interior of a fridge helps keep perishable foods fresh for longer by slowing down the reproduction rate of harmful bacteria. Without a fridge, items like dairy products, meat, and fresh fruits and vegetables would have a painfully short shelf life!
What many people don't realize is that refrigerators don't actually pump cool air into their interiors—instead, they use a somewhat complex system to remove heat from the air. Put in simplest terms, your fridge uses a coolant or refrigerant to absorb warmth from inside the fridge, then transfer the absorbed heat to the exterior of the appliance. During this process, the coolant changes chemical state, going from a liquid to a gas and back as it passes through a series of tubes both inside and on the back of the appliance. This process has been honed over the years, and today's refrigerators can dependably keep food at the recommended 37° Fahrenheit, as well as keeping freezer spaces at 0°.
Because most refrigerators function the same way, people generally make purchasing decisions based on factors such as size, design, and freezer capabilities. Some of the most popular fridge styles include side-by-side refrigerators, French door refrigerators, and top- or bottom-freezer refrigerators. However, there are other options as well, such as freezerless and compact refrigerators and specialty appliances such as wine fridges.
Read on to discover some of the key considerations you should take into account when shopping for a refrigerator, as well as the pros and cons of popular products, styles, and brands.
What to Look for When Buying a Refrigerator
There are a number of factors you should consider when shopping for a fridge, many of which will affect how you and your family use the appliance.
Dimensions: Perhaps the first thing you'll want to consider when shopping for a new fridge is the dimensions of the appliance. After all, you likely have a set space where you want your refrigerator to go, and you'll need a product that fits there.
Typically, modern refrigerators measure between 30 and 36 inches in width, 67 to 70 inches in height, and 29 to 35 inches in depth. There are also special counter-depth refrigerators, which are only 25 or 26 inches deep, allowing them to seamlessly blend in with standard cabinetry.
In addition to the overall dimensions, there are few other size considerations to take into account. For one, refrigerators typically need one inch of extra space above and behind them to ensure they’re properly ventilated. You'll also want to ensure the refrigerator door will have ample room to open without hitting a kitchen island or a wall.
Capacity: You also want to consider the interior capacity of the fridge you buy. Depending on how many people live in your household and how often you cook at home, you may need for larger or smaller capacity.
In general, it's recommended that a fridge have at least 4 to 6 cubic feet of space per adult in the household, with a little extra on top. A couple who doesn't cook very often will likely be fine with 12 to 16 cubic feet, while avid chefs and hosts will likely need 18 cubic feet or more.
When it comes to families, a larger-capacity fridge is generally better—20 cubic feet is considered the minimum for a family of four.
Freezer Orientation: The vast majority of refrigerators today come with a freezer compartment. There are a few common freezer configurations, including top- and bottom-freezers and side-by-side freezers. Each of these styles has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Top-freezer fridges are the most traditional style, and because they're not considered “modern,” they're generally the cheapest style of fridge. If you're not overly concerned about style, top freezers generally offer an impressive amount of space for a low price. On the other hand, bottom-freezer fridges are more modern in style, but boast a higher price tag. Many people find this style to be more convenient than top-freezer options, as the fridge is at eye level and the lesser-used freezer is down the bottom.
There are also side-by-side refrigerators, where the freezer takes up the entire height of the appliance. This style of refrigerator often includes an ice dispenser, and it provides a lot of usable freezer space. The downsides are that you need to have enough room to open doors in both directions, and you may not be able to fit large pans and platters into the freezer because of its tall, thin design.
Water/Ice Dispenser: Many modern fridges have in-the-door ice and water dispensers that allow you to conveniently fill up your cup. You can find options that offer both cubed and crushed ice, and some advanced options can even dispense hot or sparkling water.
The main attraction here is convenience, but there are some downsides that come along with this feature. For one, fridge models with in-the-door water and ice dispensers typically cost a few hundred dollars more. Plus, they’ll require more electricity to operate this feature.
Further, ice dispensers are known for breaking down, resulting in a higher cost of repairs over the appliance’s lifespan. Finally, depending on the style and placement of the dispenser, it may reduce the amount of storage space you have in the freezer.
Filtration: One lesser-considered feature you may want to think about is whether your refrigerator comes with filtration options. The two common types of filtration in modern appliances are water and air.
If you choose a fridge with a water and ice dispenser, it will likely have a water filter that removes impurities from the water source. However, this is often an additional expense, as you must change the filter every 6 months or so, depending on the manufacturer's recommendation.
Further, some refrigerators have air filters that will eliminate odors from the fridge. This is convenient if a musty-smelling fridge bothers you, but again, you must change the filter periodically.
Exterior Finish: While perhaps not the most important consideration, you'll likely want to find a refrigerator that’s aesthetically pleasing and matches your kitchen decor. Some common finishes include white, black, and stainless steel, but you can also find slate, bisque, and even wood finish options.
One appliance finish that has become increasingly popular in past years is smudge- and fingerprint-resistant stainless steel. This is a great option for families who have young children, as you won't need to constantly wipe down the fridge to remove marks left behind by small hands.
Advanced Features: Once you've decided on the features outlined above, you may then want to think about the various advanced options available on modern refrigerators. For instance, some fridges today have “smart” features, such as energy monitoring, voice control, built-in kitchen command centers, fridge cameras, and more.
Some of these features might be genuinely useful for you and your family, but keep in mind that high-tech functionality will likely cost you several hundred dollars—or more. As such, it's important to weigh the value of these smart features against the cost.
What Is the Best Type of Refrigerator for Me?
The following are some of the most popular styles of refrigerators, along with the pros and cons of each.
Top Freezer: Growing up, you probably had a top-freezer refrigerator, as this was the standard model for many years. You can still get these traditional fridges today, but they generally don’t have as many bells and whistles as other more modern designs.
That said, there are many benefits to having a freezer on top of your fridge. For one, the US Department of Energy has found refrigerators with a top freezer use 10 to 25 percent less energy than those with the freezer on the bottom. Plus, top freezers generally provide the most usable freezer space, as they’re the full width of the appliance and aren’t restricted by drawers.
Not to mention that top-freezer fridges are generally one of the cheapest options, as they’re not a trendy style right now. Prices start at as low as $300 and range up to $1,500 or so based on the make and model.
Bottom Freezer: It’s more common to see refrigerators with a bottom freezer today, as this style has gained popularity over the past several years. Many people like this style of appliance because it puts the frigid itself at eye-level—the rationale here is that most people use the fridge more frequently, so it should be more convenient to access.
Bottom freezers can either be swinging-door or pull-drawer styles, and there are typically baskets or shelves within the cavity. Depending on how you use your freezer space, this may be either a benefit or a downside—it certainly helps with organization, yet it restricts you from storing bigger items in the freezer.
Bottom freezer refrigerators tend to be a little more expensive than top-freezer models, starting at around $900 and ranging upward of $4,000 for high-end models.
Side-by-Side: The other popular refrigerator style is side-by-side models, where the refrigerator and freezer split the appliance vertically. As such, these appliances have two doors that swing open, so you must have room in your kitchen to accommodate them.
One of the benefits of this style of refrigerator is that both the fridge and freezer are at eye level, allowing you to access both without having to hunch over. Further, many people prefer this type of freezer space, as it prevents items from getting buried, as they often do in freezer drawers. Plus, this style of refrigerator is generally equipped with a built-in ice and water dispenser.
The downside of side-by-side refrigerators is that the appliances are often wider than other models, yet they still struggle to accommodate large plates and platters. This could potentially be a problem if you frequently host holidays or other events and need to store large dishes. Plus, as mentioned above, built-in ice dispensers have a very high rate of repair.
In terms of cost, low-end side-by-side refrigerators start at around $900, and the largest, most advanced models can cost upward of $8,000.
French Door: French door refrigerators are extremely popular today thanks to their sleek, modern design and host of high-end features. This style has a bottom freezer, as well as two fridge doors up top that swing out in either direction. Some models also come with an extra middle drawer that can be used as either a fridge or a freezer space—these products are called double-drawer fridges.
In addition to their stylish appearance, there are several benefits to French door style refrigerators. For one, you got a full-width fridge space, yet you don't have to open both doors to access items you need. Further, many have more spacious bins in their doors, and this style of fridge often comes with advanced features like home command centers and fridge cameras.
Naturally, there are several downsides to French door refrigerators. Again, some people don't like bottom freezer orientations, and this style of appliance is often very wide, so it may not fit in all kitchens. Not to mention, this is probably the most expensive style of fridge you can get, starting at around $1,200 and topping out at around $8,000.
Counter-Depth: You can typically find counter-depth fridges in all the styles mentioned above. What makes these appliances different is they're not as deep as standard refrigerators. Generally, counter-depth fridges are only 25 or 26 inches deep, allowing them to sit flush with standard cabinetry.
This style of fridge is beneficial if you want a seamless look to your kitchen, and the designated fridge space is between two sets of cabinets. The obvious downside, however, is that you're sacrificing precious storage space for a shorter depth.
Freezerless: If you store a lot of fresh food, you may prioritize fridge space over freezer space, and you might even prefer a freezerless refrigerator. These appliances, which solely contain fridge space, are not as common, but you can find several models ranging from around $500 to $2,000, depending on the quality.
Compact/Mini Fridge: If you don't need a full refrigerator or simply don't have room for one, you may want to consider a compact or miniature fridge. These smaller appliances are often used in man caves, garages, offices, and dorm rooms—anywhere you might need to keep food and drinks cold but don’t need a full-on fridge.
There are a variety of mini fridge shapes and sizes available, so you're sure to find one that fits your space. Some contain fridge space only, while others have a small freezer compartment, as well. Small, basic options can cost as little as $80, but there are also high-end mini-fridges available with price tags of $1,000 or more
Wine Fridge: If you're a wine enthusiast, you may want to consider a refrigerator that's designed especially for your favorite beverage. These appliances will keep your wine at a precise temperature, and you can choose from small units that hold a few bottles to large, expensive models that can hold dozens.
As you shop for a wine fridge, you may want to consider models that have multi-zone temperature control, as this will allow you to store different types of wine at their ideal temperature.
Small wine fridges run around $100, while more advanced, spacious models can cost upwards of $1,000. It all depends on how much you love your wine!
The following are some of the most trusted refrigerator brands today, all of which you’ll likely encounter as you shop for a new appliance.
LG: This brand is known for its sleek, high-end side-by-side and French door refrigerators, and its appliances are generally spacious, quiet, and efficient. Many people like this brand’s latest feature, InstaView, which allows you to knock on the appliance door and see what’s inside. However, its customer service is not known to be the best.
GE: One of the most popular fridge brands, GE appliances are known for their quality compressors. They offer many different styles of fridges, ranging in price from $600 up to several thousand.
Whirlpool: This brand makes a wide variety of fridge styles, and it places emphasis on efficiency and reliability. Whirlpool appliances are middle-of-the-line in terms of price, and the brand is known for its good tech support, which is always a plus.
Samsung: Samsung mostly makes side-by-side and French-door fridge models, and it offers both basic and extremely high-end models. This brand is known for integrating more organizational features, and many of its models have touchscreen control panels on the front—a helpful feature, but one that can be costly to repair.
Kenmore: Kenmore, which you can only find at Sears, is known for its reliability, especially among its top- and bottom-freezer fridges. The downside about this brand is that their appliances are manufactured by a variety of different companies, making it somewhat complicated to facilitate repairs.
Frigidaire: Frigidaire offers several great budget top-freezer fridges, but buyers report that its bottom-freezer fridges often need repairs.
Trial Periods, Return Policies, and Warranties
Most refrigerators come with everything you need, but there are a few additional accessories you may want to purchase. For instance, you can buy a different style of ice maker if you prefer, as well as various organizational tools to help segment your new fridge.
Most fridge manufacturers offer an included warranty that will cover your new appliance for a few years—however, like most warranties, these don’t cover accidental damage.
You may also be asked if you'd like to purchase an extended warranty on your fridge, but most experts agree that these coverage plans are simply not worth the price. Most contracts have an excessive amount of fine print, and they may deny coverage to certain parts, like ice dispensers or door seals, or if they deem you didn’t complete sufficient maintenance. In general, it's better to just save up money to pay for repairs yourself.