Refrigerator Features Explained

29 Apr, 2015

hhgregg's Refrigerator Feature BreakdownFrom cubic feet to kilowatt hours, some refrigerator features can seem complicated or confusing for first-time appliance buyers (or if it’s been awhile since you last replaced your fridge). It’s important to understand how each feature will affect your life – and hopefully make it easier. In the first post of our “What’s the Feature?” series, we’ve asked the experts at hhgregg to decode common refrigerator features to help you with the fridge-buying process.

Expert answers provided by Daryl Massy, Senior Appliance Buyer.

Capacity

What is it? The overall measurement of the interior of the refrigerator and the freezer compartments.

Why is it important? It can directly reflect on the exterior dimensions of the unit, and if customers do not have enough space in their kitchen cut-out, they would have to move to a smaller-capacity fridge. Capacity is also important since it indicates how much food can be stored in the fridge at one time. For example, a larger family may have a lot more food to store compared to someone living alone. In this case, a larger capacity model would be the best option.

What is an easy way to understand what a cubic foot is? If you think of a Plexiglas box that a basketball would fit inside of, it would be roughly one cubic foot.

Side-by-side

What is it? A refrigerator that is split vertically with the smaller portion, or the freezer, on the left and the larger refrigerator section on the right (when looking at it).

Advantages: Typically, they offer ice and water through the door, and they can also come with larger exterior and interior dimensions to accommodate bigger families.

Disadvantages: You can be limited on what you can fit in the freezer and refrigerator if it is something wider than the interior (for example, a sheet cake).

Bottom freezer

What is it? A refrigerator that is set up with a freezer on the bottom and the refrigerator on top.

Advantages: This brings the refrigerator compartment up to eye-level. Since most people spend more time looking in the refrigerator than the freezer, this becomes a convenient setup. It also gives you a wider storage area to store those larger items.

Disadvantages: You have to bend over to access food in the freezer, and food can get buried under other food because there is not as much shelf space. Some of these units also could have an ice maker in the freezer, taking up more space.

Top freezer

What is it? This is when the freezer is on top and the refrigerator is on the bottom.

Advantages: It still accounts for roughly 50% of the refrigeration business. It is also a configuration that fits in most existing cut-outs.

Disadvantages: Unlike the bottom freezer, you are now bending over to access your refrigerator. They also offer less-convenient features, such as not having ice and water through the door.

Energy Guide label

What is it? A tag that ships with all units that shows the annual kilowatt usage per year (energy used).

Why is it important? It also shows the estimated dollar amount to run the unit for a year.

What’s a reasonable kWh range for a refrigerator? The Department of Energy (DOE) sets a minimum standard that all refrigerators must meet to be sold in the U.S. For a refrigerator to earn the Energy Star label, it must be 10% more efficient than the minimum standard. The kWh range varies depending on the capacity, and can change when the DOE decides.

Are there any other essential fridge features to consider?

The most important consideration is to know the dimensions of the space you need to fill. This will help make the fridge-buying process much smoother – and it will ensure that your new fridge will fit in your kitchen!

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