Refrigerators

Refrigerator Buying Guide

1. Expert advice

Refrigerator is a basic necessity in every home. The choice of refrigerator brand, capacity and model depends on various factors like a number of people in your house, food habits, whether you do shopping on weekends only, storing beverages and beer. Capacities are important but before that consider the space available. Measure dimensions of the area where you plan to keep the fridge and then make sure the fridge is a couple of inches less in size so that it fits in properly. Also, make sure there is space to move around it since you will access it several times a day and since the unit needs to emit the generated heat for best performance.

Storage requirements

  • For a family of 2, fridge having capacity of 175/185 Litres should be adequate
  • A family of 4, fridge having 250 to 300 Litres capacity should be adequate
  • A family of 6 should consider a larger sized fridge (300 to 350 Litres) but if the large family eats out a lot, a smaller unit could be sufficient

The availability of power supply also may determine the type of refrigerators that you use. In parts of the world where there is an incessant power outage, direct cool refrigerator remains the best choice, because it can keep the foodstuffs iced for longer hours and some can keep the ice for a day or two.

2. Types of Refrigerators

The 2 major types of freezers are the Chest and Upright Freezers. Below is a comparison of the benefits of each.

Direct Cool Refrigerators:

Direct cool refrigerators are the most basic types where cooling within the fridge compartment is done without any fanning. The cooling is rather done by a natural convection where one part may become cooler than another area inside the compartment. However, these refrigerators are highly energy efficient for the same reason. Of late, some direct cool refrigerators have been featuring digital auto defrost technology to give you freedom from manual defrosting.

The advantages include:

  • Cooling with natural convection process inside the fridge which retains ice for longer hours
  • Highly energy efficient
  • Quite affordable from a price point of view
  • Efficient freezer chamber
  • Latest models feature digital auto defrost technology

Frost Free Refrigerators: Frost free refrigerators do not need defrosting as cool air is continuously circulated and there is no ice build-up. They consume more power than direct cool refrigerators as ice is not formed and hence running costs are more. Frost-free refrigerators are easier to maintain and it keeps food fresh for longer duration with less odour. However, you will require long hour of power supply (12 hours or more in a day) because it loses cooling fast when there is no power for prolong hours.

Refrigerator can be further categorized based on their capacities and the location of the freezer compartment as follows:

Single Door Refrigerators: These are conventional refrigerators which come with a single door. The upper portion is a freezer, the middle portion is a refrigerator and the bottom portion has a vegetable bin. Single-door refrigerators are entry-level refrigerators. The sizes range from 50L to 200L. Ideal for small offices, clinics, hotels, student’s hostels and for singles.

Top freezer: As the name implies, the traditional top freezer refrigerator features a freezer on top with the refrigerator at the bottom. This was one of the earliest models ever made, and today it is one of the least expensive. Top-freezer refrigerators range in average usable space of between 150L and 800L. This type of refrigerator offers a lot of room, allowing you to store wide items, such as large casserole dishes or cakes.

Bottom freezer: This is a variation on the top-freezer design, this arrangement places the more often-used refrigerator on top, reducing the user’s need to bend over to reach items on the bottom shelf as it happens in top-freezer models. The bottom freezer may pull out like a drawer or open like a door. Bottom-freezer refrigerators are a little bit more expensive than the top-freezer type, and you still have to bend over when you want to reach an item in the freezer. They average about the same width as top-freezer types. Haier Thermocool has gone further to introduce series of premium bottom freezers with attractive colours and unique electronic control system.

Side by side: Side-by-side refrigerators: This places the freezer parallel to the refrigerator, with each having a door that opens from the middle of the appliance. Usually, the refrigerator is slightly wider than the freezer. The size of side-by-side refrigerator averages between 26 to 30 inches wide, with a usable space of up to 700L. Most side-by-side refrigerators feature water and ice dispensers in the doors. Side-by-side refrigerators usually cost about the same as bottom-freezer refrigerators.

3. Features

Here are some notable things to consider when purchasing a refrigerator, including some optional up-grades or add-ons, which may make your new refrigerator a better fit for your home:

Capacity: Capacity refers to the volume of interior space your refrigerator has. Consider the size of your family and the quantity of food and beverages that you need to store on a regular basis. A fridge with a larger capacity will cost more; however, if you stick to a common configuration, like top mount without the bells and whistles, a large capacity fridge for a growing family can still fit into your budget.

 

Remember, capacity isn’t always the same as usable space. Two fridges both listed as having 560L of capacity might be laid out very differently inside once you consider configuration, shelf or crisper placement and ice dispensers, which take up all important freezer space.

Energy Efficiency: Today’s energy efficient refrigerators use significantly less power than appliances did a decade ago. The label also tells you what the operating costs will be compared to other refrigerators.

Convertible Zone: This zone is a freezer space that can be converted into a refrigerator and back to the freezer with just a press of a button without opening the refrigerator. Few brands like Haier Thermocool has 610L & 456L models.

 

Antibacterial technology: some refrigerators can inhibit bacteria, especially when they are not cleaned regularly and ensuring that rotten foods are constantly removed and disposed of. The antibacterial feature has been incorporated in many luxury refrigerators to rid of bacterial in them. Direct cool refrigerators have less chance of bacterial surviving because of the deep freezing.

 

Water and Ice Dispenser: A convenient built-in dispenser on your refrigerator door provides fresh, chilled water any time you feel like it. And if you’d rather have ice cubes, or crushed ice for drinks, it can do that too.

Spill Proof Shelves: Cleaning up minor food and beverage spills is no problem with a spill-proof ledge that keeps small messes from becoming big ones. Spills are contained on the easy-to-clean tempered glass shelves.

Contour Door Styling: These are smooth painted or stainless steel doors that are curved for the ultimate in fashion styling for your kitchen.

Fast-cooling Compartment: In the past, when you needed to cool something down quickly, putting it in the freezer was the only option. Now, you can get a refrigerator with a special compartment that is colder than the rest of the fridge, but not below freezing. This is great for canned beverages that may expand if accidently left in the freezer.

Quiet Operation: This feature means the operational noise that your refrigerator produces has been lowered, making your kitchen quieter.

Door Alarms: Leaving the fridge or freezer door open by accident is common, but it wastes energy and can spoil food, like milk. Modern refrigerators come equipped with alarms that will let you know if a door has been left open longer than usual.

Improved Insulation: Newer refrigerator models don’t need the traditional thick walls in order to maintain even cooling throughout the interior. Improved insulation technologies mean thinner walls, and that translates into greater interior capacity as well as improved energy efficiency.

External LCD Control Panel: Modern refrigerators come equipped with external LCD displays, which provide temperature and other relevant performance information without having to open the doors.

Toughened Glass Shelves: Haier refrigerators come with toughened glass shelves which can bear extra load without collapsing

VC Fresh Technology: Retains nutritional value and freshness of fruits and vegetables for 5 times longer than a normal refrigerator

Luxury Home Bar: Innovative and smart home bar design for easy access and serving for beverages

1 HIT (1hour icing technology): This is a very unique functionality in Haier Thermocool single door refrigerator. The freezer forms ice in one hour, the shortest time any refrigerator has formed ice.

4. Size/Capacity

Requirements for storage and capacity in a refrigerator will depend upon the family or household size. The following can largely be used as a thumb rule

 

Capacity House Hold Size
50-100 1
100-200 2
200-290 3
290-320 4
320-350 5
350-400 6
400-450 7
450-500 8
500-550 9
550-600 10