No kitchen is complete without a refrigerator and it has become an absolute necessity rather than a luxury. It is the most commonly used kitchen appliance that is used to store perishable food items at cool temperature between 3-5 degree celsius with the help of latest cooling refrigeration technique."
Why do you need a refrigerator ?
With hectic schedules and busy day-to-day life, there is little time left for grocery shopping. So people have started storing bulk staples, fruits and vegetables, beverages and even medicines leading to refrigerator sizes getting bigger and bigger. It is very important to buy good quality refrigerator or fridge equipped with advanced cooling technologies so that the fruits, vegetables and other food remain fresh with best of nutrients keeping you healthy and fit. Refrigerator is a long term investment hence you should be careful while choosing the right model as you will be using it for years. There are several factors to be considered before buying a refrigerator like space available in your kitchen, storage capacity, cooling technology, energy efficiency, brand, type, budget and more. Choosing the right refrigerator also depends on the number of people in the house and their food habits.
This buying guide will help you buy the RIGHT REFRIGERATOR for your house or work place that meet your requirements.
How to choose the size and capacity of a refrigerator ?
Make sure you thoroughly measure the space available at your home so that you buy the refrigerator of right size. Besides measuring the dimensions (i.e, width, height and depth) of the space , consider several other factors like door opening space, ventilation space, cleaning space and the dimensions of door or staircase height so as to ensure safe delivery of your refrigerator.
CAPACITY OF FRIDGE :
After measuring the size, now it is the turn to calculate the capacity of the new fridge. The capacity depends upon the number of people in the house, their food habits, budget and the space available in the kitchen. If you purchase more fresh foods than frozen food items, then you will require more storage space. In case you wish to store frozen stuff, then more freezer space is required. If you do weekly shopping or stock up bulk purchases, then you should opt for larger capacity.
|Family Size||Refrigerator Capacity (in litres)|
|More than 7 people||More than 650|
Fridges with adjustable shelves are definitely an added advantage as they ensure efficient optimisation of the storage space. Adjustable shelves are also benefecial for keeping multiple food items at the time of hosting a party.
Which cooling technology is best ?
Direct-Cool refrigerators are the most basic types where the cooling takes place by a natural convection process inside the fridge compartment without any fan or circulation of cool air. They come in single door models and require manual or semi-automatic defrosting of freezer compartment at regular time intervals. They are less priced, highly energy efficient, come in capacities upto 350L and are best suited for offices, shops or bachelors.
Nowadays almost all modern refrigerators use frost-free or digital auto-defrost technology which ensures freshness of stored food for longer duration. They maintain consistent temperature inside the fridge compartments by circulating cool air throughout using electric fans. They do not require manual defrosting as the ice does not get build up in the freezer chamber. They are more expensive and consume more energy than Direct-cool models.
What the different types of Refrigerators ?
SINGLE DOOR REFRIGERATOR :
These entry-level refrigerator models have single door which enclose freezer, fridge and a vegetable bin within themselves and do not have seperate compartments. They are very cost-effective and easily fit in small space. Their storage capacity ranges between 50-300 litres and are suitable for offices, retail shops, clinics etc.
DOUBLE DOOR / TOP FREEZER REFRIGERATOR :
They are the most conventional and affordable refrigerator models and come in the capacity ranging from 200 to 600 litres. They are roughly 30-33 inches wide and are most energy efficient as they consume 15%-25% less energy than bottom-freezer and side-by-side door models as due to seperate doors, there are very less chances of heat escape. They have two seperate doors for freezer as well as fridge compartment. Freezer chamber has sub-zero temperature which is used to make ice or stock up food for long time. Fridge chamber has temperature ranging between 0 and 10 degree Celsius and used to store vegetables and all types of food items. They have adjustable acrylic or toughened glass shelves to accommodate bottles or containers of variable sizes.
Pros - They are reasonably priced and offer lot of storage space.
Cons - Freezer space is less leading to inadequate storage space for frozen or other food items for longer time duration and you have to bend to reach out to vegetable basket at the bottom. Also, there has to be adequate to open the door.
BOTTOM FREEZER REFRIGERATOR :
These models are mainly beneficial in those cases where there is a requirement of frequent access to refrigerator section (for fresh food) rather than freezer chamber. Their advantage is that they have refrigerator section and food items within easy reach at eye-level so as to save you from frequent bending down while taking out fruits and vegetables. Their storage capacity ranges between 200L to 500L and are 30-36 inches wide. Cooler chamber at bottom and warmer section at the top is an energy efficient design leading to lesser energy consumption. They are ergonomically designed with limited options available in the market.
Pros - They offer the comfort of refrigerator section at eye-level and also feature in-door water and ice dispensers.
Cons - They are more expensive than Top-freezer models but have an additional advantage of bigger freezer units at the bottom.
SIDE-BY-SIDE REFRIGERATOR :
These refrigerators have design similar to that of a cupboard and split into two vertical sections. One section comprise of freezer on the left and other has refrigerator section on the right. The door open outwards and fridge section is usually bigger than the freezer. They are highly priced, are 32 to 36 inches wide and are available in larger capacities of 550L upto 800 litres. The high-end models feature ice and water dispenser for convenience. Since they have cupboard-like design, they have larger storage space and save on energy consumption as we do not have to open full refrigerator again and again.
Pros - The narrow doors which open outward in opposite directions are quite beneficial for small kitchens.
Cons - They cannot store wider items like pizza, cakes etc as they have narrow and tall compartments.
FRENCH DOOR REFRIGERATOR :
French door refrigerator models are stylish and a perfect combination of Side-by-Side door and Bottom-freezer models. They come with three or four doors. Three-door refrigerators have a bottom freezer compartment while four-door refrigerators have two bottom freezer chambers. They offer spacious refrigerator compartment and have huge storage capacity ranging from 400 to 800 liters and are best suited for large families. Most of the French-door models come with Ice and Water dispensers and are most expensive of all refrigerator types.
Pros - They provide the comfort and convenience of easier accessibility to the fresh-foods and main refrigerator section. They have maximum width upto 36 inches and can easily store wide platters, cakes, pizzas and much more.
Cons - Since these models have bottom-freezer section, you have to bend to access freezer compartment.
COMPARISON BETWEEN VARIOUS MODELS
|Features||Single-Door||Double Door||Side-by-Side Door|
|Shelves||Wired/Acrylic||Wired / Acrylic / Tempered Glass||Tempered Glass|
What are the other Important Features to consider while choosing Right Fridge?
ENERGY RATING :
Refrigerator consumes lot of power hence it is wise to purchase a energy efficient model to save your electricity bills. While buying a refrigerator, you should check its EER (Energy Efficiency rating). Stars from 1-5 indicates how much electricity units is consumed by the appliance in KWh per year. Star rating of 1 means maximum electricity consumed leading to least energy efficiency whereas 5 star rating is the best one. Appliances with Energy Star rating are 20-30% more energy efficient than non-rated models. Buying a fridge is a long term investment so make sure you go for the good quality model with best energy rating. You can also check out few advanced models which feature Eco or Holiday mode so as to conserve energy during vacations.
ADJUSTABLE SHELVES :
They maximise the storage capacity of fridge by providing flexibility of keeping variable sized containers or bottles. They are made up of wire, acrylic or toughened glass with glass shelves being most sturdy. They are very easy to clean and can easily slide in and out within the refrigerator.
Refrigerator prices vary from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 1,50,000 depending upon your requirement, style, brand and above mentioned factors. Frost free models start from minimum price range of 15,000. Various models of refrigerators are available in India for which the pricelists are presented as under. The major brands include LG, SAMSUNG, HAIER, PANASONIC, GODREJ, ELECTROLUX, KELVINATOR, HITACHI, VIDEOCON etc.