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A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Refrigerator | Sears

A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Refrigerator

Find the perfect refrigerator for your kitchen

refrigerator is the centerpiece of any kitchen. Whether you're moving into a new home or upgrading an outdated kitchen, there are plenty of options designed to fit your space. Some of the latest models have settings that range from keeping food fresh longer to running more efficiently to help save on your energy bill. Here are some features, tips and types of refrigerators to consider during your search.

Types of Refrigerators

Top Freezer Refrigerators

Top Freezer Refrigerators
  • Places freezer at eye level
  • Classic style
  • Multiple design options

Top freezer refrigerators feature large fridge space on the bottom with a moderately sized freezer on top. Both sections have single-door closures with the hinges on the same side, allowing you to adjust where the appliance opens.


Bottom Freezer Refrigerators

Bottom Freezer Refrigerator
  • Places the fridge at eye level
  • Generous freezer space
  • Multiple design options

Bottom freezer refrigerators are designed with the fridge space at the top for easy access to your most-used food items. Having the freezer on the bottom is like having a small chest freezer, allowing you to buy more frozen food in bulk. 

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Side-by-Side Refrigerators

Side-By-Side Refrigerator
  • Perfect for small kitchens
  • Easy for grabbing items quickly
  • Options with water and ice dispensers

Side-by-side models place the fridge and freezer right next to each other. This allows you to keep both refrigerated and frozen foods at eye level, and introduces the option for a convenient water and ice dispenser without having to open the door.

French Door Refrigerators

French Door Refrigerator
  • Ideal for entertaining
  • Easily accessible storage
  • Multiple design options

French door refrigerators feature two doors that open up to a wide fridge section above a bottom freezer, helping maximize your storage space. Keep wide items across full-width shelves, and plenty of smaller items in the ample door storage.

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Freezerless Refrigerators

Freezerless Refrigerator
  • Perfect secondary option
  • Thin design
  • More refrigerator space

Freezerless models come without any freezer space at all, and instead have more top-to-bottom storage space dedicated to perishable goods. This is an ideal solution if you're looking to add a second refrigerator to your home, garage or office.

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Compact Refrigerators

Compact Refrigerator
  • Perfect for dorm rooms
  • Ideal in shared apartments or offices
  • Glass-door options

Compact refrigerators provide storage space in small areas, and some models have a small freezer shelf for frozen goods. This is especially appealing if you're living in a dorm room or small apartment, or want to add a small refrigerator to an office or bedroom.

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What Size Is Right for You?

How Much Capacity Do You Need?
A general rule of thumb is to devote 4-6 cu. ft. of space to each adult in your household. However, consider other factors including whether you prefer fresh or frozen food, have kids or entertain frequently.

read more  about how to get the right capacity
Measure Twice, Order Once
Before you narrow down how large your new appliance will be, it's important to know how much space you have for it. Here's how to measure your space:
  • Measure the opening - Make sure to measure the height, width and depth thoroughly. Leave at least an inch of extra space to allow your unit to properly ventilate.

  • Measure for door opening and hinge space - Leave room so the doors can open to at least 90 degrees. Be sure to leave an extra two inches of space between the hinges and the wall for proper clearance. 

  • Check your doorways - Measure each doorway in the delivery path. Check the stops on each side of the door jamb, and measure the corners and hallways along the route. In some cases, you'll have to remove the fridge handles.

for more tips, read how to measure for a new refrigerator

Always be sure to measure before you buy a fridge

Refrigerator Features

What Look Is Best for You?

You can choose from a wide variety of stainless steel, white and dark finishes that fit any kitchen’s style and décor. But there are two new finishes with some pretty nice benefits:

  • Active Finish™ Stainless Steel - This Kenmore-exclusive feature helps resist smudging and holds magnets on stainless steel refrigerators. 

    learn more about Active Finish™ Stainless Steel

  • Black Stainless Steel - Fingerprint resistance means fewer smudges to clean up. Plus, the black matte finish makes for a sleek, modern look.

    learn more about Black Stainless Steel

  • Counter-depth refrigerators - These models appear to be built into your kitchen cabinetry, offering a custom-made look without the custom-made price.

  • Reversible doors & French doors - Reversible doors offer more options when arranging your kitchen, especially in tight spaces. Typically French door refrigerators work best in small spaces since the two doors are smaller when open than one large door.
A stainless steel refrigerator

Refrigerator with an ice and water dispenser

Popular Features You Might Like

  • Dual cooling - Dual-cooling technology provides a separate cooling system for the fridge and freezer. This keeps the temperatures of each section steady with minimal fluctuation.

  • Temperature control - Some fridges have built-in sensors that measure and adjust internal temperature if necessary, creating efficient cooling so your food and beverages stay fresh longer.

  • Door alarms - These built-in alarms beep if the refrigerator door has been left open for too long.

  • Child safety locks - Some of the latest models feature locks to prevent small children from opening the refrigerator.

  • Ice and water dispensers - Dispensers provide filtered water and ice with just the press of a button. They keep you from having to refill ice trays constantly throughout the week or during parties.

  • Dual ice systems - These systems have ice makers in the refrigerator cavity and in the freezer.

  • Air filters - Improved air flow can keep your fridge smelling fresh and evenly distributes cool air. The latest humidity technology maintains the right moisture level for frozen and fresh items.

Smart Technology 

  • Connected Solutions - Some models come with Wi-Fi enabled features and other smart technology. Depending on the model, you can use Alexa or an app to monitor temps, know if the door is open or closed, get maintenance reminders, and more.

    shop our smart appliances

Storage Options to Consider

  • Pull-out freezer drawers - These tiered options can make frozen food organization simple. You won't have to worry about tossing frozen veggies around to find your carton of ice cream.

  • Sliding shelves - These types of shelves bring the food to you, making it easier to reach items at the back of the fridge.

  • Pantry drawers - Pantry drawers allow you to put snacks and sodas in one spot, so you can avoid opening the main fridge compartment just to grab a treat.

  • Crisper drawers - The latest crisper drawers let you store fruits and veggies at your desired humidity, helping food stay as fresh as possible while stored.

  • Adjustable door shelving - Adjustable door shelves allow you to customize how much room is available in any one area.

  • Outer door storage - Exterior solutions help you keep items like juices and condiments chilled and easily accessible. Outer door storage also frees up more space on the interior door for larger items.
A refrigerator with plenty of storage space

What About Energy Efficiency?

  • ENERGY STAR® rating - ENERGY STAR® rated refrigerators are built to do the same work as standard models, but they use less energy. This helps reduce your energy bill and overall carbon footprint.

    An older refrigerator uses nearly twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator. You can save more than $300 over the next five years and reduce your carbon footprint by 9,000 pounds when replacing an older refrigerator with one that's earned the ENERGY STAR.

    shop our Energy Star rated fridges

  • LED lighting - An LED light is specially designed to use less energy than a standard refrigerator bulb.

  • EnergyGuide labels - Be sure to look for this label to see the energy efficiency of refrigerators without an ENERGY STAR certification.

  • Energy rebates - Depending on your state, you might qualify for a rebate by owning an energy-efficient appliance.

    visit our
    rebate center to learn more
Energy Star Label