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Questions and Answers
What types of refrigerators/freezers are available?
Top mounts are the most popular style and can hold such oversize items as birthday cakes and deli platters because of their wide shelves. But side by sides, which let you put frequently used items at eye level, give you access to more refrigerator and freezer shelves without bending-an asset for children or people in wheelchairs. You'll also find a wide selection of side by sides with automatic water/ice dispensers. Refrigerators with the freezer on the bottom, however, have a loyal following. Their design puts foods adults reach for most often at eye level. They also often feature sliding baskets in the freezer. Bottom mounts are slightly more expensive than top mounts, but are comparable in energy efficiency.
Q: How do you size up your refrigerator/freezer capacity
The $400 to $800 budget category typically includes 9- to 16-cu.-ft. top-mount models and are usually sold in white and almond (or the newly introduced bisque color). They're best for small households that don't require lots of freezer space. Many units in this price range come with wire shelves and separate freezer compartments with automatic defrost.
Move up to the $600 to $1,800 range and you get a greater choice of sizes--ranging from 17 to 25 cu. ft.--and exterior colors, such as black and stainless steel. Inside your refrigerator you'll probably find sliding, height-adjustable bins and height-adjustable shelves constructed of glass and meat and crisper drawers with temperature and humidity controls, respectively, to keep foods fresh long. Automatic icemakers inside are also sometimes included, but through-the-door ice and water dispensers are usually about $100 extra. Most low- and mid-priced refrigerator/freezers provide dial or slide controls to adjust the refrigerator temperature (best set at 34 degrees to 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
The $1,800 and up refrigerator/freezers range from 26 cu. ft. to 30 cu. ft. and are often built-in. They are generally taller and wider than freestanding refrigerators.
Q: What does a shopper need to know about installing
Q: What are the most important factors when selecting
What are your refrigerator capacity needs? Allow 12 cu. ft. of space for the first two members of your family and 4 cu. ft. for each additional member.
What are your freezer needs? If you often buy large cuts of meat and want a bottom-mount freezer, a pullout shelf basket is a good idea.
Who uses the refrigerator? If you have small children, consider easy-to-clean spill-proof glass shelves (note: not all glass shelves come with spill-proof seals). If you have tall family members, a side-by-side or bottom-mount refrigerator/freezer will make foods easy to reach.
Where do you live? People who reside in warm climates year-round and who frequently drink often prefer the convenience of through-the-door dispensers for water and ice. This feature is usually found in side-by-side units and almost always delivers crushed ice. Be forewarned: Water dispensers significantly worsen the reliability of refrigerator/freezers.
Q: Do some refrigerators conserve more energy than
To assess energy use, read the "EnergyGuide" label (incorporated into this site's rating system). This lets you know the model's annual cost of operation at several utility rates. It also gives you an estimate of yearly energy costs compared to other models.
Q: What are other features worth considering?
Here are other options:
Adjustable door bins -Most hold large, gallon-size jugs and tall containers-and some models include flexible dividers to prevent tall items from tipping as you swing open the door.
Deli or meat drawer -Designed for meats, cold cuts, and cheeses, this separate storage bin in the refrigerator is sometimes kept at a cooler temperature.
Electronic systems -Usually found on high-end models, this refrigerator console offers a set of buttons and lights to alert you of diagnostic problems.
Split shelves -Mid- to high-end top-mount models often include split glass shelves. This allows you to adjust the left- or right-hand side of individual shelves in the refrigerator for tall food items.
Trim kit -Want to match your refrigerator with existing kitchen cabinets or appliances? A trim kit lets you insert custom panels to the front of your refrigerator/freezer.
Water filters -Many new models with ice and water dispensers have water filters. Replacement filters cost about $35. How often you change it depends on your use.
Wine/beverage rack -This feature holds cans and bottles in the refrigerator on their side to conserve space.
Q: What must shoppers know about delivery and installation
Q: What kind of warranty do refrigerator manufacturers
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