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How to Buy a Refrigerator with Confidence

So, your serviceperson has just told you, “Sorry, your refrigerator is not repairable, you will have to buy a new one”.

It’s time to jump into the car, go to the appliance store, make a selection, and have it delivered to your home. Wrong! Quick decisions are usually bad decisions.

The biggest misconception about buying a new refrigerator is that it will be simple. This is rarely true. Once inside the appliance store your choices are so varied that you either make a bad selection, or rely too much upon the salespersons advice. You can end up with something that’s too large, too complex, or too costly.

Therefore, before even going to the store do a little research. The knowledge you gain by simply knowing what is available will make your purchase easier.

Don’t let the work “research” scare you. It simply means taking thirty minutes to look at the latest newspaper advertisements. Or making a couple of telephone calls to different appliance stores to compare prices.

Use a notepad to itemize your basic preferences in regard to price, size, type, and style. Then take it to the store with you as a reference guide.

For the average consumer a refrigerator purchase will be separated into the following segments:

1 Appearance and style
2 Price range
3 Options
4 Name brand appeal

Appearance and style ---------- will include your choice between a white, black, stainless steel, freezer on top, freezer on bottom, side-by-side, smooth finish, or pebbled finish. All of these choices are arbitrary. They should match your personal preferences and the style of your kitchen.

White is the most common choice, while stainless steel is a distant second. White is popular because of its clean looks. Stainless is popular because it matches other appliances or decors. A stainless steel refrigerator with a black range will not look out of place. But be aware that stainless steel will require much more cleaning to maintain its appearance. While white requires an occasional cleaning with household cleaners, stainless steel requires a special cleaner that must be applied regularly. If not the steel will quickly look dull and dirty.

Most consumers still choose a freezer on top model. A freezer on bottom model has the advantage of allowing easier access because the refrigerator section is at chest level. To get into the freezer section though requires some dexterity. To remove a heavy item from a bottom freezer may require you to get down onto the floor. This can be a definite disadvantage to an aging population.

The side-by-side is popular primarily because of its large size. Plus, they offer many more options, such as an ice and water dispenser, adjustable shelves, humidity control crispers, or meat keeper containers. Always weight the usefulness of such items against the extra cost involved.

Price range ---------- is always important. While a basic single-family refrigerator can be as low as 0, a side-by-side with all the options would probably be close to 00.

Always go to the store with an idea of how much you want to invest in a new refrigerator. Try not to exceed your price limit by more than 10%. If you are attracted to something more expensive ask yourself:
a) Is it really required b) will it make my kitchen more efficient.

If unsure about your purchase leave the store, go do other shopping, and come back later. Or go to another appliance store to comparison shop. This is a major investment; therefore, allow yourself enough time to make a good decision.

Never allow a salesperson to force you into a hasty decision. Don’t believe the, “If you don’t buy today the price may go up tomorrow”, or, ”I can’t guarantee this appliance will still be here tomorrow”.

Options ---------- available on a modern refrigerator can be confusing. With all the choices it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Any option is a good one if you know you will use it. Plus, having already decided upon appearance and price range your options choice will be lessened.

For example digital temperature control readouts are very modern looking, but no more accurate than a simple numbered dial. Icemakers or water dispensers are useful if you do a lot of entertaining, or drink a lot of water. It’s one of the most common options consumers choose. If you are considering one look for a model where the dispenser is simple to operate, even for children. Avoid those models that include a digital display as part of the dispenser assembly. Don’t forget to include the price of water filters into your price limit. They will be changed every four to six months and cost between and 0.

Glass shelves have become standard in refrigerators. They make it easier to see what is inside the refrigerator. Their disadvantage is they collect more spills and food debris.

Energy saving features are becoming common. There are refrigerators that go into a type of sleep mode if the door hasn’t been opened lately. Although they may save you money they can add greatly to the refrigerators complexity. They often require computer boards to keep track of the refrigerators operation. This in turn will add to the cost of any future repairs.

If you live in an area where electrical power outages are common, avoid the computer based or digital appliances. Power fluctuations can seriously affect the electronics.

Name brand appeal ---------- can be important. It may be the final deciding factor as to which refrigerator you end up buying. If the company has been around for some time they obviously are doing something right. If the refrigerator name is new to you perhaps further research is required. Also, a manufacturer with a proven name will have a service network in case anything fails during your warranty period.

In conclusion, take a few extra minutes before rushing off to the appliance store to buy the new refrigerator. The small amount of time you invest in preparing yourself will be worth the effort. It’s much easier to envision how different styles will look in your kitchen while seated in your kitchen. Trying to do it standing in a store, in front of a line of fifty refrigerators is almost impossible.

By going to the store with a list of ideas that include price range, size, type, and style you will find the experience much less stressful. Plus your decision will be one you can happily live with for the next ten to fifteen years.

About the Author: C. McSorley is an independent writer of household appliances and consumer related subjects. Have questions about your household appliances? Then visit her website at for free information and consumer articles.

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