A refrigerator is usually bought with years of service in mind. We tell you how to choose a model that will work for a long time without problems
French doors, energy efficiency, superfreezing and ice generation – it’s all about the refrigerator, and it’s easy to get confused by all these features. Together with experts, we find out what to look for when choosing a refrigerator, how to save money, and which options will save you during power outages and which ones will help you during your vacation.
Rules for choosing refrigerators
As a rule, the manufacturer gives a warranty for a new refrigerator for a period of one to five years. The average service life is from seven to ten years, but it happens that the unit is replaced not earlier than 20 years of active use. In order to maximize the postponement of the replacement period, it is worth choosing responsibly. According to experts, here is what you should pay attention to:
- Regular loading and the right size
It’s frustrating to find, after a couple of months of use, that the fridge just isn’t big enough for all the food you need. So it’s worth assessing in advance what regularly needs to be in the fridge and which sections are most often used.
The capacity of refrigerators is defined in liters. For one person or a couple, a variant up to 200 liters is suitable, but large families need large models – multi-chamber and double-door.
In addition to the total volume, it is also worth paying attention to which products are most often stored in the refrigerator. The following points are important here:
frequency and volume of use of the freezer. If you need freezing for a long period of time, it is better to give preference to variants with a freezer located at the bottom of the refrigerator: they usually have larger volumes. In other cases, you can make do with a refrigerator with a top freezer – compact and practical;
the amount of fresh vegetables, fruit and perishables that are stored at all times. If you often buy fresh products, it is better to choose a model with a special frozen zone. It maintains zero temperature, which allows the contents to be stored longer. In large refrigerators, there may be several such compartments;
the number of bottles to be placed on the shelves. Not the most obvious but important feature is a roomy door and separate compartments for bottled products. At times, it’s important to be able to accommodate lots of juice, milk, kefir and some amount of alcohol.
2. Place for the refrigerator
At this stage, you need to decide whether you want a built-in refrigerator or a free-standing one. Modern kitchens are often designed in such a way as to hide all household appliances behind the facades. Refrigerators are no exception, they can also be stowed in the closet. There are two main such options:
partially recessed – a niche is allocated in the kitchen set;
fully built-in, a separate cabinet must be allocated for them, and the refrigerator door is closed by a kitchen facade from above. From the outside, it is quite difficult to guess that there is a refrigerator behind this construction.
With any type of refrigerator, it is necessary to carefully measure the place where it will be placed. When measuring, it is important to take into account the presence of outlets and baseboards. Another important point – in what direction the door will open: when neighboring with the wall, you need to lay an additional distance to avoid impacts.
Refrigerator doors are of different types:
opening on one side. Most often during the initial installation of the refrigerator, you can choose on which side to hang them;
hinged doors. There is a choice between French doors (when swinging only in the refrigerating chamber, and the freezer can be represented by sliding shelves) and side-by-side doors (in fact, these are two full-fledged narrow refrigerators attached to each other).
When choosing a refrigerator, you need to take into account the parameter of the climate class. This indicator is related to the temperature in the room: if it is a basement, most likely, you will need class SN (moderate – from 10 to 32 degrees Celsius), and in hot climates will be suitable ST (subtropical. 16-38 degrees) or T (tropical: 16-43 degrees). In average rooms, you can make do with class N (normal, 16-32 degrees).
3. Type of management
Usually, the refrigerator is set once to the desired cooling level, in which it operates in the future. Although most modern models have special modes: for example, “vacation” and “defrost”. So it makes sense to think in advance how to manage the unit more conveniently:
electromechanical control allows you to manually set the simplest indicators, it can be found in the most budget models;
electronic control allows you to set the cooling level to the degree, select individual functions;
Wi-Fi control gives full control, up to notification of malfunctions.
4. Noise level
Modern refrigerators are practically silent. In measurable indicators – according to GOST – the noise level should not exceed 53 dB, experts advise to focus on 40 dB. But if the refrigerator is located near the study or bedroom, which is often the case in small apartments, even this level may be critical.
Compressors are responsible for the work of the refrigerator chambers. The more compact the model, the more likely it is that it has only one compressor, which provides energy for all the chambers. Two-compressor models usually distribute energy to the refrigerator and freezer chambers. In this case, you can, having gone on vacation or to the dacha, turn off only the refrigerator chamber, and leave the freezer to work.
The No Frost function can add noise – a special ventilation system that excludes the formation of ice and snow on the walls and doors. Such refrigerators can “sound” quite strongly in open spaces (that’s why they are so noisy in supermarkets), but for an apartment they are suitable if the manufacturer has set normal noise indicators – ideally up to 40 dB.
5. Defrosting type
No Frost is a convenient solution, but also the drip system, which implies “manual” defrosting, has its advantages.
With the drip system, all the condensate that is formed as a result of cooling products, flows down the walls into special trays, and then turns into ice. Periodically such refrigerators should be unplugged, completely defrosted and washed. On the plus side: the simple system is not equipped with additional fans, which means that there is more useful space in the refrigerator, and it makes less noise.
No Frost is noisier and takes up more space, but you have to clean and wash such a refrigerator much less often.
6. Energy efficiency
A refrigerator is a household appliance that runs around the clock, so its energy consumption is high. Choosing an energy-efficient model can help you save money on operation – here you should pay attention to the labeling.
The letters A, A+, A++ denote refrigerators with the highest level of energy efficiency. The more environmentally friendly the model is, the more expensive it will cost, but the indicators with the letter B are quite worthy of use.
To calculate the real savings, it is worth looking at the figure of energy consumption per year in the data sheet. It is expressed in kilowatts. This will help to calculate how much money will be required to operate the refrigerator per month and whether it is worth spending on a more expensive, but energy-efficient option.
7. Additional functions
The operation of the refrigerator can be seriously affected by additional parameters:
Extra-cleaning and maintaining freshness. The charcoal filter and antibacterial coating are responsible for this parameter. Together, they guarantee a cleaner refrigerator for a longer period of time;
open door alert: even a small gap allows cold to escape and warm air spoils some foods;
water and ice supply – a useful feature for those who often drink soft drinks. The refrigerator cools the liquid in a special compartment and independently forms ice cubes;
automatic options for freezing and maintaining temperatures. For example, the “Vacation” option is able to turn off the cooling of the main chamber, while continuing to keep the freezer working. “Super Freeze” can help you quickly chill a bottle of champagne if you’re running out of time before a date or the president’s New Year’s Eve speech.