Kitchen & Bath - Buying Guides

Buying guide: Refrigerators

Buying a refrigerator can be a small investment or a big investment but what’s key is that it be a wise investment.

Refrigerators can last for decades (as anyone with an avocado-green 70s model lurking in the basement can attest to!), are a key lifestyle appliance, can help sell your property should you choose to list, and, finally, are one of the biggest household energy-consumers. These factors combine to make the refrigerator a significant purchase in your home. Here’s what to consider.

1 Is the fridge for you or for your property?
The right refrigerator for you is one that meets your cooking habits and lifestyle needs. The right refrigerator for your property is one that’s complementary to the scale and value of the property, and which will enhance its value if you choose to resell. Sometimes, these qualities overlap – which is great! Other times they’re in conflict.

For example, let’s say you’re an avid home-entertainer who cooks elaborate dinner-party menus for your wide circle of friends. This would indicate a large-capacity fridge with platter-friendly, French doors and individually controlled cold zones would be the right choice for you ... except that you live in a tiny one-bedroom condo. The majority of one-bedroom condo buyers aren’t looking for a professional-capacity fridge, and won’t pay a premium for it.

In fact, says Janice James, a real estate sales representative with Re/Max Escarpment Realty, Hamilton, Ont., it could make the sale harder. “You can have a beautifully renovated small kitchen but it’ll be overpowered by a huge fridge that dwarves the rest of the room,” she warns.

Remember: Context is key. In general, the higher-end your property, the higher-end you can and should go with your appliances. The more entry-level your property, the more modest your fridge should be in features and price tag, says Janice, who has over 20 years experience in the industry.

That said: if you’re buying for your “forever home,” choose your refrigerator based on the features that matter to you.

2 What style is right for your needs?
Refrigerators come with various bells and whistles, from exterior-door water and ice dispensers to Internet touch screens, but only four main styles.

Side-by-sides
place the fridge and freezer compartments beside one another, vertically. These models use the most energy to run. Average capacity: 22 to 30 cubic feet.

Bottom-mount freezer models put the most-frequently accessed section of the unit – the fridge – at chest level, for less stooping. They’re more energy efficient than side-by-sides, but less so than refrigerators with a top-mount freezer. Average capacity: 19 to 25 cubic feet.

Top-mount freezer models are the most common fridge style. It’s the most energy-efficient model.  Average capacity: 14 to 22 cubic feet.

French-door fridges have a bottom-mount freezer and a fridge compartment with a pair of doors that allow for versatile placement of larger trays and platters. Average capacity: 22 to 30 cubic feet. By comparison, commercial-kitchen or pro-kitchen style fridges average 27 to over 49 cubic feet capacity.

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