Refrigerator Buying Guide

If the kitchen is the heart of your home, a Refrigerator is what keeps it pumping. To find the right type of refrigerator for your space, start by considering your kitchen design and eating habits, and then read up on the top fridge types and features in our refrigerator buying guide below.

How to Choose the Right Fridge Size

When considering a new fridge, the first thing to think about is what size will fit best in your space. The right fridge size will make installation a breeze and fulfill your food storage expectations. Below, we break down all the measurements you need in order to decide on the right size refrigerator for your kitchen. Let’s get started:

Measure the Desired Space for Your Fridge

Getting the right measurements can make or break the way a refrigerator fits into your kitchen — and whether it will fit through your front door. Reference this list to make sure you remember to measure all the necessary spaces:

1. Start by measuring the height and width of any entrance points.

This includes your front door or any exterior door you plan to use to bring the refrigerator in from the outside, as well as any interior doorways leading into the kitchen. This is one of our top (and often-forgotten) tips for a stress-free installation – it’s important to make sure that your new refrigerator will fit through your doors to reach the kitchen and your desired installation space.

2. Measure the space between the kitchen island and opposite cabinets.

This tip is similar to the tip above. If you have a kitchen island in the center of the kitchen, you should measure the width of the space between it and the cabinets/countertops on the opposite wall to make sure your new fridge can clear the space easily before moving to its final position.

3. Measure the width of the empty spot between bottom cabinets.

Now that you have an idea of the maximum height and width your fridge can be to successfully clear doorways and your beloved kitchen island, you need to determine the width of the fridge’s installation spot. Measure across the open space from the edge of one bottom cabinet to the edge of the one on the opposite side. Have a counter top that overhangs cabinets? Measure the width of the space from the edge of one counter top to the other side. Make sure to leave about ⅛” of space between the sides of the fridge and the adjacent cabinets or counters for easy installation and proper ventilation.

4. Measure the depth of the space for your refrigerator.

Place your tape measure on the edge of the bottom cabinet directly adjacent to the open space. Then, measure from that cabinet edge to the wall that your fridge will back into. This gives you a sense of the fridge depth you have space for. Measuring the depth of your installation space will also help you avoid choosing a fridge that juts out too far beyond adjacent cabinets. When measuring the depth, keep in mind that a refrigerator will need about 2″ of space between the back-facing side and the wall to promote good ventilation.

Once you have the measurements for the depth of a refrigerator, you can determine which installation depth will work the best for you to make sure it doesn’t jut out too far once installed. Counter-depth refrigerators will work best if your wall has a shallow depth from the edge of the cabinet to the wall, while standard depth refrigerators are meant for installation spaces with a larger space between the cabinet and the back wall. Read below to figure out which one matches your measurements:

Counter-Depth: A counter-depth refrigerator is an ideal model if you prioritize esthetics and a uniform look, have a kitchen with higher ceilings, and don’t need tons of food storage. This fridge option has a narrower depth of 24″ – 28″ (without doors and handles included) and sits flush with the counter tops for a sleek look. Since the depth is more shallow, the fridge is higher and wider than regular fridges. Make sure you know how much space you have beneath cabinets to ensure the fridge will fit.

Standard Depth: The standard depth fridge configuration was made for anyone who prioritizes food storage over esthetics, including families who need the maximum space to refrigerate and freeze food for four or more people. This option is typically between 30″ – 34″ inches deep (without doors and handles included). Standard-depth fridges have more storage space than counter-depth fridges because they’re built to be a bit bulkier and jut out.

5. Measure the height of overhead cabinets.

Measure from the floor to the underside of overhead cabinets. This will help you determine the maximum height your new refrigerator can be in order to fit seamlessly into the installation space. You need to leave 1″ of space between the bottom of any overhanging cabinets and the top of your refrigerator for proper ventilation and a smooth installation. This step is especially important if you plan to install a counter-depth refrigerator which is naturally taller and more narrow.


Want more guidance on measurements and installation help? Check out our Refrigerator Dimensions guide.

Consider Capacity

We recommend having at least 4–6 cu. ft. of fridge space per adult in your home. Add an extra cubic foot for any additional child in your family. If you host dinner parties often, you may want a few extra cubic feet of fridge space as well. Review these refrigerator capacities to get a better idea of the capacity size you need:

7–9 cu. ft.: Refrigerators with 7–9 cu. ft. of space can hold enough food for one to two people — but ideally for one person. If you eat a lot of meals out, this could be a great option for you. This is a common fridge capacity for top- or bottom-freezer refrigerator types. They usually work in small apartments or small space kitchens

9.1–14.9 cu. ft.: This range of capacity space works well for two people or one person with the need for more food storage. Top-freezer and bottom-freezer units commonly have these storage capacities

15–18.9 cu. ft.: This is a great option if you’re looking for a refrigerator with enough storage to accommodate food for three people, or two people who cook a lot. You can usually find side-by-side, top- or bottom-freezer units, and French-door refrigerators with these storage capacities.

19–22.9 cu. ft.: Amp up the food storage capacity for four people with a refrigerator that holds 19–22.9 cu. ft. of cold or frozen goods. Choose from a variety of fridge types from French-door, to side-by-side, or top- or bottom-freezer units

23–26.9 cu. ft.: For households with five people, 23–26.9 cu. ft. of fridge space can accommodate everyone’s preferences. They are commonly available in side-by-side or French-door configurations.

27–30.9 cu. ft.: If you have six or more people in your house, look for a fridge with a storage capacity of anywhere from 27–30.9 cu. ft. of space. This way, you can fit everyone’s milk preferences and must-haves. The most common fridge types with these capacities are side-by-side and French-door units.

31 cu. ft. or more: Refrigerators with 31 cu. ft. or more are typically used in commercial kitchens for restaurant-size food storage.

Types of Refrigerators to Consider

Top Freezer, Bottom Freezer, and French Door

Top Freezer: A two-door design with a top-mounted freezer, this energy-efficient fridge is small, space-friendly, and has an average interior capacity of 16–22 cu. ft.

Bottom Freezer: With a freezer unit mounted below the fridge, this two-door design keeps more frequently used items conveniently at eye level. This type of refrigerator typically has a capacity of 19–25 cu. ft.

French Door: This popular design features a refrigerator with two half-width doors and a bottom-mounted freezer that pulls out like a drawer. Ideal for large families, this type of refrigerator is energy-efficient and has an average interior capacity of 18–32 cu. ft.

Side-by-side, All-refrigerator, and compact fridges

Side-by-Side: Split vertically, with the freezer on the left and the fridge on the right, this moderately-priced design has an average interior capacity of 22–26 cu. ft.

All-Refrigerator: Commonly used as a secondary fridge, this freezer-less design provides ample room for fresh-food cooling. Depending on the type, you can choose one with as little as 9 cu. ft. or one with 23–26 cu. ft. 

Compact: Often referred to as “mini-fridges”, this petite design has an average interior capacity of under 10 cu. ft. and is typically used in dorms and game rooms. Some models may have a small freezer compartment.

Refrigerator Features to Make Daily Life Easier

Ice Makers

Do you use ice often? Consider a fridge with an ice maker. Please note that this feature may require extra plumbing or professional installation as it will need to be hooked up to a water line. 

In-Freezer: The most standard and cost-effective option, this type of ice maker is entirely contained within the freezer.

In-Door: Commonly found in French-door and side-by-side refrigerators, this type of ice maker is built into the door and dispenses both water and ice through the touch of a button or lever.

Water Dispensers

A water dispenser is an easy way to get filtered water in your kitchen. However, it may cost more to have this feature in a fridge as the energy costs are higher and you should replace the filter annually. 

Internal: The dispenser is located inside the fridge. A door must be opened to access it. If you do not like the look of an external dispenser, an internal dispenser is a great option.

External: The dispenser is on the door of the fridge. While convenient and more energy efficient, as you will not have to open the door, it may reduce interior space. 

This feature may require extra plumbing or professional installation as it will need to be hooked up to a water line. However, some models use water tanks that need to be refilled regularly.

Additional Fridge Features

With filtered water and a bountiful ice supply at-the-ready, you can start exploring additional fridge features that will align with your safety standards, cleaning needs, and overall lifestyle:

Smudge-Resistant Stainless: This is a special coating that is applied to stainless steel exteriors to resist fingerprints and smudging.

Door Alarm: This alarm chimes to indicate when the fridge door has not been properly closed. Door alarms help remind you to close the fridge doors, which prevents cold air from escaping and saves refrigerated goods from going bad — therefore saving you money too.

Door Lock: This feature allows you to easily restrict access to the refrigerator, which is great when you have little-ones with a tendency to sneak into the fridge at night or early in the morning.

Sabbath Mode: Also called Shabbos mode, this feature disables all lights and electrical activity when the door of the refrigerator is opened, allowing those observing Sabbath to comply with religious requirements.

Door-Within-Door: This is a hidden compartment behind one refrigerator door that allows you to easily access frequently used items without opening the entire refrigerator.

ENERGY STAR-Certified: This indicates that a refrigerator is 9% – 10% more energy-efficient than the federal standard. So if you prioritize energy-efficient appliances to benefit your energy costs and the environment, be on the lookout for this certification.

Accepts Custom Panels: This feature means that the fridge’s design allows a custom panel that matches a kitchen’s cabinets to be affixed to it. This is ideal if you want to create a uniform look in your kitchen and create a hidden refrigerator vibe.