Buying a refrigerator requires some consideration, but it doesn’t have to be a complex process. The first thing to ask yourself when buying a refrigerator is how much space you have. Remember to measure height, width and depth.

Buying a refrigerator requires some consideration, but it doesn’t have to be a complex process.


The first thing to ask yourself when buying a refrigerator is how much space you have. Remember to measure height, width and depth, said Richie Isaacson, owner of Affordable Appliances of Massachusetts.


How much room you have might influence what model you select. There are free-standing styles and models that are built into your counter space.


Free-standing refrigerators can be side-by-side units, which feature the refrigerator door on one side and the freezer door on the other; up-and-down units, which have the freezer either above or below the refrigerator; or the French door unit, which has double doors and a freezer on bottom.


Most refrigerators have a single compressor, which is responsible for replacing the warm air that an open door lets in, said Dennis MacDonald of Yale Appliance and Lighting in Dorchester, Mass. Tepid air causes mold and freezer burn.


Sub-Zero built-in refrigerators, however, have two compressors, allowing the unit to constantly cool both the refrigerator and freezer.


Free-standing refrigerators generally cost $500 to $1,000, MacDonald said, and Sub-Zeros can cost $6,000 and $8,000.


While most refrigerators come with a one-year warranty, they will typically last for seven to 10 years, MacDonald said. The Sub-Zeros can last for 20-plus years.


Energy efficiency is another thing to consider. Refrigerators with an Energy Star rating tend to cost more, but the savings kick in after an average of five years, Isaacson said.


As for interior and exterior features, you can choose to install an ice maker and water dispenser – although up-and-down units cannot accommodate ice dispensers, Isaacson said.


You can also decide between wire and glass shelving. While glass can cost $75 to $100 more than wire, Isaacson said, glass makes cleaning up a spill in the fridge more manageable.


Shoppers can also select a finish. “White and black are still classic,” MacDonald said, but the vast majority of consumers opt for stainless steel.


Patriot Ledger writer Ashlee Fairey may be reached at afairey@ledger.com.


A history of refrigerators:


1748: William Cullen, a Scottish physicist, demonstrates the first known artificial refrigeration at the University of Glasgow.


1805: Oliver Evans, an American inventor, designs the first refrigeration machine.


1834: Jacob Perkins, an American inventor, builds the first practical refrigerating machine using ether in a vapor compression cycle.


1876: Carl von Linden, a German engineer, patents the process of liquifying gas that is critical to basic refrigeration technology.


1940: Freezers are incorporated into refrigerators.


2005: 99.5 percent of Americans own a refrigerator.


Sources: www.about.com, www.xtimeline.com