Refrigerator Buying Guide

Looking for the best refrigerator? CNET helps you choose between side-by-side refrigerators, top and bottom freezers, as well as designer and commercial refrigerators to meet your needs.

How much fridge capacity do you need?

Depending on the size of your family, how much you eat in, or how many casseroles you need to fit in your fridge on an average week, the capacity you'll need will vary. As a general rule of thumb, you'll probably need about 4 to 6 cubic feet (cu. ft.) of fresh storage for each adult in your household.

Top freezer
Total capacity range: 14 to 22 cu. ft.

Bottom freezer
Total capacity range: 19 to 25 cu. ft.

French door
Total capacity range: 22 to 25 cu. ft.

Total capacity range: 22 to 30 cu. ft.

Commercial or designer series
Total capacity range: 27 to 49-plus cu. ft.

Consider the following when deciding:

Fresh food needs: Are you constantly whipping up three-course meals and have to lean against your fridge to keep it shut? The time you spend rearranging and digging for items is actually letting your unit's energy escape. Look into buying a French door model that might give you more fresh food space. Or if your fridge is really just a storage device for take-out containers or condiments, you're probably underutilizing your fridge and wasting energy. You might consider a smaller 14 to 15 cu. ft. top freezer model that is found in tiny apartments. Practically running a restaurant from your kitchen? Then a designer series model might be worth looking into.

Freezer storage: Do you like to cook batches of homemade meals and store them, or do you sustain yourself on frozen dinners? If so, you might consider a side-by-side model to give you easier freezer access. Or if you mainly use your freezer for ice and ice cream, or want to be able to stack lots of items, a bottom freezer might be a better fit.

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