A refrigerator is probably everyone’s favorite household appliance. As we all know, fridges are primarily used to store and preserve food, which is quite important in our day-to-day lives if you think about it. It can be quite difficult to choose which one is right for you, especially if a small kitchen limits your options.
Figuring out the best refrigerator for your kitchen can get quite tricky. Aside from the refrigerator itself, you also need to consider how it can work well within your kitchen. Other considerations will be its design in terms of functionality, maintenance needs, and repair; all of which depend highly on the model you get.
To make the best decision in buying a refrigerator, you should know more about the product that you’re buying and how that product operates. Aside from the product itself, we want to maximize its value by knowing how to use it well and layout it, given that we’re working with limited space.
What’s Important to Know About Refrigerators When Buying One?
Before anything else, we’ll be quickly going over how a refrigerator operates. A refrigerator absorbs all the heat inside it and expels it outside. It does this through a process of evaporation and condensation that repeatedly cycles to maintain a set temperature.
The main thing you should consider is ensuring that your refrigerator can function properly inside your kitchen and lasts as long as possible while being as efficient as possible.
Here are a few points that you should consider and know when it comes to refrigerators:
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#1: Maintenance Work
Depending on the model and design of the refrigerator that you have, you’ll need to do some upkeep work for your fridge to run smoothly consistently.
This is the rubber part of your fridge’s doors that acts as a seal and keeps cold air inside. Make sure to inspect it now and then to ensure that heat does not enter your fridge.
This is for refrigerators that come in with a built-in water dispenser. You’ll need to check and change your filters regularly. Usually, manufacturers provide instructions on how to do this and how often the filter needs to be changed.
The coils are essential in keeping your fridge cold. They are usually located at the back or the bottom of your fridge, and this is where they expel any heat that they collect from the inside. Since your coils are located at these parts, they tend to accumulate dust, hampering their ability to remove heat.
You can use a vacuum or simply wipe off any dust that you see on your coils. It’s recommended that you should do this quarterly or as needed.
#2: Proper Usage
It may sound ridiculous that we need to cover how to use a refrigerator properly, but you’d be surprised to know that there are some practices that you may be doing that damages your fridge in the long run.
- Temperature: Storing hot food immediately makes it harder for the fridge to maintain the set temperature. Temperature fluctuations can also cause improper cooling in the long run.
- Not covering food: Food can end up spilling into other parts of your refrigerator or get cross-contaminated by other food.
- Underloading/Overloading: Ideally, your refrigerator should be filled but not to the point where food starts to fall out. More cold objects(such as food) inside your refrigerator will make it easier to maintain cool temperatures.
We don’t recommend that you attempt to repair your refrigerator unless it’s only for light repairs, such as for a gasket. Instead, you should call the manufacturer to send maintenance specialists if you still have a warranty.
With that said, here are the signs that your refrigerator might need repairs:
- Leakage: Water leaks out if either your freezer’s drain is blocked or if your water supply line gets frozen.
- Improper freezing: A sign of a broken thermostat, temperature fluctuations tend to cause an excessive amount of frost to form inside your fridge’s walls.
- Spoiled Food: Also an indicator that there’s something wrong with your fridge’s temperature control. Aside from that, another possible cause is excess moisture remaining inside your fridge.
- Age: A refrigerator that is older than ten years old should probably be replaced regardless of whether there are problems or not. It’s only a matter of time before it breaks down, and its energy efficiency is not up to par compared to newer models.
Considerations And Planning For A Small Kitchen
A small kitchen can be quite challenging to plan and use; the smaller space will entail limitations to what you can do. Every bit of space counts, and from that, you need to assess how you’ll be going about working and using your kitchen.
#1: Anthropometric Design
That said, it helps a lot to have a brief idea of anthropometrics. To keep it simple, anthropometrics is simply the measurement of the human body, and in architecture, it’s used to help designers make spaces more functional for users. Remember that aside from the space that your kitchen furniture/fixtures take up, you will also be taking up space in using them.
For a refrigerator in a small kitchen, you need to consider the amount of space blocked off or unusable whenever your refrigerator is in use. You also need to consider the movements/actions that you’ll need to make to use your refrigerator( ex., Will using your refrigerator end up blocking access to other parts of your kitchen?)
The placement of your refrigerator in the context of your kitchen will determine how your workflow will go. Simple things like putting your refrigerator next to a counter or having it close to a sink add up in the long run as to how you go about working inside your kitchen. A common tip for kitchen layouts is to form a triangle between your sink, stove, and refrigerator.
For example, if you have your refrigerator located in such a way that has no counter close to it, then loading groceries every month would take longer because you’d have to walk to your kitchen counter and back. Even if you had a counter nearby, it wouldn’t be as accessible if your fridge’s orientation caused the fridge door to block you from simply reaching out to your counter.
You might be wondering why we’re covering concepts of spatial design in an article about buying a refrigerator. These concepts are useful wherein you, the homeowner can have a framework that helps you imagine in a deeper way how your spaces are used and have a better basis for your plans. Knowing this, it helps you better plan with a small kitchen and maximizes your available space.
Best Refrigerator For A Small Kitchen
Now that we’ve covered refrigerators and small kitchens briefly, we can now start getting into the best refrigerators for small kitchens. As we know that the “best” fridge highly depends on how well it fits into a homeowner’s wants and needs. We’ll be primarily looking at the price, volume/area, as well as notable features of these fridges.
Smaller kitchens should go for a simple refrigerator so that we won’t be going over fridges with more than two doors and with multiple features(such as a water/ice cube dispenser). We’re also going to assume that you’re limited in space, so we’ll be covering fridges that only measure around 30 inches in width or less.
Best for Budget: GE 17.5-cu ft Top-Freezer Refrigerator
Volume/Area: 17.5-cu ft / 26.5 in. x 28 in. x 68 in. (L x W x H)
Features: Primary features are the glass shelves for the fridge and the freezer that you can position accordingly. It also includes a deli-drawer that can also be moved around.
Why: A well-known brand that offers a model size that can fit into any small kitchen. This refrigerator easily gets you the most value for your money.
Best for Space Efficiency: Whirlpool 30-inch Wide Top Freezer Refrigerator – 18 cu. Ft.
Volume/Area: 18 Cu. Ft. / 29½ in. x 33½ in. x 66 in. (L x W x H)
Features: Electronic Temperature controls. We can also have the option to include an icemaker for this model.
Why: Since every inch counts in a smaller kitchen, this model gets the job done by striking a good balance between the space that it consumes and the storage space that it provides.
Best for Easy Maintenance: LG – 11.1 Cu. Ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator
Volume/Area: 11.1 Cu. Ft. / 26 in. x 24 in. x 66 in.(L x W x H)
Features: Door cooling and electronic controls for the temperature.
Why: The design of this model makes it quite a breeze to clean, considering its smaller capacity, and the size of its removable components makes it easy to wash in your sink or wipe off when needed.
Best Overall: Frigidaire® 20.4 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel Top Freezer Refrigerator-FFTR2021TS
Volume/Area: 20.4 Cu. Ft. / 32 in. x 29.63 in. x 69 in. (L x W x H)
Features: Includes a reversible door that allows you to determine the direction of the door swings. Door storage is quite larger than other fridges in this price range and offers. The material of the shelves is glass and wires.
Why: Being the largest fridge on this list, storage won’t be a problem at all. In terms of value, this fridge gets the most bang for its buck, considering all the features that it provides.
Check the current price on Amazon.
Best for Apartment/Flat Kitchen: Magic Chef HMDR1000WE 10.1 cu. ft.
Volume/Area: 10. 1 Cu. Ft. / 26 in x 23.6 in x 59.4 in (L x W x H)
Features: Meant to be larger than a small fridge but smaller than the typical ones. It also has the reversible door feature. 2 compartments are set in place at the bottom while the other shelves in the fridge are adjustable.
Why: Perfect for those living by themselves or with a partner, the fridge’s size can store enough food even with its small footprint. The reversible door gives this.
Check the current price on Amazon.
We know how scary it can be to buy a new refrigerator considering that it’s one of the most expensive appliances that you’ll have to buy and that you’ll be using it for the next decade or so. It’s highly suggested that you look into the brands to see if they have service branches near you and that you also have your warranty readily available in case anything goes wrong.
Refrigerator Energy Consumption
This section will briefly cover how the energy rating for refrigerators works and what you need to know.
Firstly, the design of the refrigerator plays a big role in how much energy is consumed, with top freezers being the most energy-efficient design. The general concept is that your refrigerator consumes energy to maintain that set temperature. Factors such as location, usage, and maintenance will affect how smoothly or how difficult it will be for your fridge to do this.
The government requires manufacturers to show an estimate of the annual operation costs of their refrigerators. It should be noted that these tests are only estimated as the testing for these products is often done in controlled conditions that try to achieve the lowest costs possible. On average, a refrigerator consumes around $150 worth of electricity annually, but again this number can increase/decrease based on the factors we laid out earlier.
Smaller kitchens can be quite tricky to work with, but as long as their planned out to maximize the space, then it should be just fine. Refrigerators come in different shapes and sizes; it all boils down to what features you need and whether its design is compatible with your kitchen.