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How to Buy a Refrigerator

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A smart consumer versus a stupid consumer is one that does their homework even before they enter an appliance store for a new refrigerator. A stupid consumer just walks in with no idea of what they need or want, kind of like their in la-la land. Then, to make matters worse, they expect the sales staff to hand hold them and caudle them in their decision making process.

But, what does doing your homework mean?

  • You need to know dimensions of the current fridge or space where one is going in. Measure the height, width, and depth. Measure the height to the top of the fridge, not to the top of the hinge of doors. This is because the hinge part of a fridge will always stick out away from cabinets.
  • Examine the space you have for a fridge. Are there any situations that would prevent the door from opening for access? Most common are walls or cabinets that could prevent it from opening fully.
  • Determine if you need a cabinet depth or full size unit. A cabinet depth fridge is one that is less than 32 inches deep from the wall. It will not protrude out too far from your cabinets. The biggest of these types are usually 23 cubic feet. A full size fridge depth is from 32-36 inches deep. These will stick out much further from your standard cabinets in most homes. There is no right or wrong, it is what you can live with.
  • Decide on the style- French door (the freezer is on the bottom), Side By Side (the freezer is on the left door), or Old Style (Freezer is on the top). Decide on the finish: Stainless Steel, or, color.
  • Decide on the features you want: With or without a water dispenser in the door, dual ice makers, interior shelving options.
  • Go to the website of the store and see the models they sell. If you find one, write down the model number and go to the store to see it physically. Some stainless steel finishes are glossy or not. The non-glossy ones are usually fingerprint resistant. Make sure the fridge you are considering matches the other appliances in the kitchen is finish and in handles.
  • Most warranties are one year from the manufacturer. Samsung, LG, some GE fridges will have a 10 yr. warranty on only the compressor. They usually have a badge on the fridge indicating this. Keep in mind, this warranty is only on the compressor part, the electronics are still just one year. With LG, should the compressor fail within six years, they will replace it free (both labor and part). If it is 7-10 years when if fails, the owner pays for labor ($700+) but the part is free ($800+).

As to which brands to buy, stay away from Samsung. There is a problem with their freezer and ice maker after 1-2 years. It is the most common complaint. The water line freezes and owners need to unplug it for several hours to unfreeze the line so the ice maker works until next time. LG compressors seem to only last 3-4 years. While it is fully covered in the warranty, the time it takes for the repair and part is usually a month or more (this means no fridge!).

In general, buying a foreign brand means long repair times when it fails because many repairmen don't know how to fix them or can't get the part quickly. So, buying an American brand (GE, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Kitchen Aid, Hotpoint, Amana etc.) means the know how to repair and parts availability are much quicker. The main foreign brands are LG and Samsung (South Korean), Bosch (German), Haier and Midea (Chinese). Although, the Chinese did buy the GE appliance division in the USA a few years ago and a few of their front load washers\dryers are made in China.

Being a smart consumer is knowing what you want and you have investigated the model. You have done your homework about size etc. Don't expect a salesperson to know what you want as that is a stupid consumer.

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