A refrigerator or what we normally call a fridge is an integral part in all homes. It is used for storing food stuff, vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry and dairy products etc. for longer shelf life and to keep them fresh. There are now a wide range of refrigerators available in the market that come in various sizes, types, etc. Just looking at the vast selection is bound to confuse you. This is a guide to help you select the appropriate type of refrigerator that is suited to your needs and requirements.

The most important point to remember is the available space in your kitchen. Always remember that the space should be proportional to the size of refrigerator you buy. Buying a too large refrigerator for a small kitchen will make the room look extremely small and make you claustrophobic. Secondly your personal requirements and the size of your family. For a small family, buying a huge refrigerator usually means wastage of energy and money in terms of electricity bills. Unless of course, you entertain a lot and frequently have guests over making it necessary to have a large refrigerator.

fridgeType of Refrigerator

There are various types of refrigerators available. New American-style refrigerators come with separate compartments for cooling beverages, cold water, ice cubes etc. These types also come with a special, convenient dispenser built in the door from which you can take out cold water, ice cubes etc. without opening the refrigerator. These types are usually like cupboards with two doors which close to one entire compartment that is a freezer and the other a regular refrigerator. This type is called side-by-side and may not be suited to people who are vegetarians but best suited to those who eat fish, meat etc.

Apart from this, there are other types that are recognised from the position of the freezer inside the refrigerator. Most common types of domestic refrigerators come with freezer at the top and vegetables and fruits tray at the bottom with regular shelves in between the two. These come with a single door or two doors with freezer compartment separated at the top with its own door. The French style comes with bottom-mounted freezer with a separate door. There also are some types that are equipped with 3 and 4 doors but are not so common in India. So while choosing from these types, take an inventory of your personal needs, determine which type would be convenient for you and then select accordingly.

Available Space

Like I mentioned earlier too, the space should be an important consideration when buying a refrigerator. Side-by-side refrigerators are the largest ones that take up premium space so unless you have an extremely large kitchen, keep away from such types. But if you have an open-plan space that is the rage nowadays, where the kitchen, dining area and the living room are created seamlessly that gives you large, open spaces all around, then side-by-side is a good option. Its modern, futuristic design and lovely colours will make it an attractive element of your decor. Now the refrigerators have more pleasing colours and decoratve textures on their exteriors, which you can choose to match the colours of your walls, curtains etc. For small, regular kitchens, single doors and double doors with top-mounted or bottom-mounted freezers are the best option.

Economical Considerations

Now all home appliances come with an Energy Star classification, the bigger the star rating, the less is the amount of energy utilized. You should buy a refrigerator with minimum 3-star rating out of 5. I previously had a regular-sized Godrej fridge whcih was common in all homes (I think it as 160 litres, don't remember now), which I changed to a 4-Star rated refrigerator of 260 litres. I was surprised to see my electricity bill go down instead of up, as I now had a larger refrigerator. But that is because in spite of being large in size, it is much more energy efficient than my previous smaller one. So check if your refrigerator has an energy classification, if not, then change to it as soon as you can. For long term, these refrigerators are a great option as they save you a lot on the electricity bills.

Also, buying the frost-free type of refrigerator is quite economical. Refrigerators are also available with Total No Frost Free system which are initially quite expensive, but worth every rupee you spend on it. These types totally inhibit the build-up of frost which is a big energy waster, but it also prevents condensation of humidity, thereby preventing mildew on the insides as well.

Compressor Types

Refrigerators that are equipped with two compressors are most reliable and economical, but may tend to be a bit noisy. Linear compressors are now the latest in technology and are long lasting and the plus point is that they are even more quieter than other types

Cooling System and Temperatures

Air-flow system is the best type that allows rapid cooling in the fresh food compartment and also ensures the temperatures in the other compartments are kept even.

The temperatures inside are traditionally -18 degrees Celsius in the freezer and 4 to 8 degrees Celsius in the fresh food compartments. Choose the type which additionally has 0 degrees Celsius in the vegetable bin so that the veggies and fruits remain fresher for days.

The above-mentioned factors are important when considering purchase of a new refrigerator. But along with them, you should also consider other things such as hygiene, the door seals of refrigerators tend to get coated with fungus due to humidity, food spills etc. which require regular scrubbing and are quite tedious to clean. Nowadays, refrigerators also come with an anti-bacterial protection on these door seals. It is a good idea to invest in such types. The noise level should not exceed 40 decibels or its constantly loud hum will bring about severe headaches and irritation to family members.

There are also refrigerators available now that come armed with alarms, if you accidentally leave the door open, the alarm rings to remind you to close the door properly. Some types will lock the door for about 30 seconds after you close them so that they are not opened again in rapid succession. Fancy these functions may sound, but they do save a lot of energy that is wasted by keeping the door open or opening the doors frequently.

So next time, you buy a new refrigerator or want to replace your older model, read the above points and understand your requirements and feasibility options. I am sure, it will help you choose the right option for your kitchen.

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