Checklist: 8 Questions to Answer Before You Buy a Refrigerator

Checklist: 8 Questions to Answer Before You Buy a Refrigerator

refrigerator-checklistThe phone call is, unfortunately, all too familiar:

“Hi, I found a fridge off your website and bought it over the phone last week. Now the delivery guys are in my house and it’s too tall to fit under my cabinets! What do I do?”

As much as we try to avoid situations like this, people make mistakes. The average consumer goes a long time between major appliance purchases, so it’s tough to ask all the right questions and avoid pitfalls during the decision-making process.

We don’t want to see you get blindsided by unforeseen details. That’s why we wrote this simple refrigerator buying checklist: to address common questions and eliminate mistakes that cost extra time and money.

These are the same questions we ask on the sales floor to find the best available refrigerator for our customers’ needs.

If you print and fill out this checklist, you’ll be well on your way to an informed purchase.

Checklist: 8 Questions to Answer Before You Buy a Refrigerator

1. Measure the width, height, and depth of the housing where you will install your refrigerator. Be sure to account for clearance for the top door hinge (which adds roughly 1/2″ to the height of the refrigerator) and make sure the doors won’t hit anything when they are open. Both of these measurements should be listed in the specifications section of our website.

W: _____”

H: _____”

D: _____”

Any potential restrictions with your floor plan? __________________________________________________

2. Choose a design. top/bottom-freezer, side-by-side, french door, built-in, integrated. (Learn about the pros and cons of each refrigerator design style our free refrigerator buying guide.)

Design: __________________________________

3. Choose sizing / configuration: counter-depth, undercounter, or standard.

A counter-depth refrigerator sits flush with your kitchen counters, so it works well in islands and other tight kitchen spaces. Undercounter units are beverage centers, wine coolers, etc. that install under a 34″ counter.

Configuration: _________________________________

4. Estimate the capacity you need. Figure roughly 16-20 cubic feet of space for 2 people who cook regularly. Add about 1.5 cubic feet for each extra hungry mouth in your household.

Capacity: ______ cu. ft.


Household Size: ______

5. Choose a finish from white, black or stainless steel. Less common, but not totally impossible-to-find options include bisque (off-white), slate, and black or white with stainless steel accents on the handles/trim.

Finish: _____________________________

6. Which way should your door swing open? Refrigerators come configured hinge right or hinge left, which refers to the side the door hinge is attached from the perspective of the user.

If you are facing your refrigerator, and the door handle is on the left while the hinge is on the right, that is a hinge right refrigerator. (The door will open from left to right.)

Hinge location (while facing your refrigerator): ________

7. Pick a target budget. The refrigerator design will determine a broad price range – for instance, french door refrigerators start around $1500, and once you get near the $5000 price point, you start looking at built-in refrigeration options.

Once you have that broad price range, you will be able to determine the capacity and features available to you at your price point.

Budget: $_______ to $_______

8. Any features you can’t live without? This is the last step – it’s like picking a base car model, then choosing which extras to add on. The following features are common upgrades that will cost extra, but add functionality to your refrigerator:

  • Through-the-door water/ice maker
  • Humidity and temperature controls
  • Frost-free operation
  • Adjustable / sliding shelves
  • Spill-safe glass shelves (upgrade from standard wire shelving)
  • Extra fresh food storage (“Qiuck Cool” drawers, soft-serve ice cream bins, etc.)

Must-have features:






Of course, there are too many features to list here, as manufacturers make different offerings to differentiate themselves within a category. After you’ve filled out steps 1-6, take a look at features and any available rebates to figure out which refrigerator is the best bang for your buck.

If you print this checklist and fill it out, you’ll be 95% of the way to a smart decision. And as a bonus, our sales team will love you for making their job incredibly easy.

Checklist complete? Great – you’re in the home stretch. Browse refrigerators on our website and use the checkbox below each product to compare features and specs side-by-side. Or, request a consultation below and let our experienced sales specialists do all the legwork.