Usually the largest appliance in the kitchen, the refrigerator plays a central role in day to day cooking and kitchen use. Finding the right model for your household is a matter of evaluating space needs, style preferences and desired functionality.
Capacity/Size: Full-size refrigerators come in a wide variety of capacities. Large, family-sized units can feature upwards of 26 cubic feet of space. Two people generally need eight to ten cubic feet of fresh food storage. For each additional member of the household, add an extra foot to foot and a half of storage space
Configuration: Several different refrigerator designs are available, each of which offer their own advantages.
- Top Mount -The freezer compartment is on top with the refrigerator located below. This is the most common design, and provides a spacious interior.
- Bottom Mount - The freezer compartment is located underneath the refrigerator, often in a slide-out drawer. Commonly-used fridge items are easier to access without bending down. The refrigerator compartment may use either a single door or French door design.
- Side by Side - The refrigerator and freezer compartments are adjacent. Both frozen and refrigerated foods are within easy reach, but the design may not accommodate larger items such as frozen pizzas or turkeys.
- Compact Models - Scaled-down versions designed to fit into tight spaces or underneath counters. Though they have smaller capacities, they are ideal for dorm rooms, basements, offices or family rooms
Energy efficiency: Refrigerator units manufactured in the last few years are vastly more efficient than older models. Energy-efficient models help reduce utility bills. Models with electronic controls and digital displays make setting precise temperatures even easier, and many refrigerators feature advanced temperature regulation systems.
Adjustable shelves: The adjustability of shelving varies from model to model. Some allow you to move shelves up or down without being removed, while others provide the flexibility to adjust both the height and depth of any shelf.
Icemakers/ water dispensers: Icemakers have become a common feature, and the best are those that are integral to the door, leaving more space in the main freezer compartment for food. Many water dispensers also incorporate a water filtration unit.
Individual storage bins/crispers controls: Many fridges now allow you to customize the humidity and temperature settings for each storage and crisper bin, ideal for those who purchase a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Reversible doors: Refrigerators with reversible doors allow customization for right-or-left handed access. These can also be useful for kitchens where the fridge area is tight against a wall or cabinet.
Style and finish: Ideally your refrigerator will be with you for many years, so it is important to pick a style that will match your kitchen design and compliment your changing tastes. Stainless-steel finishes are very popular, albeit slightly more expensive. Black, white, and bisque are the most common refrigerator colors, and trim kits are available that can make a freestanding unit appear more like a built-in model.
If you use your microwave for more than just preheating or thawing, it might be time to upgrade your current model. Todays latest versions come with a wide variety of settings and features that can let you cook entire meals in mere minutes.
Size: Microwaves now come in a variety of sizes and power levels. Choose a size that best fits both your counter/cabinet space and the sizes of cookware that you typically use in the microwave.
- Compact - 18 wide x 12 high x 14 deep (less than .8 cubic feet capacity), 500-800 watts power;
- Midsize - 20 wide x 12 high x 14deep (.8 1.2 cubic feet capacity), 800-1000 watts power;
- Large/full-size - are 20 wide x 12 high x 20 deep (.8 1.2 cubic feet capacity), over 1000 watts power
Built-in microwave spaces: Over-the range models are full size ovens designed to be placed above the stovetop, including a vent feature. These microwaves free up counter space and place the microwave at a convenient eye level. If your kitchen features a built-in microwave area for, make sure to accurately measure the space when comparing models, including some buffer room.
Convection: New combination microwave/convection ovens let you cook in either microwave only, convection only, or combination convection/microwave mode. The convection feature crisps and browns foods in ways that microwave cooking alone cannot.
Turntable: Turntables rotate food for more even cooking, and can be removed for easy cleanup.
Noise: If possible, test out the noise output of several models. Some powerful models can be fairly loud.