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Refrigerator and Freezer: Making the Cool Choice

With today’s economy being as it is there may not be more important appliances in your kitchen than those dedicated to the preservation of your hard-earned food. Given that condition, you’ll have to put a lot of careful thought into an appliance that is reliable, services your everyday needs and demands, and compliments the aesthetic requirements of your new kitchen space. Unlike other appliances where certain features may be compromised upon in an effort to meet a certain budget or visual desire, there are few compromises that should be made when choosing a refrigerator and freezer for your kitchen. By far, these appliances are the most widely used fixture in any household and are central to the modern way of life–we can’t live without them! Beyond being the consummate ‘work-horse’ in the most active room of a home, it also must be a ‘pretty’ work-horse and one that is tireless in its duty—making this decision one of lasting importance.

Some Basic Criteria to Review

When planning-out your kitchen space, it would be prudent to have a fairly solid decision already made as to how large an area you expect to dedicate to the refrigerator and freezer. In other words, it would be wise to shop for refrigerators, determine the necessary size, and incorporate the dimensions of the unit into your kitchen layout. The prevailing, accepted rule is to decide upon the largest capacity unit that services your family on a weekly basis; and this is assuming that most families tend to shop for groceries on a weekly basis. The refrigerator and freezer must be able to accommodate this shopping trip! A unit that is too large may invite waste, as food is lost in the chasms of the cavernous box; and one that is too small will force a change in your shopping frequency, wasting time and incurring travel expenses. Choose a size that satisfies the missing needs of your present refrigerator.

You’ll also want to ‘practice’ moving shelves in the refrigerator you’re considering. While all refrigerators have modular shelves, you’ll want to experiment with them to make sure that you’re comfortable with how they are relocated. Also take a gander at the storage areas located within the door, or doors. Some of these spaces are allocated for ‘proprietary’ purposes (egg trays, for example) and, although they may be stylish, will you actually be using them? If not, they become valuable wasted space. The exterior finish of the appliance is also important and should be chosen with the entire household in mind. Just as the interior shelving needs to be easily serviceable, the exterior needs to be equally as serviceable–you don’t want to be a slave to keeping the unit looking clean and fresh.

Some ‘not-so-basic’ Criteria

One thing that is often overlooked when shopping for refrigerators is that of the interior lighting. Most units come with a single light source that is tucked away in a corner or in the forward part of the appliance. These configurations leave broad and confined shadows that contribute to some relatively significant waste. Whether it’s a food waste, as items get lost in the shadows, or it’s a power waste as the door stays open longer while the user tries to scan the entire contents of the box. Some newer units have multiple lighting locations or ‘radiant’ lighting that glows in every nook and cranny–and present a stark difference in how the contents may be viewed. Automatic ice-making features have been around for decades and have proved their worthiness in domestic convenience. Initially, this feature was tucked inside the freezer section and occupied about the same space as 4 ice-cube trays. Since then, refrigerator/freezer combinations have arrived with exterior ice (and ice and cold water combinations) dispensers that permit the user to claim ice without ever opening the freezer–thereby saving energy. The trade-off for this convenience is that these dispensers consume more interior freezer storage space as well as becoming, yet another, separate feature that could invite repair.

Freezers and Technical Developments

The choice of having a freezer as a dual component of the refrigerator/freezer appliance or as a separate appliance altogether is really a matter of convenience and need for the homeowner. Oftentimes a separate freezer unit is indicated because of refrigerator space constraints or that the desired ‘in-the-door’ ice dispenser was more important than convenient freezer space. The option of a chest-type freezer versus an upright freezer is also a decision based upon the tastes and needs of the consumer–both have advantages and disadvantages that a consumer celebrates or contends with. In either choice, be confident that these units will perform their task as required.

Some of the more notable technical developments that are prevalent in these cool appliances are focused upon reliability and energy-saving demands. New appliances are computer driven and, in being designed this way, are less prone to mechanical malfunction. This characteristic also makes them much easier to ‘diagnose’ when things go awry. Such features also enable them to be extremely ‘customized’ when it comes to regulating a desired interior temperature–saving energy and keeping food at a temperature that is suitable to the homeowner. The wall insulation has dramatically improved over the years and has yielded more useable interior space as a result. You’ll also find units that may be fit with two cooling compressors, each dedicated to the refrigerator or the freezer respectively. The theory here is that, should one compressor give you trouble, the other will still function–giving you some ‘emergency’ storage while you seek-out a repair; and that’s just good planning!