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A Guide to Household Refrigeration [2020 Buying Guide pt. 2]

by Albert Lee Appliance

Your options abound when it comes to shopping for refrigeration, so we’ve broken down some key considerations you should weigh before investing in a new fridge or freezer. 

In part 1 of our Guide to Refrigeration Shopping, you learned about reliable, stylish and energy-efficient fridges and freezers—and the many configurations they come in. 

In part 2, we’ll explore the myriad features offered in today’s refrigeration appliances.  

For example, did you know that you can choose whether your fridge is Energy Star certified and if you’d prefer internal or external water and ice dispensers? Or that you can purchase a refrigerator with a temperature-controlled fridge-or-freezer drawer? 

If you’re not afraid to splurge, you’ll be pleased to know that there are smart fridge models that are equipped with interior cameras so you can view your fridge from your smartphone while you’re at the store. No more struggling to remember if you’re out of milk or eggs!

Smart phone screen displays contents of refrigerator

Like most kitchen appliances finishes, stainless steel, black stainless steel, and slate rule supreme. If you’re hoping for a tad more flair, there are even panel-ready models that allow you to match your cabinetry with a completely customizable fridge exterior. 

Buying Considerations for Household Refrigeration Appliances

Hang tight! We know you’re excited, but before you decide on your refrigeration purchase, there are a few key items left to consider. 

Energy Star Certified

An energy-efficient refrigerator allows you to maximize your energy and dollar savings without sacrificing any of the features. If you’re hoping to make your kitchen space as energy-efficient as possible, consider a refrigerator with French doors. Generally, a French door refrigerator that has qualified for the Energy Star rating uses far less energy than competing models.

It’s important to choose the appropriate size refrigerator for your kitchen space. The general rule of thumb is, the larger the refrigerator, the greater the energy consumption. If you’re planning to downsize, the most energy-efficient refrigerator models are typically 20 cubic feet.

If your household has a second fridge or you’re just not ready to say goodbye to your old one, consider retiring your older model to your garage or basement. Older refrigerators do cost much more to run per year, on average; about 33% more energy than a model that has earned the Energy Star certification. So if you want to replace your out-of-date appliance, be on the lookout for an Energy Star fridge!

When buying a new fridge, be sure to properly recycle the old one. We will haul away and recycle your old refrigerator if we install a refrigerator purchased here. Read more about our installation services here.


Refrigerators should do much more than keep your food fresh; they should provide the options you desire and enhance the sense of luxury in your kitchen space. If you’re dreaming of bottom-freezers, ice makers, water dispensers, LED lighting, spacious interiors, and flexible storage options, open the door to refrigeration perfection.

Select Café models offer WiFi Connect and Keurig K-Cup brewing on the refrigerator door so you can schedule your cup of coffee to be ready when you are. If you need a morning coffee to get through the day, Café can provide the boost you need. 

When you’re ready to unwind after the long day’s work, steep a warm and relaxing herbal tea with the adjustable hot water dispenser that provides exact temperatures and measurements. There isn’t always time to make a run to the local coffee shop, so let your fridge bring it to you. 

This refrigerator lets you achieve the perfect balance of form and function, with features that come together to make your kitchen as beautiful as it is useful.

A man clutches a cup of coffee near his refrigerator

And that’s not all—have you seen panel-ready column refrigerators from Sub-Zero

The beauty of panel-ready refrigerators is the freedom to style with custom wood panels and the type of door pulls you find most pleasing. You’ll dazzle guests with a fully integrated design that fits beautifully into any kitchen decor, blending seamlessly into custom cabinetry with a flawless appearance. 

If you want to reflect your appreciation for the fine details of kitchen design, this is the appliance for you.

And with an Energy Star certification in conjunction with the premium-grade materials this manufacturer uses, you can give yourself a pat on your eco-friendly back for the 20 (minimum!) years Sub-Zero products are designed to last. 

Ice Makers

If you want an all-in-one appliance, then you’ll certainly want your refrigerator to come with a built-in ice maker. 

Whether you like cubed ice, perfectly round craft ice, or cylindrical ice, with a built-in ice machine, you’ll always have cold, fresh-tasting ice for refreshing pitchers of lemonade and sweet tea. The ice is always available in a dedicated freezer bin that you can turn off and on when you need more freezer space. 

An ice feature is very popular due to its convenience and ease of use. Having fresh, clean ice on demand is now a staple of modern refrigeration.

Expert tip: Keeping your fridge and freezer space clean is one way to promote clear, healthy-tasting ice. If you perform routine maintenance on your ice maker, you will have the convenience of clean ice on demand for years and years. 

Water Dispensers

You have options to consider when it comes to your refrigerator’s water dispenser. You can choose an external dispenser on the outside of the fridge door, or an internal dispenser inside your refrigeration compartment so you’re able to maintain a clean and smooth exterior. 

Most external dispensers have the ability to dispense water and ice and include filters to help ensure a cleaner taste. 

If you’re considering an internal dispenser, make sure you have access to a cold-water line or your current water line is still in good working condition. 

A built-in water dispenser is an alternative to keeping water bottles in stock or keeping a cooler around. It’s an energy-efficient means to keep clean water within a cup’s reach. If you aren’t concerned with storage space or having to replace filters, it’s one of the more convenient and eco-friendly features to have on your refrigerator. 

There are plenty of innovative features to be aware of as well. Some brands like Whirlpool and GE offer the ability to customize the amount of water dispensed. You can choose from ounces, cups, and more. With this precision-fill feature, there is no measuring needed. 

LG offers a taller dispensing area so you can fill large bottles and pitchers. Even if you need a refrigerator in a smaller space, these are compact features that won’t take over your fridge. 

filling up a glass from fridge water dispenser

See-through or Knock-to-see Doors

One of the latest innovations in refrigeration, LG’s InstaView refrigerator, has exactly what you need to become a trendsetter in the kitchen. 

Quick and easy access to your favorite foods and 3 energy-efficient cooling technologies team up to extend the life fruits and veggies. Smart cooling sensors monitor the temperature setting and blast cold air to all areas of the refrigerator. 

You won’t ever have to worry about losing your cool with this innovative and distinctive design—the InstaView door-in-door refrigerator includes a sleek, tinted glass panel that, illuminates when you gently knock twice so you can easily see the inside of the fridge compartment without opening the door and letting out any of the cold. It helps to keep food fresher for longer and elevates a beautifully crafted kitchen.  

Man prepares to knock on his fridge screen to see inside contents

Keys to Successful Refrigerator Shopping

As we send you off to venture into the world of refrigeration shopping, we want to leave you with a parting message: You can always take our word for it, because after all, we have been in the appliance industry for over 80 years, but a buying guide is exactly that; a guide. 

It always helps to do your own research and take advantage of the wealth of information available from industry experts (our blog included) to help you find the exact features that fit your taste, your needs, and your home. 

Do your due diligence and take the time to thoroughly scour websites, blogs, reviews, and our catalog before committing to an appliance. Remember, refrigerators are meant to last—once you make your decision, you’re in it for the long haul. 

Must-Have vs. Nice-to-Have Features

It’s important to consider what you hope to gain from your appliances in the scope of your kitchen space. 

Do you want a fridge that’s reliable, energy-efficient, trendy, luxurious? All good questions to ask yourself, but what do you value the most? 

No matter your personal preference, the most decisive factor comes down to features. 

Do you want to invest in a high-tech appliance that acts as the central hub for all your refrigeration needs, or do you want a more simplistic, classically configured product that will get the job done without all the glitz and glam?

If you think you might want to venture into customizable, tech-focused models, consider which features would help streamline the process from shopping to cooling to mealtime. You should find the exact model that suits your every need and makes life in the kitchen easy and enjoyable. 

Major appliance purchases are what we know best and we’re always willing and able to lend our support. Check out our guide to shopping online for household appliances!

Using Chat or Phone to Ask Questions

As previously mentioned, we are always available by chat or phone to answer any questions you might have. 

You can chat with us by clicking the icon on the bottom-right side of our homepage. A window will pop up where one of our team members will be able to communicate with you live. Phone calls are always welcome—remember to give us a call at your preferred location or our toll-free number at 1-866-966-2110. If you reach out after business hours, not to worry! We will get back to you as quickly as possible. 

Screenshot of Albert Lee chat function

Measuring Your Space

Our final piece of advice: measure, measure again and measure a third time to make sure your dimensions are correct and you have the necessary space available for your new refrigeration appliance. 

For any appliance needs big or small, don’t hesitate to contact our industry experts here at Albert Lee—we're happy to help in any way we can. Give us a call or chat with us today! 

Regarding COVID-19, our appliance delivery teams are taking precautionary steps to help minimize the current public health emergency and, as such, have taken proactive steps such as disinfecting themselves between customer deliveries and wearing rubber gloves while performing deliveries at our customer's homes. 

 We are taking every precaution to clean and disinfect our stores throughout the day above and beyond the normal cleaning process, including professional disinfection, as well as ensuring our customers and employees can maintain a safe social distance. For more information, please visit