A French door refrigerator in a kitchen

Buying a refrigerator guide: how to choose a new fridge in 2024

There are several factors to consider when buying a new refrigerator including configuration, capacity, features and finish. This refrigerator buying guide will help you choose the best type of refrigerator for your home based on the factors that are most important to you. 

Check out the refrigerator buying tips in the steps below.

A French door refrigerator with lines showing space considerations A French door refrigerator with lines showing space considerations

Step 1: Consider kitchen space and layout before you buy a new fridge

A refrigerator should make good use of kitchen space. Before shopping, use a tape measure to get accurate dimensions for your new fridge. Make sure to have the following information on hand:

  • Width, height and depth measurements of the space where your new fridge will be installed.
  • The amount of space needed to open refrigerator doors and drawers with ease.
  • Distance from the fridge to nearby kitchen islands.

This refrigerator measuring guide walks you through the entire process.

You’ll also want to consider whether you want a standard-depth or counter-depth refrigerator. Standard-depth refrigerators stick out further in front of your counters, while counter-depth options in every style sit virtually flush. Have more questions? Learn more about standard-depth vs. counter-depth refrigerators.

Step 2: Choose your refrigerator style and configuration

Organize and store your favorite fresh and frozen items just how you like them with the right refrigerator style and configuration for your family. Learn more about pantry-style French door refrigerators, sleek side-by-side fridges, classic top- or bottom-freezer refrigerators or specialized undercounter refrigerator models to find the right fit.

Models shown: WRF954CIHZ, WRX735SDHV &  WRF535SMHZ

French door, 4-door and 5-door refrigerators French door, 4-door and 5-door refrigerators

French Door Refrigerators

French door refrigerators put refrigerated food at eye level and freezer items below. The standard French door design features two doors that open to a single refrigerator compartment on the top, plus a deeper freezer drawer on the bottom.

If you have a busy household or kids, consider options with extra doors that give you easy-to-access external drawers, like this 4-door refrigerator model from Whirlpool brand. Snacks are stored where you can reach them without opening the main doors.

French door fridges are a higher-end choice because they usually have the most features. Whirlpool® French Door Refrigerators often offer:

  • Water dispensers, single and double ice makers and dual cooling.
  • Specialized storage like customizable drawers, slide-in shelves for taller items and organized freezer storage.
  • Ample space for wider items like platters and pizza boxes.
  • Comparable door swing to a side-by-side of the same width.

Model shown: WRSA71CIHZ

A side-by-side refrigerator in a kitchen A side-by-side refrigerator in a kitchen

Side-by-Side Refrigerators

Side-by-side refrigerators position the freezer on the left and the refrigerator on the right. With easy access to both sides and a selection of the same features available on French door refrigerators, characteristics of this classic include:

  • Performance features like humidity-controlled crispers to create ideal fruit and vegetable environments.
  • Specialized storage like can caddies to organize soda.
  • Plenty of usable capacity. 
  • Space-saving ice maker and water on the freezer door.
  • Often less door swing room than top-freezer models of the same width.

Model shown: WRT511SZDM & WRB322DMBM

Top- and bottom-freezer refrigerators Top- and bottom-freezer refrigerators

Top- and Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators

Top-freezer refrigerators have the freezer on top and a single door refrigerator on bottom, making the freezer easier to access.

Bottom-freezer refrigerators have a single door refrigerator on top and a deeper freezer drawer below—like a French door. The refrigerator compartment is more accessible on these models.

Both top- and bottom-freezer models tend to be lighter on features and smaller in size than French door and side-by-side models. They may be the fit if you appreciate:

  • Thinner widths for small spaces, with good capacity for the size.
  • Fitting into spaces without a water hookup, since ice and water dispensers are less common.

Model shown: WUW55X24HS

An undercounter wine center in a kitchen An undercounter wine center in a kitchen

Undercounter Refrigerators

Undercounter refrigerators are a popular option for storing food and drinks. They are often available with reversible doors, temperature-controlled zones and spill proof shelves.

Beverage and wine centers are undercounter refrigerators designed to store wine and craft beer at ideal temperatures. They can also work as a secondary fridge for soda and water. 

Learn more about the different types of refrigerators, or find some undercounter refrigerator features to look for.

Feature shown: Infinity Slide Shelf


Step 3: Consider fridge capacity and storage options

When you’re buying a refrigerator, look at capacity, measured in cubic feet (cu. ft.), to compare total size. While shopping, you should consider:

  • How much you bring home from the grocery store and how many people are in your family—this will help you determine your needed cubic feet.
  • Quick access to favorites and who needs to reach them—exterior drawers or storage zones on the door’s interior let you store snacks where they’re easy to reach.
  • Whether you need to store extra tall items or large platters—certain styles like French door and side-by-side usually have specialized storage solutions like sliding shelves and wide trays.
  • Whether you need a standard capacity refrigerator with around 20 cubic feet, or a large capacity fridge with up to around 30 cubic feet of space. If you have limited space, or a small family, small space refrigerator capacities usually run from around 11 to 18 cubic feet. If you’re looking for mini-fridge dimensions, they usually run around 4 to 5 cubic feet.
  • If you often need room for bulk freezer purchases or extra fresh food storage space—our wide selection of chest and upright freezers, often converts to a refrigerator when your storage needs change and also features sliding baskets on 3 storage levels to keep food visible and easy to access.

Learn more about large capacity refrigerators and small space refrigerators.

Step 4. Look for refrigerator features you’ll use

Before you buy a refrigerator, think about the features you’ll use most. Here are a few refrigerator features to consider:

Discover even more new refrigerator trends and features.

A person putting sticky notes on a Whirlpool® fridge A person putting sticky notes on a Whirlpool® fridge

Step 5: Select your desired fridge color and finish

Refrigerator finishes vary from the traditional black and white to stainless steel in different hues. Explore all colors available to find the right fit for you. And if you’re looking for a finish that easily wipes clean, Whirlpool offers two fingerprint-resistant finishes:

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Shop Whirlpool® Refrigerators

Find just the right combination of size, features and finishes for your kitchen and your family when you explore a full lineup of refrigerator styles from Whirlpool. Need help choosing a fridge? Use the Whirlpool® Refrigerator Selector to help narrow down your options and find the best refrigerator for your home or shop our ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators to use less energy year round.

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