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How to Shop for Refrigerators Online: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Olly Mason

Everyone seems to believe they know how to navigate the digital market, but once it comes to more important purchases, such as shopping online for a refrigerator, it’s easy to get lost in a thicket of tabs, pop-up boxes, and search pages. At times, it can almost feel like a part-time job.

The truth is, searching for a new refrigerator online without a plan could cost you more money and valuable time. That’s why knowing how to shop for a refrigerator is an indispensable tool every online buyer should become familiar with. While online platforms are evolving daily, retailers (like us!) are constantly working to make the process easy and intuitive with just a little know-how.

If you’re a regular subscriber, you’ll be familiar with our guide on how to shop for appliances online. This time around, we’ll guide you through the steps to buying a refrigerator online, whether you’re currently browsing or ready to replace your current fridge. Follow along!

three mini boxes with e-cart logo staged next to a credit card with laptop in background

1. Measure to Fit a Refrigerator

The first step to buying a refrigerator is measuring your home’s spaces to ensure that your new refrigerator:

  • Fits through entryways.
  • Fits in your kitchen.
  • Is compatible with your kitchen’s layout.

Using a tape measure, begin measuring:

  1. The height and width of the entryways where you plan to receive the delivery of your new refrigerator.

Be sure to keep any obstructions in mind, including doorknobs, door hinges, and handles.

  1. Next, measure the height, width, and depth of the space where your new refrigerator will go.

Be sure to account for the height of cabinetry overhead and the depth of nearby countertops; depth will be an important factor to consider if you plan on purchasing a counter-depth refrigerator.

  1. If your kitchen has an island or you will be installing a refrigerator across from cabinetry or drawers, make sure to measure the clearance between the refrigerator space and the start of the built-in cabinetry.

To do this, measure from the start of one side of cabinetry or an island to the beginning of the opposite cabinetry.

illustration of yellow refrigerator measured by a large tape measurer

Keep in mind:

  • While the precise clearance requirements will depend on installation, manufacturer, and model, it’s generally recommended to provide one inch of clearance all around a refrigerator and two inches behind a refrigerator for sufficient ventilation. Always defer to a manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure you install your new refrigerator correctly.
  • Appliances may arrive in their original manufacturing box; this is to avoid possible damage that could happen during shipment and delivery. Make sure to compare your entryway and kitchen measurements with the packaging dimensions, when possible, to ensure a refrigerator fits through your home’s entryways when still in packaging.

2. What’s Your Style?

Once you’ve measured your home to fit a new refrigerator, your next step should be determining which type of refrigerator works best for your home. This is the involved refrigerator aspect you will need to consider, so take your time and allow yourself to really examine the pros and cons of each.

To help streamline this process, here’s a quick rundown of the most popular refrigerator types.

Top-Freezer Refrigerators

This classic, no-fuss refrigerator configuration may be modest when it comes to frills, but it’s withstood the test of time thanks to its practicality. Considerably the most affordable refrigerator style, top-freezer fridges provide generous freezer and refrigerator space, do not require installation, and are often available in a variety of finishes.

Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators

By relocating the freezer to the bottom of the unit, bottom-freezer refrigerators elevate the main refrigerator storage area to chest-level, making it even easier to locate and access foods.

Additionally, bottom-mount refrigerators tend to supply more freezer capacity than top-mount refrigerators, but keep in mind: many refrigerators use a bottom compressor, which generates heats below the unit. This may cause bottom-freezer refrigerators to have to work harder to maintain precise freezer temperatures.

Side-by-Side Refrigerators

With narrow doors and equal access to both the refrigerator and refrigerator, side-by-side refrigerators are the preferred fridge style for compact kitchens but are just as practical in any kitchen layout.

On top of being space-friendly, the unique, vertical configuration of a side-by-side fridge also provides more usability of the freezer with easier access to foods, better organization, and increased flexibility.

French Door Refrigerators

Unofficially the most popular refrigerator style, French door refrigerators appeal to buyers for three reasons: Ample space for food storage and organization, space-saving doors, and a trendy look.

With two side-by-side doors above and a pull-out freezer drawer below, French door refrigerators provide a versatile configuration to flexibly stock foods. The parallel doors also use less clearance when open, and since items can be access by only opening half of the refrigerator, French doors can also help cut down on energy costs.

woman in yellow button up shirt stocks items into french door fridge with both doors open

Specialty Refrigerators

No doubt while you’re deep in your research, you’ll see the terms “counter-depth” and “built-in” tossed around readily. In simple terms, each offers buyers a different level of installation to suit the design, look, and function of a kitchen.

Counter-Depth Refrigerators

In order to sit flush with the standard 25 ½-inch depth of a countertop, counter-depth refrigerators are designed to measure between 27 inches and 30 inches in depth. By comparison, standard freestanding refrigerators, with an average depth between 30 inches and 36 inches, will not sit flush with a countertop or built-in cabinetry.

As an added perk, counter-depth refrigerators do not require installation, meaning buyers can achieve a more custom look without the cost of professional installation.

Built-In Refrigerators

Built-in refrigerators, on the other hand, do require professional installation. That’s because these models use a compressor located either above or below the unit, allowing them to be installed right into cabinetry without the clearance needed for ventilation.

Built-in refrigerator styles include:

3. Get Colorful (or Not)

When it comes to personalizing your kitchen, there’s nothing quite like the right appliance finish or color to create just the look you’ve always wanted. Manufacturers have made it possible to please even the most eclectic tastes with new color and finish options that keep up your home up-to-date or ahead of the trends.

  • White makes it easy to see and clean messes and reflects light and heat.
  • Black hides messes better and is resistant to fading.
  • Stainless steel provides a timeless look, matches most kitchen designs, and newer models are fingerprint-resistant.
  • Black stainless-steel provides a warmer look, hides messes better than stainless-steel, and newer models are fingerprint-resistant.
  • Slate withstands wear and tear better than stainless-steel and provides warm, earthy undertones that match a variety of color schemes.
  • Matte provides a modern look and a finish that diffuses light, helping to hide scratches, fingerprints, imperfections.
  • Panel-ready gives buyers the flexibility to match cabinetry or make a statement with customizable panel finishes.

4. Get a Feel for Brands

Like many appliances, refrigerators brands provide a full spectrum of styles and designs, many across three tiers, each designed to match a select lifestyle and budget. Typically, options range approximately between $500 and $12,000. Many brands now accommodate to this hierarchy with unique lineups that meet the needs of each buyer’s purchasing power and design style.  

Basic refrigerators

Unofficially named basic refrigerators, this category of fridges is comprised mostly of top-freezer and bottom-freezer refrigerators. Simple and straightforward, these refrigerators make affordable replacements or great secondary garage refrigerators, and are ideal for those who prefer a refrigerator that is less-involved.

product image of black ge top freezer refrigerator

Popular basic-level refrigerator brands include: Frigidaire, GE, and Maytag.

Mid-end Refrigerators

Mid-end refrigerators comprise the mass market for the everyday refrigerator shopper. Since there is a need to appeal to a larger audience, mid-level refrigerators will come with a variety of features, finishes, and innovations that cater to every demographic.

Whether your taste is contemporary, like the Frigidaire Gallery refrigerator lineup, or embraces the future, like LG and Samsung refrigerators, you’re sure to find just the style of fridge you want, often at a great value.

woman in yellow

Popular mid-end refrigerator brands also include: GE Profile, Frigidaire Gallery, and LG Studio.

High-end Refrigerators

Also referred to as luxury refrigerators, high-end refrigerators are what dreams are made of, with customizable configurations, exclusive features, and premium engineering that provide long-lasting durability. Keep in mind, high-end refrigerators are designed to be built-in, which will also add to the final cost and require supremely accurate measuring to ensure they are installed correctly.

internal shot of ge cafe french door refrigerator

Popular high-end refrigerator brands include: Monogram, GE Café, Signature, Sub-Zero, and JennAir.

5. Explore the Latest Fridge Features

With new refrigerator features launching regularly, manufacturers continue to provide a myriad of innovative solutions that make your experience as effortless as possible. From configuration to syncing to the IoT, consider some of these features during your journey:

  • Middle storage drawer with flexible temperature capability
  • Door-in-door technology
  • Adjustable storage shelves
  • In-door gallon bins
  • In-door/Internal water and ice dispenser
  • Craft ice maker
  • Dual icemakers
  • High-efficiency dual-compressors
  • Precise temperature and humidity controls
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Reversible doors (not applicable to side-by-side or French door fridges)
  • LED lighting 

6. Consider Additional Factors 

You’re almost ready to purchase a new fridge! But before you begin the final step, take a moment to consider all the possible scenarios.

  • Do you live in an upstairs unit?
  • Do you require removal of your current refrigerator?
  • Does your current installation require special conditions, such as relocating an old unit or connecting a new unit to a water line?
  • Does your new refrigerator come with a warranty?
  • What are the service costs?
  • How far does an appliance provider service/deliver?
  • Can I track my purchase?

By taking the time to consider all possible circumstances on a provider’s Services Page, you can ensure the safety of the installer, yourself, and for both your current and new refrigerator. Additionally, knowing the cost of each service will help you gauge the final cost of your new refrigerator (a.k.a., no surprise fees).

Financing and Promotions

While racking up travel points on your credit card is always nice incentive, you may be missing out on the chance to save money by using a store’s special financing program. Before you charge it, make sure to check online for exclusive financing offers. Even better, if your provider’s page is equipped with a live-chat function, you can get the answers you’re wondering on the spot.

sticky not with we can help written on it

7. Make Your Online Refrigerator Purchase  

You’ve gone through a lot of steps, but now that you have, you can consider yourself a pro at shopping online for refrigerators. Let’s recap.

  • You’ve measured to fit a refrigerator in your kitchen: √
  • You’ve selected a refrigerator style: √
  • You’ve chosen a color or finish: √
  • You’ve decided on a brand: √
  • You’ve reviewed services, policies, and financing: √

Looking good? We figured (you’re a pro now). All that is left is to complete your online refrigerator purchase using the checkout system following these steps:

  1. Add the fridge you’ve selected to the e-cart. On our website, this will appear as a blue button on the upper right-hand side beneath the “At a Glance” and product price.
  2. Click to add to the cart. This will prompt a pop-up page that gives you a summary of the product, including price and model number, as well as the option to continue with the check-out process or to keep browsing.
  3. Alternatively, you can create a collection of possible selections to later compare side-by-side by checking “Wishlist.” This will appear as the button with a heart icon just beneath the “Add to Cart” button.
  4.  Once you’ve made your final choice, you can access your cart by clicking the cart icon located at the top-right of the page.
  5. Clicking on the icon will direct you to a product summary page, including price, model number, add-on plans and accessories, plus the subtotal.
    1. NOTE: Taxes, discounts, and additional fees will not be listed until personal information is provided for the following page.
  6. Once directed to the final check-out page, follow steps and insert 1. Personal Information 2. Deliver and Installation 3. Payment Options and then 4. Review Your Order.

Once everything looks correct, select the “Place Order” button located at the bottom of the step 4 panel.

Shortly after, you should receive a confirmation email with a summary of your purchase, plus the expected appointment date. For any questions or concerns, feel free to contact an expert to answer all your needs.

Now That You’re an Expert…

Are you ready to give online refrigerator purchasing a go? With a wide catalog of appliances, you can practice browsing and shopping for all your appliance needs from our convenient page. We strive to make the online buying process as easy and convenient as possible, but we understand online shopping is constantly changing. For any question or concerns, give feel free to contact us — or stop on by!

shot taken from inside fridge of young woman smiling while reaching for a red pepper