How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step

happy man with refrigerator
Photo by New Africa / Shutterstock.com

My wife and I were lying in bed one night, and suddenly we began hearing a loud knocking noise coming from the kitchen — more specifically, from the freezer compartment of our 14-year-old refrigerator.

The end was near.

It’s not like I didn’t see it coming. I had personally replaced the ice-maker in this refrigerator twice — thanks, YouTube! — and had an appliance repairman fix it twice, at a couple of hundred bucks a pop.

I’d finally had enough. I needed to replace it, and fast, since it could give up the ghost at any minute and spoil everything — literally. I honestly wasn’t sure it would make it through the day.

Thank God for emergency funds.

Here’s how I went about shopping for and buying a new refrigerator, step by step:

Step 1: Measure

My refrigerator is surrounded by cabinets, so there’s no margin for error. It’s also “cabinet depth,” so it doesn’t stick out into the kitchen. That severely limits my replacement choices.

I took a tape measure and measured all the dimensions — height, depth and width — twice.

Step 2: A text to Howie

My friend and father-in-law, Howard Steinman, has managed an appliance store in Queens, New York, for decades. My next step was to text him and get his recommendations. He asked for the model number of my current GE refrigerator and said he’d scope out options for me.

While you may not have a Howie, you might have friends who have recently purchased a refrigerator. Maybe they did some footwork that would lessen yours.

There’s also no law against calling an appliance repair person and asking for their recommendations concerning reliability. After all, if anyone knows bad brands, it’s the folks who fix them.

I had already done this previously. My repair guy’s answer was basically this:

“I don’t care if you buy a $700 Whirlpool or a $12,000 KitchenAid. All refrigerators these days use circuit boards — sensitive electronics that don’t do well in a damp, dusty environment. And most are made in China. So, an appliance that used to routinely last 20-plus years now breaks down in under 10. In short, they’re all crap.”

Hopefully, an expert you consult will have more optimistic news, but I doubt it.

While waiting to hear back from Howie, I continued my search.

Step 3: Consumer Reports

I’m a big believer in Consumer Reports. The staff of this nonprofit publication go out and buy products, then rigorously test them in their own laboratories.

With refrigerators, for example, they test for predicted reliability, thermostat control, temperature uniformity, energy efficiency, noise, ease of use and — last, but definitely not least — owner satisfaction. Then they combine all this stuff and assign an overall rating to each model, which makes the shopping process easy.

I visited CR headquarters a few years back: It’s impressive. So, this is the source I turn to for information and recommendations on everything from appliances to cars.

I get Consumer Reports free as a member of the media. The typical price is $39 a year for a digital membership and $59 for both digital and print. Not cheap, especially since you probably won’t use it often.

There may, however, be a workaround. Check your local library. Odds are your library has a membership to Consumer Reports. If so, you might be able to peruse product ratings online for free from the comfort of your home.

Consumer Reports’ refrigerator buying guide (available without a membership) helped me decide to go with a French-door configuration, as well as helping me decide on other features I wanted. Then, I went to CR’s ratings for French-door refrigerators (membership required) to see their top picks.

At the time I looked, here is what I found:

Refrigerator Picks
Money Talks News / Money Talks News

As you can see, the LG LFXC24726S was the top-ranked model, although there wasn’t much difference among the top five.

Three of the top five models were made by GE, the brand that destroyed my zen and sent me on this quest in the first place. Apparently, I’m not alone: All three of the GE models in this lineup had a “fair” rating for both owner satisfaction and reliability.

Both LG models had a “very good” rating for owner satisfaction and “good” for reliability.

So long, GE.

The only other LG in the list had a comparable overall rating and cost a bit less, but it didn’t hold quite as much, which was also important to me.

Step 4: Check in with Howie

A couple of hours had gone by since I’d texted Howie, so I sent him a new text telling him the model I’d tentatively selected. He responded that it was a good pick. He also suggested a couple of GE refrigerators as additional options, but that’s ground we’ve already covered. I don’t reward brands that mess with my zen.

That settled that. It was LG for me. Now all I had to do was see if I could find and get a deal on the LFXC24726S.

Step 5: Find it

My refrigerator was threatening to die at any minute, so I needed to find its replacement yesterday.

My next move was a trip to Amazon, where I tend to make 90% of my purchases. Alas, no luck. They didn’t have that model. Next: Home Depot’s site. They sold my model but said it couldn’t be delivered for two weeks. Finally, I checked Lowe’s site: Eureka! They had one in stock at a nearby store.

Step 6: A trip to Lowe’s

Since this refrigerator costs as much as a decent used car, I wasn’t about to buy it without seeing it in person. So, even had I bought it online, I wouldn’t have done so without first seeing it somewhere locally.

Nor am I stupid enough to buy the centerpiece of our kitchen without consulting my wife, Sara.

I made a date with Sara to meet at the local Lowe’s on her way home from work.

Before going to Lowe’s, I called to make sure they actually had this model in stock. The phone rang for 15 minutes. Nobody ever picked up. Since my wife was already en route, I took a chance and went to the store.

Step 7: The purchase

When I got to Lowe’s, I found my wife and together we found the LG LFXC24726S. What we couldn’t find was anyone who worked in the appliance department. Much to my wife’s chagrin, after a few minutes, I yelled, “Does anybody work here?”

That produced results. An employee from another department came over, followed shortly thereafter by a manager, who explained the appliance person was at dinner. I calmly replied that I wanted to buy an LG LFXC24726S, but because of the massive mess they’d made of my zen, I expected a massive discount as reparations.

Lowe’s had the LG LFXC24726S on sale for $2,600. They sold me the floor model — the only one they had — for a little more than $2,000, including free delivery.

It was in my kitchen 48 hours later.

Conclusion

Shopping for appliances sucks. But it’s easier if you can create a “buyer’s funnel” to follow, much like the one I described above.

My funnel began with all the refrigerators in the world. I eliminated many by checking out a buying guide and deciding on the features I needed. I eliminated many more by focusing only on the top-ranked models. Since I was in a hurry, finding my pick locally ultimately eliminated all but one.

This entire process, from initial search to switching food from the old refrigerator to new, took about five hours of effort spread over three days.

But it was time well spent. My zen has been restored.

At least, until the next thing breaks down.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Secrets of an Expert Thrift Store Shopper
8 Secrets of an Expert Thrift Store Shopper

Here’s how a veteran thrift shopper scores the best deals — and turns a profit from them.

7 Reasons Workers Age 65 and Older Have Not Retired Yet
7 Reasons Workers Age 65 and Older Have Not Retired Yet

For some, the golden years are a time to increase the gold — but their reasons for delaying retirement vary widely.

7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings
7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings

You can make your retirement money last a lot longer by avoiding these costly mistakes

4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less
4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less

Here’s how to ditch cable and satellite TV — and save a bundle — without giving up your favorite shows.

26 Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay $100,000
26 Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay $100,000

These lucrative gigs let you work in your slippers.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

Longer Trips to These Stores May Raise COVID-19 Risk
Longer Trips to These Stores May Raise COVID-19 Risk

An airborne-disease expert recommends leaving this type of store within a half-hour.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.