A refrigerator is a long-term investment for any Indian home. So, it requires careful thought and deliberation to choose the right one for your kitchen. You need to consider your present needs and the changes you expect in your household in the next 3-4 years before making a decision. So, let us take a look at the important aspects that you need to consider when buying a refrigerator for your home.
Perhaps the first and foremost aspect that you need to look at when buying a refrigerator is its capacity. A refrigerator with less than 250-litre capacity is apt for a bachelor or a vegetarian family with less than 2 members. A 250-300 litre double door refrigerator would be an apt choice for a nuclear family. A joint family would need a larger refrigerator with 400 litre+ capacity. These are the ranges for those who use a refrigerator for just storing cooked food, fish, meat and fresh produce for a week.
Some people use refrigerators to store pulses, flour and such pantry items too. They may need a larger-sized refrigerator from what we have mentioned above.
Ideally, your refrigerator should be occupied only 70% of its total capacity. This ensures sufficient air circulation inside the compartments and ample space for leftovers.
Also, when deciding upon the capacity, you need to consider whether you expect new members in your family in the near term and adjust the size accordingly. So, if you are a bachelor who intends to marry soon, you would be better off buying a 250-litre double-door refrigerator instead of a smaller one.
You may not believe that a lot of users return their refrigerator because it wouldn’t fit correctly in the given area. This happens especially when you have a modular kitchen with a designated space for the refrigerator and other appliances. So measure up the width, length and height and ensure the refrigerator fits correctly in the given space.
Certain refrigerators are specially designed for modular kitchens and corner spaces. Such refrigerators don’t have side shelves at the bottom of the door. So, you can pull out the vegetable drawer by opening the refrigerator door just 90 degrees. But, if there are shelves at the bottom of the door, you have to open it more than 90 degrees to pull out the vegetable drawer comfortably.
Along with size, ensure that the refrigerator colour and finish match the kitchen decor.
A conventional reciprocatory compressor run at full speed for a while and then switches itself off when the temperature in the compartments has fallen to a preset level. When the thermostat detects a rise in temperature to a particular level, it alerts the compressor to start working again. So, it always follows an on-off pattern. The disadvantages of such a system are many. First of all, the food inside the refrigerator is subject to constant temperature variation, which is not conducive to preserving it. Next, such compressors endure higher wear and tear as it is constantly on and off. So, their durability is lesser. They also consume higher energy and make more noise.
Most of the newer refrigerators have inverter compressors. Such compressors do not switch themselves off. Rather, when the temperature reaches the desired level, the compressor runs at a low speed to maintain that temperature. When you open the door or add more food to the refrigerator, the thermostat alerts the compressor to run at a higher speed to bring the temperature down again. As a result, durability is better, and noise level and energy consumption are lower. Most inverter compressors have 4-7 levels of speeds at which it runs depending on the needs.
Newer LG refrigerators have Inverter Linear Compressor ( ILC), which LG claims are much more advanced that regular inverter compressors. While the piston in normal compressors run in a rotating motion, in ILC, they move linearly suspended between electromagnets. LG says that as a result, the noise level and energy consumption are further lower. But, circa 2017, there were complaints about compressor failures in LG refrigerators with ILC which led to class action settlement in western countries. LG says that it has fixed the issue leading to it.
If you are opting for a refrigerator with less than 200-litre capacity, then a single-door refrigerator is the only choice. They have direct cool technology and you have to defrost the freezer on a regular basis every 2-4 weeks depending on the usage. But their advantage is that they are extremely energy efficient. Price-wise also, they are competitive.
If convenience and space are your priorities, opt for a double-door refrigerator. They come with 250 litre+ capacity and can go all the way to 700 litres or so. Being the most popular segment, you get a wide variety of models, with different features when you opt for a double-door refrigerator. As they are all frost-free, you needn’t defrost them. So, it is super convenient with minimal maintenance.
Double door refrigerators have a fridge-to-freezer ratio of 70:30 or sometimes 75:25, which is pretty much apt for regular Indian kitchens that store a lot of fresh produce and cooked food, but less frozen food.
But, if you are someone who stocks upon a ton of frozen food or if you cook and freeze food for many days, then a side-by-side refrigerator is what you need. They usually have a fridge-to-freezer ratio of 60:40, with the left side being the freezer and the right side being the fridge. Advanced options come with touch screens, wi-fi connectivity, water and ice dispensers and so on. Some of the newer models come with convertible features too. But, they are an exception rather than a norm. Being humongous in size, they are an apt choice for joint families and those who store pulses and flours in refrigerators.
French door refrigerators are an alternative to side-by-side refrigerators. They come with three doors. The top portion opens like a side-by-side refrigerator and is a fridge. The bottom is often a pull-out drawer and is a freezer. Sometimes the freezer too comes with 2 doors like side-by-side refrigerators.
Most models with pull-out drawer-styled freezers have a fridge-to-freezer ratio of 65:35. So, they have more fresh food space compared to side-by-side refrigerators.
BEE ( Bureau of Energy Efficiency) mandates labelling for single and double-door refrigerators. 5 star indicates the best in class energy efficiency, while 1 star indicates the poorest.
When comparing energy efficiency, do not look at just the stars on the label. First, ensure the labelling period of the options you compare is the same. Because a refrigerator with 5-star efficiency in 2020 would be just 3 or 4 stars in the present labelling period.
Also, sometimes, the difference in energy consumption between a 4-star and a 5-star is not worth the premium price spent on it.
Features To Keep Food Fresh
To preserve cooked food, the refrigerator must be able to maintain a low temperature without much variation. However, to preserve fresh produce like leafy vegetables, fruits etc, maintaining an optimal level of humidity is also equally important.
Fruits stay fresh for longer when the humidity is low. But leafy vegetables require a higher level of humidity to thrive longer. Many of the refrigerators available in the market come with a vegetable box that has a humidity controller, which is essentially a vent to release and preserve moisture. If you are storing fresh leafy vegetables, you can close the vent and increase the humidity level inside the crisper. But, if on the other hand, you are preserving fruits and regular vegetables, you can open the vent. The excess moisture escapes through the vent, thus reducing the humidity level inside.
Brands like Whirlpool also come with ethylene gas absorbers and oxidizers which they claim can help preserve fresh produce for longer. But according to a report by Consumer Reports, consistent temperature and optimal humidity are the most important aspects that affect the life of fresh produces. That is why Samsung 5-in-1 convertible refrigerators are a recommended choice. They come with a dual evaporator that maintains a low humidity level in the freezer and a higher level in the fridge. This is highly conducive to preserving fresh food for longer in the fridge. This also avoids odour mixing in the fridge and freezer.
Top Refrigerator Brands In India
Samsung is one of the market leaders in the refrigerator industry. They sell all formats of refrigerators, right from single door to french door. In most segments, they compete directly with LG and hence are trying to innovate by bringing newer features. For example, last year, they introduced single-door refrigerators with one-touch auto-defrost, power cooling, eco and different modes for different Indian climates. Also, a few years back they introduced the curd maestro series which helps set curd perfectly no matter the weather.
Price-wise too, Samsung gives a tight competition to LG. Samsung’s 5-in-1 convertible refrigerators are more versatile than LG’s convertible refrigerators too. In terms of durability, performance and aftersales service, they are almost at par.
Some of the highly-rated Samsung Refrigerators–
Just like Samsung, LG too has a stronghold in all refrigerator formats. They are the ones who introduced a dry storage drawer at the bottom of single-door refrigerators. Samsung, Whirlpool and Godrej soon followed suit.
LG has smart inverter compressors in their low and mid-segment models and Inverter Linear Compressors in the higher-end models. Their product designs are elegant and thoughtful. Price-wise, they are often a tad more expensive than Samsung. However, in certain cities and towns, LG has a better aftersales service team compared to Samsung.
Some of the highly-rated LG refrigerators-
Whirlpool of late has incorporated a number of features typically found in LG refrigerators to give them tough competition. You can find moisture control vents in the vegetable basket, a honeycomb-shaped lattice on the crisper to capture excess moisture and dry storage at the bottom in Whirlpool refrigerators.
In addition, Whirlpool gives ample focus on preserving fresh produces for longer. They have incorporated microblock- an antibacterial treatment in the vegetable crisper, freshonizer to reduce oxidation and maintain freshness in vegetables and fruits and zeolite to capture ethylene.
Whirlpool also sells triple-door refrigerators- The Protton range, which has received rave reviews from users. But, their 5-in-1 convertible refrigerators are a gimmick and not as versatile as Samsung. The different modes have just slight variations between each other that it doesn’t really provide a significant advantage to end-users. They are more comparable to LG ‘s dual fridge.
Some of the highly-rated Whirlpool refrigerators-
Godrej refrigerators are made in India. Their products are budget-friendly, catering to the needs of Indian middle-class. Just like other brands, most of their refrigerators have inverter compressors. They are well-designed with spacious interiors. But, design-wise they lack the finesse of Samsung and LG. Also, there are numerous complaints about defective products being sold. So, check thoroughly and ensure your product is defect-free within the return window.
Some of the highly-rated models are-