most energy efficient small refrigerator

Looking for the Most Energy Efficient Small Refrigerator? The tricky thing about estimating the energy consumption of a refrigerator is that even though the fridge is always “on,” it’s not always “running.” The compressor that keeps the refrigerator cool cycles on and off, and there are lots of factors that affect how often this happens. The temperature setting on the fridge, the amount of food inside, the frequency with which you open the door and even the temperature in the room can all make a refrigerator compressor run more or less often. So what is the most energy efficient refrigerator 2020 model? What are the most energy efficient refrigerators?

Fortunately, there’s also an easy piece to this puzzle: The EnergyGuide label.

Compact refrigerators are part of the federal EnergyGuide labeling program, which helps consumers understand the estimated energy consumption of major appliances. When shopping for refrigerators online or at retail, look for the bright yellow and black sticker that says “EnergyGuide” at the top.

most energy efficient refrigerator 2020

There are two helpful numbers on the EnergyGuide label: the annual estimated energy cost and the annual estimated electricity use. The first number tells you approximately how much it will cost you to run the mini fridge for a year, assuming a kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate of 12 cents, which is the national average. The second number tells you approximately how many kWh the mini fridge will consume in a year, so if you know your exact kWh rate, you can multiply that rate by the kWh on the label for a more accurate estimate.

To find the EnergyGuide label for a mini fridge you already own, look for the same model with online retailers. It’s often posted with the product specifications. If you have an older model that is no longer for sale, check the manufacturer’s website or contact the manufacturer directly with your model number ready. Keep in mind that all refrigerators lose some efficiency over time, so if yours is very old, it may be consuming even more electricity than the label indicates.

most energy efficient small refrigerator


Best Overall: Danby Compact Refrigerator

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As it’s name suggests, this mini fridge boasts a compact design — but that doesn’t mean this favorite of man cave captains and office employees alike skimps on storage space for soft drinks, goodies and ingredients for your favorite meals. With 4.4 cubic feet of storage, two and a half shelves, and even a vegetable crisper, Danby’s spotless steel fridge bridges the gap between mini fridge and full-size replacement.

Satisfied buyers love this pint-sized powerhouse for its surprising spaciousness and convenient size — not to mention its eight can holders, state-of-the-art thermostat and scratch-resistant work-top. Plus, this mini fridge is versatile, fulfilling every customer’s needs whether they’re looking for extra space for their foodie finds (no roommates allowed!) or transitioning between full-sized fridges.

Danby’s mini fridge is just the right size for any dorm room, so college students can store their favorite snacks with ease. Plus, this mini fridge is energy efficient, boasting an energy star rating. That means you can start storing your groceries guilt-free. Hey — you can only live off of instant ramen so many nights a week!

Best Budget: Midea Compact Single Reversible Door Refrigerator

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Investing in a mini fridge doesn’t always mean breaking the bank —especially if you can live without additional features like freezer shelves and vegetable crispers. For those seeking out a basic mini fridge to keep under their desk, look no further than the Midea Compact Single Reversible Door Refrigerator — a little fridge with big value for its reasonable price tag.

While it only features a single adjustable shelf, customers love its performance, the fact that it’s much quieter than the competition, and how quickly it cools down just about anything you put inside. It boasts just enough space for a few snacks, cans of soda, water bottles, jars, and smaller boxes. That’s a 24 pack of 16.9 oz water bottles’ worth of space according to one reviewer (who provided photo evidence)!

If you’ve ever needed an excuse to hook up your bedroom with a portable pantry to keep all of your favorite munchies in arm’s reach, there’s never been a better time than now — with Midea’s affordable and functional compact mini fridge.

what are the most energy efficient refrigerators

most energy efficient refrigerator 2020

Best Value: Haier Refrigerator/Freezer

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This mini fridge from Haier, which also happens to boast a half-width freezer compartment complete with ice trays, is a budget-friendly option that brings the quality performance you’d expect from a higher-end model at a fraction of the price. For those looking for a mid-tier mini fridge, Haier’s stainless steel refrigerator/freezer hybrid is the way to go.

Satisfied customers are raving about the size of this mini fridge —specifically, how it’s spacious enough to fit a decent number of beverages and snacks, yet it fits under most desks with ease. That means you’ll never go hungry (or thirsty) with this sleek appliance at the ready. A 4” by 9” freezer compartment means you can even hold a few frozen meals or delectable desserts so satisfying your sweet tooth is more convenient than ever.

While it’s hard to deny the deal you’ll be scoring by investing in Haier’s mini fridge, a decent number of customers reported minor dents in their orders upon delivery — so be sure to examine your mini fridge carefully once it arrives.

Best Compact: Uber Appliance Chill Mini Fridge

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Sometimes, the niftiest things come in the smallest packages. Such is the case when it comes to Uber Appliance’s six-can mini fridge. With an old-school design that recalls retro-futuristic appliances from yesteryear, this affordable — and adorable — mini fridge is as appealing to the eye as it is to the wallet. But this miniature maestro does more than just chill your drinks. Want to keep a meal warm during that long drive to the family pot luck? Easy — flip the switch on the back of the fridge to “warm,” and voila! Quick, convenient heat to keep your homemade casserole nice and toasty.

Set it up next to your computer monitor for a cold iced coffee to go with your late-night binge-blogging — or hook it up the morning of your next road trip with the girls. With two ways to power this baby —both AC and DC — there’s no need to dish out extra dough for a converter. And you can even hook it up to your car thanks to the 12V car cigarette lighter cord that comes complimentary with your purchase.

Best For Office Use: RCA Igloo Compact Fridge

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Let’s face it: the office can be a stressful environment. Workplace competition is aggravating enough — nobody wants to deal with in-fighting over the last yogurt in the break room fridge. That’s why a strategically hidden mini fridge, like Igloo’s Compact Fridge, is an absolute must for any office worker with hopes of maintaining their sanity through lunch.

Luckily, Igloo’s compact fridge — measuring 1.6’ by 1.7’ — fits comfortably under most desks, just out of sight from the prying eyes of hungry coworkers. Plus, it boasts a removable shelf, a small freezer compartment, and compressor cooling technology to keep your drinks chilled and your salad crisp no matter the outside temperature.

But Igloo’s compact fridge doesn’t lose its appeal once the work day comes to a close. While many satisfied users report purchasing this mini fridge to keep their lunch fresh at their respective workplace, new parents also vouch for Igloo’s appliance — and they’re celebrating an unexpected use of the compact fridge: keeping their little ones’ bottles fresh.

Best Cooler Warmer Combo: Cooluli Electric Mini Fridge Cooler and Warmer

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Foodies who dabble in all things outdoorsy are sure to fall in love with Cooluli’s Electric Mini Fridge Cooler and Warmer. Not only is it essential to any dorm, office space, play room or garage-turned-man-cave, but it offers gourmands the unique option to bring their favorite snacks with them on the go.

By boasting a cigarette lighter adapter and a six-foot-long cord, your favorite new appliance can easily fit in the backseat of your vehicle. That makes this versatile mini fridge a must-have addition to any camping trip or long drive to your family’s next vacation destination. And it’s perfect for truckers who want to take their favorite pick-me-ups on the road with them! But that’s not all this nifty fridge is capable of — in fact, it goes from portable cooler to food warmer with the flip of a switch.

New mothers love it for its advanced temperature regulation technology, allowing them to store milk at optimal temperatures. Likewise, other homeowners praise how well it stores temperature-sensitive medicine. Spacious enough to fit a ton of beverages, a few of your favorite meals, or anything else that needs a blast of warmth or a brisk chill, Cooluli’s Electric Mini Fridge will fulfill your every heating and cooling need.

Best Beverage Fridge: Insignia 115-Can Beverage Cooler

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There’s a time and a place for chilling leftovers in an expensive, over-the-top mini fridge. But sometimes, all you need is a cold one. Well, Insignia’s sleek, windowed beverage cooler can hold up to 115 of your favorite drinks — so you’re all set when it comes to beating the summer heat with a crisp can of your favorite IPA, cola, or canned iced coffee.

With easy-to-use, touch-sensitive controls that adjust temperature at the tap of a finger, three full shelves, and even an auto-defrost system that detects excess frost and melts it away, this patented appliance matches high-quality performance with affordability.

Satisfied buyers love loading their Insignia beverage coolers up with everything from sports drinks to ice cold water, making this appliance a necessary component for that empty corner of your home gym. For consumers with a taste for all things brewed, Insignia’s cooler makes an excellent beer fridge worth raving about. 

Things to keep in mind while buying a refrigerator

  1. Capacity
  2. Space
  3. Defrosting
  4. Types of refrigerators
  5. Energy rating
  6. Compressors
  7. Additional features

Capacity

The capacity of a refrigerator is measured in litres. The range from the lowest capacity to the highest has grown exponentially these days. But for you to be able to decide your requirement, one key factor needs to be considered – the size of your family. This determines the amount of food you will be keeping inside your fridge.

For a couple with one child, a 150 to 250-litre refrigerator should suffice. For a larger family of four to five people, you might want to go for a 250 to 500-litre one. But if it’s a family of four comprising of two adults and two children, a 250 to 350-litre fridge is good enough. Large families of six to seven people will of course require a big refrigerator with a capacity of anywhere between 550 to 850 litres.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have refrigerators with capacities of 40 to 100 litres. These are the best fit if you live alone. Sometimes, you might require a higher capacity despite not having many family members, so it’s always advisable to consider your requirements in detail before deciding the capacity.

Space

The amount of space available in your house is also a big consideration while choosing your fridge. You can always read the measurements of the refrigerator of your choice and see whether it fits in your available space. While doing this, don’t forget to consider that the fridge doors will also need some space in order to be opened freely, and you’ll need at least an inch of space at the top and back to allow heat to escape easily.

Sometimes, bringing the fridge inside your house can also be a hassle due to the shortage of space in a starcaise or elevator. This is a major aspect to consider before buying the model of your choice.

Defrosting: Direct cool vs Frost free

All fridges require cool air circulation inside their compartments. When it comes to direct cool options, this circulation is handled through natural convection, without any external help. A major disadvantage of this method is uneven distribution, which leads to the forming of ice in the refrigerator.

You hence need to manually defrost the fridge regularly. A few advantages of this technology are the fact they these refrigerators are economical and consume less electricity.

The name frost free itself tells us that there’s no frost or ice to deal with. These refrigerators circulate the cool air evenly with the help of electric fans.

This method does not allow ice to form inside the compartments, and hence does not subject your food to freezer burn. But they are more expensive than direct cool refrigerators, and consume more electricity due to their usage of fans.

Types of refrigerators

Depending upon their sizes and the way they are built, refrigerators can be classified into five main types:

Single door

As the name suggests, these refrigerators have just one door, and range from a capacity of 150 to 250 litres. These are the most economical options available out there, and apart from fridge space, even offer modest freezer space.

Single door refrigerators are mostly direct cool in nature, but even this is changing nowadays with many companies introducing a digital auto defrost option on their models.

Double door

These feature two doors, one on top of the other. While the upper compartment is reserved for the freezer, the lower one is meant for regular use. This way, you get more freezer space to use.

double door fridge usually has a capacity of 250 to 500 litres. Such refrigerators are also built to use less energy, and they are always frost free in nature. Double door models are energy efficient, and they ship with toughened glass shelves too.

Triple door

Triple door refrigerators are taller and slimmer than other models, and are great for homes with less floor space. They come in capacities of 250 to 350 litres.

The door at the top is for the freezer, the middle one is for regular use and the lower one is a crisper – aka vegetable drawer. Triple door models come with frost free technology and toughened glass shelves.

Side by side

Side by side refrigerators are the most expensive models out there, and hence are equipped with the latest technologies. With capacities ranging from 550 to 850 litres, these refrigerators offer huge storage space with several different sections.

Some even come with water and ice dispensers in the front. They are of course frost free in nature, and come with toughened glass shelves.

Mini

Mini refrigerators are tiny in size and just offer basic cooling for keeping your food fresh. They can be up to 100 litres in capacity. They might have a very small freezer integrated into them, but this is not always the case. They are always direct cool in nature.

Energy ratings

EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) or star ratings are given to appliances signify how energy efficient they are. The higher the star rating, the more energy-efficient they will be. If you wish to go deeper into this aspect, you should look for the total units of electricity (kWh) that your model will use in a year.

A 1-star rating for a refrigerator will offer around Rs 300 in savings per year, while a 2-star rating will save you around Rs 800 a year. A 3-star rating is even better, as it offers savings of up to Rs 1,200 a year, while a 4-star rating ensures that you save around Rs 1,500 a year. As for a 5-star rating, it will deliver savings of up to Rs 1,800 a year.

One should always look for a blue and green coloured Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) symbol to ensure the authenticity of the EER tag.

Compressors

Compressors are responsible for maintaining the temperatures inside the fridge. One should note that smaller fridges usually come with general compressors, while medium and large-sized refrigerators ship with inverter compressors.

General compressor

These compressors start off at very high speeds, and then continue running at a constant speed. This way, even if there is no cooling loss, they will keep running at the same speed and switch off only when optimum cooling is reached. This is why you hear a ‘tick’ sound from your refrigerator every now and then.

 Inverter compressor

Inverter compressors are adaptable in nature, in the sense that they can run at varying speeds depending on the amount of cooling that is required. They start at low speeds, and speed up only when there’s a loss in cooling. This allows them to be more energy efficient.

Additional features

There are plenty of additional features that modern refrigerators offer to make your lives easier. Let’s have a look at the main ones among them:

Water/ice dispensers

Water and ice dispensers are found mostly on side by side models. They allow you to grab cold water or ice cubes without opening the fridge. You can simply press your glass against an inbuilt lever to dispense cold water or ice.

Toughened glass shelves

If long-term use of your refrigerator is a priority, always look for models with toughened glass shelves. They are more durable than plastic shelves, and can take more weight.

Convertible fridges

Some refrigerators offer convertible technology, and are incredibly useful if you’re constantly running out of space in your fridge. That’s because they allow you to easily convert the freezer compartment into fridge space.

Adjustable shelving

Brought a large cake for a birthday party and have no space to keep it in the fridge? Adjustable shelves come to the rescue at such times, as you can remove a few to allow bigger items to be stored.

Cool pack

Cool pack is a feature that’s capable of keeping the freezer cool for up to 12 hours without any power supply. Such refrigerators are very handy in areas where there are constant power cuts.

Voltage stabiliser

If you live in areas where there are frequent voltage fluctuations, a refrigerator with a built-in voltage stabiliser is the best choice. These models can protect the compressor from high voltage fluctuations.

Deodoriser

Deodorisers remove odour from your fridge with the use of powerful filters. This ensures that there’s no foul smell coming from the fridge each time you open it.

Smart refrigerators

Modern refrigerators are being equipped with plenty of smart features to bring them in line with the IoT progression. Smartphone integration is one thing, but some models even come with huge displays of their own that showcase stuff like tasks, calendars, photos, videos and more. In India, there are a handful of smart refrigerators available from Samsung and LG, but these will set you back a couple of lakhs.

What type of fridge do I want?

Stylewise, you’ve got four options to choose from, and each comes with its own pros and cons. Figuring out which one is best for you is the first, most obvious step toward making a final buying decision.

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Top freezers like this Samsung model aren’t too flashy, but they offer a lot of value.Chris Monroe/CNET

Top freezer

When I say the word “fridge,” chances are good that this is the style that pops into your head. With the bottom two-thirds dedicated to fresh-food storage and the freezer unit sitting on top, most of us probably struggled to reach the Popsicles in a top freezer unit when we were kids, or maybe we used one in our first apartment.

Tastes have moved on since then, so if you’re looking for something modern, high-end and feature-rich, then a top-freezer model probably isn’t for you. If style isn’t as much of a concern, however, you’ll find that top freezers offer some of the best bargains on the market. Plus, there are still enough being made to offer a solid variety of choices.

Price: $479 to $2,199
Average dimensions: Width: 29 inches; depth: 31 inches; depth with door open 90 degrees: 58 inches; height: 66 inches
Best suited for: Bargain shoppers who aren’t looking for anything too flashy.

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Bottom freezers like this Whirlpool model offer easier access to fresh ingredients.Chris Monroe/CNET

Bottom freezer

If you’re looking for something on the simpler side, and would enjoy slightly easier access to your fresh foods, then a bottom-freezer unit might be right for you. Bottom-freezer units aren’t much different from top-freezer units except for the fact that the freezer is located — you guessed it — on the bottom. This means that you won’t have to hunch over while rooting around for commonly used ingredients.

Of course, this also means that frozen foods will be located down around your ankles — though a majority of models now come with drawer-style freezer doors, which can make getting the ice cream out a little easier. Bottom-freezer units tend to be just slightly bigger than top freezers, but there’s also less variety of models to choose from.

Price: $999 to $1,899
Average dimensions: Width: 29 inches; depth: 32 inches; depth with door open 90 degrees: 59 inches; height: 67 inches
Best suited for: Home cooks who don’t mind bending over to get into the freezer.

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Side-by-side models are good for narrow kitchens, and some will offer high-end features like the door-in-door compartment in this LG model.Chris Monroe/CNET

Side-by-side

Side-by-side units split your fridge right down the middle, offering you frozen foods on the left and fresh foods on the right. Some models offer equal real estate for both sections, but most allocate an extra couple of inches for the fridge. This can make for an especially narrow freezer section, so frozen-pizza aficionados might want to consider something a little less limiting.

Side-by-side units come in a wide variety of models and tend to showcase more features than their horizontally minded top and bottom freezer counterparts. Many of these features are aimed at saving space, especially when it comes to the shelving inside the doors. Side-by-side units also don’t need as much clearance to open the doors, making them ideal for narrow kitchens. Due to the vertical split, you’ll probably want to go with the widest model that will fit into your kitchen, and your budget.

Price: $1,149 to $3,099
Average dimensions: Width: 35 inches; eepth: 30 inches; eepth with door open 90 degrees: 45 inches; height: 71 inches
Best suited for: Space-conscious consumers who still want a feature-rich fridge.

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French-door models like this GE Cafe Series fridge tend to offer features and storage space galore — but they don’t come cheap.Chris Monroe/CNET

French door

Highly popular, French-door models combine the drawer-style freezer of a bottom-freezer unit with the low-clearance doors of a side-by-side unit. This means that you’ll have a full-width, double-door fridge with plenty of storage space. With your refrigerator door effectively split into two, it also means that you won’t be letting quite as much cold air out when you’re opening just one door to grab the milk.

With the high demand for French-door refrigerators, you’re sure to find a huge variety of options, including models with top-of-the-line smart features you won’t find with other styles. You can also upgrade the look of your fridge to match your kitchen or even get one that camouflages itself entirely among your cabinets, but be aware that you’ll likely be tacking a few thousand dollars onto the already steep price.

Price: $1,599 to $3,999 ($4,500 to $8,000 for a built-in cabinetry appearance)
Average dimensions: Width: 35 inches; depth: 29 inches; depth with door open 90 degrees: 48 inches; height: 68 inches
Best suited for: Fashionable homeowners who want lots of space for groceries and the most advanced features available.

Selecting the style that’s right for your kitchen is half the battle, and should give you a much clearer idea of what you want from your new refrigerator. But don’t run off to the department store just yet, because you still have some very important questions to ask yourself, including:

How big do I really need my fridge to be?

The bigger, the better, right? Not necessarily!

REFRIGERATOR CAPACITY RANGES

It varies, but a general rule of thumb is that you’ll want 4 to 6 cubic feet (cu. ft.) of refrigerator space per adult in your household, along with a little bit of extra contingency room. With full-size refrigerators ranging from 10 to 32 cu. ft., this means that a family of four probably won’t want anything much less than 20 cubic feet, and might prefer something even roomier.

Of course, the biggest limiting factor is your kitchen, so be sure to measure to see how much width, height and depth you’ve got to work with before you start shopping around.

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If you don’t need a lot of space, you could consider a compact model.Chris Monroe/CNET

All of that said, a bigger fridge means a bigger energy bill, so be careful not to splurge on extra space that you aren’t actually going to need. You’ll be paying more both upfront and down the line as you continue paying the power company to refrigerate that wasted space alongside your food.

If you’re looking for something on the small side, you’ll probably want to stick with a top or bottom freezer, as none of the other types of refrigerators come in sizes much smaller than 20 cu. ft. If your kitchen is particularly cramped, or if you’re just looking for something small for a garage or a back room, you’ll find compact models in both styles, too.

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This counter-depth side-by-side refrigerator from LG is designed to run flush with your countertops. Only the doors stick out.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Do I need a counter-depth refrigerator?

You’re likely to hear this term quite a bit as you shop around. As the name suggests, “counter-depth” refrigerators are simply refrigerators that are designed to align perfectly with the edges of your countertops, leaving only the refrigerator door sticking out. This gives your fridge the appearance of an expensive, custom-designed unit that’s built directly into your kitchen’s cabinetry — without anything actually being custom-built.

Since they shave a few inches off the front of the fridge, counter-depth refrigerators are slightly less spacious than their normal-size counterparts. They also tend to cost a little bit more. Whether or not you’re willing to sacrifice that space and pay extra for a more fashionable fridge is totally up to you, but for my money, it’s a feature you should consider skipping.

And hey, while we’re on the subject of features…

Watch this: Five fridge features you won’t want to miss out on 2:21

What features should I look for?

Refrigerators have come a long way since the debut of the egg holder and the butter bin. These days, you’ll find a wide variety of features designed to bring a whole new level of functionality to your fridge. With the endless parade of trademarked names and bold claims, finding the features you actually want can quickly become overwhelming. So, which ones are worth it?

Take care of the foods you love

First, think about the things you like to cook and/or eat, then look for features that take really good care of those things. It’s a safe bet that those are the features you’ll enjoy using the most. Are you a devoted foodie who always wants a variety of fresh ingredients on hand? Many models offer sectional climate controls for the different compartments in your fridge or even dedicated, temperature-adjustable drawers. Do you live off of TV dinners and frozen leftovers? Look for advanced defrosting features designed to help eliminate freezer burn. Love a nice glass of pinot grigio? Look for a fridge with a built-in wine rack.Enlarge Image

This Frigidaire’s top shelf slides in and folds up to make room for large items.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Get sneaky with your storage space

If you’re constantly rearranging things in your fridge to make space for groceries, then look for storage-minded features designed to give you a hand. Shelves that slide in or fold up will make it a lot easier to make room for tall items, and the increasingly common door-in-a-door feature can transform your in-door shelves into a makeshift mini-fridge for kitchen staples like beverages and condiments.

One storage consideration you might not have thought of: the ice maker. Some fridges situate it up on the top shelf — the ice drops down through a chute in the door into your waiting glass. That’s all well and good, but the icemaker eats up some obvious space inside of the fridge, and the bulky overhang of that in-door chute will tend to block off the in-door shelves underneath it.

That’s why I tend to prefer fridges that squeeze the entire icemaker into the door. They tend to make less ice, but they’ll also give you more usable space inside of the fridge. That’s a fair trade-off in my book.

Watch this: Avoid these five overrated fridge features 2:14

Consider the water dispenser

One trend that we’ve seen over the past few years: creativity from the water dispenser. GE has been leading the pack here, with French-door models that can serve the exact amount of water you want, and even ones capable of shutting off automatically once they detect that your glass, pitcher or pot is full. You’ll even find nifty features in GE’s less-expensive top-freezer models — most notably, ones that come with an Autofill Pitcher that’ll fill itself back up whenever you place it back in the fridge. Samsung’s in the mix now, too, with an autofilling water pitcher of its own in its higher-end French door models.

This GE fridge comes with a special pitcher that fills back up with water whenever you dock it in place.Chris Monroe/CNET

The brand’s Cafe Series line of fridges can dispense hot water at a variety of temperature settings. The newest models even add in a mini K-Cup brewer that’ll let your fridge brew up a quick cup of coffee on demand. It’s a surprisingly sensible addition, given that refrigerators have dedicated water lines — that means you won’t ever have to worry about keeping a reservoir full.

Of course if you keep shopping around, you’ll also find refrigerators with touchscreens and built-in Wi-Fi, and plenty of bold manufacturer claims about smartening up your kitchen — which brings us to one last question:

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First introduced in 2016, the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator is basically a concept car for the connected kitchen of tomorrow. But should you buy in today?Chris Monroe/CNET

Do I need a smart refrigerator?

You can certainly live without one, if that’s what you’re asking, particularly if affordability is your chief concern. Simply put, smart fridges don’t come cheap, and whether or not the extra cost is worth it is really up to you.

For some, smart technology gives refrigerators a whole new cool factor, and the fact that we use our refrigerators every day makes these features a sound investment. For others, “smart” just seems like another word for “gimmicky.” If this includes you, then spending an extra $1,000 or more in order to have a cutting-edge kitchen probably seems like a waste of money.

Watch this: LG’s see-through smart fridge takes the CES stage 1:02

That said, don’t be too quick to slam the door on so-called “smart” features, because there are plenty of them that live up to the name, and a growing variety of options to choose from, too. In 2017, LG even went so far as to say that it plans to start putting Wi-Fi radios into each and every refrigerator that it manufactures.

In other words, we might be quickly approaching a point where smart refrigerators are the norm, not the exception.

So what do smart fridges actually do?

Glad you asked. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s currently out there:

  • Energy monitoring: More and more, we’re seeing connected refrigerators that are capable of syncing up with the smart grid in cities where it’s available. Fridges like those can automatically schedule costly defrost cycles for the times when energy rates are at their lowest. One model from Whirlpool will even sync up with the Nest Learning Thermostat ($287 at Amazon) to take advantage of Nest’s Rush Hour Rewards feature, or send your phone an alert if the power ever goes out.
  • Smart multitasking: Some smart fridges aim to make your kitchen routine more efficient. That K-Cup-brewing Cafe Series fridge from GE includes Wi-Fi now, which lets you tell it to start heating the water up remotely, from your phone.
  • Voice control: Smart fridges are also trying to take advantage of the current surge in popularity of smart-home voice control platforms. GE’s smart fridges offer their own Alexa skill, which lets you ask Amazon’s voice-activated assistant to make a quick temperature adjustment, or let you know if the water filter needs replacing. Samsung and LG have each gone one step further, building voice control directly into their flagship smart fridges. You’ll find native Alexa controls in LG’s Smart InstaView refrigerator, while the Samsung Family Hub fridge offers voice controls through Samsung’s own Bixby voice assistant. It’s not hard to imagine HomeKit-compatible refrigerators that work with Siri in the near future, too.
  • Kitchen command centers: Speaking of Samsung and LG, both brands envision their smart fridges as the central command centers for the connected kitchen, if not the entire smart home. That’s why each one has a huge touchscreen on the door, complete with its own set of fridge apps. Whether you want to set a cooking timer, follow along with a recipe, update your family’s digital calendar or just stream some music while you cook, smart fridges like these want to handle all of it.
  • Fridge cameras: We’re also seeing more and more fridges that feature built-in cameras that’ll let you check what’s inside remotely, from your phone. You can also typically drag little countdown timers over the top of your food to help keep track of expiration dates, which is a surprisingly nice little feature. Moving forward, manufacturers like Samsung plan to make use of artificial intelligence to teach these smart fridges how to identify foods on their own without any input from you.

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