Buying a Refrigerator is an affair one has to go through at least once every decade or less. There was a time when the fridges costed a bomb but lasted 25 yrs, and godrej and kelvinator were the only refrigerators one could choose from. But these are times when consumer is supposedly king and advertisements, actors, auntys and looks play a prominent part in ones purchase decision. Refrigerators are cooling boxes and not very different from air conditioners.
So how do u choose a good refrigerator ?
First analyse your needs and choose a type and size in LxBxH that best suits ur need. Once you are pretty clear about that rest falls in place. That also depends upon your lifestyle, and a lot of other factors.
Capacity or Volume of a fridge is measured in Litres, and a capacity of 180 to 200 l is fine for a small family that is not into cooking in large quantity and storing it. The avg for a family of 4 these days buys a 180 to 350l. The larger the volume the more are your cooling costs . A fridge consumes 12 to 20% of your annual electricity bill. ie 250 units upwards a year.
Built quality and Energy efficiency matters especially these days when the avg life of a fridge is 7 yrs and the body looks sexy but is wafer thin and its plastic parts are fragile and of poor quality. Trust me once your sold a product, the company can only make money on spares and service. Worse, poorly built refrigerators have a lower life, can give poor cooling and can cost you a lot more in electricity as they can be badly insulated. Chk the Star rating before you buy and buy fridge with inverter compressors.
Method of TEMPERATURE CONTROL is either Mechanical or Circuit Based or Micom based … the former being less expensive, and far easier to service, as circuit board repair or replacement is more specialized and subject to import and availability of spares.
The best fridges are made by Liebherr , Siemens, Panasonic, Miele, LG, Hitachi, Sharp and Samsung.
In Mumbai LG fridges are the best bet in terms of built quality, followed by Samsung , Electrolux, Godrej and Whirlpool.
Warranty: Standard warranty is 1 yr on body and 5/6 yrs on compressor.Most warranty’s don’t cover plastic parts, and you will be shocked at the prices the service guy charges for them. Its not a bad idea to take extended warranty while buying a fridge if service is good , as it gets cheaper in the long term.
After Sales Service and availability of Spares : Serviceability of your fridge should also be a very important deciding factor. Its a good idea to check service center coverage and test the service nos for their responsiveness before you buy the fridge . Spares cost a bomb and if u buy a non standard fridge, expect a lot of service cost especially if Spares of the fridge are not readily available in the market.
In Mumbai Videocon Samsung, Godrej, LG score better in terms for company service but generally the service is poor. Whirlpool service is awefully bad … im suffering its consequence even though i have a 7 yr warranty.
Design: There are multiple designs of fridges to choose from. The simpler the better both in terms of cost and availability of service. The fridges can be clean back wherein the coil is hidden in the sides (clean but not most efficient) They can be thermostat based (old style )or circuit based (larger ff models)(Whirlpool)(and that thing keeps conking off and costing you every 5 yrs). Also chk out all the features , bells and whistles as per ur convenience.
1. Classic Direct cool Single door fridges that are solidly built with coils on the rear are the most long lasting least complex, and best suited for humid equatorial climate. They are automatic or semi automatic or manual defrosting . They are simple devices that have the lowest running and servicing costs. No wonder those good old solidly built Godrejs lasted well over 2 decades. But capacity is an issue and the largest you can find are 300 litres. Godrej has the best models . U need to defrost them twice a week or run them with a defrost box
2. Cyclic cooling : They have a unique cyclic auto-defrost system with auto evaporation and hence save around 30% electricity as compared to frost free models. Not available in India.
3. Frost Free Double door Fridges Are the largest selling fridges. Classic ff models generally come with a freezer on top and fridge below with the coils hidden inside the body are the most common these days. You can get them with one door two doors and three doors too. They are the most popular choice and are safe in terms of service and spares. They are generally 2, 3, 4 stars. Latest models have Digital Inverter Compressor (DIC) intelligently varies its power and running speed (as a variable) as per the immediate cooling requirement of the compressor. It significantly increases the overall appliance efficiency and decreases power consumption . LG Samsung and Godrej have maximum models
3. Bottom freezer are those where the fridge is on top and freezer is on the bottom, logically designed with the user in mind. Haier is a leader in such products. One has to watch out about spares and service as some parts are imported and u can face service delays. These consume lots of power to push cold air upwards. Hitachi has the best models.
4. French Door or Side by side fridge: These are large capacity fridges for the larger families or the people that like to stock up. These are the most expensive to buy, run and service. Most models are fully imported . There are multiple models in this range from the classic ones to the ones that are bottom mounted or have 3 doors or ones that have cold water outlet in the door.
5. Commercial Chest Freezers and Coolers:
As hot air goes up and cold air goes and stays down the most economical refrigerators to run are chest freezers / coolers. But it is inconvenient.
I generally recommend buying an LG/ Panasonic but there is so much competition that one has a world of choices. I dont recommend buying a Whirlpool from personal experience because of bad service and shortage of spares and a sense of abandonment as spares for imported fridges are all delayed and expensive.
You can chk out naptol and compareindia for models you like before going to a shop.If none of these suit you then you can always get one custom made, like big hotels, hospitals etc do
Also chk out my post