Evidence from China suggests that we have been cooling food for around the last 2000 years, but it is only in the last 50 years that food refrigeration in the form of the refrigerators that we know and love today really developed. Today’s refrigerators not only offer stylish design but also advanced technology to ensure that our food is always stored at the correct temperature.Nowadays there are so many sizes and styles of refrigerators available that it can be difficult for us to decide on the right appliance for what we need. So, to assist you in your quest to find the best counter depth refrigerator we have not only reviewed some of the most popular models available, but we also offer you some of the information that you need to help you to make an informed choice on which is the best refrigerator for you.
The SMETA French Door Refrigerator is our frost free best pick with two freezer drawers and its dual cycle air cooling system.
The frost-free Danby DFF100C1BSLDB Refrigerator offers a no fuss solution in four colors for those of you looking for a more compact and affordable refrigerator.
Quick Comparison: Top 7 Best Counter Depth Refrigerators
1. SMETA Counter Depth French Door Refrigerator
With 20.66 cu. ft capacity, the SMETA French door refrigerator is a contemporary design with a fingerprint resistant stainless steel finish. The upper refrigerator is side-by-side and has deeper door bins to reduce the risk of things falling out when you open the doors.
The refrigerator is lit by LED lighting and its humidity controlled crisper drawers are a silent slide design. This also contains an auto ice maker, which is in a freezer drawer rather than the refrigerator. The ice maker can also be manually turned off. The LED display shows the refrigerator temperature and allows you to adjust as required.The two bottom drawers are dedicated freezer compartments and the dual cycle air cooling system keeps it frost free and low odor. The manufacturer supplies a one year limited warranty with this counter depth refrigerator.
2. Danby DFF100C1BSLDB Refrigerator
Available in four fabulous colors, the frost-free Danby DFF100C1BSLDB refrigerator is a compact design offering 10 cu. ft of storage space between the refrigerator and freezer. The freezer has two door bins, an adjustable shelf and the refrigerator offers three door bins, allowing tall bottle storage, two glass shelves and a crisper drawer.
It also contains a white LED interior light in the refrigerator and comes with an ice cube tray. With separate thermostats for the refrigerator and freezer, the Danby offers a 12-month parts and labor warranty with in-home service.
3. Kenmore Smart 24 cu. ft. French Door Bottom-Mount Refrigerator
The Kenmore Smart 24 cu. ft. French door bottom-mount refrigerator contains a Genius Cool system with a linear compressor and dual evaporators to provide an ideal temperature within both the refrigerator and the freezer. There is also a charcoal filter that allows air flow to be filtered to minimize odors.
It also boasts LED lighting, two slide-away shelves and a water dispenser that contains a compact water filter and a slim in-door ice maker which helps maximize available refrigerator space. You can control temperatures with the Kenmore Smart App or even through Alexa. If all that wasn't enough, this fantastic fridge also offers built-in diagnostics.There is a manufacturer’s warranty on the Kenmore, but you may find it helpful to consider purchasing an extended warranty as replacing compressors in this model can be quite costly outside of the Kenmore warranty.
4. Samsung RF23J9011SR 22.5 Cu. Ft. French Door Refrigerator
The four door Samsung RF23J9011SR French door refrigerator in stainless steel contains a filtered ice and water dispenser with a tall opening to fill pitchers. You may need to experiment with what containers you use to collect the ice/water in to minimize any leakage.
It offers FlexZone™, which means that you can use the bottom right section as either a refrigerator or freezer with four temp settings available. Cooling or freezing temps can also be boosted with power freeze or power cool options which chill within minutes of use.
The premium cooling system has two compressors and three evaporators, allowing precise temperature and humidity controls across the unit. The two crisper drawers are humidity controlled and the refrigerator has bright LED lighting. It is an Energy Star product with digital controls and a fingerprint-resistant finish.
5. Samsung RF24FSEDBSR Counter Depth Four Door Refrigerator
The counter depth Samsung RF24FSEDBSR four door refrigerator is a French door design offering 24 cu. ft of capacity. This refrigerator has an filtered water dispenser and the Ice Master ice maker can produce up to 5.9 lbs. of ice each day.
With a stainless steel exterior and matching stainless steel accents on the door bins and interior shelves, this provides a contemporary finish to your kitchen. Energy Star rated, the refrigerator and freezer are lit with high efficiency LED lighting and there is an alarm that will trigger if the doors are left open for too long.
The crisper drawers are humidity controlled and its FlexZone drawer with smart divider and temperature control allows you to store food at four different temperatures. The cooling system is a Twin Cooling Plus System which uses dual air flows for the refrigerator and freezer, enabling the refrigerator to be kept at near commercial levels of humidity while the freezer air is drier to reduce freezer burn.Although this is under limited warranty, some buyers have found that they have had to pay service charges when their refrigerator has developed a fault, so you may want to investigate the warranty further before buying.
6. Frigidaire Gallery Counter Depth Side-by-Side Refrigerator
The Frigidaire Gallery side-by-side refrigerator has an easy clean and smudge-proof stainless steel finish. The right hand interior refrigerator storage can be adjusted for your storage needs This has a chill drawer that uses air from the freezer to cool foods faster and the crisper drawers are humidity controlled. This also contains a deli drawer to hold cheeses and deli meats.
With an overall capacity of 22.1 cu. ft, this has corner to corner LED lighting and will automatically go into energy saving mode if none of the doors are opened in a 24 hour period. It also meets the Department of Energy’s minimum standards for energy efficiency.This contains PureAir filters for cleaner and fresher air circulation and the PureSource Ultra II system filters your household water for water dispensing and ice making. This also has an indicator to let you know when the filter is ready for replacing. The ice maker and water filter is on the front of the left hand freezer door and is a taller design for easier filling of jugs.
7. Whirlpool WRS571CIDB Counter Depth Side-by-Side Refrigerator
With a 21 cu. ft capacity, this Whirlpool WRS571CIDB side-by-side refrigerator, and Energy Star qualified, this is also lit by LED lighting. This uses the Accu-Chill Temperature Management system to cool food quickly while saving energy through the use of built-in sensors. It also uses Adaptive Defrost which monitors the activity of the compressor and only defrosts when necessary, although some buyers have had problems regulating the refrigerator temperature, which can sometimes be too cold.Along with the FreshFlow air filter which filters circulating air to help keep those pesky odors under control, it has a water filter system and an in-door ice maker. To make it easier for you to fill jugs, the ice maker bin can be tilted or removed. You can also move around the gallon door bins to better fit your bottles and cartons.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Product
Types of Refrigerators
Counter depth refrigerators are those that do not protrude much further forward than the depth of your countertops, keeping the appliance in line with the rest of your kitchen and its appliances.
A French door refrigerator allows easy access to food as they usually have wider shelves, door storage bins and freezer drawers. The side by side refrigerator tends to offer easier access to frozen food as you do not need to bend down as much as you do with a French door design.
Top or bottom freezers are often more compact models. These can be more energy efficient as well as taking up less room in the kitchen. These refrigerators do not usually come with an ice maker or water filter.
There are also freezerless or mini refrigerators, which can be ideal if you want to add extra cold storage to your home without taking up too much room.
How a Refrigerator Works
There are five main components to refrigeration:
- the refrigerant
- a compressor to control the flow of refrigerant
- condenser coils on the back of the fridge
- an expansion device or valve
- evaporator coils inside the fridge
The refrigerant in the refrigerator is compressed and, as its pressure rises, it becomes a gas and the compressor pushes the gas into the condenser coils on the back of the refrigerator.
As this gas in the condenser coils meets the cooler kitchen temperature outside of the coils, the gas becomes a liquid. This high-pressure liquid enters an expansion valve which limits the flow of the now-cooling liquid as it moves into the evaporator coils inside the fridge and freezer.
This refrigerant absorbs heat inside the fridge which cools down the fridge air and as the refrigerant evaporates to a gas, it flows back to the compressor and the cycle starts over.
Installing a New Refrigerator
Most of us do keep our refrigerator in the kitchen, but even there, we should be careful to position it out of direct sunlight and away from any appliances that produce heat.
The user manual will give explicit requirements, but most refrigerators need at least an inch of space at the back to allow air to circulate. Some manufacturers may also state a necessary space clearance around the sides and on the top.
If you are thinking of putting your refrigerator in your garage or utility room, do take the time to check on the operating temperature range for the appliance, especially if you live in a hotter or colder climate, as not all appliances are able to work properly in more extreme environments.
If your new appliance has an ice maker and/or water filter, then it usually needs to be less than 6ft away from your water source and you may need to purchase a separate plumbing kit to plumb in the ice maker/water filter.
When your new refrigerator arrives, you’ll usually need to leave it upright for at least four hours to allow the refrigerant to settle. You may consider spending some of this time getting it unpacked, checking for any cosmetic damage and giving it a gentle wipe over. Many have reversible doors suitable for left hand or right hand opening, so you may also need a screwdriver ready to change the door around if necessary.
Once the refrigerator is in place and plugged in it will usually take a couple of hours for it to reach the correct temperature.
Energy Efficient Refrigerators
Energy efficient refrigerators today are often labelled as ‘Energy Star’s. This means that the refrigerator has been independently certified to save energy without loss of function or features. Even if your new refrigerator does not contain an Energy Star badge, take a look at the yellow and black EnergyGuide label for an idea of how much energy it will use.
Disposing of the old refrigerator in the garage and buying a new one may cut back on your household energy use and save you around $50 per year in energy costs as well reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Cooling leftovers before they go into the refrigerator or freezer is also a good energy efficiency habit to get into, as raising the internal temperature of the refrigerator requires the compressor to work harder to cool it down, using more energy.
Strangely, it uses less energy to keep a full refrigerator cool than an empty one, so you can either adjust the temperature up slightly (if appropriate) or fill the refrigerator with bottles or soda cans to reduce energy consumption. Likewise, you may want to consider filling your empty freezer with ice packs.
Safe Food Storage
- Your refrigerator should stay between 37°F and 40°F and the freezer should always be set to 0°F. If your refrigerator doesn’t have an in-built thermometer, you may want to think about investing in one, as it acts as a prompt to turn the temperature up if too cold and likewise turn down if it’s too warm.
Regularly check expiration dates on food in the refrigerator – when in doubt, throw it out!
Cooked food should always be covered in the refrigerator as should raw meats and fish and they should be stored away from each other. The top of the refrigerator is usually best for foods that do not need cooking, the middle shelves for dairy and the bottom shelves for your well wrapped raw meats and fish. Jellies, jams and condiments should be popped in the refrigerator once they have been opened.
If you do spill anything in the refrigerator or have any drips, then clean up quickly as this can help reduce growth of Listeria bacteria and prevent cross-contamination; especially from raw to cooked foods.
Fruit and vegetables can be stored in the crisper drawers at the bottom. As the door shelves are where temperature fluctuates the most, this is fine for foods which have natural preservatives such as juice and condiments. Softer dairy items such as butter are OK in the door shelves as well.
Losing Power to the Refrigerator
If you see a warning signal for power loss, then you may wish to make up your own ice packs (water in quart bags) and pop them in the refrigerator and freezer before the power is completely lost.
When power is lost, try to stay out of the fridge and freezer, as this will help keep them cold. Be sure to check your thermometers before eating food from potentially unsafe fridge storage. If the fridge is still at or below 40°F, or if it has been above for 40°F for less than two hours then the food should be OK to eat. If you are not sure how long it has been above 40°F, don’t take the risk - dispose of it.
Freezers should be regularly defrosted according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Surfaces in the refrigerator should be regularly wiped down with an appropriate cleaner/sanitizer and you should also check that the drain is flowing freely and unblock if necessary. A sign of the drain being blocked is water pooling at the bottom of the refrigerator.
Many refrigerators now utilize charcoal filters in the air circulation systems to keep smells at bay, but if your refrigerator doesn’t have this function, you may wish to purchase special refrigerator deodorizers, or a small dish of baking soda even helps reduce some odors. Using airtight containers for foods such as garlic or blue cheese can also help keep smells to a minimum.
Be aware of more unusual smells in the refrigerator, particularly a whiff of ammonia, as this can point to a leak of refrigerant gas, which needs dealing with urgently.
The condenser coils can be more awkward to clean on a regular basis but they do occasionally need a clean, as dirt can stop them from working as effectively. The brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner is probably the easiest way to clean the coils at least once every six months.
When cleaning the freezer after defrosting or when wiping the refrigerator, it’s useful to take a moment to check all the seals on the doors, as any breaks in seals can allow cool/cold air to escape, preventing the refrigerator from working properly. A quick way to check this is by shutting a piece of paper in the door - if you can pull it out easily it may be worth getting the seals checked by a professional.
Why Refrigerators Need Safe Disposal
Older refrigerators and freezers made before 1995 usually contain CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon) refrigerant. CFCs, along with Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are known as ozone-depleting substances or ODSs.
ODSs are halogen-containing substances that destroy the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere of the earth. CFCs are also a type of greenhouse gas (GHG) which contributes to climate change.
Refrigerators and freezers made after 1995 use hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) as a refrigerant. Although HFCs are not ozone-depleting gases, they are still greenhouse gases.
Appliances made before 2005 also contain ODSs in the refrigerator foam insulation, also contributing to climate change and ozone depletion.
There are other hazards in refrigerators, such as the oil in the cooling circuit which could also be contaminated with ozone-depleting gases (ODS), refrigerant components that contain mercury and even some older appliances may contain PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).
This is why all refrigerators should be disposed of safely and in line with EPA guidance.
Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) is a voluntary partnership working with states, retailers, manufacturers and other bodies to dispose of refrigerated appliances in the most environmentally friendly way that it can. This helps minimize release of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), greenhouse gases (GHG) and harmful chemicals such as mercury, PCBs or used oil.
RAD may be able to collect appliances direct from your home or may work with your local public works. Some electric utilities can offer a turn-in or bounty program for old refrigerators, so it’s worth checking out your best disposal options before you order your new refrigerator.
After disposal, a few may be resold if they are working, but the majority are recycled. Recycling recovers the refrigerant and any other hazards and then allows other components such as glass shelves and metal parts to be recycled.
Although things have moved on in the world of refrigeration since the first food was cooled around 2000 years ago, there are still several things that are important to us when choosing a new refrigerator, such as its size, style and color. Many of us also now consider aspects such as energy efficiency – not just to help combat climate change, but also to help bring our energy bills down.We hope that you have found this review helpful and that you can take some of our recommendations on board when considering what will be the best counter depth refrigerator for your home and family.