Consumer Alert: Coolest refrigerators

(National/Consumer Reports) August 22, 2006 - Refrigerators used to have just two doors, but that's changed. Now there are three-door, even four-door refrigerators. But, as with everything else, you'll pay more for the extra doors, so Consumer Reports tested them to see if they're worth the extra cost.

The latest look in refrigerators is Samsung's new four-door. Like a side-by-side, there's a freezer on the left and a refrigerator section on the right.

The bonus is two drawers on the bottom that can be a fridge or a freezer.

Salespeople, like Barbara Tyler, say it gives you the ultimate in flexibility.

"You have refrigerator, freezer, or you can do freezer, freezer, or refrigerator, freezer. You can reverse the bottom drawers," said Tyler.

Consumer Reports just tested the four-door fridge, along with 22 others. Emilio Gonzalez directed the testing.

"In our test we use these thermocouples to measure the temperatures inside. We look to see how the refrigerator temperatures vary during different conditions. And here we use frozen spinach during our testing; we place the thermocouples inside," Gonzalez explained.

Thermocouples are also placed in the drawers.

The Samsung performed well, and Emilio says its flexibility is a big plus. But at $3,000, it's expensive.

Another refrigerator breakthrough is the $2,100 Maytag. It's one of the first French-door refrigerators with an ice and water dispenser on the door.

Most French-door refrigerators have the water dispenser inside, which isn't as handy.

And even the Maytag refrigerator is pricey, starting around $1,400. That's nearly three times more than a refrigerator with a top freezer.

Consumer Reports says that type, though not as fashionable, is a far better deal. You can find a good one for around $500.

Whatever refrigerator you buy, you'll probably be offered an extended warranty. But Consumer Reports' survey data shows that most refrigerators don't fail during the extended-warranty period. So, they say, don't waste money on an extended warranty.

Posted 3:29pm by Bryce Mursch

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this website. Copyright © 2000-2006 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc