Reliable, cheap fridge destined for the basement?

marcoloAugust 10, 2010

I need a fridge fast, since I'm moving to a house without one, and Massachusetts is having a tax-free weekend this weekend (August 14-15). But I don't want to buy a "forever" kitchen fridge, because I'll be redoing the kitchen and may need a special size or make.

So I want a fridge to use in the kitchen now, but will make a good overflow fridge for the basement in the future.

I want

- Reliable--hard to get things back up out of the basement

- Cheap--no Subz obviously or Liebherrs

- Energy efficient

- Bottom freezer if possible at a low price point

- Water/ice irrelevant

If anyone can suggest a couple brands that currently don't reek now--these seem to change from year to year--I can hunt for whatever scratch and dent hulk that's available.


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I bought a magic chef about 13 yrs ago and it's still going strong. It's spent the last 10 yrs in the garage and recently became our primary fridge during our renovation. It's a branded maytag side-by-side with no water or ice in the door. The really cool thing is that after all that time, I was able find an icemaker for it and it works likea charm.Check your local craigslist also. Lots of people are getting rid of old appliances though CL rather than pay someone to haul it away.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 7:57PM
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French-door models now outsell bottom-freezer refrigerators

French-door refrigerators are a fairly recent design twist, combining side-by-side refrigerator doors (French doors) atop a single pull-out freezer drawer. Although they have a bit less usable interior space and cost more than other types, French-door refrigerators are gaining in popularity, fueled partly by their frequent appearance on home and garden TV shows. While initially priced at more than $3,000, prices for French-door refrigerators now mostly range between $1,400 and $2,000, and this style of refrigerator has all but replaced single-door bottom freezer models.

The Amana AFD2535DEW (*Est. $1,400) doesn't have a through-the-door icemaker or water dispenser, but it isn't as expensive as many French-door refrigerators. Testing reveals that this model performs just as well as others for temperature consistency. The interior shelving is the full width of the unit. It has pull-out shelves and bins, a temperature-controlled meat and deli bin, an interior ice maker and an internal filtered-water dispenser. Some say it's a bit noisier than other expensive French-door refrigerators, but user reviews are plentiful and mostly positive. Owners seem to especially like the design of the shelves and storage bins, which they say makes it possible to see the refrigerator's contents at a glance. There are quite a few reports of breakdowns for this model, however, usually involving either the ice and water dispenser leaking or the electronic components failing. The Amana model has a 25.1-cubic-foot capacity. It was formerly Energy Star-compliant, but it does not meet the latest standard. It comes in white, black (AFD2535DEB) and bisque (AFD2535DEQ). The Amana AFD2535FES (*Est. $1,700) is a stainless-steel version. It comes with a one-year warranty.

For the fourth year in a row, Samsung French-door refrigerators are the highest rated for customer satisfaction in a large-scale survey of appliance owners conducted by J.D. Power and Associates. One such refrigerator, the 26-cubic-foot Samsung RF266AEWP (*Est. $1,450) is a top performer in tests and receives excellent average scores from users posting reviews to, and other websites. Its predecessor, the Samsung RF266WBWP (now discontinued), was recommended by as an eco-friendly choice for large families. Like the Amana, the Energy Star-rated Samsung skips the through-the-door ice maker and water dispenser in favor of internal filtered water and ice dispensers. Users say this refrigerator is exceptionally quiet and praise its performance, styling, capacity and storage options. There are, however, a few complaints about leaks from its water dispenser. The Samsung French-door refrigerator is available in white, black (RF266AEBP), stainless steel (RF266AERS) and platinum (RF266AEPN). The stainless-steel and platinum versions cost about $250 more than the white and black versions. Of these, users say the platinum finish is least likely to show fingerprints and smudges. Samsung refrigerators have a five-year warranty for the sealed system and a one-year warranty for other components.

The Samsung RFG297AAWP (*Est. $2,500) isn't included in professional tests, but it is very highly rated in owner reviews at and A few users report that the ice maker is loud and slow, but the vast majority says they are very happy with the refrigerator's performance. Owners especially like how spacious this 28.5-cubic-foot model is, and say the interior is well-lit and easy to clean. This model includes a through-the-door ice maker and water dispenser, sliding glass spill-proof shelves, LED lighting and several bins and racks for organization. It is Energy Star-compliant, and is available in white, black (Samsung RFG297AABP) and stainless steel as the Samsung RFG297AARS (*Est. $2,500).

Bottom-freezer refrigerators have lost ground in recent years as the price of French-door refrigerators has dropped. Many bottom-freezer refrigerators have been discontinued in the last year, and reviews for this type of refrigerator are now few and far between. Although editors at review dozens of French-door models, only a handful of bottom-freezer models are included in its latest report -- and the editors at Good Housekeeping test only French-door refrigerators.

If you prefer a bottom-freezer refrigerator with a single top refrigerator door instead of two, the Amana ABB1921DEW (*Est. $800) might be worth considering. It receives good scores in one professional test, but owner reviews are mixed, with many users complaining of reliability problems and build quality. This 19-cubic-foot fridge has a swing-out freezer door, but adds a wire slide-out freezer drawer. There is also a freezer light, which is sometimes rare among bottom-freezer refrigerators but common for this brand. Its sound-insulation package makes it one of the more quiet refrigerators on the market. The Amana doesn't have a water dispenser or ice maker, though an ice maker is optional. It has gallon door storage and humidity-controlled crisper drawers. This Amana bottom-freezer refrigerator is available in white only and is not Energy Star-rated.

The larger Amana ABB2221FEW (*Est. $850) has a 22.1-cubic-foot capacity. This model scores well for temperature control and costs less than other refrigerators of its size. Like the smaller Amana refrigerator above, this model has a swing-out freezer door. A slide-out freezer basket, adjustable door buckets, adjustable split glass shelves and a freezer light are also included. There are also two humidity-controlled crisper drawers and an ice maker, but no water dispenser. The Amana ABB2221FEW comes in white; a black version (the Amana ABB2221FEB) is also available. It includes a one-year manufacturer's warranty.

We also saw a recommendation for the Amana ABB2222FEW (*Est. $1,000), but aside from its energy efficiency (it is Energy Star-rated) and the convenience of a pull-out drawer, this is a fairly basic refrigerator given its price. Even the ice maker is an extra-cost accessory. The refrigerator comes in white, but is also available in black as the Amana ABB2222FEB (*Est. $1,000), in bisque as the Amana ABB2222FEQ (*Est. $1,000) and silver as the Amana ABB2222FED (*Est. $1,200). It comes with a one-year warranty.

Note that while these Amana refrigerators score well with professional reviewers, users sometimes have a different opinion. To be sure, many are happy with their Amana bottom freezer fridges. However, we also saw a larger-than-expected number of consumer complaints regarding reliability -- specifically, premature compressor failure. Amana bottom-freezer refrigerators have a fairly high repair rate compared to other brands, and although J. D. Power and Associates' customer satisfaction survey doesn't specifically rate refrigerators with bottom freezers, Amana refrigerators overall are among the lowest-rated.

Here is a link that might be useful: Consumer Search

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 8:09PM
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Don't know what you mean by cheap (for me cheap is less than $500). We picked-up a stainless steel frigidaire at Best Buy in the returns section for $449 (lowered from $649). It's 18 cu. ft. and energy star rated. The delivery guys couldn't believe it was going out in the garage.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 2:33AM
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fwiw at that price range i think the smallest LG or Samsung keep temperature control well.
Here is an LG that is sold a lot in other countries under the model number GR-349 or GR-389, and is sold here for the Manhatten market. (it's so good they won't show it on their web site, so as not to compete against their other offerings)
To see this, type GR-389 LG or GR-3489 LG into a search engine and you'll get 15 million hits, but none of them go to LG America.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 11:19AM
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Thanks for the great info! I also noticed this--are Whirlpools considered OK these days for fridges?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 10:26PM
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Thanks for the great info! I also noticed this--are Whirlpools considered OK these days for fridges?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 10:27PM
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It's a top freezer, but my Whirlpool has been running just fine, 30 years next month, no service calls.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 4:46PM
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