A new refrigerator is a big investment. But if you purchase a product that is low in quality, it isn't just a waste of money–it can also endanger your health. Your refrigerator needs to work reliably to keep your foods and beverages at the appropriate temperature. So, how can you be sure you are making the best buy to keep your food fresh, healthy and safe? A good starting point is to investigate refrigerator brands to avoid.
If you don't have time you can easily jump to the following two sections:
In this article, we are going to tell you about the least reliable refrigerator brands out there. We will also introduce you to some home appliance brands that are renowned for manufacturing quality refrigerators which receive high marks for customer satisfaction.
But first, let's go over some common problems that can make a fridge an unreliable product. That way, you will know what you need to be on the lookout for when evaluating your options.
What Red Flags Help You Identify Refrigerator Brands to Avoid?
1. Low quality construction and materials.
When manufacturers cut corners with fridge design, you cannot expect to have a positive experience over the long haul. Build quality and materials have a huge impact on the longevity of fridges. Review feedback on the model you are thinking of purchasing to see whether customers were satisfied with the construction of their refrigerators. Strong materials like stainless steel may help a fridge stand the test of time (this material also looks great in the kitchen).
2. Doors that don’t fit right.
You will probably put a lot of thought into the overall dimensions of your fridge. You may carefully measure your space to ensure the right fit for your kitchen. You may also have thought a lot about fridge and freezer capacity. For example, we know how important choosing the right sized fridge can be especially when it comes to selecting the best wine fridges or the best build-in wine cooler.
But just as important as counter depth and whether the unit fits the spot you picked out for it is whether the doors fit properly. Do they form a tight seal when they are closed?
When doors do not fit with a nice, tight, even seal all around, you can expect ongoing problems with efficiency. It may be difficult to maintain the right interior temperature in the fridge and freezer with cold air leaking out, and it may take extra energy to keep your food fresh or frozen.
Quite a few malfunctions can potentially plague a refrigerator. As you research different companies and refrigerator models, look out for complaints about cooling, ice makers, the water dispenser, or wi fi connection issues if you are shopping for a smart refrigerator.
Leaks can be a common problem with some fridge models. Also, if you are purchasing a water line for your fridge so you can use the dispenser for a constant supply of water and ice, watch out for potential leak issues there as well.
5. Short or limited warranties.
Whether you are shopping for a French door refrigerator, a side by side model, or any other type of appliance, take a close look at the warranty. How many years does it last? What are its limitations with respect to parts and labor?
The length and comprehensiveness of the warranty is one of the prime determinants of your repair costs should you need to fall back on it. The more gaps there are in your coverage, the more expensive it could potentially be to have to service your refrigerator.
Additionally, some warranties are complicated. You need to jump through many hoops to use them. That is one of the last things you want to deal with when you need help with your refrigerator or freezer.
6. Pricey parts.
What if you do need to replace a part in your freezer or refrigerator, and the cost is not covered under your warranty?
If parts for a particular model of refrigerator are really expensive, your repair costs could add up quickly should something go wrong.
7. Long wait times.
How long are you willing to wait on hold to talk with customer service about a problem with your appliances? Ten minutes? Twenty? An hour? More? Some companies are notorious for lengthy wait times on the phone or chat.
On top of that, you do not want to wait a long time to receive a replacement part if you need one; some features may be unusable while you wait. And what if you need someone to come out to service your appliance in person? If you are stuck waiting for weeks, your refrigerator or freezer could be out of commission in the meantime. Think how much food and money you'll end up wasting.
8. Bad service.
Last but not least, always check what consumer reports have to say about customer service for a given brand. You do not want to be stuck dealing with support agents who are not knowledgeable, quick, polite, and helpful. Poor customer support can lead to delays in finding critical solutions, and can also add considerably to your stress.
Keep in Mind – Brand Reliability Can Vary By Refrigerator Type
It is important to know that not every company that manufacturers refrigerators is 100% reliable or otherwise. Indeed, Consumer Reports says, “One major takeaway from the survey: Brand reliability varies by configuration. For example, Frigidaire top-freezers earn an Excellent rating for predicted reliability, but Frigidaire French-doors receive only a Fair score.”
So, you might not want to purchase a French-door fridge by Frigidaire, but a top-freezer from the same company might make a great choice. If you're interested in a similar analysis you can check out the top washing machines to avoid.
Top Refrigerator Brands to Avoid
Now that we have gone over a list of things to be on the lookout for when evaluating possible fridge and freezer brands and products, let's go over a list of some of the least reliable brands that are out there.
1. Viking Refrigerators
If you are in the market for a luxury appliance, one brand you might be considering is Viking Refrigerators. This company specializes in high-end products that are loaded with premium features. Viking sells counter-depth refrigerator models, and is also a French door refrigerator brand.
This company's appliances do not come cheap. You may spend anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 on a fridge and freezer from Viking. No one wants to spend that kind of money and run into problems.
Viking does offer long warranties (up to 12 years in some cases). But as of the time of this writing, they only have a little more than 3 stars on the Consumer Affairs website.
Quite a few of the complaints about this brand concern the doors on their refrigerators. It would seem to be common for a door to be misaligned, and thus not open or close correctly. Customers also say that it takes a really long time for the company to deliver a fridge or freezer, and that it likewise can take ages to receive replacement parts when necessary.
One particular model that has received a lot of criticism on Best Buy is the Viking 5 Series Quiet Cool Fridge. Apparently, the ice maker has a flaw that causes the ice to fall out. So, instead of staying in the ice maker where it belongs, it can end up elsewhere in your unit. You should not have to deal with this type of flaw at all, but especially in such an expensive appliance.
Speaking of the ice maker, if this is one of the features that is most important to you in a refrigerator and freezer unit, consider going with an LG model instead that includes Craft Ice(tm) among its features. This special ice maker doesn't produce ice cubes. Instead, it makes ice spheres. This type of ice has a slower melt time than regular cubes.
2. KitchenAid Refrigerators
The next brand on our list to consider avoiding when shopping for your next refrigerator or freezer model is KitchenAid. The company makes counter-depth, side by side, bottom freezer, and French door refrigerator models. As with Viking, costs can be expensive. For example, the brand’s 2.4 Cubic Ft. Built-In French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel is listed on Home Depot at well over $9,000.
On Consumer Affairs, this refrigerator company has received a little under 4 out of 5 stars. Although that is not a bad rating overall, we have seen complaints about their appliances on other sites as well.
Complaints have concerned issues with features such as ice makers, doors, and lights. You do not want to invest in a refrigerator from this brand only to find yourself struggling with a fridge or freezer door that will not align or a noisy water dispenser.
Much of the content of bad reviews of refrigerators from KitchenAid focuses on long wait times for repairs. So, some of the issues are similar to those that buyers have faced when dealing with Viking.
3. Maytag Refrigerators
One more brand you might want to avoid when shopping for refrigerators is Maytag. You can find side by side, bottom freezer, French door, and other types of refrigerators from this brand. Maytag has 4 out of 5 stars at Consumer Affairs. As with the others, this is not terrible, but there may be some issues to be aware of with respect to features, quality and service.
Buyers don’t like that the filters for this company’s fridges can be pricey. Their freezers seem to be especially problematic. Issues with the door, cooling, or other freezer features are rampant.
In terms of service, the things buyers complained about are much as one might expect. There have been issues with warranties and policies, and difficulties getting a hold of an agent when needing to access the company's support team.
Consider These Reliable Refrigerator Brands Instead
Now you know what brands you might want to steer clear of when you are choosing something to put in your home kitchen. But what brands should you think about choosing instead for a side by side, top freezer, or other type of fridge?
There are a lot of choices out there that are worth thinking about. But here are a couple of brands which a lot of buyers recommend.
General Electric (GE) is another of the best companies when it comes to manufacturing reliable refrigerators. Additionally, if you are on a budget while shopping for your home, you will be pleased to learn that GE French door refrigerators and other models are affordably priced. Let’s take a look at one product of particular interest.
GE Profile PVD28BYNFS 27.6 Cu.Ft. Stainless French Door Smart Refrigerator
Our recommended fridge from GE is the GE Profile PVD28BYNFS 27.6 Cu.Ft. Stainless French Door Smart Refrigerator with a Bottom Freezer. This fridge features 22.1 cubic feet of space, and is flush with your counter so that it does not intrude on your kitchen space.
Features of note include hands-free Autofill, an electronic temperature-controlled drawer, a fingerprint-resistant finish for each door, TwinChill(tm) evaporators, and the option for a second ice maker. There is an adjustable shelf and you can drop down the tray, making it easy to organize your food.
While LG has similar ratings overall for its products as compared to some of the brands above, we consistently read excellent feedback regarding their refrigerators.
LG LFXC22596S 22 Cu. Ft. Stainless Smart Counter-Depth Refrigerator
One LG model to consider is the LG LFXC22596S 22 Cu. Ft. Stainless Smart Counter-Depth Refrigerator. This counter-depth model offers 22 cubic feet of storage space. With the InstaView Door-in-Door, you can knock
on your fridge to illuminate its contents through the tinted glass panel. That means you do not need to even open the door to see what is inside at eye level.
Other exciting features include adjustable bins that slide for easy access, a beautiful door finish that resists smudging, and the ThinQ app you can connect to your fridge with wi fi. Additionally, this impressive fridge is Energy Star(TM) Certified. It features an Inverter Linear Compressor with a 10-year warranty on that component.
Even with this abundance of features and astonishing ease-of-use, the LG LFXC22596S is available for a reasonable price. It also features an ice maker and water dispenser.
The Liebherr brand has some best-in-class fridges. Certainly not the cheapest on the market, but then again you get the excellence you pay for.
Other Brands to Consider
It might surprise you to see Samsung listed among our recommended refrigerator companies, considering you most likely associate the name with electronics. Nevertheless, Samsung has a solid reputation for certain refrigerators.
What do buyers like about Samsung fridges? They work well, and offer excellent ease-of-use thanks to smart features. The return window for a Samsung model is often a bit short, but warranties are solid, and the fridges feature long life spans.
It might surprise you to see us list Whirlpool here after listing Maytag previously among brands to avoid. It is true that Whirlpool owns Maytag, but it bought the brand in 2006, and Maytag still seems to be catching up to what is now its parent company. Regardless, Whirlpool has long enjoyed a sterling reputation for the quality of its refrigerators.
Moreover, buyers report that maintaining Whirlpool fridges is easy, and that it is often possible to carry out basic repairs on their own. Thankfully, it seems rare for a Whirlpool refrigerator to require servicing.
Frequently Asked Questions About Refrigerator Brands to Avoid
Now you have had a chance to learn about some red flags to avoid when choosing a brand for your next refrigerator. You also have learned about some brands you may want to treat with caution, as well as a few that you might want to consider.
Let's move on to answer a few frequently asked questions about choosing a refrigerator brand.
Q: What brand of refrigerator has the fewest problems?
A: It is important to keep in mind that for any major refrigerator company, there have been customers with good and bad experiences. There can also be variations from one refrigerator to the next. But in general, we have found the best overall feedback for Samsung, Whirlpool, GE, and LG. These seem to be the refrigerator brands with the fewest problems.
Do not forget what we learned from Consumer Reports. Some companies are better at making one type of fridge reliably than they are at making another.
Q: Which refrigerator brand is most reliable?
A: From our research, the refrigerator brands that are the most reliable are LG, GE, Whirlpool and Samsung. It makes sense that these would be the same companies we listed as manufacturing the refrigerators with the fewest problems. Not only can you rely on the quality of the products that these companies make, but you can also rely on the quality of the service they provide.
Q: What are the worst appliance brands?
A: An overview of the worst appliance brands overall is beyond the scope of this article, since we are focusing here on fridges alone. But based on our findings, several of the worst refrigerator brands include Viking, Maytag and KitchenAid.
But one should keep in mind that none of these companies produces poor products overall. In fact, more than one refrigerator from these companies has received high ratings and reviews. These were just the brands we found the most consistent complaints about, especially with respect to customer support.
Obviously, it is best to never need to call upon customer support for your fridge. But if you do, you want to know that the manufacturer is going to have your back.
Q: Who makes the most reliable side by side refrigerator?
A: GE, Whirlpool, Samsung and LG all make some of the most reliable side by side refrigerators. But you will also find some other brands do a great job manufacturing high quality side by side fridges. We have even seen some highly-rated products in this department from Maytag or KitchenAid.
That goes back to what we have already talked about a few times in this article. Even a brand that makes unreliable fridges of one type may excel with another type. Just keep in mind that complaints with respect to customer support apply across the board. Your Maytag or KitchenAid side by side fridge may be reliable in general, but if you do end up needing help, you will be dealing with the same support team. If that team is unreliable, that is going to cause issues.
Q: How do I choose a fridge?
A: The first step to choosing a fridge is to think about the configuration of your kitchen. How much space do you have to work with? Also consider capacity. How much room do you want inside the unit to store your food? How much fresh food do you eat versus frozen food?
Once you figure out what size and type of refrigerator you want to buy, you can think about the features that are important to you. Consider water and ice dispensing, whether shelves are adjustable, smart features, and more.
Some buyers may be looking for a lot of bells and whistles, while others may be satisfied with a more basic refrigerator. Luckily the handles are not as plentiful like when selecting the best kitchen cabinet hardware, but in either case, just make sure you are getting a well-constructed unit backed by a great company.
Another important consideration is energy efficiency. Look for the Energy Star label, and pick a product that will be eco-friendly and save you money on your energy bills. It might be worth spending more money for an energy-efficient fridge upfront instead of getting a less expensive model that consumes more power. You will cut back on your long-term costs that way, which will ultimately end up making up for the extra you spent on the purchase.
Lastly, you should also think about aesthetics. While not as important as practical considerations, the appearance of your refrigerator does matter. Indeed, all things being equal, if it is between two products that both have the features and reliability you are looking for, the difference in looks between them might be the factor that settles you on one fridge and not the other.
Q: What type of fridge do I need?
A: There are four main door styles of fridges. You can get one with the freezer on the top or on the bottom. French door refrigerators feature a pair of doors for the fridge rather than a single door. Finally, one more option is a side by side model. With this type of fridge, instead of the freezer going above or below the fridge, the configuration places them next to each other, one on the left, and one on the right.
There is a good chance you grew up with a top freezer model, and may prefer it because of its familiarity. But the majority of buyers nowadays are leaning toward French door models.
Who should consider getting a side by side model? These types of refrigerators dedicate more space to the freezer. So, they make the most sense if frozen food is a large part of your diet. Otherwise, you probably will prefer one of the three other configurations.
Ultimately, you will need to decide what configuration you like best. It is a highly subjective personal preference, and there is no “right” answer.
Summary of Top Refrigerator Brands to Avoid
Now you have had a chance to check out some of the data on different brands that manufacture refrigerators. We hope that you find this overview helpful when making decisions about what products to consider for your own home use.
Remember, even the companies listed here as brands to potentially avoid may have some high-quality products. Likewise, even the more reliable brands can sometimes produce some duds. So, it is wise to do your research before you settle on a brand and a model for your next refrigerator and freezer.