When you’re ready to start building your smart home, or if you’re in the process of building it now, eventually you’re going to want to look into upgrading your appliances to “smart” appliances.
A smart refrigerator is an easy place to start, as they’re pretty readily available at any big box home store, and they really do make your life a lot easier.
Here’s what to expect from a smart refrigerator, as well as nine of the best on the market.
What Exactly is a Smart Refrigerator and What Does It Do?
Smart refrigerators connect to your WiFi and often an app on your smartphone, and they provide information and data for your fridge, as well as the ability to send and receive information to a large screen on your fridge’s exterior. You can find smart refrigerators from the top appliance brands, such as LG, GE, and Samsung. They usually connect to other branded tech throughout your home, such as Google Assistant and Alexa.
What can you do with all that connectivity?
You can do things like put digital notes on the fridge, get an alert if the door is open or you’re running out of ice and see what’s inside your fridge without opening the door. Some smart refrigerators feature a family calendar and additionally allow you to access a wealth of media, from recipes to music to even television.
Most of the time, smart refrigerators are going to be more expensive than your basic refrigerator. Smart features typically come standard on the higher-end refrigerators on the market anyway.
Think a smart refrigerator could be the best thing to happen to your kitchen all year? Check out these nine smart fridges.
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The LG InstaView ThinQ is one of the top smart refrigerators out there, with a range of features, though you may have a difficult time finding it. LG is currently taking purchase inquiries on its site.
A 29-inch screen on the front of the fridge is very high-tech. It’ll allow you to read recipes, create a shopping list, display photos, write notes, draw — really attach anything to the screen that you might with plain paper and an old-fashioned magnet on a non-smart fridge.
But when you’re not using the screen in one of these ways, you can tap it a few times, and the screen turns into glass, so you can see what’s in your fridge without opening the door. Not at home? You can view the inside of the fridge via the accompanying app as well.
The fridge has built-in speakers for playing music and talking to Alexa. It also connects to Amazon Dash, allowing you to order kitchen supplies or food with one touch.
Comparatively, the GE Profile refrigerator is more generic and focuses a bit more heavily on actually keeping stuff cold. It has a nice set of french doors, 28 cubic square feet of fridge space, a bottom freezer and a good layout for superior organization. If space and function are more important to you than smart features, you may prefer this fridge.
Daniel Carter, Founder of Zippy Electrics, shares more on why he thinks the GE Profile refrigerator is the best smart fridge on the market.
Carter says, “the French door style makes food quite accessible. All refrigerated foods are kept up top, while the freezer gets its own section directly below. This gives you much more space for each designated area.”
He continues, “there’s also a built-in ice maker/water supply on the left-hand fridge door. However, the best feature of all is the built-in Keurig. You can brew your favorite K-cup blends directly from your fridge thanks to the hot water dispenser.”
A very small LED screen connects to WiFi and Amazon Echo devices, but the features aren’t nearly as flashy or attractive as what you’ll find on other models.
Stand-out smart features include the ability to schedule when the fridge heats up some water for your daily cup of joe, as well as the ability to ask Alexa to heat up some water for you on demand.
The Kenmore Smart 75043 fridge connects to its own Kenmore Smart app, as well as to Alexa. Similar to the GE Profile smart fridge, it has a very small screen, but it also puts the actual cooling features and fridge size and function over tech.
The stainless steel fridge features a very spacious bottom freezer, french doors and GeniusCool tech, allowing you to control your fridge's specific temperature and humidity level. These controls are accessible via the app, voice command and Alexa, where you can also access controls for the ice maker and air filter.
Unlike many refrigerators with in-door ice makers and water spouts, this one is on the larger side, meaning you can fill up pots and pans in addition to bottles and cups.
The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator is one of the more tech-savvy smart fridges on the market. It offers a large, 21.5-inch screen, where different family members can have their own profiles and avatars. Once you have your profile set up, you can add your own to-do lists and calendars, and even keep track of diet and calorie information.
If you download the Samsung Smart Home app, you can look into the fridge via your phone, from anywhere. Built-in speakers allow you to listen to music via Spotify.
Better yet, the fridge comes in four different sizes and layouts, so you can pick the one that’s best for your family.
Choose a 22, 24 or 28 cubic-inch capacity, and then a three-door with french doors, four-door with french doors and a FlexZone drawer, side-by-side doors or a four-door with a flex door that goes from fridge to freezer as you need it.
While the Samsung FoodShowcase refrigerator may not be as savvy when it comes to the tech features, it does offer one really cool bonus, from which it gets its name.
The FoodShowcase feature is basically a separate fridge door within your normal fridge door. The smaller door is accessible when you open the normal door, and is glass, giving you a clear look at everything stored deeper in the fridge, without letting out any of the cold. At the same time, you're able to easily access anything stored on the normal fridge door's shelving unit — think drinks, condiments, etc.
An additional FlexZone drawer uses a new kind of cooling tech to bring warm items to your desired temperature, faster.
6. GE Café
If you want a fridge that’s, well, pretty, overall, then you’ll want to look at the GE Café fridge. The fridge comes in a basic matte white color, but then with bronze, black, copper or stainless steel accents, for an Art Deco look that’ll be right at home in any upscale kitchen.
In terms of function, the fridge offers lots of space and 23.1 cubic feet of capacity overall, with a french door and bottom freezer layout (and 7.2 cubic feet of capacity in the freezer itself, which definitely isn’t shabby).
Unfortunately, the tech features are limited. The fridge can connect to both your WiFi and Amazon Alexa devices, but there’s no screen and changing the fridge settings will only entertain you so much.
While you may know GE, Kenmore and LG more so for their appliances than Bosch, this fridge is still worth a look. The smart refrigerator is a bit more on the low-key side when it comes to design, and there’s no big screen, but it does offer a few nice smart features.
For example, you can connect it to the Bosch Home Connect app and then get a look at your fridge's interior anytime you want. Instead of requiring you to stream the interior of your fridge, like other smart fridge apps, it shows you a photo of your fridge's interior from the last time the fridge was opened. This can be handy if you don’t want to rely on a finicky internet connection when you need to check on the amount of beer still left in the fridge.
Otherwise, the app’s features are pretty basic, with door open alerts and temperature controls.
The LG Signature smart refrigerator features just about every stand-out perk that LG offers on any of its other high-end fridges, and packs them all into one appliance. The unfortunate part? It comes with a price tag to match.
However, you can expect a humongous size, at 30.8 cubic feet, and a whole bevy of cool features.
Hands full and can’t open the fridge door? Just step onto a lit projection of the words ‘Door Open’ that the fridge casts across the floor, and those doors will open right up.
Worried about something getting a bit too warm if you stand with the fridge doors open too long? Don’t be. The FRESHShield function keeps everything at the right temperature, whether or not the door is closed.
The Door-in-Door feature allows you a look into the fridge while you grab something from the in-door shelving. LUMIShelf lights your shelves from below, so you can easily find what you’re looking for on a crowded shelf. You’re even able to control the temperature of the fridge in separate areas.
And that big screen on the door? It’s a touchscreen with a range of features for leaving notes, making lists and otherwise keeping yourself organized.
On the flip side, if you can’t afford to spend too much on a new smart refrigerator, you may find the LG 2D Bottom Mount fridge to be just the thing you need.
It’s on the small side, with 24.1 cubic feet of storage space, with a top fridge and bottom freezer (but no french doors). Smart features include SmartDiagnosis, for troubleshooting any fridge problems and Smart Cooling for better temperature control.
How to Choose a Smart Fridge
Before you decide on any of the above smart fridges, make sure you take a few things into consideration.
Think about how you use your current fridge and both the things you like and the things you don’t like.
Do you hate bending over to dig through the freezer? Then you probably don’t want to purchase a fridge with french doors and a bottom freezer.
Do you always forget about items that are tucked deep within the recesses of your fridge? You might want something with a little more in the way of organization.
As you can see above, smart fridges range greatly, from those with barely any smart features at all to those that can just about do it all. Which features are most important to you?
Would you prefer the ability to tell Alexa to start heating up water for your cup of coffee? Or the ability to leave your kids’ notes right on the screen? Or do you want to be able to check for milk or eggs while running errands or order paper towels from Amazon with a tap of a button? Or maybe you really just want to be able to listen to your favorite tunes while you’re cooking.
John Bedford, Founder of Viva Flavor, shares a few features that he believes to be universally useful with any smart refrigerator. Bedford shares these features are important:
- “Temperature control by drawer or compartment.”
- “Water filter replacement alerts.”
- “Interior cameras that allow you to see - remotely - what items you're short on. Handy when you're at the grocery store.”
Whatever the case may be, consider which smart features you’ll actually use, instead of buying a smart fridge simply because it offers more features.
Are you only storing food for you and a spouse? Or do you have a family and need to keep a large amount of items cold?
Do you eat a lot of frozen foods? You might want a larger freezer.
Eat a lot of produce? Then you’ll want to pay attention to how large the fridge’s produce drawers are.
Sardor Umrdinov, CEO at Home Alliance, shares more insight about things to consider around capacity before you buy.
Umrdinov says in regards to shelves, “there are a variety of shelves to consider and will depend on your preference. A sliding shelf design offers the users with simple access to items placed further inside the fridge. Simply pull the shelf in or out to place or get your items.”
He continues, “adjustable shelves offer the same conveniences but you can remove a shelf to make room for bigger items. Shelves can also be spill-proof. This feature has become a standard in refrigerators. They reduce spillage ensuring that they don't scatter all over your fridge and making cleaning easier.”
Umrdinov also has some thoughts on picking out the right drawers for your smart fridge. He adds, “a full-extension drawer makes reaching items much easier. With drawers, you get full access and sufficient space to keep trays of food.”
“Some refrigerators have transparent drawers that let you see the contents inside. This helps save time from rummaging through the drawer trying to find what you need,” he continues.
Creating Your Perfect Smart Kitchen
Creating your perfect smart kitchen is only a few purchases away, but likely the largest purchase you’ll make is your smart refrigerator. Don’t take the decision lightly!
The right features, layout and size will make the next several years of cooking in your kitchen either a joy or a much-dreaded task. Soon enough, your entire kitchen will be full of smart appliances.
You might also be interested in: The 14 Best Kitchen Gadgets for Your Home
The 9 Best Smart Refrigerators: