It’s time to upgrade your refrigerator, and you’re thinking big. You know you want something energy efficient, perhaps in a sleek French door style. You want something with a large interior capacity but depth-saving footprint. You also think you might want to consider a smart refrigerator. Sure, they sound cool and will give you bragging rights for days. But there are practical reasons to consider a smart refrigerator that go well beyond the cool (pun intended) factor.
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There are already many items in your home that might be smart, from lighting to front door security cameras, speakers, TVs, and more. You can add a refrigerator to that list, too. Smart refrigerators are standard refrigerators, usually in French door or side-by-side style, that feature built-in Wi-Fi technology to connect to your home network.
Some have a touchscreen on the front you can use to do things like leave digital notes, play videos, surf the web, access family and individual calendars, play music, and more. You’ll find smart technologies inside as well, like cameras, so you can keep on top of what’s in your fridge at all times, even if you’re at the office or grocery store. Wireless connectivity also means you can receive alerts if issues are detected and easily troubleshoot them from anywhere.
The smartest refrigerator you’ll find is the Samsung Family Hub, which features a touchscreen and full Internet connectivity. But there are other smart fridges that are intelligent in other ways. The LG InstaView and smart mirror door-in-door fridge, for example, allows you to knock on the door to see what’s inside without having to open it and let the cold air out. These also feature LG ThinQ technology for smart diagnosis. LG also has its MoodUP smart refrigerators, shown at CES 2023 earlier this year, which have colour changing panels and a built-in Bluetooth speaker that can play music in sync with the lights.
Whirlpool offers a line of energy efficient fridges that have features like rapid cooling and adaptive defrost that senses the load and runs only when necessary. Some Café fridges, meanwhile, have Wi-Fi connectivity and voice assistant integration, though they don’t have touchscreens.
Let’s break things down further into the key features you should consider when narrowing down the search to find the perfect smart refrigerator model to meet your needs.
For smart refrigerators that connect to the Internet, you want one that’s easy to pair with your phone and works flawlessly with a companion app. With some models like Samsung smart fridges, they can connect to a compatible Samsung smart TV, too. If you have a Samsung TV, it’s worthwhile considering that brand to ensure a seamless connection and maximize use. In doing so, you can do things like stream videos, music, news, and more.
Not all smart refrigerators have a touchscreen. Some are smart in that they connect solely for smart diagnosis of an issue so you can rectify the issue before it leads to food spoilage, or just have voice assistance. But if you want a full-on smart fridge that can display information as well, look for a model that has touchscreen you can use for daily planning, viewing recipe videos or instructions, surfing the web, leaving notes, and more.
Some smart refrigerators, including even models without a touchscreen, come with built-in voice assistance like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Samsung Bixby. Thus, they function like a smart speaker that can answer queries or provide information without you needing a separate speaker on the counter.
Internal cameras in a smart fridge let you visually see what’s inside so you don’t buy more of something you don’t need and conversely, can check in to see what you’re running low on. This is useful if you’re at the grocery store and can’t remember if you’re almost out of milk, for example, or if the ketchup bottle was full or nearing empty. You can view the fridge interior from the smartphone app and instantly add items to your shopping list by touch or, with some models, voice controlled.
As noted, some smart refrigerators can integrate with other smart home devices. This might be your TV so you can watch the evening news while you cook dinner or a smart home security camera so you can see who is at the door. Some can even work with smart ovens of the same brand so you can follow recipe instructions on the fridge’s touchscreen and send the proper settings to your oven so it preheats and is ready to go. As you work on sides, you can view the cooking progress on the fridge screen as well. This is especially ideal for those who might have a second oven in the basement that they use for cooking for big gatherings. Some, as noted, also work with voice assistants so you can do things like play a music playlist or queue up a recipe using voice commands.
With precise temperature control, you can ensure that your food stays fresher, longer. This might include individual zone temperature control so you can help prevent odours from mixing and keep your meat, poultry, and fish at the perfect temperature while fruits and vegetables are kept at their ideal temperature as well. Precise cooling, meanwhile, will ensure that temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much, even when the door is opened for long periods of time, so food maintains the proper texture and quality. Some smart fridges have compartments that can switch from refrigerator to freezer using preset temperature modes. This is great if you have extra meats and poultry, for example, and you want to maximize storage to keep them frozen until ready to use. Some, meanwhile, have crisper drawers that are humidity controlled.
Door alarms are useful not only to alert you if the fridge or freezer door was accidentally left open, but also to advise when the door is open for too long and you’re letting too much cold air out. This might be while loading a new set of groceries, or a teenager who loves to leave the doors open while they make their sandwich and get ingredients. It’s a useful reminder to ensure food is always kept fresh and at the right temperature.
Some smart fridges have built-in apps, or work with various apps, so you can do more from the touchscreen. This can include things like a calendar app for checking and adding to your schedules, to-do lists, and keeping track of important dates. It might also include music or video streaming apps, like Spotify, Amazon Music, and TuneIn, or apps for a compatible TV brand. Some even have fun entertainment apps like trivia games, question or joke of the day, a perfect way to start your day or have fun while cooking dinner.
Most new fridges, including smart refrigerators, offer smart defrost and cooling technology so you can easily defrost the freezer with a simple button push versus the older method of yesteryear that involved turning it off, removing all the food, and waiting for hours before you could clean. While it’s still a good idea to do an annual clean and defrost of the fridge, the process is much simpler now.
Built-in water and ice dispensers are useful for reducing the money you spend on bottled water, which is also helpful for the environment. You will need to replace the water filter a few times per year, but the cost is minimal and it’s simple to do so. Being able to make ice at home, meanwhile, saves you money and reduces plastic waste. It also saves room in your freezer since you don’t need to keep ice trays. Some of the latest premium fridges offer not only cubed and crushed ice, but also spherical ice that adds a splash of elegance to your drinks and cocktails.
Expiration date tracking helps you keep on top of the expiration dates of perishable items, like milk, eggs, condiments, and more. You will receive a notification in the app when something is about to expire so you can make plans to use it, toss and replace it, or even freeze it if that’s an option.
Not yet convinced a smart refrigerator is the right choice for you? Here are a few key ways a smart refrigerator can be helpful.
Many of us are busy these days with work, caring for kids, extracurricular activities, events, and more. A smart refrigerator is like a calendar and computer in your kitchen, one of the rooms you likely spend a lot of time in. Consider that you head to the kitchen first thing in the morning to grab breakfast or your coffee. This is where the family meets before starting each day. This is again where you reunite in the evening to make dinner, discuss the day’s events, and get ready for what’s next. Being able to leave notes for one another on the fridge (don’t forget to pick the kids up and take them to soccer), check calendar updates (big meeting today at noon!), see a to-do list (grab a birthday card for mom at lunch), and more is useful. You can also check things like traffic updates, weather reports, and news so you know how to dress or what route to take to school or the office. With some smart fridges, you can not only see what’s inside and add items to a grocery list, you can even order them (country and model dependent).
Smart refrigerators help reduce food waste since they often include high-tech cooling inside. This will ensure that everything is nicely organized and kept at the proper temperature. As noted, the ability with some models to switch a door from refrigerator to freezer to avoid a haul of meats and poultry from spoiling is useful, too. With internal cameras, you can see what’s needed so you don’t buy extras unnecessarily and don’t have to waste gas or time rushing out to the corner store for milk because you didn’t realize you were out. Features like expiration date tracking further help reduce food waste. See what ingredients are about to expire and search for a recipe or two to use them before they go bad.
Features like a built-in voice assistant means you can access pertinent information hands-free. If you’re hands-deep mixing ground beef for homemade meatloaf, you can ask the fridge to play music to entertain while you cook, put on the evening news, or show you a recipe so you don’t have to wash your hands, grab your phone, and queue it up on the small screen. Plus, by using the fridge, everyone can see the information at once without having to leave the room or grab personal devices. The convenience is also appreciated by those with mobility issues who might not be able to move as freely around the kitchen as others.
With access to recipe instructions and even videos, grocery lists, and more, you can streamline your cooking. Queue up a recipe on the fridge then follow it to get cooking faster and easier. The built-in recipe database with some models, or ease of accessing your own through voice assistance, can help provide inspiration as well for families looking to add some spice to the regular dinner rotation. Once you start cooking, use voice control to do things like convert measurements, call up videos on how to do something like French a rack of lamb, and log what ingredients you will need to replenish now that you’ve used them up.
Don’t discount the sheer entertainment value of having a high-tech fridge in the kitchen. It’s like a smart display or tablet and smart home hub built right into the appliance. This saves room on the countertop, helps busy families schedule, and makes it easy to play video, games, and music right in the kitchen.
Smart refrigerators tend to employ the latest and greatest design with sleek stainless finishes, French door layouts, and optimal space inside to accommodate all your groceries. They are typically designed for larger homes, larger kitchens, or kitchens with enough space to accommodate them while still leaving enough room to roam. They can help elevate the look of your kitchen.
Would your family get the most out of a smart refrigerator? There are certain types of households that would benefit most from them.
Naturally, a tech-savvy family will appreciate all the benefits a smart refrigerator provides. It’s another screen in the home that everyone can use to communicate with one another without having to be focused on their personal devices. It’s a nice way to get help in the kitchen and keep on top of schedules through a touchscreen interface that’s a permanent fixture.
As noted, busy families can benefit from a smart fridge, using the information as a sort of high-tech version of a whiteboard or kitchen calendar. Instead of sticking a magnetized calendar on the fridge, use the touchscreen to keep on top of schedules. The kids can add pertinent school details (like cross country so you know to pick them up an hour later on Wednesday) while parents can leave notes for latchkey kids, letting them know dinner is in the fridge for reheating, or simply sending an “I love you” message and reminder to do their homework.
Along with busy families, large families can also benefit from a smart fridge. All the smart interior features, from smart cooling to interior cameras, can help ensure that you never run out of items you need. Maybe you thought the milk carton was full, for example, but didn’t realize that among the five kids, they blazed through the last jug in the morning. It’s also a good way to keep up with everyone’s activities, from your son’s chess club to your husband’s Sunday golf game. At dinner time, being able to access recipes, see needed ingredients, or come up with something based on what you have on hand can make prepping food a breeze.
The benefits of a smart refrigerator go beyond just convenience. The features help you keep on top of what’s inside and keep your food fresher, longer so you aren’t wasting food and contributing to environmental degradation. Smart refrigerators are also more energy efficient. Some can also monitor energy usage patterns and adjust accordingly so they operate as efficiently as possible. This not only helps reduce energy usage, it can also lead to cost savings over time.
Once you have decided to take the plunge and buy a smart refrigerator, you’ll need to consider all the same things you would with a standard refrigerator. We cover this advice in our refrigerator buying guide, which outlines general considerations like size, style, finish, cooling features, what type of food you typically eat and how often you cook, and more. Have a read through this guide to further help you narrow down the choices to the best model.
If you’re ready to invest in a smart refrigerator for your family, take a look at the smart refrigerator options at Best Buy online.