In the early 20th century, the first standard refrigerators for home use were introduced. The basic refrigerator design has been evolving since this introduction just a century ago, with advancements in cooling technology, materials, and economy of space. Modern refrigerators are naturally the most advanced yet, with many having freezers and even the ability to produce ice and drinking water with an integral ice maker. Now, surely these modern refrigerators are at the pinnacle of design and advancement, right?

Enter the smart refrigerator. First introduced by LG in 2000, their Internet Digital DIOS—despite hosting a suite of technological goodies—proved unsuccessful amongst consumers due to its expensive price and perceived lack of utility. Over the past 19 years, many industry giants have refined LG’s original smart refrigerator idea, with commercially successful products introduced by the likes of Samsung, General Electric, Kenmore, and Whirlpool. LG has also gotten back on the market since their initial attempt in 2000.

 

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS A SMART FRIDGE?

Apart from the standard function of refrigerating food, smart refrigerators are, of course, smart! This means WiFi connectivity, the ability to sync with your phone, and interactive touch screens. It’s this latter feature which truly reveals all the capabilities modern smart refrigerators have.

Need to make a shopping list? Create it on your phone and it’ll automatically sync onto the touch screen display on your refrigerator. Want to try out a new recipe? Look it up and your smart fridge will read it back to you, step by step as you cook or bake. How about leaving a quick note for your family before running an errand? Same thing, it’ll show up right on that screen.

There are even more utilitarian functions that smart refrigerators are able to perform. Not all conventional refrigerators can customize temperature by drawer or compartment, alert you when the water filter needs to be changed, or have interior cameras installed which are designed to help you keep tabs on your food stores. This is useful, for example, when shopping at the grocery store, as you can remotely double check if you’re low on milk, eggs, or any other produce you need. Smart refrigerators can do all this, and even more.

Further convenience features are also easy to use, again merely using your smartphone to remotely control the ice maker, set expiration dates on individual items and receive notifications while food is still fresh, coordinate schedules for family members, and upload photos for display (those novelty refrigerator magnets sure do take up a lot of the other space).

 

DO YOU NEED ONE?

As you can see, smart refrigerators have many, many unique functions and certain advantages over standard refrigerators. However, that alone may not be enough to sway you. Standard, non-smart refrigerators have existed for over a century and high quality examples perform their functions admirably. Additionally, price is a factor when it comes to any purchase and must be considered in this instance. While it’s difficult to directly compare prices, as most manufacturers don’t produce analogous smart and traditional refrigerators, smart refrigerators do tend to be more expensive than their traditional counterparts.

A smart refrigerator may be best for you if you already have smart home devices, desire some of the features that smart fridges have, or simply want to introduce smart technology into your kitchen.

 

OUR TOP PICKS

LG has one of the most unique smart refrigerators on the market with its InstaView offering. As the name suggests, this model gives you an “instant view” of any produce inside by way of a transparent glass pane over the right door. Without even having to open the door, you’re able to see everything inside. Combine that with this particular example’s 27.5 cubic feet of space and a suite of smart features, and you’re looking at one of the most compelling offerings on the market.

If you’re a coffee lover, put the GE Profile PFE28PBLTS on your smart fridge shopping list. This refrigerator features a large 27.8 cubic feet of space, variable temperature settings, and a model number you’ll never remember. Its signature feature is its built-in Keurig system, perfect for making a fresh cup of coffee to start your day.

The South Korean tech giant Samsung has introduced a smart refrigerator of its own, the aptly-named Family Hub. This stainless steel model gives you the ability to create and share calendars, notes, and memos with your family, and features three interior cameras so that you can keep tabs on food stores, even when you’re not home. With 24.2 cubic feet of space and the aforementioned features, this Samsung ends up on the pricier side of the smart fridge spectrum.

Many other companies have tapped into the emerging smart refrigerator market, so even if these aren’t right for you, you’ll still be sure to find one that fits your individual needs. If you’re still on the fence about a major purchase such as this, check out what’s available the next time you’re at your local tech or hardware store.

Smart refrigerators offer features that make our lives just that little bit more easy and convenient, so perhaps you’ll add one to your own kitchen one day.