The refrigerator is the single-most important appliance in any home, but it’s also one we don’t expect any kind of revolutionary features from. As long as it has enough space to hold all of our food, and can keep that food cold, most of us are pretty happy. After all, what kind of crazy high-tech options can a giant icebox really have anyway? A surprising amount, it seems. In recent years, manufacturers have been adding all sorts of innovative options, most find right in the refrigerator door. Sure, the door is there to keep the cold in, but that blank real estate is capable of much more.
The first major innovation to the fridge door was the inclusion of the in-door water and ice dispenser, which was both convenient and energy efficient. GE pioneered those concepts, and recently returned to revamp the in-door dispenser. Select models of GE Cafe French-door fridges are available with not just dispensers for water and ice, but also hot water spouts and even an integrated Keurig coffee maker. So instead of getting cold fresh water from the fridge, then moving it to a kettle or coffeemaker to brew your beverages, you can conveniently do it all right in your fridge’s door.
We’re also seeing manufacturers address how we interact with what’s inside our fridges. Sometimes you need to peek into the fridge, and sometimes you need to take a long look inside. But every time you open the fridge door, some of that cool air escapes, wasting energy and slightly compromising the freshness of your foods. Here are three ways manufacturers have changed that:
LG took a rather unique tactic to give users a look inside their fridge without needing to open it. Their Signature fridge with InstaView door puts a mirrored window panel on one of the doors. By default, the panel is opaque. But give it a quick “knock knock” and the panel instantly becomes transparent while the interior lights up, giving you a full view of the contents inside.
LG InstaView fridges also have another cool trick that will help keep your fridge, well, cool. The Door-in-Door feature splits the fridge door into two halves, with shelves between them. To get into the interior of the fridge, you can open the door as you would any other fridge door. But if you only want to access some condiments on the door shelves, a button on the door handle gives you access to only the outermost section of the door. This keeps the fridge mostly closed to the outside, keeping cool air in and all of your foods just that much fresher. It’s a great option for families with members prone to standing astride an open fridge while pouring a glass of milk.
Samsung Family Hub
Of course, the real challenge has always been seeing what’s in the fridge when you’re not in the kitchen. Whether you don’t feel like getting off the couch to check the ice cream situation or you’re in the grocery store and can’t remember if you need milk, sometimes you wish you could see into your fridge from anywhere. That dream is a reality, thanks to the Samsung fridge with Family Hub technology. Inside the fridge are a series of cameras that will give you a look at what’s inside, via a smartphone app.
The other major component of the Family Hub system is the integrated touchscreen panel on the refrigerator door. Running a standard Android operating system, the screen gives you a sprawling space to leave virtual reminder notes, post your favorite pictures, and access and update shopping lists right on the fridge door. You can even stream media direct to your fridge—great when you’re cooking along to a recipe video or just need some tunes while you’re cooking.
Dacor Modernist with Push-to-Open
And sometimes the difficulty is in actually getting into the fridge. A good door seal will keep your foods fresher, but if it’s too strong, it becomes a nuisance. Dacor has addressed that issue with their Push-to-Open door assist feature. Select refrigerators, like this one from the Dacor Modernist collection, provide the benefit of a strong seal without the hassle. Push firmly on the door handle and the assist mechanism opens the fridge for you.