Refrigerators Pre-Purchase Advice

Opening the Refrigerator/Freezer Door

  • Should not cause circulation fans to go on/off. (Check to see if fan runs with open door. If it does not, press down door plunger switch and listen to see if fan goes on. Some models have two door plunger switches – one for the light and another for the fan motor.)
  • Should not activate any tones or digital readouts (e.g. door ajar icons, cabinet temperature and settings).
  • Should not affect defrost cycle. (Defrost cycle should not be dependent on the amount of times and duration of the door opening.)
  • Light in refrigerator cavity should be removed – either by unscrewing the bulb or by taping down the light switch. Check to make sure there are no other lights (e.g. door lights) that are turned on when the door is opened.

CAUTION: Disabling Door Switches
Taping or otherwise holding down the door plunger switch to avoid these problems will cause the refrigerator to operate less efficiently (the cavity temperature will be higher than expected) and in hot, humid climates, the compressor may run continuously which may shorten its operating lifetime. Always remember to remove the tape or other hold down device soon after the end of Shabbos/Yom Tov.

Numerous models are now using magnetic door switches instead of the mechanical, spring plunger switches. Avoid these models. If you already have such a model you may disable it by locating the switch with a strong magnet, then taping the magnet over it. The magnet must be flat enough not to interfere with the door gasket sealing properly when you close the fridge. To locate the switch, check the outside top of the refrigerator – there may be a plunger switch located there. Or, you may find a magnetic switch somewhere along the refrigerator’s inside frame, around the sides or at the top of the fridge.

You would not be able to change the defrost cycle. To address this problem Rav Heinemann says you  should open the door with a shinui ( unusual manner) such as putting a towel through the handle and pulling on the towel to open the door.

Other Issues

  • Automatic Ice Makers – Lift the hanger bar to an off position before Shabbos or Yom Tov to ensure that nothing is activated by removing ice.
  • Ice and Cold Water Dispensers – Should not be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov because it directly turns on a valve and/or motor.
  • Motion Detectors – Are problematic for Shabbos and Yom Tov because the refrigerator is illuminated when one approaches it.


  • Simpler is better.
  • Test the unit at the store before purchasing.
  • Click here for information on refrigeration products under Star-K certification.