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LG LTCS24223S 24 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator review: This king-sized fridge is a big, boxy bargain

Those numbers come from a 72-hour cooling test in our climate control chamber, where we measure the minute-by-minute temperature of each region in the fridge in accordance with industry standards. Graphing the results out, you can see the disparity between different sections of the interior.

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The blue lines representing the main body's shelves sit the lowest, each one averaging out below 40 (though it's worth pointing out that the darkest blue line representing the top shelf spends a good deal of time above that temperature). The red lines representing the crispers and the deli drawer inch just a little higher, while the green lines representing the in-door shelves run considerably warmer, especially the top and bottom of the door. The yellow line at the top? That's the butter bin -- it runs warm by design to help keep your butter soft and spreadable.

You'll also notice a number of telltale bumps in each line -- those are scheduled door openings, which we do to simulate daily usage. I was happy to see that none of them raised the overall temperature by more than a degree or two, and that the fridge was always able to cool the main shelves back down in quick fashion.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We test each fridge out at its coldest setting, too. The LTCS24223S obviously did a little bit better here, but not by as much as I'd expected. With most refrigerators, the default temperature aims for something close to 37 degrees while the coldest setting dials it down around 33 degrees -- a 4-degree swing. With this LG model, the actual measured difference between the two settings was closer to 2 degrees. That brought the crisper bins down below 40, but still left hot spots in the top and bottom of the door.

So why is this fridge an inferior performer to the equally-sized and nearly identical Kenmore 79432? The answer might have to do with efficiency. The LTCS24223S uses less energy than the 79432 (501 kWh per year to Kenmore's 547), a predictable tweak given that refrigerator efficiency standards are on the rise. The tradeoff is that it doesn't seem to be as powerful as the older model, with the results from that coldest setting test -- where the fridge should ostensibly be giving it all it's got -- serving as the dead giveaway. The 79432 had no trouble getting the body of the fridge below 34 degrees in the same test, and didn't yield any hotspots in the door, either.

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So. Much. Space.

Sometimes, it gets tricky writing about a refrigerator's storage capabilities. We have a standardized set of test groceries along with six large-sized stress test items. We try and fit as much as we can into each fridge, then we take everything out and rearrange the shelves to see if we can then fit a little more. As a result, the takeaways are often highly conditional, having more to do with your fridge-tetris skills than with the actual capacity at hand.

That isn't the case with this fridge. It's big. Bigger than any other top freezer we've tested. Big enough to hold all of our test groceries and all six of our stress test items (a casserole dish, a roasting pan, a pitcher, a cake tray, a party platter, and an extra large pizza box) without requiring me to move a single shelf. As said before, my only storage qualm was that I couldn't fit a tub of Country Crock into the smallish butter bin.

Capacity vs. Efficiency (large top freezers)

LG LTCS24223S Kenmore 79432 Whirlpool WRT541SZDM Frigidaire Gallery FGHI2164QF GE GIE21GSHSS
Refrigerator capacity 17.6 cubic feet 17.6 cubic feet 15.2 cubic feet 15.4 cubic feet 15.1 cubic feet
Freezer capacity 6.2 cubic feet 6.2 cubic feet 6.1 cubic feet 5.1 cubic feet 6.1 cubic feet
Total storage space 23.8 cubic feet 23.8 cubic feet 21.3 cubic feet 20.5 cubic feet 21.2 cubic feet
Energy use 501 kWh / year 547 kWh / year 399 kWh / year 471 kWh / year 480 kWh / year
Estimated yearly energy cost ($0.12 per kWh) $60 $66 $48 $57 $58
Energy cost per cubic foot $2.52 $2.77 $2.25 $2.78 $2.74
Energy Star certification Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Suggested retail price $1,200 $1,420 $1,149 $1,300 $1,300

However, if you're buying a bigger fridge, you'll also want to take a look at how much energy it uses to keep its cool. Compared with other large-sized top freezers, both the LTCS24223S and the Kenmore 79432 use more energy than average, which makes sense given that they're both a lot bigger than average.

To get a sense of how efficient the fridge is compared with the competition, divide its yearly energy cost (about $60) by its 23.8 cubic foot capacity. That gives you a cost of $2.52 per year to cool each cubic foot, which is a little better than most large-sized top freezers, including the Kenmore 79432. The only fridge we've tested that's more efficient is the Frigidaire FGTR1845QF, but that fridge was far too poor of a performer for us to recommend.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

There are lots of reasons to seek out a fridge upgrade, one of the biggest being a need for more storage space. If that's what you're after, the $1,200 LG LTCS24223S offers a lot of value, with more room for groceries than even some French door models. It's also a relatively good-looking appliance -- enough so that passing up on one of those bottom-tier French doors doesn't feel like too much of a compromise.

If you don't need such a big fridge, there are better top freezer values to be had for less than $1,000. In particular, I like the GE GTE18GMHES as a budget-friendly bargain pick. But if you're looking for something that feels more like a splurge -- albeit a modest one -- the LTCS24223S fits the bill.

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