After the tragic June 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower, believed to have been started by a faulty fridge-freezer, people have been concerned - rightly - with the safety of their own fridge-freezer.
Most models now have a metal back, but some still have a flammable plastic back, which can give off toxic gases and burn quickly if ignited.
When looking to buy a new fridge-freezer, check the backing is metal, and register your new purchase with the manufacturer, or online with registermyappliance.org.uk, as they will be able to contact you if the model you have invested in is revealed to have any faults.
Fridge-freezers come in all shapes and sizes, but most fall into three broad types. Freestanding fridge-freezers are the most popular and versatile. Available in a range of sizes, colours and prices, they fit easily into most kitchens.
Integrated fridge-freezers sit inside a tall cupboard unit with a door fitted to the front so it blends in with your kitchen. There are fewer integrated fridge-freezers and they’re more expensive than freestanding models.
American-style fridge-freezers are increasingly popular. These cavernous models can store a lot of food and come with extra features, such as ice dispensers. They are, however, expensive and require a lot of space.
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While white remains popular, there’s now a broader range of colours and finishes to choose from. From vibrant retro colours to sleek stainless steel, you can find a colour to suit your tastes.
Most freestanding fridge-freezers come in 55cm and 60cm widths, with depths between 60 to 65cm. Unit heights can range from 130 to 195cm. Tall fridge-freezers provide more storage space, but check that you can reach the top shelf before you buy.
Carefully measure the height, depth and width of the space in your kitchen for your new fridge-freezer. Allow a little extra space around the appliance for air to circulate, and ensure there’s room to fully open the doors and reach all the shelves inside.
Storage capacity is measured in litres and how much you need depends on the size of your household. One or two people typically require 150 to 300 litres of combined fridge and freezer space, whereas a family of four may need around 400 to 600 litres. American-style fridge-freezers can offer up to 700 litres. Interior space can vary between similar sized fridge-freezers, so compare specifications carefully.
When choosing the split between fridge and freezer compartments, consider how much fresh or frozen food you want to store. 70/30 models give maximum fridge space; 60/40 models allow for more freezer storage space; while 50/50 appliances offer the best of both worlds.
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As fridge-freezers are always on, they’re responsible for a large part of your energy bill – so look for a model that’s energy efficient. Every fridge-freezer must have an energy rating of A+, A++ or A+++, with A+++ the most efficient.
Most fridge-freezers are designed to be used in temperatures between +10°C up to +32°C – look for a climate class SN rating in the specifications. Temperatures below this range can cause the fridge-freezer to stop working. If you plan on using a fridge-freezer in an unheated garage or shed, look for a model that’s specifically built to handle more extreme temperatures.
Frost-free and other handy features
Opting for a frost-free fridge-freezer means never having to defrost the freezer when ice builds up. An automatic defrost function is also useful as it helps prevent frosting by regulating fridge temperature. Opt for glass shelves, as these are more hygienic than wire ones
American-style fridge-freezers often come with chilled water or ice dispensers that require plumbing into the mains water supply. This may limit where the appliance can be positioned and increase installation costs. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of replacement water filters every six months or so.
Other useful features include temperature and open-door alarms that alert you when a rise in temperature risks food spoiling or the door is left ajar. Some models have handy fast-chill and fast-freeze functions that help to lock in food’s flavour and nutrients.
Fridge-freezers from reputable brands are generally reliable. Most models come with a one or two-year manufacturer’s warranty. If it breaks, you shouldn’t have to pay for repairs or a replacement within that period.