Shopping for a fridge-freezer involves a host of decisions. Once you’ve chosen the type, size and capacity of your new fridge freezer, you can move on to consider other factors including the colour, finish and features. Fridge-freezers come with a whole raft of features, ranging from adjustable shelves and ice dispensers to door alarms, digital displays and compartments that let you chill or freeze food fast.
Fridge freezer type
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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Some features significantly bump up the price of your fridge freezer, so knowing which ones are worth paying extra for can help you choose the perfect one for you. Here’s our guide to useful features.
Colour and finish
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. Stainless steel, chrome or glossy models are popular but you’ll pay a price premium for these finishes. Opt for a white freezer if you’re on a limited budget as these are usually cheaper than identical models with more exotic finishes.
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 – check the manufacturer’s instructions before buying to make sure you have space, 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.
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.
This feature is definitely worth having as a frost-free fridge-freezer means never having to defrost the freezer when ice builds up as an automatic defrost function helps prevent frosting by regulating fridge temperature. Ice usually builds up when water vapour hits the ice cold coils, causing condensation that then freezes. A frost-free freezer will periodically warm up the coils to get rid of the ice build-up. This does mean that they can use more energy than other freezers.
Freezer shelf material
Opt for transparent plastic drawers as these are a better choice than wire shelves with flap-up fronts. Not only can you see what's being stored, they help reduce the running cost as they retain the cold when the freezer door is open. Deep drawers are useful for storing irregularly shaped food.
Fridge shelf materials
Glass shelves are easier to clean than wire ones and are more hygienic as spills can’t leak onto food below. Make sure you can remove and organize shelves as needed to store larger items, and look for adjustable door racks too, so you can store tall bottles and cartons in the door.
Chilled water and ice dispensers
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, long before your stored food begins to thaw.
Some models have handy fast-chill and fast-freeze functions that help to lock in food’s flavour and nutrients.
Holiday mode places the fridge in a lower power mode but keeps the freezer running normally to save energy and costs while you’re on holiday or away for a long period of time.
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.
Flexible temperature zones
Useful if your budget allows, this special compartment keeps food between 0 and 3°C and at the right humidity so it retains more flavour and nutrients for longer.
A coating inside the fridge freezer that prevents the transfer and growth of bacteria, helping to reduce odours and keep food fresher for longer.
Typically found on more expensive models, these help you monitor fridge freezer temperature and other settings.
A note on fridge-freezer safety
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, as they will be able to contact you if the model you have invested in is revealed to have any faults.
Disposing of your old fridge-freezer
Old freezers must be disposed of correctly. They contain hazardous liquid coolants that must be safely removed by a certified technician before the appliance can be taken to a landfill site. When buying a new freezer, ask if the seller will remove and recycle the old appliance – you’ll typically have to pay a charge for this. Alternatively, take your old freezer to a local recycling centre, where it can to be recycled free of charge. Visit www.recycle-more.co.uk to find your nearest site.
If your old fridge-freezer is working order you might be able to either sell it or give it away. Check Facebook for local selling or giveaway groups, or ask local charities. Charities working to rehome homeless or vulnerable people will often have a use for used but working white goods.
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