Most households now have some type of fridge or fridge freezer and they can range from inexpensive and very basic appliances to state-of-the-art refrigeration systems with automatic ice machines, water dispensers and even media centres!
Prices can vary widely, from just a few hundred pounds for a basic fridge to several thousand for a top of the range model, so it is important to get good value for money whatever your budget is.
The average consumer does not usually have to buy a new fridge freezer very often. Modern fridge freezers tend to have long life spans and we usually only have to buy a new one if we move house or install a new kitchen. As this is an appliance that we are likely to be using for years, it is important that we do research the types of fridge freezers on the market and the features that they offer, to ensure that we make the right choice.
The main product types on the market today are:
These fridges do not have freezers integrated, which means that they have more fridge space however some models do have an integrated ice box.
They are less expensive to purchase than those with freezers, however most people who buy larder fridges also choose to buy a separate freezer, therefore you should also take this into account.
Larder fridges can further be sub-divided into upright larder fridges, under counter larder fridges and those which are designed to sit on top of the kitchen counter. They can come in a range of widths and heights.
Larder fridges can be freestanding or designed to be integrated into your kitchen units with a matching front panel.
Upright Fridge Freezers
This is a fridge which has an integrated freezer, either on the top or the bottom. The fridge and freezer have separate doors and they are generally less expensive than side-by-side fridge freezers.
They can be freestanding or designed to be integrated into your kitchen units.
Side-by-Side Fridge Freezers
These are often called American fridge freezers.
They usually have two doors (although four door models are also available) which open from the middle and they are externally wider than most upright fridge freezers. Due to the side by side design the interior is often narrower than an upright fridge freezer and it can be hard to fit larger items, especially in the freezer section which usually has a smaller capacity than the fridge.
Many have ice and/or water dispenser available, but these do need to be plumbed into your water system, therefore they have to be within a certain distance of the water pipes. Some models, however, do have a manual water system which can be filled by hand.
Bear in mind also that ice systems do take up precious freezer space as well as adding to the cost so only buy one with this feature if you will use it.
They tend to be more expensive than upright fridge freezers, however the price gap is narrowing.
American style fridge freezers are more suitable for larger kitchens due to the width and they are often considered a key design element in the planning of the kitchen. Many manufacturers offer them in a wide range of finishes, such as stainless steel, brushed steel, mirror or glass.
Some have additional features such as:
- A media centre with a television.
- An espresso maker.
However these can add considerable cost to the cost of the fridge and in most cases you would be better to buy a separate appliance as it is for design and show rather than practicality. Plus it can be a headache if it breaks down!
One feature in a side by side that is useful and does not add considerably to the cost is a beverage station. This is a small door within the main fridge door which can be pulled down so that you can easily access drinks such as wine or juice and it can also be used to rest the glass on.
French Style Fridge Freezers
This is similar to a side by side fridge freezer but has double doors for the fridge and a single door for the freezer. The combination design of side-by-side and freezer on bottom uses the space well. It tends to be more expensive than other models, but many people find that it is very convenient.
As with the side by side fridge freezers, many are available with an ice/water dispenser which needs to be plumbed in.
There are some types of fridges which are designed for a specific use such as a wine cooling fridge. Another type is a mini bar which can be used to either store drinks or which can be used in small apartments and bed sits.
The type of fridge you buy will be determined by many factors including:
Prior to purchasing a fridge, measure the area and the size of your present fridge.
- Check to see if you can comfortably open a top or bottom freezer or larder model. The doors on these fridges have the widest arc when being opened.
- When the door opens will a counter, wall or door impede it?
- Many fridges have reversible hinges so that you can open them either way.
- Take into consideration ceiling height and any slope in the ceiling that may impede doors from fully opening.
- Will drawers, cabinets, shelves slide out properly? If a fridge door cannot be opened all the way, then that means that the moveable interior elements won't open properly either.
- Upon delivery, will doorways, hallways or staircases make it difficult or impossible to get certain sized fridges into place?
Fridges and fridge freezer capacities are measured in litres or cubic feet (depending on the manufacturer) and there are endless combinations of fridge and freezer capacities.
Models on the market today are usually in the range of:
Under counter larder fridge - from 3.3 cubic feet/94 litres to 5.5 cubic feet /155 litres
Upright fridge - from 6.2 cubic feet/176 litres to 13.8 cubic feet /391 litres
Table top fridge - 2.1 cubic feet/59 litres
Fridge freezers -
- Fridge from 4.3 cubic feet/122 litres to 11.5 cubic feet /327 litres
- Freezer from 1.8 cubic feet/52 litres to 4.3 cubic feet /123 litres
Side by Sides -
These are usually specified in litres:
- Fridge from 240 litres to 365 litres
- Freezer from 170 litres to 210 litres
As you can see from the above there are no 'standard' sizes, so it is a question of analysing your requirements and seeing what is most important to you.
To a certain extent the capacity of the fridge will be dictated by the maximum physical size (see above), but if you are able to choose the size of your fridge, you should take the following into consideration:
- How many people are there in your family? This is one of the most important factors in deciding the fridge capacity.
- If you buy a lot of pre-packaged and frozen foods, then you want a fridge with a large freezer.
- If you eat out a lot or purchase take-away food, then a fridge with a large capacity may simply waste energy.
- Check to see if adjusting shelves will help utilize space more effectively.
- Glass shelves give you more usable space than wire shelves.
- Do you often store large or bulky items in your fridge or freezer?
- Do you buy large amounts of vegetables, meats and/fruits? If so, the fridge capacity might be more important for you.
- If you cook large portions that you freeze for later use, look for a fridge freezer with a larger freezer capacity.
- Buy a big fridge if you need it, but if you can go with a smaller one you'll save money upfront and on energy costs.
Decide what features are important to you, but remember that extra features cost more, so only buy what you need or you will be wasting your money.
Some of the key features on fridges and freezers include:
Separate fridge and freezer controls
- Both compartments have their own temperature control.
- Keeps temperature in each compartment more stable.
- Protects against freezer burn in icebox.
- Protects against moisture build up in fridge.
Energy saver switch
- Turn switch on to cut back on moisture build up on humid days.
- Turn it off on dry days to save on energy.
- Provides frostless operation.
- More convenient than manual defrost fridges.
- Uses a bit more energy but ease of operation is a good benefit.
Flexible shelves, compartments and trays
- Change the configuration of your fridge and freezer to fit your needs.
- Helps in efficient use of space.
- Helpful when you have hard to fit items.
Glass Shelves with raised edging
- These are preferred over wire because the glass contains spills.
- The edging also helps control spills.
- Easier to clean than wire.
- They also provide more useable area.
Individual temperature control for drawers or cabinets
- Calibrate temperatures in vegetable and meat bins for optimum freshness.
- Can save on food bills as it lessens spoilage rates.
- Preserves flavours and consistency.
Child Lock Function:
Fridges with casters
- Some fridges are on casters or wheels, making them easier to move.
- This is useful when you need to have the fridge repaired.
- Makes it easier to clean behind the fridge.
Adjustable humidity drawer
- Adjust humidity for a specific drawer designated for deli meats.
- Helps keep them fresher.
- You'll always have ice.
- Uses extra energy.
- Requires plumbing hook-up.
- Some side by side models which do not have an automatic ice-maker have a manual twist and serve ice maker instead.
- o Along with producing ice automatically, it's dispensed without opening the freezer door.
- Ice can be in cubes or crushed.
- Instant cold water is also dispensed.
- Uses extra energy.
- Plumbing hook-up required.
- You may need to change the water filter at certain intervals therefore there is an on-going cost
- Some models have a manual water dispenser which does not need to be hooked up to the plumbing.
Visual or audible signal when the door is open for a certain period of time.
LED interior lighting to find items more easily.
Super-freeze function to freeze items quickly and super-cool function to cool items quickly.
Dual Zone compartment
- On some four door models, one of the sections can be used as either fridge or freezer, therefore offering extra flexibility.
This can be an important part in the decision making process although it is not advisable to choose design over practicality and reliability. If you are looking for an integrated fridge which will be covered by a matching door, then design is not an issue. However for freestanding models it can be very important.
Many fridges now come in a wide range of finishes. As well as traditional white, many come in optional stainless steel, brushed steel, bronze or black. Stainless steel looks great but it can attract fingerprints and dirt very easily. Some models are marketed as fingerprint proof.
Some manufacturers offer them in almost every colour or with designs or patterns painted on. As well as the modern design, there are also many retro designs available.
Side by side fridge freezers are especially design driven and some are available with frosted glass or mirror doors. Some models have optional customized panels and trim kits to give your fridge a unique designer look, however they can be expensive.
- Check the 'conservation after power failure' time on fridge freezers. This is the time that that the food will be kept frozen for if the electricity is cut.
- Some manufacturers offer fridges which are specifically designed to be paired with a matching freezer.
- Check the energy rating on the fridge, A++ being the most efficient, G being the lowest.
- Warranty periods vary between manufacturers which may be a factor in your decision.
- Some manufacturers offer optional universal shelving which you can purchase if extra shelves are needed.
- Some people who keep lots of cold drinks, beer or wine in the fridge buy a separate drinks chiller which they keep in the garage or the utility room so as not to take up space in the main fridge.
Popular Fridges Brands
||AEG Electrolux Fridges AEG-Electrolux offers a wide range of fridges and fridge freezers. These include under counter and upright fridges. All of their current fridge and fridge freezer range have A+ energy rating or better.
||Baumatic Fridges Baumatic makes a variety of home appliances including side-by-side, stand alone, built-in and retro style fridges with freezers. They include various styles and colours, including a popular mirror finished side-by-side. Most of their fridges carry an energy rating of A, although some fall below this mark.
||Beko Fridges Beko offers almost 30 different models of fridges with freezers and also various larder fridges and stand-alone freezers. This includes fridges from just 3 cubic foot capacity up to 14 cubic foot capacity. The company focuses on sleek, contemporary designs while offering products that feature advanced technology and innovative solutions.
||Bosch Fridges Bosch The Bosch Company has been around for over 100 years. They offer an extensive range that focuses on Green Technology, bold designs and various high tech features. Their product ranges include the value for money Classixx, the mid- range Avantixx and Exxcel and the premium Logixx range with the most sophisticated features.
||Daewoo Fridges Daewoo makes combination and side-by-side fridges as well as larder fridges and stand-alone freezers. The company focuses on offering dependable, affordable products. Contemporary designs and basic features define this product line.
||Hotpoint Fridges Hotpoint offers a wide range of fridges and fridge freezers, in various styles, finishes and sizes, including the innovative Quadrio Fridge Freezer which offers a two-door fridge and two-drawer freezer. Hotpoint is now owned by Indesit, which is an Italian company.
||Miele Fridges Miele is a high-end and reliable brand which presents sleek contemporary design with innovative features such as fully electronic controls, ice makers and active Air Clean filters. The majority of their fridges have A+ ratings, with the remainder qualifying for an A rating.
||Samsung Fridges Samsung manufactures mainly side-by-side and bottom freezer models. Sleek designs, solid energy ratings and innovative problem-solving features define this brand. They offer highly competitive, middle to high-middle range fridges with freezers.
||Smeg Fridges Smeg is one of the leading manufacturers of refrigerators in the UK offering a huge range of designs, colours and styles that include classic, and 50s retro. Retro models come in the widest range of colours, including lime, orange, red and hot pink.
||Whirlpool Fridges Whirlpool offers a wide range of fridges and fridge freezers, both freestanding and built-in. Many models feature the Whirlpool 6th Sense technology.
Anti-bacterial Protection This is a coating used on the interior of a refrigerator to prevent bacterial growth and the development of odours.
Auto Defrost This stops the build-up of any frost in the fridge and freezer, which means that you never have to shut down the unit to defrost it.
Automatic Icemaker This is located inside the freezer section of the fridge. It makes ice cubes and stores them until required, eliminating the need to fill and freeze ice cube trays. In order to work, it needs to be directly hooked into your plumbing.
Bottle Grip If you are storing tall bottles, this feature allows you to do so without having them topple over.
Built-in/Integrated This type of fridge has to be built into the kitchen cabinets, counters and other units.
Chill Compartment This is a special area of the fridge that is kept colder, making it ideal for storing and preserving fish, poultry and meat.
Climate Class You'll find two common ways of listing this rating, which tells you the range of room temperatures in which your fridge will function. There is the SN class, which is designed to be used in the temperature range of 10-32 degrees C. There is also N class, which functions between the temperatures of 16-32 degrees C. Two other classes may be found - ST (18-38 degrees C) and T (18-43 degrees C).
Digital Display Digital displays are used sometimes in showing various settings and reading in the fridge or freezer, such as the temperature. These displays are easy to read.
Energy Rating This is a rating given to fridges that indicates how efficiently a fridge uses energy. The highest rating for fridges is A++. You want a fridge that has a minimum rating of A. Ratings for fridges start as low as G and run through the alphabet to A.
Energy Recommended If a fridge bears this designation then it is considered to be energy efficient by the Energy Saving Trust.
Holiday Setting This allows you to set your fridge to be at the optimum temperature that will retard bacterial growth, while allowing the freezer to keep frozen food in the correct state. The fridge usually has to be cleared of food, as this setting is not designed to keep food left in the fridge section fresh. It's utilized when the fridge door will remain closed for a length of time such as when you go on holiday.
Open Door Alert This is an alarm that goes off after the door has been left open for a few minutes or pre-determined amount of time.
Safety Glass This is a durable type of glass that will not break into sharp slivers or shatter if broken. Shelves are usually made of this.
Super Cooling With this feature, you can place food into your fridge where it cools quickly, helping to preserve the food's flavour.
Thermostat This device controls the internal temperature of the fridge and freezer. It may be a dial control located inside the fridge or a digital control located outside the fridge.
Temperature Warning Light/Alarm If the temperature inside your fridge starts to get too warm, this alarm will alert you.
Water Filters Many fridges include a water filter within the water dispenser to eliminate sediment and scale. Filters need to be changed at regular intervals.
Water and Ice Dispenser This is located on the outside of the freezer door and dispenses cold water and ice into cups or glasses. In order to work, it needs to be directly hooked into your plumbing.