- Fridge Freezer Buyers Guide
Fridge Freezer Buyers Guide
Fridge Freezer Buyers Guide
If you don’t have the floor space for a fridge and a freezer, a combined model is the ideal solution. You are unlikely to find many problems with running any fridge freezer so you should choose a model that has the right layout for your needs – for example, do you want more shelves for the fridge or freezer and which do you want at the top and the bottom?
Types of fridge freezer
Most people opt for a freestanding model – either a standard model with one component on top and the other on the bottom, or an American style fridge freezer which has each component side to side. But if you have an integrated kitchen, you may need a built-in model. Built-in models tend to have less space inside as they have to fit inside a kitchen cabinet. There are fewer models to choose from than if you are buying a free standing model and they cost more than freestanding equivalents.
The claimed capacity of a fridge freezer is less important than the amount of usable internal space it has. Look at the ergonomics of different models. Think about the type of things you put in the fridge and where you would store them. Does it have enough racks at the right height and enough compartments, draws and door shelves? If you store lots of bottles, does it have a bottle rack?
One control or two?
Fridge freezers have either one thermostat, which controls both appliances, or two. Two is best as it allows you to turn off the fridge and leave the freezer on, for example when going on holiday, or you can defrost the freezer and leave the fridge on. With one control, it is harder to get the right temperature for both the fridge (between 3 and 5°C) and the freezer (-18°C). But models with two controls tend to be more expensive.
Due to much improvement by manufacturers in the energy efficiency of refridgeration appliances, most models are now very efficient and are rated A+ or A.
This is the room temperature that the fridge freezer can operate in. The most common classes in the UK are N class which means it should be in a room with a minimum temperature of 16°C and a maximum temperature of 32°C. SN models can cope in temperatures between 10°C and 32°C. Other classes are ST and T which operates best at a minimum temperature of 18°C and a maximum of 38°C and 43°C respectively.
Bottle grip: This helps prevent bottles from falling over in the trays on the doors.
Can holders: A space saving device which is useful if you do store lots of cans.
Chill compartment: This is a drawer that is designed for storing meat, fish and poultry or ready meals. It is usually colder than the rest of the fridge (around 0°C).
Fast-freeze: If you are freezing lots of food after doing a big food shop, for example, this function will speed up the process and prevent the freezer from warming up. Freezing fresh food quickly helps prevent it from losing its texture.
Freezer door pouches/slots: Spaces in the freezer for storing ice packs or liquids like unfreezable vodka.
Freezer star ratings: These tell you how long you can store food for – with 1 star you can store food for up to a week and with 4 stars, you can freeze food for up to a year. You need a 4-star freezer to freeze fresh food. With anything less you can store only pre-frozen food except with a 1-star freezer, which is suitable only for ice.
Frost-free: Frost-free models eliminate the hassle of regular de-frosting as long as the air can circulate – so don’t pack them up too much. Ice is prevented from building up with a thawing and freezing process that occurs during the defrost cycle. However, this means that some foods with high-fat contents can deteriorate more quickly in a frost-free freezer. Also if food isn’t wrapped up carefully, it can become drier than it would in a conventional freezer.
High-temperature warning: If the thermostat is not set correctly and the fridge or freezer gets too warm, an alarm will sound.
Holiday button: This essentially turns off the fridge and sets the freezer to the lowest (coldest) temperature. This should save some energy while you are away.
Humidity controlled compartment: You can adapt the humidity in this compartment. Increasing it helps to prolong fresh fruit and vegetables while lowering it can prolong the life of meat, fish and dairy food.
Ice and water dispenser: This is found on most American-style models. You can get ice cubes, crushed ice and chilled water from them but they need to be plumbed into the mains. They tend to take up quite a bit of space in the freezer. The water dispenser has a filter that needs changing regularly.
Ice banks or soft fruit trays: These are good for freezing things that need to lie flat to retain their shape, like raspberries, without anything going on top of them.
Rollers or castors: It is best to have these to make it easier to pull the appliance out in case you need to get to the plug or clean behind it.
Super cool: This is a fridge setting that you use when you put a lot of food in the fridge. It cools the fridge compartment for a set period of time usually around six hours which not only cools the food but prevents the fridge from warming up which can happen when you put large loads of warm food in.
Temperature gauge: All models have these so you can check the appliance is running at the correct temperature.
Wine and bottle racks: These are a good way to store bottles and are removable if you need the space for other items. Some racks have a holder for champagne bottles.
What sort of shelf arrangement or compartment is best?
It depends on what you want to store in your fridge but anything that will help save you space and make things easily accessible is good. So get bottle racks, can racks, cheese and salad compartments, egg holders, bottle/condiment shelves and so on if you will make use of them. Flexible shelves that allow you to adjust the height are best. You should also get solid glass shelves as these are easy to clean and prevent any spills from dripping onto food below.
Can I keep a fridge-freezer in a garage?
All fridge free freezers have a climate class which tells you the minimum and maximum room temperature they should be placed in to work properly. For most models the minimum temperature is 10°C and most sheds and garages are colder than this in winter. When the temperature is lower than this, the fridge freezer will use more energy to maintain the right temperature. If it is kept in an out building and it does break down, it may not be covered by the guarantee. Chest freezers are better suited to outdoor houses as they are double insulated.
Is it worth buying a model which has an antimicrobial coating?
This is meant to kill nasty bacteria from growing inside the fridge but there is no substitute for regularly clearing out your fridge and cleaning it with a bit of bicarbonate of soda.
Which types of fridge freezers are best for the environment?
Fridge freezers with an A++ rating are the most energy efficient. Also, those with a cooling agent or refrigerant called R600a are better as it is not harmful to the environment. Those with a different refrigerant called R134a are more harmful as the refrigerant is a greenhouse gas and if it leaks it can contribute to global warming. Pricier models that have door-open alarms, automatic door-closing mechanisms and thicker insulation are also better for the environment as you waste less energy with them.
How should I dispose of my old fridge freezer?
Arrange with your retailer to take it away when it delivers your new one. Otherwise you will have to pay your Council to take it away or take it to your local civic waste disposal site yourself.
What maintenance do fridge freezers need to continue working well?
As well as regularly cleaning the inside, make sure you clean the door seals to ensure that no heat can get in. Defrost the freezer if it is not a frost-free model.
How can I work out the running costs of my fridge?
The cost of running a fridge freezer is normally shown in “kilowatts per year”. This means you can multiply the number of kilowatts used per year by the “cost per kilowatt hour” that you pay for your electricity, which will give you an idea of the running costs of the model. But this will only ever be approximate as fridge freezers use more energy at different times, depending for example, if the door has been left open for a while or if the fast freeze mode button has been pushed.