How much space do I have?
Measurements will be given in centimetres - height, width and depth – so it is vital to accurately measure your available space, including ceiling height.
Some models will also need additional space at the back to allow the cooling parts to work properly and you should have at least 2.5cm on each side to ensure air circulation and to allow access for cleaning.
Fridge freezers are commonly available in three widths – 50cm, 55cm and 60cm. If space is not a problem large American style fridge freezers are becoming popular. With the fridge and freezer side by side they offer twice the space and often additional features like ice making and chilled water. But they are large, up to three times the width of a traditional model and taller. You should always consider how the item will fit into your property when it is delivered.
Generally the freezer compartment is found on the bottom of most fridge freezers but there are different layouts and styles.
- Which Type fulfilled your needs
- How much storage space?
- If you shop regularly for fresh food and only really use the freezer for ice cubes and other odd items you may need a model with a larger fridge area and smaller freezer. If your shopping tends towards lots of ready meals, prepared foods and bulk buying a larger freezer area will suit you better.
- Knowing the actual capacity of each section will give you an accurate idea of size but look inside. A fridge section will have various areas within it for dairy, chilled food, bottles etc. Some will even have a chilled drinks dispenser and as you might expect, these types of extras tend to come at a higher price. Check these to see if the layout inside is to your liking, or if it can be altered to suit you.
More expensive fridge freezers models have a thermometer, which will reassure you that your unit is running as it should, and help you set the thermostat to the right level. Most thermometer displays are digital.
Some fridge freezers have a single thermostat, while others have a separate thermostat for the fridge and the freezer. One-control models tend to be cheaper but you can find that when you set the right temperature for the fridge (3°C to 5°C), your freezer is too warm or too cold.
Some dual-control models let you switch off the fridge or freezer independently, which is useful if you're going on holiday or need to defrost.
The "Super cool" option chills the fridge compartment continuously for a set period, usually about six hours. You can turn it on when you put a lot of food into your fridge at once. Big loads take longer to cool but the super-cool setting deals with them more quickly.
The "Fast Freeze" option works in a similar way on the freezer compartment. By freezing more quickly, fast-freeze keeps food fresher. And for many types of food like bread, or cake – it can help stop the texture from changing. Some of the top range models have automatic fast freeze which cuts in if the freezer becomes too warm, and turns off again when food is safely frozen.
Most fridge compartments automatically defrost; they usually have a channel around the sides and back to collect the water and a drain hole to remove the water.
Check the number of shelves and shelve positions, most fridges have adjustable shelves which can be repositioned to suit what you store. Removable shelves will make cleaning easier.
Some fridges include drawers for storing vegetables etc. OK if you want to store these but not very practical if you want to store cans of drink.
Most fridges incorporate storage in the door.
Check the height for bottle storage, too short and you won't fit some bottles, too tall and you waste room.
Eggs and butter storage - if you are not going to use them make sure they are removable otherwise you won't be able to use the space.
Fixed shelves can make storage awkward; you need to pull things out to get at what is stored behind.
Storage baskets make life easier; you can pull them out so you can see what you have.
Runners which support the drawer all the way out really make access easy.
Defrost optionsFreezers offer either Manual or Automatic (Frost Free) or defrosting options.
Manual defrost fridges cost less to buy and operate but should be defrosted at least once a year. Automatic are more expensive and also tend to cost slightly more to run but do remove the chore of manual defrosting.
An alternative to Frost Free feature is auto frost. This automatically regulates the temperature in your fridge freezer to prevent frost build up meaning that you should never get unwanted ice again!
FAB range of retro fridge freezers from Smeg now comes in a choice of 11 colours - the latest colour being lime green. You can even buy the fridge version in a union jack design!
But remember check out the external colour and type of surface. You'll want the colour to match the kitchen and you will need an easy to clean surface.
The star-rating system (from 1 star* to 4 stars **** ) tells you what it can freeze and for how long. The more stars, the colder the freezer and the longer frozen food can be safely stored. 4-star freezers are the most powerful and the type to go for if you want to freeze fresh food.
Most fridge freezers will be three or four stars which means that the majority of foods can be frozen and safely stored for up to twelve months. Lower star ratings are usually applicable to ice boxes rather than freezers meaning than food can only be safely frozen for ** = one month and * = one week.
The star-rating system
|Star rating||Freezer temperature||Food storage|
|****||-18°C or colder||Can freeze fresh food, and store food for three to 12 months|
|***||-18°C||Stores pre-frozen food for 3 to 12 months|
|**||-12°C||Stores pre-frozen food for up to a month|
|*||-6°C||Stores pre-frozen food for up to a week|
Fridge freezers are rated "A-G" according to their energy efficiency. "A" is the best and will save you money on your electricity bill. Their running costs are very often given in "kilowatts per year"; a useful guideline when comparing models in the shop.
Efficiency is improving all the time so newer models are generally more efficient and therefore use less energy.
You may also find an 'energy efficiency recommended label' for products which use less energy thus reducing your bills and the impact on the environment.
CFC gas used to be the most common cooling agent in all refrigeration products but it is no longer used since leaks are harmful to the ozone layer.
All refrigerators are now CFC free and an increasing number of manufacturers are using natural gases as cooling agents such as Isobutene (R600A). Natural gases are better from an environmental point of view since they have no harmful effects on either the ozone layer or on global warming.