Buying a Fridge-Freezer – Factors to Consider and Styles
Where do you start when choosing a new fridge freezer? Sort of fridge-freezer do you want: built-in, freestanding or American-style? What space do you have it your kitchen? How big do you need it to be?
Size – The type of fridge-freezer you go for might depend on the space you have. The American-style is bigger and suits larger kitchens. These are more suitable if you need to keep a lot of food. Smaller households might find a more compact freestanding or built-in fridge-freezer satisfactory.
Capacity – If you prefer to cook from fresh, then you might want to opt for a larger fridge and smaller freezer. Conversely if you live off frozen fast foods and don’t have time to shop for fresh foods, you may want to go for one with a larger freezer. Fridge-freezers normally come in a ratio of 55 to 45, so if you need a lot more freezer space, consider getting a separate fridge and freezer.
Noise – Noise is measured in decibels and a reasonable level is under 40. Anything approaching 50 would be quite noisy, so if noise is an issue, check how much noise the fridge-freezer might make especially if it is to be located in an open-plan kitchen.
Energy efficiency – After heating, refrigeration can be the greediest user of energy in the home and can account for about a fifth of the energy consumed by your domestic appliances. Going for an environmentally friendly model means not only conserving energy but you save on your electricity bills.
Features and added extras – Look out for the extras that you might need: adjustable shelves, water coolers, salad crispers, wine racks, frost-free functions, digital displays, as these can make a big difference when choosing the right fridge-freezer to meet your needs.
Budget – Freestanding fridge-freezers tend to be the cheapest and are the easiest to fit into your kitchen. They are the most popular, so you have more choice.
Typically fridge-freezers will be three or four stars (the higher the better) and this indicates what and for how long frozen food can be stored. Four stars mean most foods can be frozen and stored for up to a year.
Types of fridge-freezer
There are three main types of fridge-freezers: built-in where they are integral to a kitchen cabinet and largely hidden from view; free-standing which are the most typical, which can fit anywhere; and American-style or ‘side-by-side’ where the fridge and freezer stand next to each other rather than one on top of the other.
The advantages of these are that they are generally cheaper and have low electricity costs. There’s a wide choice of styles, shapes and sizes and depending on your requirements, you can go for a larger fridge or freezer section. They are easier to fit into your kitchen and are easy to take with you if you move home. Conversely the cheaper models can be really basic and won’t include useful features like a frost-free freezer, a chiller cabinet or fast-chill, which if added can add significantly to the price. If you want to store a lot of food, it might not be big enough and it is much less discrete than a integrated model, so can dominate your kitchen if you don’t have much space.
These can hold huge amounts of food with their large fridge and freezer compartments standing next to each other. They include useful features like frost-free freezing, chiller cabinets and digital displays as standard. They have lots of shelves and racks for storing things of all shapes and sizes and many come with water dispensers and ice makers. They also look very good. However they are more expensive and have higher running costs. They need lots of space and those that offer water and ice dispensers need to be plumbed in. Often they come with fewer freezer shelves than you’d find in a conventional fridge-freezer.
Built-in or integrated fridge-freezers
These can be fitted into your kitchen to give it a tidy, seamless look. They are generally hidden behind a door to blend in with your fitted kitchen and can be slimmer and more compact than conventional fridge freezers. Generally there’s less choice though and they are more expensive than the equivalent freestanding model.
Before you start looking for a new fridge-freezer, think about what you need, your budget, the space you have and the style you want. Weigh up the pros and cons of the types of fridge-freezer and narrow down your choice.