Choosing your fridge and freezer
When it comes to essential home appliances, fridges and freezers are somewhere near the top of the list – but with so many different options available, and so much to think about, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Making the right choice on fridges and freezers can help you to cut down on your energy bills and prolong the life of your food – so chill out and take the stress and hassle out of choosing your perfect fridge and freezer with our comprehensive buying guide, packed with handy tips and expert advice.
What are the different types of fridges and freezers?
Fridges are available in a range of styles and sizes, from space-saving, under-counter models ideal for smaller kitchens, right across to tall, expansive appliances designed to cater for the largest families – there’s something to suit every home.
Many fridges also include an ice-box, suitable for freezing and storing small amounts of fresh food – but if you’ve already got a freezer, you may want to opt for a larder fridge, which dispenses with the ice-box to provide additional refrigeration space.
If you’ve got a fitted kitchen, an integrated fridge can be hidden behind a panelled front to create a more cohesive space, whereas a freestanding fridge is a more flexible option that can be placed anywhere, but will remain fully visible.
Perfect for storing large amounts of food for extended periods of time, freezers are convenient and flexible, and a great go to when the cupboard is bare.
Perhaps the most important factor when choosing a new freezer is selecting an appliance that provides you with the appropriate amount of freezing space.
If you’ve got a large family, chest freezers are an ideal option for bulk freezing large amounts of food for extended periods of time. Their substantial size does mean that you’ll need to install them away from counter tops, and while they offer loads of storage space, they aren’t usually fitted with shelving, which can make food organisation more difficult.
Upright freezers come in a range of sizes, and tend to be fitted with clear drawers for ease of organisation. When selecting an upright freezer, think about whether you want to store a considerable quantity of food, or just need enough capacity for day-to-day convenience.
Upright appliances can also be integrated into fitted kitchens. Whether tall or under the counter, an integrated freezer can have a front panel that matches your units and remains concealed to create a cohesive looking kitchen.
A space-efficient solution for kitchens that are short on floor space, fridge-freezers come in a range of sizes and splits, combining a fridge and freezer in a single, tall appliance. Fridge-freezers are available in a range of different styles to suit your home, including expansive American-style fridge-freezers, which are becoming an increasingly popular option.
With huge capacities and dynamic, contemporary styling, these appliances are usually configured with split cabinet front doors, and come with a range of advanced functionality and features, like different temperature cool zones, and integrated ice and water dispensers.
How much storage capacity do you need and will your available space accommodate it?
These are the two most important considerations when choosing your ideal appliances.
Before you buy, it’s sensible to have a think about your family’s eating habits. Do you prefer fresh food, or do you find freezing more convenient? Your lifestyle will dictate the style and size of your fridge and freezer.
You may have a suitable space for an appliance within the design of your fitted kitchen. Alternatively, if you require considerable freezing capacity, but don’t have space in the kitchen, a garage or utility room makes an ideal home for a chest freezer.
Tall fridge-freezers can usually be positioned in the kitchen as either a freestanding or fully integrated appliance, offering an ideal space-saving solution. If space is no object, an American-style fridge-freezer is a guaranteed crowd pleaser that will add real wow-factor to your kitchen.
What features should I look for?
Fridges are available with a range of innovative features to help make life a little easier. Whereas fridges with an icebox will usually require periodic defrosting, larder fridges remove that requirement by featuring auto defrost functionality.
Some fridges also boast an antibacterial coating to improve hygienic performance - helping to prevent the growth of bacteria and prolonging the life of your food.
Look out for glass shelves, which are easy to clean and help to prevent cross-contamination too. Additional storage options, like wine racks and deep door storage are great for making best use of your space.
Most freezers boast a built-in thermometer for easy temperature regulation, but some also offer fast-freeze options, which helps to maintain your freezer temperature when fresh food is introduced, helping to preserve the frozen food inside.
Defrosting freezers can be a hassle, but you can now get frost-free freezers designed to save you from this thankless task. In addition, you can also get fast freezing models that prevent ice crystals from forming, improving the taste and nutritional content of your food.
Look out for basket storage with side-handles - as these can be easier to carry when loading your freezer. If you’re looking for efficiency, solid baskets are better than wire ones, as they will help to retain cold air when the freezer door is open, reducing running costs.
How do I know how energy efficient an appliance is?
All fridges and freezers are given an energy efficiency grading from A to G, with A being the most efficient. Today, all manufacturers are making real efforts to maximise efficiency, and the vast majority of models are rated A+ and A++.
While higher rated models may be more expensive to purchase, they’re likely to save you money in the long run, with the reduced running costs counteracting your initial outlay – so it’s best to go for the most-efficient unit you can afford.
What safety features should I consider when choosing a refrigeration appliance?
Modern refrigeration appliances are pretty safe, and are free of both CFC and HFC gases which are known to have a potentially damaging effect on the environment. When installing your fridge/freezer, it’s important to leave it in place for a few hours before switching it on, to let the gasses inside settle.
When disposing of an old appliance, it’s important to be careful, as it may contain harmful substances. If you’re unsure, your local council can offer advice.