A Simple Guide To Buying The Right Fridge Freezer
Many of us aren’t too picky about what fridge freezer we buy. After all, as long as it preserves food properly, what’s the big deal? But the functionality, capacity and running costs of fridge freezers can vary to such a degree that you should be concerned about getting the most out of your money. That’s where the team at Repair Aid steps in. We’ve crafted this short, handy guide to finding the right fridge freezer to suit both your property and your lifestyle.
For most people, buying a fridge freezer means replacing an old one. If that’s the case, then it’s likely you’ll want to find a unit that is of a similar stature and size as your previous one.
For those who are re-designing or creating a kitchen from scratch, then it’s a good idea to decide on the model of fridge freezer required before finalising any plans.
Whatever the case, there are three primary types of fridge freezers to choose from: integrated, freestanding and American.
You’ll find these models snugly hiding behind cupboard doors and are best suited to those who want their kitchen to retain a style that is absent of mismatched appliances. Due to their nature, design options and choices are far more limited than other types of fridge freezers, as well as more expensive.
Cheaper and most likely to be found in homes across the country, freestanding models are available in all sorts of sizes, budgets and styles. Able to be freely moved around, freestanding models are flexible if you want to re-design your kitchen and can be taken with you when it comes time to move house. However, in contrast to integrated units, they can be a bit ugly to look at; if you’re not careful with your choice, a model can easily clash with its surroundings.
Increasingly popular, American fridge freezers as are the name suggest – big and bold. With a high capacity, they are well-suited to kitchens where space isn’t an issue. They tend to come with luxurious features – such as thermostats and ice dispensers – but they require a lot of space, power and energy to run.
Understanding ‘Climate Class’
While the above are the basic types of fridge freezer available in the UK today, there is much more to consider than choosing between those three options. Take, for example, ‘climate class’. Every fridge freezer has one of these designations: SN, N, ST and T.
Within the UK, most fridge freezers are in the ‘SN‘ class – manufactured to work within temperature ratings of 10°C and 32°C. For that reason, it’s something that most won’t have to worry about. However, there are some fridge freezers available in the UK that are within the ‘N’ class. These models have been designed to work in environments that don’t fall below 16°C. For that reason, they’re definitely not well-suited to most homes in the country.
So if you spot a deal on a fridge freezer that seems too good to be true, just make sure that the climate class is an SN rather than an N, ST or T class.
There’s a bit of a ‘false economy’ when it comes to storage volume numbers provided by manufacturers. While the numbers are true, that’s only when everything has been taken out of the fridge freezer – such as the drawers, shelves and door storage racks. As you’re likely not to remove any of these fixtures on an everyday basis, this means that the volume provided by the manufacturer is never the true volume.
In fact, consumer watchdog ‘Which?’ found in their calculations that their measurements (not including storage fixtures) and manufacturer measurements differed by as much as 25%. This means that two fridge freezers can have the same volume, according to manufacturers, but one can have more space for groceries than another due to differing storage fittings.
Your best bet here, if you have the opportunity to see your potential new unit, is to judge by eye whether or not the storage is comparable to your old fridge freezer unit.
Baby Hot Back
Here’s another consideration you may not have considered when it comes to buying a new fridge freezer – what material is the backing made of? The back of your fridge can be very important as it helps to protect the unit’s insulation in case of a fire. As it stands, this protective backing can be made of plastics, aluminium laminate or metals.
However, tests have revealed that plastic backing may be quite flammable compared to the other options – making it a low-risk fire hazard, but nevertheless a risk. For this reason, it is good to check whether or not the backing is plastic.
These days energy efficiency is increasingly important when it comes to home appliances and fridge freezers are no different. But how do you know the fridge freezer you’re buying is energy efficient? The energy efficient label is the best way to be sure, the label will outline how energy efficient the appliance is and it runs from A+++ to G.
Any appliances produced after 2012 have to be at least A+ however, if you’re purchasing second-hand then there is still a substantial risk of you buying a fridge freezer with a lower energy efficiency. So, do look out for the energy efficiency label especially when purchasing older appliances.
The energy efficiency label isn’t the only factor to take into consideration though as they don’t tell the whole story. Size is a big factor when it comes to fridge freezers and as a huge impact on their total energy efficiency.
A larger fridge freezer with an A+++ efficiency rating could be more expensive to run than a small model with a lower energy efficiency rating. So, make sure you take the size of the appliance into account and don’t base any decision solely on the energy efficiency rating of appliances.
You should also keep a lookout for useful features that help increase energy efficiency like holiday mode and auto defrost. Holiday mode decreases the amount of power needed for your fridge freezer while also ensuring your food is chilled while auto defrost helps ensure there is no build-up of ice around the cooling elements.
You might also want to look for a fridge freezer that is frost free, these will generally be more expensive than non-frost free models but frost free fridge freezers prevent a build-up of ice from forming. This makes them more energy efficient to use and allows you to fit more into them.
A fridge freezer is usually thought to be a big appliance and while many models are quite large there are still smaller more compact models available. If you don’t need a lot of space then these will be the better choice and will usually work out cheaper than larger models even if they have a lower efficiency label.
So, look at size first and then check out the labels and finally look at the extra-features available. Things like auto defrost are great but they are not always essential and you can usually get by just by ensuring you regularly defrost and maintain your appliance yourself. By doing this you can be sure your fridge freezer is as energy efficient as possible.
The soft hum of a fridge freezer is actually a relaxing sound to many people but still, that hum can get a little annoying if it’s overly loud. You’ll be hearing that hum a lot so you’ll want to make sure any fridge freezer you buy isn’t overpowering.
There is no such thing as a completely silent fridge freezer, in fact, if your fridge freezer is making no sound at all then that means it is not active for some reason. There should always be a humming sound emanating from the appliance.
The hum of a fridge freezer is because of compressor inside the appliance which means there is cool air being circulated in the machine. In some older model, you might also hear the compressor activating although this is more uncommon these days.
The humming noise is measured in decibels and most fridge freezers will have a noise level between 32 – 47 dB. A fridge freezer as to have a noise level of 40 dB or below to be labelled as a quiet model so check out the product descriptions of any fridge freezer you’re thinking of buying to get an idea of the noise.
Even models with a higher dB are still relatively quiet although the lower the noise level the better your appliance will be. Some people really do find the humming sound a fridge freezer to be an annoyance so if you are one of those people I would suggest looking for models under 40 dB whenever possible just to be safe.
One other thing to consider is the alarm settings some newer models of fridge freezer have, these activate if the door has been left open too long. It’s a useful feature but isn’t seen on many appliances as of yet.
For our finale, we’re looking at those additional extras that can be the deal-breaker when it comes to choosing one fridge freezer over another: features.
We’re splitting features into two categories: budget features and luxury features.
If you’re looking at cheaper fridge freezers, you should look out for adjustable door racks and shelves. This allows you to set the spacing to suit your needs. The types of drawers that come with your fridge freezer unit also matters. Look for drawers that will slide out smoothly and don’t stick, but not too smooth to the point that they can easily drop to the floor. Lastly, and perhaps the most important budget feature, look out for a frost-free option. This will save you from ever having to defrost your freezer.
Whilst the budget features are what you should try to ensure that you have within your new fridge freezer, the luxury options can be the cherry on top. Features such as fast-freeze and quick-chill are greatly desired, as are water and ice dispensers. Digital displays, that show the temperature and/or the time, are also preferred, as our humidity controls that can help keep certain foods (such as fruit and veg) fresher for longer.
Fridge Freezer Features Explained
Let’s finish our look at fridge freezers by examining some useful features to watch out for. If you want all these handy features you will be paying a higher price but it will give you a more versatile appliance to work with.
This is a freezer specific function that I mentioned previously, to be brief this feature circulates cool air to prevent ice from building up. It effectively saves you time because you won’t have to worry about defrosting your freezer.
Auto defrost is a fridge specific function that prevents a build-up of ice around the cooling elements. This will help prevent a build-up of condensation in your appliance.
Lighting in fridge freezers come in many different forms, some older models have regular light bulbs like you find in lamps but they are very uncommon these days. Most appliances these days have halogen lighting which have longer lifespans and are more energy efficient. Finally, some higher-end models have LED lighting which are even more energy efficient and use a lot less energy.
Most models of fridge freezer will have electronic thermostats these days which allow you easily read the temperatures of your appliance and make precise changes. Older models are more basic and simple with standard single thermostats.
Anti-bacterial seals help keep food safe and fresh for longer, chiller draws and salad boxes usually have them but not all fridge freezers will include them. So, keep an eye for them as they are very useful extra features to have.
Quick Chill/ Fast Freeze
These two features basically do the same thing, quick chill works from the fridge while fast freeze works for the freezer. They quickly chill and freeze foods respectively and can be useful for ensuring food is as fresh as possible for when you need it.
That’s a look at all the features you need to know about when it comes to fridge freezers. Before you purchase anything have a look to see if any of these useful and innovative features are included.
So now that you know what to look out for, and what to avoid, you’re ready to go forth and buy the best fridge freezer for your property.