The dooyoo Guide to Fridges and Freezers 2009 - 1st September 2008
The humble fridge is something we have come to take for granted as an essential domestic appliance, but less than a hundred years ago the earliest models were more expensive than a Model T Ford and about as reliable. By the 1930s, 60% of U.S households were the proud owners of a refrigerator and whilst it took the U.K until the 1970s to catch up, who of us today would be without one?
Whether you are looking for an all singing, all dancing American model, the size of a Cadillac and incorporating a chilled drinks dispenser, ice maker and internet connectivity or simply a mini-fridge in which to store a few cans of beer, the dooyoo buying guide to fridges and freezers features all the coolest models from AEG, Bosch, Hotpoint, Siemens and Zanussi to mention but a few. So whether you are thinking about going the extra mile for a Miele or are smugly contemplating the prospect of a Smeg, let dooyoo's intelligent mix of customer reviews and opinion take some of the heat out of your purchasing decision.
Which Refrigerator Do I Need? - The three most important factors that determine your choice of fridge are; how much space you have available, what your food storage requirements are and how much money you have to spend. A further important consideration is the energy efficiency of the unit.
Dimensions and Capacity - The standard dimensions of a fridge freezer are 50cm wide and 65cm deep but there are a couple of things to bear in mind when measuring the space available. Firstly with built in models you need to allow for clearance of at least 2.5 cm on either side of the unit and to the top and rear for installation and maintenance. You might be able to get the fridge into a smaller space but if you can't get it out again there will be trouble if it needs repair. The warm air that it produces will also need somewhere to circulate. Secondly make sure that you have enough space to be able to open the door. Many of the most recent models have the option of the door being hung to open to the left or right but this should also be checked before purchase.
The capacity of fridges and freezers is typically measured in cubic feet (though occasionally in litres) with the smallest available starting at around 3.5 cubic feet (100L) and the largest domestic models around 15.5 cubic feet (438L). On average a capacity of around 4-5 cubic feet (113 - 140L) is optimal for single person households with families requiring 9-11 cubic feet (254 - 311L), depending on their size and appetite. When considering how much space is appropriate ask yourself whether you buy a lot of frozen food or mostly fresh produce. If the former is the case then a model with a 50/50 split between the fridge and freezer compartments might be a good option. In the case of the latter then the more usual 70/30 split will be more appropriate. Combination fridge freezers, by far the most popular models, can these days be found with the freezer compartment located at either the bottom or the top of the unit. If you never buy frozen food and can live without ice cubes (or have a separate freezer) then a larder fridge, one without a freezer compartment, might well be an option worth considering.
Compact Fridges: Hotpoint RSAV21,
Family size fridges: Miele KFN8762SDED, Indesit BAN144NF
Energy Efficiency - Fridges are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so paying attention to their energy consumption can make a big difference to your electricity bill and help minimize your contribution to global warming. Since 1988 the energy efficiency of fridges has been measured from A to G with A and A+, being the most efficient. It is worth noting that the A+ ratings were introduced later than the original grading system and are not EU validated. The actual differences in power consumption in A and A + models are negligible if the model is used in 'frost free' mode, of which more later. Modern refrigerators should have energy ratings of B or higher, only chest freezers are still available at the lower end of the efficiency scale. An energy inefficient model may save you a few pounds in the short term but you will end up paying for it in your electricity bill over the lifetime of your fridge.
A+ rated fridges: Hotpoint RLA36 (compact larder style), Indesit BAAN134 (fridge freezer).
Climate Class - Fridges and freezers are graded according to the ambient temperature in which they will operate safely and effectively.
|Climate Class||Temperature range (centigrade)|
|SN (Sub-Normal)||10 - 32|
|N (Normal)||16 - 32|
|ST(Subtropical)||18 - 38|
|T (Tropical)||18 - 43|
The vast majority of the units available in the UK are designated SN or N, with the former largely applying to freezers that are to be located in a cellar, garage or other unheated space.
Freezers and Freezer Compartments - Freezers and freezer compartments have a star rating between one and four, which indicates the temperature and consequently the length of time that frozen food can be safely stored. Only four star freezers or iceboxes are rated for the freezing of fresh food.
|* (1Star)||6° C or colder||Store pre frozen food for up to 3 Days|
|** (2 Star)||12° C or colder||Store pre frozen food for up to 1 Month|
|*** (3 Star)||18° C or colder||Store pre frozen food for up to 3 Months|
|**** (4 Star)||18° C or colder||Freeze and store food for up to 1 year|
Fast Freeze technology is intended to freeze the food more rapidly which is better for retaining texture as well as vitamins and nutrients.
Frost Free, No Frost and Lo Frost devices all promise to make the chore of defrosting a thing of the past, most operating according to the principal of circulating air inside the freezer compartment. Some variation of this technology now comes pretty much as standard but it is worth bearing in mind that in some cases this can increase energy consumption by as much as 30 percent. Auto-defrost, on the other hand works by regulating the temperature of the fridge and can actually save electricity.
Additional Features - Electronic control panels and LCD monitors enable you to set, control and monitor the temperature of your fridge at the touch of a button. Units allowing you to surf the Internet, watch TV and play MP3s are also , slowly, becoming available on the UK market. A further high-tech innovation, serve@Home, allowing the user to monitor (and control) the temperature of their fridge using a mobile phone or PC, sending an automated alarm if the door is left open or the power supply interrupted, has been developed by Bosch and Siemens but, at time of writing, has yet to make an appearance in the British market.
Twin thermostats control the temperature of the fridge and freezer sections of the unit independently leading to gains in energy efficiency.
Fridges with twin thermostats: Samsung RSH1DTMH
Bacteria guard, Microban or Hygiene + is an anti-bacterial coating added to the walls and doors of some models which impedes bacterial growth and helps keep food fresher for longer.
Fridges with anti-bacterial coatings: Bosch KUR15A40
Water and Ice dispensers are often to be found in the larger American style models. They come in two varieties, one is plumbed directly into the water supply and the other uses a reservoir. In both instances the filter will need to be changed regularly so it is a good idea to check that that it is reasonably accessible.
Summary of advice - Space, budget and storage requirements in addition to energy efficiency are all key factors in determining your choice of refrigerator. Whilst design and technological innovation can be highly seductive, don't neglect the basic issues when making your choice. Adjustable glass shelving, for instance, is versatile and easy to clean. Bottle racks and clear fronted storage boxes are also practical options. Most importantly of all, try to inspect the build quality of the unit at an electrical retailer, in particular the seals around the door and freezer compartment. If these seem flimsy or of poor quality material then the model is best avoided no matter how stunning it looks. Finally check what is covered by the guarantee and what level of after sales service you can expect. Retailers make a fortune from selling extended warranties but the standard guarantee should offer repair or replacement for 6 to 12 months.
Brand: Indesit / Fridge / Energy Efficiency: A+
Brand: Lec / Type: Fridge Freezer
Brand: Beko / Fridge / Energy Efficiency: A+ - Key specifications: Energy efficiency rating: A+. Energy consumption: 269kWh per year based on standard test results for 24 hours. Storage capacity 7.9 cu ft. Net fresh food storage volume 155 litres. Net frozen food storage volume 69 litres. Star rati...
Brand: Zanussi / Type: Under Counter - The Zanussi ZRG715SW fridge with freezer compartment has extra efficient A+ energy rating which uses less energy than average and so saves you money. It features defrost technology which means no ice can build in the cabinet thus keeping your food...
Brand: Zanussi / Type: Larder - "This A+ energy efficient Zanussi tall cabinet fridge freezer - ZRA433VW - features auto fridge defrost technology which means no ice can build up inside the fridge - thus maintaining the optimum temperature at all times for storing your feed keeping it f...
Brand: Zanussi / Type: Integrated - The Zanussi ZBB28650SA 178cm high total frost free fridge freezer saves you time and money! No defrosting - ever! And the it's highly economical A+ rated energy efficiency means the annual energy consumption and running costs are lower than average. I...
Brand: Smeg / Type: Integrated - SMEG is the Italian domestic appliances brand producing beautiful appliances that combine technology and style. Features of this Integrated Fridge Freezer include:Gross capacity: 277 litresSliding rail fittingNoise level: 39 dB(A) RE 1 pwFresh food capacity...
Brand: Miele / Fridge / Type: Upright - Miele's founders believed long-term success was only achievable by being totally convinced of the quality of one's products. That is why our products are tested to last 15 years. With frost free refrigeration appliances there is no build-up of frost and ice ...
Brand: Miele / Fridge / Type: Upright
Brand: Miele / Fridge / Type: Larder
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