* Prices may differ from that shown
When I bought this house in 2007 I brought my freezer with me, but had to buy a fridge as the flat I was selling had it built in. Now a fridge is something I cannot live without but in normal circumstances I might still have researched and shopped around and taken my time to make a purchase I would expect to last a reasonable length of time. At the time, though, I was stressed (I will never, EVER buy and sell at the same time again if I can avoid it) and wasn't entirely sure when we would complete, so ended up with a week after exchanging when I wanted to get something ordered so it could arrive the day after I moved in. I found this model as it was the cheapest 'proper' sized fridge around at the time, and I had of course heard of Hotpoint before, so was quite impressed not to be stuck with some random no-brand budget alternative. Almost 5 years later it's still going strong, and is probably one of the few things in the house my tenants didn't managed to damage in any way, shape or form during their 11 months tenancy. More importantly, perhaps, for the audience at hand, this exact model is still available, so you can get the exact same one I bought back then and am reviewing here.
Priced at £140 - £150 online, this fridge represents excellent value for money in my opinion. It is a larder fridge which simply means a fridge without an ice box built in, so you have more space for your fresh food - 127 litres of space, to be precise. I live alone but often do BIG 'big shops' that last me for two or more weeks, so if you extrapolate that, and factor in the reality that boys eat lots more food, it should still easily hold more than a week's worth of food for a couple at any one time. Inside, the space is well utilised. Starting from the bottom, there is a salad drawer that spans the whole width of the fridge and has a good capacity though as with all, it can be easier to store things out of their packaging to make most use of the space available. The top of this salad drawer serves as a fixed shelf, and there are two further adjustable shelves above it, which have slightly raised edges that help prevent things like runaway grapes rolling off and going splat. The shelves are easy to remove and wash which is important as they can get a bit mucky if you do things like eat spoonfuls of yogurt from the carton without removing said carton from its place in the middle of one shelf. One of my shelves has a sticker on - courtesy of the tenants - and this doesn't really want to come off, but this may be in part down to my reluctance to really go at it for fear of breaking the shelf. They don't appear flimsy in any way, but they still aren't something you'd want to be too rough with.
The door has three sections, two shelves with high edges and a top ledge with a slide down cover that keeps it fully enclosed. Something I adore about this model is how deep the door shelves are: you can put cartons in long ways as well as facing forward, which really saves space. I also like how high up the second shelf is, as it means you can store bottles in the bottom one and don't need to tilt them at an angle to make the smaller. The middle shelf is, as a result, not meant for tall objects, as the top ledge is not far above it, but it's great for things like cans or jam or those awesome rolls of croissant dough.
The fridge comes with a few accessories including a bottle rack, an egg tray, both easily removed by me since I have no use for either. The only slightly dunce thing about this model is the location of the light, right at the front next to the door hinge. Assuming it's day time or the kitchen light is on, you can easily see the contents at the front, it's the ones at the back and sides that need illumination. So less than useless then, but at least the light lets you know the fridge is plugged in because...the fridge is very quiet to the extent that if I didn't know better, I'd wonder if it was working. Unlike my freezer it never hums or rattles which is fab because again unlike my freezer, my fridge sits in my door-less kitchen, and is not tucked away in the utility room.
The fridge requires no assembly, unless you wish to switch the direction the door opens as it comes attached one way, but can be changed to the other. The one tiny thing I struggled with was setting the temperature. Firstly because after 8 years of home ownership, I STILL never know whether the 1 - 5 on the dial are a scale of coldness, or positive temperatures (i.e. is 5 the coldest, or 5 degrees and therefore the warmest?) and secondly because the dial is really fiddly to change and needs a key or knife of something with a flat end to swivel it round. I hedged my bets and set it to 3...and luckily have never needed to change this. The fridge is one of the better ones I have had (bearing in mind I've had to put up with some dodgy South American ones) because it seems to be a uniform temperature all round. The back never ices up, and you don't get things freezing if you tuck them away in a high corner. Everything chills nicely but is never too, too cold, and when I use the fridge to defrost things like lasagne, for the most part they thaw out evenly. Sometimes a little condensation forms on the shelves and they look cloudy rather than clear - my fault for putting in things before they've fully cooled - but this disappears on its own without seemingly affecting the contents.
The fridge looks normal sized to me - it's hard to compare because I've never seen it next to another make or model. It measures 84cm by 60cm, with a depth of 60cm and easily fits beneath my fixed work surfaces, with that ever so useful band of nothing above and behind it to keep the air flowing. The plug lead isn't massively long but it reaches my socket, oddly located halfway up the wall not near the skirting board. Hotpoint call this 'Polar White' but it looks like regular boring white to me. The front is delightfully plain (unless you're a magnet kinda person) and even the handle is hidden, concealed as an indent in the top of the door rather than sticking out. While I have no difficulties opening or closing it, I do find that crumbs and dirt can collect in the crevice at the top and it's the one area I am forever cleaning.
This fridge has an A energy rating which is excellent for a cheaper model and is therefore economical to run at about 150 kwh per year. I am extremely impressed with how durable this fridge has proven to be, and excluding energy costs, it's already worked out at well under 10p per day with no signs of giving up any time soon. It is an item that I open and shut several times a day but the door seal is still great, and the hinges still smooth. For the size and capacity I think it's a very useful budget model, and would happily recommend.
@ About @
(+) I bought this fridge 3 years ago, and the whole reason I bought this particular fridge, was because of its A energy rating. I have a home energy monitor and right now it's only using about 147KWh per year, pretty good for a fridge so less wattage means lower bills. Its a great fridge, comes well packaged but not too much plastic to throw away. Mostly cardboard.
(+) The actual "user guide" that comes with this is in lots of different languages so it may look thick but it's only a few pages in English about simple tips and advice for set up and maintenance. The fridge took less than five minutes to unpack, and only a couple minutes to get it running. You can use the manual to help fully set up, which has clear concise instructions of what you can and can't do. For instance, it explains that the shelves are safety glass, weight limits, and gives clear advice on care for your fridge such as best ambient room temperatures (10*C - 38*C)
@ To live with @
(-) There is one absolute nightmare with this fridge that I didn't stop to think about when I bought it, and I do regret not rethinking. The internal light. The whole point of having a fridge with an internal light is that it shines "internally" into the fridge when you open the door. But no, the light is situated at the top of the fridge right on the inside of the door above the little shelf. I can not begin to comprehend how big a design flaw this is when you're getting things out the fridge in the dark.
(-) Yes, the light shines towards the centre, but becomes immediately pointless when you open the door, so the light ends up being pointless. I recommend opening the fridge with your room light on, it's much easier to see inside.
(+) One positive of the light for me is that after 3 years it hasn't blown. That's been great, but I wouldn't replace it if it did. Day to day it opens and closes at least six times, and therefore, looses a lot of cold air to the room temperature. It copes with this quite well and gets back down to temperature quickly, even if you put something quite warm in there for a while. Very handy for baby bottles.
@ Noise @
(+) When you first turn this fridge on and it needs to get down to temperature, it makes a bit of a vibrating rumble, and that's it. You won't hear it do that for a long time, because it just tops itself up with cold air as and when it needs to. During the time it is switched on it makes a faint humming noise now and then, but that's it, it isn't vibrating like mad, even at the very back of the fridge.
@ Capacity and Storage @
(+) As for fridge space, inside is more than suitable for a small family, and we get by easily without any hassle, the space in between shelves is enough for butter tubs and medium sized pieces of meat. Granted, you won't fit a great big Christmas turkey in there but to be honest, you could fit a lot of vegetables in without having to cram and squash them inside.
(-) The long shelves on the door are a little smaller than they appear in the pictures you see on the web. A six pint bottle of milk indents when it touches the sides of the shelf but does slide in without too much force. Smaller 2 pint bottles will fit lengthways into the shelf no problem, with a little space left over.
@ Cleaning @
(-) one negative is the time it takes to clean the inside, the shelves are easy to clean because you can just get some cloth and wipe them down, but the door and edges of the fridge, really take some scrubbing, particularly around the roof and door, where lots of gunk builds up. The strip that seals the door when you shut it generally collects the most, and requires some time and effort to clean.
(+) cleaning the outside is not as hard because you can just wipe down the surfaces, and there are no gaps, bumps, or tiny grooves to get into. The top of the door is the worst area to collect dirt, but you can simply run your finger along the top to remove this dirt.
@ Wear and tear @
(+) The outside of this fridge is quite scratch resistant, our fridge has multiple magnets on it and so far it has been pretty tough, this is a pretty strong and well built fridge. The door is solid and has not started creaking or becoming wobbly, with little wobble from the hinges either.
(-) The inside looks good, but has shown a little weakness with paint wear. We regularly slide plates and cartons in and out and along the side of each shelf there are marks from where this has happened, which appeared just months after we bought it home. It doesn't take much to get the paint off.
(+) Mechanically though this fridge is in tip top condition. Nothing has broken down, the bulb hasn't gone, and the safety glass hasn't cracked. It still maintains cold air even on really hot days, and has never spoiled any food. I am most pleased with the durability, and it deserves another star for this. The door once sealed does not let any of the cold air out, you put the palm of your hand over the top of the door to test for escaping air, and there's not even a trickle.
@ Overall @
I can only award this fridge 4 stars. Size, durable materials, and space all contribute to this, but the major design flaw is the light and thats just not practical. If you intend to buy this fridge, and need a good internal light, it's not recommended.
If you need a durable, well built, good sized and low price fridge without needing the light, then this is most definitely the fridge for you, and I can certainly recommend it. You need some time to clean the inside, and just a bit more general care when putting things in and taking them out to stop paint wear.
@ Information @
* Total capacity: 130 litres
* 3 safety glass shelves
* 2 litre deep storage
* Covered dairy compartment
* Full width salad bin
I have this fridge now for two years and have been very happy with it. It barely makes a noise and also does not freeze any items that are against the back of the fridge (many do seem to do this) and I have not ever had to defrost it as it simply does not seem to attract that much condensation but you do need to empty the little water catcher at the back every now and then (in two years I have done this maybe twice). It has great little nifty features such as an egg rack and a bottle rack (yeah!) Apart from that all main shelves can be put at which ever hight you want and the same with the shelves in the door. This also makes it very easy to clean as all shelves lift right out. I have never had any issues with 'funny smells', noise, leaking or it breaking down. It simply does what it says on the box. Should note that it does not have a freezer section so maybe not so good for student houses or other people who'd like to do a bit of space saving.
I bough this fridge for the good features it advertised and seemed to contain in he shop: small and compact, energy A rated so cheap to run, good shelf layout, door opened either way, came with butter dish egg tray, bottle holder and vegetable crisper.
For the first couple of months this fridge worked really well, nice and quiet, nothing to fault it for. Then it started making more noise than it should, and seemed to be on for longer than it needed to be. I called the engineer out, he came prompltly, looked at the fridge, it had just run out of gas, obviously a small leak somewhere, but had to come back on another day to get the leak fixed, which he thought he had done. A couple of weeks later it started making noises again, so back the engineer came, said there was obviously a problem with the compressor, and it needed a new one, which was ordered, turn the fridge off and don't use it. After phoning hotpoint every week for over a month and still no sign of a working fridge or a replacement compressor they finally replaced the fridge with a new one, the same model. A week later the compressor on the new fridge broke with the same problem. The engineer understood why I decided I wanted the code to have my money back rather than yet another wait and a new fridge.
This under the counter Polar White Hotpoint RLAV21P Undercounter Fridge will keep your food chilled effectively and stylishly / With 130 litre capacity, you can keep all your small foods in the RLAV21P Undercounter Fridge / There are 3 safety glass shelves / Short name: Hotpoint RLAV21P