“ Brand: Zanussi / Type: larder fridge / Energy rating: A / Capacity: 105 litres „
When we got my mother's house back from the terrible tenants last year, we discovered they had wrecked the fridge and because it's something you really can't live without, especially in a vaguely Indian summer, a new one had to be bought immediately. The only problem was, my mother's kitchen is not a uniform design and the space where the fridge needs to go is not as high or as deep as it would need to be for most fridges. Last September I was tasked with locating a suitably sized replacement and the only one I could find that fit the bill was the Zanussi ZRG310W. This is important because we had to buy solely based on size - we couldn't look for special features or a fancy internal design, because those things are of absolutely no use if the whole thing won't slot neatly under the counter.
We bought this from Appliances Online who are still selling this model, for £157, about the price we paid. Though this isn't a review of the website, I would say that they were very helpful, it arrived on time and the delivery guys were friendly and accommodating.
There are a few notes in the rather brief instruction guide that I'm glad I didn't read beforehand, because if I had done, I would have had to ignore them. One is regarding space around the fridge - they recommend 10cm at the back, 20cm at the sides and a ridiculous 30cm at the top. I mean really, 30cm is a long ruler...and this is an under-counter fridge. Even if you did have that much room to spare, it would look seriously odd to have such a gap. The other was the standard instruction to leave the fridge standing for 4+ hours after delivery before switching it on. This one was a little hard to miss, as a peel off sticker on the front of the door yelled it in large, loud letters, but I still ignored it and plugged it in after just a couple of hours since it wasn't delivered until afternoon and I wanted to get it going before the lady of the house got home from work.
The fridge is plain and white and would therefore fit in in most kitchens. There is absolutely no detailing on it apart from the Zanussi lettering at the top of the door - a door which, incidentally, you can swap round and have opening to the left or right.
Inside the fridge has the following:
Three adjustable shelves, which you can move up or down in case you regularly store oversized items. These are made of clear safety glass and things like yogurt drips and fingerprints show up far too easily, but they are also easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. You don't even have to remove them to do this. If you put the bottom one on the lowest rung, it serves as a lid for the crisper. You could in theory make an extra half-shelf by raising this bottom one a notch, and using the moulded back of the salad box as a ledge, though this wouldn't hold anything large, and would leave the crisper without a lid.
A fully removable crisper drawer / salad box at the bottom. This is see-through plastic and easy to slide in and out as long as the door is sufficiently opened. My main quibble with this is how much room the container itself takes up: you can get a lot more in if you remove the salad box and simply use the space to store things, though this of course makes it less easy to remove items en masse. The main problem is the shape of the drawer, which goes in in the middle, meaning large items cannot go in here unless they're crescent shaped or squidgy... Considering the small volume of this fridge, these seems like a real over-sight as it notably reduces how much you can store.
The door is fitted with three racks which cannot be adjusted up or down but can be removed for cleaning.
The bottom rack is the largest (deepest and allowing for taller items), without being big. It can do things like store a juice carton either face on or side on, but you've no chance of getting in anything over a litre.
The next two racks are the same size, though the middle one holds taller items as the higher one is right near the top of the door. These will hold most small items: cans of drink, 500ml bottles, pots of jam. They will hold a large tub of butter, jars of olives - pretty much anything you'd want to store in the door.
The fridge has a capacity of 105 litres which is definitely on the small side. For one person it's absolutely fine, and it works for two people generally eating the same food, but if we're having different things for a few days it soon gets full. Last week we did a rather big shop (I'm only home for 3 weeks so need to stock up on yummy stuff while I'm here) and things only just fitted in when we were done unpacking. I prefer to have a bit of space in a fridge so the air can circulate, but this was packed tighter than a London tube in rush hour for a few days until we'd made enough of a dent in the contents to start shuffling things round. If you have a family of more than 2 this would not be big enough as your only fridge, but could make a nice spare, should you have the room. When I was sweating it out in Africa, I had delirious dreams of returning to the cold, and of having an extra fridge just for cheese. I still might, one day.
From my experience any individual item can be stored, but sometimes you'll struggle if you want to store more than one, especially with bulky things like 1.5 lt soft drink bottles. Because the door racks are so narrow you can't put these in there, which also means you have to lie them flat and give them an excuse to fizz over when you stand them upright to open them.
The instructions say you should clean this fridge once a month, and "maintain" it at the same time. I don't know what they mean by the latter, but this is a very easy fridge to keep as it doesn't require much effort. It has an auto defrost feature to prevent the build up of ice
The fridge keeps things lovely and cool, and the thermostat works well to keep the temperature constant. I may have been living without a fridge for the last 3 months, but I was amazed by how quickly it chilled things - drinks only took half an hour to be icy cold, great if you forget to put one in and then realise how well a beer or coke would go with dinner.
The fridge is virtually silent. Honestly, I can't hear a thing over the hum of my laptop, and even when it's not in there, there is only an occasional hum coming from the fridge, normally if you've had the door open for a prolonged period. It's almost like it's its way of telling you off for wasting electricity and letting things warm up. The light is bright, and though I can't imagine it would go any time soon, the manual includes guidance on how to change the bulb. Next to the light is the temperature dial which is easy to slide up or down, though we tend to put it on 3 and leave it there (a relic from the days of me not knowing whether 1 meant 1 degree or the lowest refrigeration i.e warmest setting on a scale of 1 to 5).
The door opens with an integrated handle, which is sunk into the top of it (rather than protruding). It is a nice long well you can grab from any part, and if your hands are full you can even open it with just one finger. When kitchen space is limited it saves us many a bruise from not having a sticky out handle you can accidentally walk into as some models have.
A fridge is something you use multiple times on a daily basis, so this one has taken a good battering in the 4 months since it was bought, but it looks exactly the same as on the day it arrived and is not visibly worn. The door seal is as good as new, and while it keeps everything nice and air tight when you shut it, it doesn't have that annoying habit of going into lockdown for a few minutes before you can open it again. I will regularly get out the juice, pour a glass, return it and shut the door, and then realise I need to get the butter out, and with this model there's none of that standing around waiting for it to let you back in again.
The listed dimensions are: (H)84.7 (W)49.4 (D)49.4 cm
These are in no way an over-estimation: Our gap is something like 85.5cm and I was seriously worried as this was being slid into place that it wouldn't fit. It does, but obviously not with their recommended space around it...
The fridge has an only average A rating for efficiency, but there weren't any better ones that would fit in the space we had. And A is still a lot better than some old models.
We didn't have much choice when it came to picking a fridge due to our size constraints. Even so, although there are some minor design flaws with this model, we are reasonably happy with it and given the choice of this fridge or no fridge, there's no contest.
Recommended if you need a small / low fridge. Otherwise you can get larger ones for less money. Go figure.
Energy Efficiency / Short name: Zanussi ZRG310W