No other kitchen appliance is shown quite as much love as the fridge freezer – well it is ‘home’ to the kids’ favourite yogurt drinks, Dad’s secret stash of ice cream and Mum’s ‘emergency’ bottle of wine.
So if you’re looking to upgrade, you’ll be pleased to hear that the latest models are working harder than ever. You just need to make a few key decisions first…
1. CHOOSE A STYLE
The ultimate kitchen status symbol, American-style fridge-freezers offer all the storage you’ll ever need, but will take up the most space, as they are usually at least 900mm wide. They come in four mains layouts:
- Side-by-side models have a tall fridge on one side and a freezer on the other, so you won’t always have to bend down to reach frozen food.
- With innovative door-in-door fridges, like Samsung’s Showcase, below, you open the outer door to access regularly used drinks and condiments, and the inner door to get to larger items like meat or vegetables. This saves energy and makes it easier to stay organised.
- Door-and-drawer designs are perfect for entertaining – their wide fridges are ideal for party platters, and the freezer drawers below give easy access to groceries and ice.
- Quadrant designs also have a wide fridge, with standard freezer compartments below – often, one of these is a ‘multizone’ compartment that can be converted from fridge to freezer, depending on whether you’re chilling beers for a barbecue or stocking up on three-for-twos.
While they can’t top American-style models for capacity, 60cm fridge freezers are packed with smart technologies that preserve your food for longer than ever before, and will sit neatly at the end of a run of units. Styles can range from what I’d politely call ‘functional’ to chic and sleek machines clad in steel.
Alternatively, if that’s still too understated for you and you’re happy to compromise a bit on features, an attention-grabbing retro design will up your kitchen’s style cred.
2. CHECK THE CAPACITY
Generally, the bigger the fridge-freezer, the bigger the capacity, but there are exceptions. Companies like Panasonic use the same insulation you’d find in NASA spaceships to make sure the doors and walls of their appliances are as thin as possible without compromising their performance, so you can fit that much more inside.
You’ll also notice that the ratio of fridge to freezer can vary, the most common being 60% fridge to 40% freezer or a 50/50 split. You might also find the odd 70/30 fridge-freezer, but they tend to be more popular in Europe.
To decide which split is best, just think about your daily routine. If you like to cook from scratch every night with fresh ingredients, look for a big fridge. Prefer to bake in batches? Then prioritise freezer space.
Still not sure? Check out this fridge-freezer from Gorenje. The bottom converts from fridge to freezer as and when you need it to.
3. SAVE A FORTUNE IN WASTED FOOD
Did you know that the average family throws away around £60 of food a month? Yikes! So if I were you, I’d buy a fridge freezer with lots of food preservation technologies to keep your food fresher for longer. Some examples are:
- Humidity-controlled drawers Stop fruit and veg from drying out or going soggy, so no more mushy cucumbers or iced-up lettuces.
- Cool zone A fridge drawer that’s at a lower temperature of 0°C or 2°C to store meat, fish and dairy more effectively. Some have a choice of temperature settings (0°C, 2°C or 4°C for meat, dairy and veg accordingly)
- Fast freezing Increases the speed at which your food is frozen, locking in more flavour and nutrients of any fresh food.
- Fast cooling It’s not technically there to preserve food, but it will quickly chill freshly prepared desserts, or wine, lager and other drinks for a party.
- Twin Cooling Separate air circulation in each compartment, so the cold air from the freezer doesn’t dry out the contents of the fridge.
- Blue-light technology LEDs that mimics the sun’s rays, encouraging the process of photosynthesis in your greens to make them last longer.
- Good lighting Look for columns of lights at the back of the fridge (as opposed to the sides) as they will make every item easier to see, so food won’t be lost at the back and forgotten.
4. KEEP BILLS DOWN
People often think the biggest energy guzzler in their kitchen is the washing machine or oven, but it’s actually the fridge-freezer – well, it is working 24/7 to keep food cold. It’s therefore important to go for at least an A+ energy rating to keep running costs to a minimum, particularly if you go for a ‘hungry’ American-style design.
Often the top-rated models will have something called an inverter compressor. Where some fridge-freezers have just one power level, inverter models have several, so if you only open their door for a second or two, they’ll use the lowest power level to cool it – in other words, the appliance never uses more energy than it needs to.
A holiday mode can help, too, either by shutting the fridge down completely when you go away, or bringing it up to around 14°C to keep butter and eggs fresh.
5. LOOK FOR CLEVER STORAGE
I know what it’s like – one minute you’re all about frugality, the next you’re inviting the whole street around for dinner. Luckily, there are models that can cope with your mood swings, with multi-zone compartments that convert from fridge (for beers and canapés) to freezer (when you’re sucked in by those three-for-two offers). The Servis model, above, has just that.
Aside from the innovative door-in-door storage I mentioned earlier, other useful features to look for include curved bottle racks for safely storing wine and other bottles on their side, shelves that fold up to make space below for tall items, and removable fridge trays and ice dispensers that allow you to take your chilled condiments or ice cubes straight to the table.
In the freezer, look for shallow trays that can hold items that might otherwise get lost, and drawers that run on telescopic rails so you can pull them out and see right to the back without them falling out onto the floor.
6. ENJOY ICE AND WATER ON TAP
An ice and water dispenser is a really convenient feature, letting you grab ice for a drink or enjoy a glass of chilled water whenever you want, but check whether it needs to be plumbed into the mains.
If it does, it may limit where you can put your appliance and you may have to pay for extra plumbing work to be done when it’s installed. But on the up-side, you won’t then have the hassle of refilling the water tank.
Oh, and remeber you can save your kitchen from looking like a scene from The Poseidon Adventure by choosing a water dispenser with a child lock. AmyTweet