Buying a fridge-freezer: what to look for

A fridge-freezer is an integral part of any kitchen. The latest models have come a long way from the 1970s, when they first became a common household appliance. Did you know that you can now log the contents of your fridge without even opening it? That’s exactly what some of the latest smart designs offer – a free phone app. It’s linked to a camera in your fridge so you can see what you need to stock up on without writing a shopping list. I need this in my life! Or what about the new LG model that allows you to see what’s inside with two quick knocks on the external glass? Yes, the humble fridge-freezer has come a long, long way. Question is, do you need fancy functions and how do you decide between all the types on offer? 

Well, I’ve been taking a look into buying a fridge-freezer and this is what I’ve found…

Today’s fridge-freezers offer plenty of flexibility to store fresh and frozen foods. They feature multi-zone compartments, bottle racks and shelving, quick-chill and fast-freeze options. Plus there are plenty of designs to suit every lifestyle and budget. From freestanding to built-in and American style to French doors with pull-out freezer drawers.

But as well as function, the fridge-freezers of today are design pieces that can transform a room. Stay with me here… During my own renovation we recently splashed out on a pastel green Smeg model that really is the talking point of our kitchen.

As for advice on buying a fridge-freezer, it starts with knowing what functions are on offer.

buying a fridge-freezer
Buying a fridge-freezer: this model from Smeg has a 77-litre MultiZone compartment that can switch between freezer and refrigerator. It also features a manual internal ice maker and rapid cooling drawer. FQ960N Victoria four-door fridge-freezer with convertible compartment, £2899, Smeg.

What can the latest fridge-freezers do?

The question is what can’t they do?!

Generally they offer a better internal layout. Some models reach over 500 litres in volume so it is easier to stash plenty of produce. That’s great if you have a hungry family like mine. Plus the latest hi-tech designs can store fruit and vegetables in separate compartments cooled to exactly 0°C. This may help reduce food waste by keeping veggies fresh for up to three times longer, so less midweek trips to stock up on extra supplies.

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Other functions that caught my eye were: fast-freeze options, ice makers, and bottle chill areas.

Some models offer compartments with variable temperatures, too, so you can switch from fridge to freezer as needed. A chiller drawer shields meat and fish from warm air that seeps in when the door is opened.

Eco-conscious? Many models also have eco modes, so you can easily change the temperature at the touch of a button if you are going on holiday.

Look at how cool your fridge really needs to be, too. The lower the temperature, the more energy it needs, so if it’s too cool your bills might be unnecessarily high.

Take a look at the latest models

Bertazzoni design
Buying a fridge-freezer: Bertazzoni’s built-in fridge-freezer has an A+ energy rating. It features Total No Frost technology, two freezer drawers, a bottle compartment, and a 241 litre capacity. Plus it can be seamlessly integrated into your cabinetry for a sleek look. REF60BI fridge-freezer, £899, Bertazzoni.
buying a fridge-freezer
Buying a fridge-freezer: Haier’s 610-litre fridge-freezer comes with a Switch Zone, including a compartment that can operate as a refrigerator or a freezer. A Humidity Zone with up to 90% humidity is ideal for fruit and vegetables. While a Dry Zone has low humidity to best store fresh meat, fish or dairy.  Cube Series HTF-610DM7 freestanding fridge-freezer, £1299.99, Haier.
Caple design
Buying a fridge-freezer: Caple’s appliance features six compartments and three temperature zones, which can be turned off independently. Super-freeze and super-cool functions enable food to reach optimum temperature very quickly.  CAFF60 built-in or freestanding fridge-freezer, from £9599, Caple
buying a fridge-freezer
Buying a fridge-freezer: Siemens’ fridge-freezer has two cameras in the fridge, so you can check the contents via the Home Connect app. It can also send remote monitoring notifications to your mobile device, letting you know what’s in your fridge and if the temperature needs to be adjusted or doors have been left open. iQ700 KA92DHXFP side-by-side fridge-freezer, £3499, Siemens.

More sleek and gorgeous fridge-freezers

Bosch design
Buying a fridge-freezer: Bosch’s integrated appliance has a SuperFreeze function. This lowers the temperature of the freezer to ensure new food is frozen quickly. It then automatically returns to normal operation once it’s done. SuperCooling works in a similar way, quickly reducing the temperature in the refrigerator to +2 °C whenever you add new food. Then it automatically switches back after approximately six hours. Serie 8 KIF86PF30 built-in fridge-freezer, £1599, Bosch.

What do I need to know before buying a fridge-freezer?

Before heading to the shops or beginning your online research, work out the ideal capacity you’ll need. Then decide on the fridge/freezer split – a 70/30 ratio would be better if you prefer to stock up on fresh produce.

Also think about floor area around your appliance. Too little won’t let hot air escape, which can impact your fridge’s performance and longevity.

Ideally, allow for at least a 5cm gap, plus enough space at the back to easily connect your electricity and, if needed, water supply. Check you have adequate room for opening and closing the doors and decide whether you prefer them left or right-hinged.

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buying a fridge-freezer
Buying a fridge-freezer: This statement appliance from Amica comes in four vibrant colours: duck egg blue, black, cream and red. It features four interior glass shelves, three in-door balconies, and one large salad crisper drawer in the fridge. It also includes a small freezer compartment. FDR2213R, 55cm freestanding fridge-freezer, £388.95, Amica.
Neff design
Buying a fridge-freezer: This design from Neff consists of a freezer with SuperFreeze function. This temporarily lowers the temperature to quickly cool down newly-added food. While the fridge can briefly reduce the temperature to +2°C. This is ideal for quickly chilling items as you put away your shopping, to keep them as fresh as possible. N 70 GI7813EF0G side-by-side built-in single-door freezer, £1158, and N 90 KI8816D30 built-in single door fridge, £1448, Neff.

Try designs out before buying a fridge-freezer

Even if you’ve found your perfect fridge-freezer online, you need to touch and feel your appliance before you invest. So visit the retailer and insist on a demonstration to fully understand the functionalities and storage options.

Two built-in fridge-freezers, fitted side by side with left and right-opening doors, are a good value alternative to an American-style design. They offer double pantry storage and create a lovely slick look.

buying a fridge-freezer
Buying a fridge-freezer: incorporating a SuperCooling function that briefly reduces the temperature to 2°C, Neff’s double-door fridge-freezer is ideal for quickly chilling items as you put your shopping away. It has a total capacity of 541 litres and also features an ice and water dispenser. N 70 KA3923I20G American-style fridge-freezer, £2388, Neff.
Miele design
Buying a fridge-freezer: Miele’s A+++ rated appliance has PerfectFresh Pro temperature zones within the fridge. These are controlled automatically to be between 0°C and 3°C to store fresh food at the optimum temperature. Equipped with a Silence System that drastically reduces noise levels, it is available in a black or white glass finish. KFN29683 D fridge-freezer, £2299, Miele.
buying a fridge-freezer
Buying a fridge-freezer: a total capacity of 558 litres and three freezer drawers finished in stainless steel. Hotpoint’s appliance also has reversible doors, so you can place it in any corner. Two half-width Fresh Zone+ drawers and one full width Fresh Zone 0°C drawer keep produce and meat at their best. H84BE 72 XO3 UK freestanding fridge-freezer, £1099, Hotpoint.

Look at these pieces before buying a fridge-freezer

AEG design
AEG’s fridge-freezer has a MultiSwitch drawer positioned between the fridge and the freezer, which can be set from -18°C to 7°C. This offers complete flexibility to preserve every item in the ideal conditions. MultiFlow technology provides a uniform flow of air throughout the appliance and protects your food from sudden temperature or humidity changes. RMB76311NX freestanding fridge-freezer with water dispenser, £1949, AEG.

What about maintenance?

Well, there’s not too much to think about actually! Gone are the days of defrosting every six months – the latest models all have no-frost systems – but regular cleaning is still key.

I would recommend removing shelves and drawers for cleaning, though. Just wash them with water, a mild detergent and a soft sponge to avoid scratches but don’t forget to dry them fully before putting them back. Don’t be tempted to clean any of the internal containers in the dishwasher – the heat might misshape them.

What about cost?

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the fridge-freezer is among the most expensive kitchen appliances, costing from around £700 up to £9500 for American-style models.

buying a fridge-freezer
Buying a fridge-freezer: Fisher & Paykel’s ActiveSmart fridge-freezer with SmartTouch control panel and soft close doors. It adapts to daily use by cooling and defrosting only when needed. RF540ADUB5 French-door fridge-freezer in black, £2499, Fisher & Paykel.
Aga design
Buying a fridge-freezer: With a capacity of 557 litres and a digital control display, Aga’s fridge-freezer features holiday, eco, super freeze, and super cool modes. The double freezer drawers include hidden baskets and the appliance is available in Ivory (shown), Dark Inox, black, and stainless steel. RDXD18 French-door fridge-freezer, £1549, Aga.
buying a fridge-freezer
Buying a fridge-freezer: This design from Miele offers a Push2Open mechanism, which activates a pin to prop the door ajar and then gently opens fully. Active Airclean charcoal filters also come as standard, to help keep unwanted odours at bay, while a BrilliantLight system ensures that you will always see the contents of your compartments clearly. MasterCool II KF2801 Vi fridge-freezer, £8449, Miele.

And one more statement model…

Sub Zero design
Buying a fridge-freezer: you can install Sub Zero’s model as built-in or freestanding. A dual compressor system keeps air in the refrigerator and freezer separate, while two stainless-steel storage bins in the main cooling area are ideal for marinating. It also features an automatic ice-maker, water filtration system and stainless-steel ice bucket ICBPRO3650G professional fridge-freezer, £18,000, Sub Zero.

Featured image: Bosch’s Vario Style fridge-freezer offers you a choice of different-coloured door fronts to match the theme of your kitchen using a combination of invisible hooks and magnets. It also features a SuperCooling function which will chill newly-purchased food more quickly to stop what is already in the fridge warming up. Series 4 KGN36IJ3AG Vario Style fridge-freezer, £849, Bosch.

So, did you enjoy this feature on buying a fridge-freezer? Then you’ll also love what to look for when buying a dishwasher.

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