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Fridges buying guide

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Introduction

Nearly every household in the UK has some type of fridge, whether it’s a fridge freezer, an American fridge, or a mini fridge. Some homes even have a wine fridge or beer fridge to keep your adult beverages at the proper temperature, while a student fridge is an excellent alternative for students away at university or for a small flat. You can buy a coloured fridge such as a blue fridge, red fridge, or green fridge, or practically any colour to match your kitchen décor, and a stainless steel fridge is a popular choice for a modern look.

A refrigerator, or fridge, is a relatively modern kitchen appliance, replacing the icebox that had been popular for about 150 years prior to the popularization of the fridge. A fridge uses a heat pump to remove heat from an insulated compartment, cooling the container to a few degrees above freezing. A freezer compartment operates in the same way, but it cools the compartment to below freezing. Fridges are commonly used for storing foods that will spoil if not kept cold.

Industrial fridges have been in use since the 1880s, but they were not safe for home use. The household fridge was made available in 1915, but it was not until the 1970s that the majority of households in the UK owned a fridge. Early fridges were simple appliances, but today’s modern fridges offer a wide variety of features, sizes, and prices.

Whether you want a compact fridge, a commercial fridge, or anything in between, Price Inspector can help. We research the UK stores to find you the best deal, helping you buy the right fridge at a cheap price. Our buyers guide will answer your questions, and then we’ll find you a great price.

Things to consider before buying your fridge

When selecting your fridge, the most important items to consider are your available space, your budget, and your food storage needs. Another consideration will be the energy efficiency of the appliance.

  • Dimensions: A standard fridge is 65cm deep and 50cm wide, but fridges are available that are considerably larger or smaller. When measuring your available space, you will need at least 2.5cm clearance on each side, the top, and the rear. This allows room for installation and future maintenance. It also provides circulation for the warm air produced by the unit.
  • Make sure you allow enough space to open the door. Some models offer the option of hanging the door so it can open from the left or the right, whichever works better for your kitchen. If this is a concern for your available space, check if this option is offered on the model you are considering.
  •  Capacity: This is usually measured in cubic feet, although it is occasionally expressed in cubic litres. The smallest fridges are 3.5 cubit feet, or about 100L, while the largest domestic fridges are 15.5 cubit feet, or 438L. For a single person household, 4-5 cubic feet is generally sufficient, while a family might require 9-11 cubic feet.
  • You should also determine your balance between fresh and frozen foods, as they can range for an even split to a 70/30 fresh/frozen division. If you have a separate freezer, you might consider a larder fridge that does not have a freezer compartment.
  • Climate class: Fridges are graded by the surrounding temperature at which they can operate effectively. SN, or sub-normal, operates in a room that is 10-32 degrees centigrade. N, normal, is for 16-32 degrees; ST, subtropical, is designed for 18-38, and T, tropical, is for 18-43 degrees. Most units sold in the UK are either SN or N climate classes, and most homes should have an N rating. SN fridges in the UK should be placed in an unheated space, such as a garage or cellar.
  • Even if you plan to buy online, it’s a good idea to inspect the unit’s quality at a retailer first if you can. Check the seals around the door. If they appear to be of poor quality or flimsy, don’t buy that model
  • Check the guarantee to see what is covered and for how long. You can buy an extended warranty if you like, but the standard warranty should provide repair or replacement for at least 6 to 12 months.

Environmental Considerations

Your fridge uses more energy than any other household appliance. After all, it has to function all day long, every day, to keep your food cold. By choosing an energy efficient model, you will not only reduce your energy bills, but you’ll also help reduce your environmental impact. For this reason, fridges are graded based on their energy efficiency, ranging from A+ to G, with A+ being the best. Any modern fridge will have a rating of B or higher. There is little difference between an A and A+ rating, but for anything below that, you will see a significant drop in efficiency.

While buying a more efficient fridge will cost you a little more up front, you will save money in the long run with lower energy bills.

Another environmental concern is how to dispose of your old fridge. Depending on the model you are discarding, there may be a Freon coolant or CFC-bearing insulation that can damage the ozone layer or CFC insulation. There are regulations concerning proper disposal of old fridges, including the requirement to remove the doors. With older models that used a latching mechanism, children could become trapped inside a discarded fridge. Although modern fridges use a magnetic gasket that allows the door to be opened from inside, children can still be harmed from playing inside.

For both environmental and safety reasons, make sure you check your local regulations when discarding your old fridge. Some companies will haul away your old appliance when they deliver the new one, either as a service or for a fee. If this is not an option where you buy your new fridge, look into an electrcal appliance removal service (your local council should be able to help) or used appliance dealer.

Optional Features

  • Adjustable Shelves let you change the height to fit your food storage needs. They may use grooves in the walls, notches and brackets, or a crank. The crank system is convenient when you need to adjust a full shelf.
  • Bacteria Guard, also called Microban or Hygiene, is available in some models to slow down bacterial growth, which keeps your food fresh longer. 
  •  Dual thermostats: separately control the temperature for the fridge and freezer compartments, which increases the energy efficiency and keeps your food at optimal temperatures.
  • Electronic Controls and Monitors: You can control and monitor the temperature with the push of a button. Models are even available that let you watch TV, play MP3s, or access the Internet. Others let you track your fridge contents, helping prevent forgotten food that goes to waste.
  • Fast Freeze lets you freeze foods more quickly, which helps retain their texture and vitamins better.
  • Frost Free, also known as No Frost or Lo Frost, eliminates the need to defrost your freezer compartment. This is usually a standard option, but it can increase your energy use by 30 per cent. Another alternative is auto-defrost, which can actually save energy.
  • Glass Shelves are more expensive than wire, but they maintain the temperature better, and they prevent spills from dripping to lower shelves.
  • An In-door Ice Caddy locates the ice storage to the freezer door, which gives you about 2 cubic feet (60 litres), or additional freezer space.
  • Power Failure Alerts warn if there was a power failure in your absence and may display the maximum temperature reached during the outage. This will alert you if your food defrosted or if your fresh food may be spoiled.
  • Water and ice dispensers are available with some larger American style fridges. Depending on the model, they may be directly plumbed into a water supply or they may use a reservoir system. For either type, there is a filter that must be changed periodically, so check that it will be easy to access.

Jargon Explained

Cubic feet A volume measurement that is equal to about 28.3 cubic litres. It represents a three-dimensional cube that measures 1 foot (0.3 metres) tall, 1 foot wide, and 1 foot deep. For fridges cubic feet refers to the food storage capacity. Depending on design and insulation, two different fridge models with the same exterior dimensions may not have the same storage capacity, so it’s important to compare the cubic feet.
Freon and CFCRefrigerants that were commonly used in fridges before it was determined they caused environmental damage. They are no longer used, but it is still a concern when disposing of older appliances

Buying Guide to Fridges
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