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Fridges Buyer's guide

Updated on July 2009 - by Digital Versus Guide d'achat Réfrigérateur

Fridges are the n°1 domestic household appliance; pretty much everyone has one! You have to admit, fridges do have a few plus points on their side: as well as being practical, everyone knows what they do and how they work without having to read the manual, they conserve your food hygienically and you don’t have to scratch your head too much before deciding where to put them. If only it were the same for all your other gadgets…

There is a choice to make however, as fridges come in at between 150 and 1500 euros! Minis for your kitchenette or enormous American models, they come in all sizes. Price and size are the main criteria when choosing, but aren’t the only factors. Energy consumption is now a major selling point as is design. As home deco moves on so does fridge design. You have your pick; white, black, red, yellow…

1 - Making a choice

The fridge on its own: without the freezer

It does the job and it does it well: it conserves your food at low temperature. You can go for a mini model to slot into the kitchenette or a large 150 litre (couple) or 250 litre (family size), in addition to any freezer capacity you might want on top. Mini-fridges are obviously pretty basic. Larger fridges can have fan cooling (air circulates inside the fridge to give more even temperature) and energy economy systems (energy class A+)

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Double door or combined fridge freezer

Frezers (positioned either above or below the fridge) are rated from 1 star (stocks food for several days) to 4 (conserves the food for several months and allows you to freeze fresh produce). Once again, size matters (from a small 40 litre freezer up to 100 litres). The number of compressors might be a factor in your choice: most fridges only have one, with one thermostat for adjusting temperature in both fridge and freezer. Models with two compressors allow you to turn off either the fridge or the freezer if you want to empty it or clean it out, without affecting the other.

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American style fridges: 2 doors, enormous

You’ll need plenty of space to fit one of these into: 1m75 wide on average, they have above average capacity. The fridges contain between 300 and 500 litres and the freezer from 80 to 250 litres.

The bottom end, at around 700 euros, are all pretty similar, with fan cooling systems, ice-makers and rapid freezing. The fridge / freezer parts have respective capacities of 350 and 170 litres. Already enough for a family’s needs.

When you go above 1000 euros, the main spec is similar but you’ll find higher capacity models and energy economy ratings of A+ or A++, instead of A.

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2 - The Science

The really important aspects of the spec

  • - Fan cooling :

    ensures an even temperature throughout the fridge and provides against frost.

  • - Energy class :

    evaluated from A to G, energy efficiency has become a major criteria in the purchase of a fridge. Manufacturers have put plenty of effort into this over the last few years. From class A (the best) to G (the worst), current fridges all fall within the first three, A, B and C. Even B and C class models are threatened with extinction: less than 10% of fridges on sale are class B and C. The distinction is now mainly within class A. You’ll now find A+ and even A++. This segment already makes up over 40% of fridges on offer; they consume 25% less energy than the A class.

  • - Freezer position :

    when the freezer is at the top, you’ll usually find that freezer capacity is down on models that position the freezer at the bottom (combis). Models where the freezer is placed on the left or right, down the whole length of one side, are referred to as American style, and they usually have double the volume of a freezer on a combi.

What you’ll need to go a bit further

  • - Net volume :

    this is fridge volume excluding the freezer. 150 to 200 litres are enough for two people. Family models start at 250 litres.

  • - Total volume of a combi :

    under 300 litres, quite compact, with a fairly small freezer (under 100 litres). American style often means over 500 litres in total, a third of which is allotted to the freezer.

  • - Design type :

    integrated fridges are designed for fitted kitchens. Freestanding models are often placed under a work surface.


Buyers Guide

Which fridge is right for you?

Which fridge is right for you?

Everything you need to know to find a fridge that meets your needs.

View buyers guides »

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