What to consider when buying a fridge

21 Jan 2013

The purpose of a refrigerator/freezer is to keep beverages cool, make ice and to freeze certain food.

Refrigerators are permanently on and tend to use more energy than other appliances so it important to consider the energy rating of the refrigerator before you buy it.

Liam Gawne from Miele says because a refrigerator is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is important to choose the best quality model you can afford.

There are a wide variety of refrigerators on the market, offering various extra features, which can make the task of choosing a model overwhelming. Gawne suggests a few things homeowners should consider when looking to buy a fridge.

Different types

Bottom-freezers include a freezer compartment below the fridge. The freezer usually comprises of pullout drawers instead of shelving. These models are convenient as the fridge is at eye-level, providing convenient access. The freezer, which isn’t accessed quite as often, is located out of the way below.

Separate side-by-sides is two completely separate appliances that have been specially designed to stand next to each other, giving the impression of being a single appliance. They have a freezer on one side and a fridge on the other.

Gawne says the bonus about having a model like this is that you can configure the choice of appliances to suit your individual preferences. If you need more refrigerator space, you can choose a separate fridge, or you can choose three appliances, such as two fridges set aside a single freezer. They are also smaller than their single side-by-side counterparts, which makes them easier to manoeuvre and transport.

Modern refrigerators often have a feature which automatically produces ice, ensuring that you have access to ice cubes whenever you require them.

Ultimately, the refrigerator should complement the design and style of the kitchen and in open plan kitchens, it should help create a seamless flow from one room to the next.

The finishing touch

Gawne says a refrigerator’s finish is important. They are commonly available in white, and for a price, in a number of bright colours as well. "However, refrigerators with a stainless steel finish have become all the rage." But, stainless steel can be difficult to keep looking good as it shows dirty smudges and fingerprints more than other finishes.

Consider the size

If you are building a new kitchen, Gawne recommends that you work out exactly which refrigerator you are going to purchase beforehand, so that you can accommodate it in the cabinetry design. If you are buying a refrigerator for an existing kitchen, it is essential to measure the height, width and depth of the area in which it must fit before you go shopping. Gawne reminds homeowners to allow a few centimetres above and behind the unit for air to circulate and make sure there is room for the doors to open.

Consider the environment and save money

Remember to measure the space where your new fridge would go, allowing a few centimetres above and behind the unit for air to circulate and make sure there is room for the doors to open.

Refrigerators are permanently on and tend to use more energy than other appliances. It is estimated that they can consume as much as 20 percent of your monthly electricity usage. Therefore, it is important to consider the energy rating of the refrigerator before you buy it.

Brands that offer energy saving models will probably bear the European Union energy label. This indicates the energy efficiency rated in terms of a set of energy efficiency classes from “A” to “G” on the label – with A-rated appliances being the most energy efficient and G-rated appliances being the least efficient. Gawne suggests that consumers should also buy the best quality machines that they can afford as the longer a machine lasts, the less carbon footprint it will leave.

Added features

Modern refrigerators offer a host of added features, which make them function better and more convenient to operate.

  • Ice on demand is an automatic icemaker, ensuring that you have access to ice cubes whenever you require them.
     
  • A temperature controlled environment allows you to set the temperature just above freezing point and adjust humidity levels to create the most perfect storage conditions for fresh produce.
     
  • Well-designed drawers should run on telescopic runners to make easy and silent work of opening and closing the drawers. In most Meile refrigerator models, the drawers make fruit, vegetables, fish and meat stay fresh for up to three times longer than in standard refrigerator compartments, says Gawne.
     
  • The interior needs to be easily cleaned to maintain optimum hygiene and cleanliness.
     
  • Fan-assisted cooling prevents layering. The fan is installed in the rear of the unit to ensure the uniform distribution of temperature and humidity throughout the cabinet.
     
  • Defrosting your fridge can be a time-consuming and messy business, especially if the freezer gets encrusted with ice over time. Some refrigerators can prevent the formation of ice by continuously circulating cool air throughout.
     
  • No smell: A good quality refrigerator should boast an air filter in order to reduce pungent smells generated by food items such as cheese, fish or garlic for example and ensure a pleasant microclimate within the refrigerator.
     
  • It becomes a weight issue when consumers store more items in their refrigerator doors, which then places stress on the doors hinges. Excessive weight can eventually lead to door sagging or the door’s gasket leaking. As such, it is important to ensure that the refrigerator’s door hinges are strong. 

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