Fridge and freezer buying guide

Side by side or upside down? Find the right fridge and freezer for your needs.
 
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01.Which fridge is right for you?

Already ready to buy? See the CHOICE comparison of fridges and freezers . Read our reliability survey on fridges.

There are three basic models of fridge to choose from:

Top mount

Fridge - freezer on topIf price, range, efficiency and value are your biggest concern, this is the design for you.

Pros

  • The most economically priced.
  • The most economical and energy efficient to run.
  • Generally the greatest range of products available.

Cons

  • You have to bend down to use the fridge.

Video: Five things you need to know before buying a fridge

Expert tips from our fridge tester.

Bottom mount

Fridge - freezer on bottomThis is all about the convenience factor — it's easy to use.

Pros

  • Logical design — what you use most is at eye level.
  • Less bending — this can save your back.
  • Freezer design often with handy slide-out baskets.
  • Bigger range now becoming available.

Cons

  • Costs more
  • Crispers may be too cold (being so close to the freezer) and may ice-burn your vegies.
  • Can be slower to chill especially in the freezer.
  • Less energy efficient.

Side-by-side

Fridge - side by sideIf you're an entertainer, or have an active family, the extra features and space can be very useful.

Pros

  • Wide range of features available, including ice cube and/or water dispensers.
  • Better for walkways spaces or other areas where you can't have a large swinging door.
  • Generally the greatest storage capacity.
  • Can offer good access for people in wheelchairs.

Cons

  • Are inefficient overall in their use of space.
  • Ice-cube maker/ water chiller can take up a lot of freezer space.
  • Can be quite narrow and don't always fit in a pizza box or frozen turkey.
  • Can't be put in a tight corner and need an overall large space to fit.
  • Freezer access can be awkward.
  • Temperature fluctuations can be very different between top and bottom of fridge.

What size is right?

A good rule of thumb is that a family of two needs between 250-285 L of space in a fridge, and you should add 28.5 litres for each additional family member after that. Add freezer space on top of that. The bigger the fridge, the more features, the better the efficiency per litre and the better performance. If in doubt, get the bigger fridge. 

Which freezer is right for you?

If you want the maximum amount of storage possible, but don’t have a lot of space, an upright freezer would be your best bet. But chest freezers are better performers when it comes to freezing, and are generally cheaper to buy and to run.

Chest freezers

Pros

  • Generally outperform their upright counterparts.
  • Are cheaper to buy than uprights.
  • Are also generally more efficient which makes them cheaper to run.
  • In power blackouts, they keep your goods cooler for longer.

Cons

  • Are harder to load and unload because you need to bend over to reach items. This could make them difficult to use for anyone with a bad back or mobility issues.
  • While some models have lift out baskets and vertical dividers, they are harder to keep organised — you might end up rifling through all your frozen goods to find the frozen chicken you’re looking for.
  • Most chest freezers need to be manually defrosted which can be a lot of work — and this needs to be done periodically.

Upright freezers

Pros

  • Open like a normal fridge and are easier to load and unload than chests.
  • Have shelves or drawers that allow you to easily organise your frozen goods.
  • Most models are frost-free so you don’t have to defrost them.

Cons

  • Their freezing performance is generally not as good as chest models.
  • They are more expensive to buy and to run than chest freezers.

Pigeon pairs

If you’re still sold on an upright – and you’re planning to update your fridge as well – you might consider buying a pigeon pair. These are separate but matching fridge and freezer. These give you more options for storage than a side-by-side combined fridge/freezer, but will take up more space and have a much wider footprint.

Because of the wider footprint, they're more suitable for a new or renovated kitchen that's been designed with them in mind. However, unlike side by sides, you have the option of not putting the two components next to each other - you can put the freezer in another room.

If you're keen on plenty of freezer space, pigeon pairs generally have more than side by sides unless you go for a very big side by side. At around 600L, side by sides tend to have a narrow freezer compartment - you need to go up to around 800L to get a good sized freezer, so a pigeon pair could be a better, more flexible option. Keep in mind that very large fridges of all kinds can be difficult to get into the house. Check the measurements of bottlenecks like doorways, hallways, staircases and lifts before you buy.

Our experience suggests you may be able to negotiate a better price with the retailer than the sum of the two components when buying a pigeon pair together.

 
 

 

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