Maybe it's just where I grew up, but fridges with ice and water dispensers in the door were the height of luxury when I was a kid. Press a button and like magic you'd have ice-cold water or a glass full of clinking ice cubes. These fridges represented having Made It In Life – if you had one, you'd reached the zenith of coolness (in more ways than one).
Fast forward to adulthood and owning a fridge with a water and ice dispenser is still a somewhat-achievable symbol of middle-class affluence that many of us aspire to. Plus, they're genuinely quite handy.
Here's what you need to know about fridges with water and ice dispensers. Plus, exclusively for CHOICE members, we'll reveal which ones are worth the money.
If you just want to get straight to the best products, you can jump to the results now.
How much do I need to spend to get a fridge with an ice or water dispenser?
Most fridges with ice and water dispensers are either French door or side-by-side models, so if this is a feature you're fantasising about, you'll already be looking at the more expensive end of the market.
And you will inevitably pay more for a fridge with fancy features – no surprises there.
A fridge with a water dispenser is likely to cost you a minimum of $1299 for a freezer-on-top model, and up to more than $4500 for a French door fridge.
Add in an ice dispenser as well and the minimum price goes up even further: $2299 for a side-by-side model and $2599 for a French door.
However, it's worth noting that of all the fridges with ice dispensers, one of the least expensive models was rated highest by our experts – so paying more doesn't necessarily mean you'll get better performance.
What are the downsides of a fridge with an ice or water dispenser?
There are a few drawbacks to fridges with this fancy feature.
They take up fridge/freezer space
Those dispensers have to fit somewhere, and they'll eat into the useable storage space in your fridge or freezer. An ice dispenser can take up almost 30% of your freezer space. For side-by-side fridges, this is an especially big issue because the freezer space is already quite narrow.
Ice trays aren't really that difficult to use, so it's worth asking yourself whether having an ice dispenser is actually worth the tradeoffs.
Of course, if you fancy yourself as a home bartender, an ice dispenser may be a must-have for you. If you want to get really fancy, you can now get fridges that make 'craft ice' – those huge, clear spheres of ice you get in overpriced cocktails at trendy bars now. LG makes these fridges, and some Samsung fridges make ice cubes in two different sizes.
Fridges with water dispensers are a great way for kids to DIY hydration.
Installation costs (for plumbed-in models)
There's also the question of how to get the water into your fridge – some models may need to be plumbed in, so don't forget to factor the cost into the purchase price. You may need to modify your kitchen if you don't already have the necessary fittings installed, so the cost can vary. You'll also need to factor in the cost of regularly replacing the water filter.
Refilling the water (for models with a water container)
Other models use a container inside the fridge door to supply water to the dispenser. You won't have to worry about plumbing costs, but you will need to refill them, which is a bit of a pain and somewhat defeats the purpose of having the convenience of cold water from your fridge. It's pretty much the same as just having a jug of water in the fridge. (Although this obviously lacks the style factor of a water dispenser!)
Can you get a top- or bottom-mount fridge with a water and ice dispenser?
An old-school ice tray like this might be your best bet if you want more freezer space.
Yes, you can. But they're less common than French door or side-by-side styles.
In our entire fridges review of more than 80 products, only four models with water dispensers are top- or bottom-mount style.
They also don't score as well as larger fridges – the highest-scoring fridge in this category only managed to hit 75%. By comparison, the highest-scoring French door fridge with a water dispenser hit a high of 86%.
They are a bit cheaper than their larger cousins, and they generally only come with a water dispenser – so if you're looking for an ice-dispensing fridge for a small space, you're likely out of luck.
Some of these fridges do come with an ice drawer, however, which is a good space-saving alternative that still allows you fact access to plenty of ice.
On the upside, single-width fridges cost less to run than French door or side-by-side fridges: the 10-year running cost for French door fridges in our current test ranges from $1020 to $1950. By comparison, the 10-year running cost for top- or bottom-mount fridges in our current test ranges from $606 to $1401. And these figures are likely to rise as energy prices increase.
Australia's best fridge brand
Which brand of fridge should you buy? By analysing our test results and taking member feedback into consideration, we've identified the best brands of the year. Here's how the brands compare:
Best fridge brands for 2022: LG and Mitsubishi Electric
Best fridge brand 2022 scores:
- LG – 79%
- Mitsubishi Electric – 79%
- Fisher & Paykel – 78%
- Electrolux – 75%
It's important to note that the performance of specific product models may vary quite significantly, so don't assume that one brand's products are the best across the many different features, functions and price points.
For more information about CHOICE Best Brand recommendations, check our guide to buying a great fridge.
And exclusively for CHOICE members, we'll reveal our independent data on brand reliability and brand satisfaction below.
What are the best fridges with water and ice dispensers?
We independently test and review dozens of new fridges each year in our onsite labs, and our experts know exactly what to look for to help you find the best product.
Our detailed fridge testing data is available exclusively for CHOICE members. If you're not yet a member, join CHOICE to get instant access to all of our expert, independent reviews, from fridges and freezers, toasters and TVs, kettles and cots, and more.
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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.
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