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Fridges to avoid buying

Beware these sub-par shockers that rated lowest in our lab tests. 

illustration of two fridges with crosses
Last updated: 07 December 2023

Need to know

  • Our lab experts have tested more than 80 currently available fridge models to find the best performers and the ones to avoid
  • We assess and score fridges based on their performance and efficiency, looking at factors such as temperature stability, how long they keep food fresh, 10-year running costs and more
  • CHOICE members have exclusive access to our detailed fridge reviews, as well as reviews for thousands of other everyday products

When it comes to buying a fridge, the number of options on the market can be both staggering and stressful. There's the question of which brand to choose, the size you need, the features, the finish and whether it will even fit into your kitchen.

Then there's the vital issue of price versus performance – which model will do the job best within your budget? Choose badly and you could be stuck with a dud for years.

graham byrne fridge

CHOICE has been testing fridges in our accredited labs for decades.

That's why CHOICE has been methodically testing fridges for decades. We assess key criteria including food freshness, temperature stability and evenness, and 10-year running costs.

We've reviewed more than 80 popular, currently available models in our certified labs to cut through the advertising spin and help you decide.

Along the way, our experts have uncovered some impressive fridges alongside some seriously poor performers that scored below 50%. Not only do some of them cost thousands of dollars, they'll also struggle to keep your food fresh, adding to the expense over the years.

We don't want you to end up with a dud buy, so here are the products that scored lowest in our lab tests. Consider becoming a CHOICE member to see the best performers.

Past contenders

In the past, we've warned consumers to avoid a number of ordinary fridges. Some highlights include:

"These fridges all performed terribly in our tests, and we named and shamed them," says CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley Iredale"They've subsequently been discontinued by the manufacturers."

Now Smeg is back with a brand-new invention: another poor-performing (but expensive) fridge. At least they're consistent. Read on to find out more. 

But first, the Samsung fridge that scored even less than the $4000 Smeg fridge that flunked our testing

samsung srt3100b

It's pretty, but also pretty ordinary: the Samsung SRT3100B.

Samsung SRT3100B

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 39%
  • Temperature stability score: 22%
  • Price: $850

Its sleek black stainless steel exterior may catch your eye, but don't be fooled: this Samsung's beauty is only skin deep. Open the door and you'll be sadly disappointed. 

If you use it straight out of the box, you'll likely find your fresh food frozen – on its default setting, the fresh food compartment measures below 0°C. The optimal temperature for a fridge is 3°C. 

Most people don't change the factory settings, so if the default settings are off from the get-go you won't get good performance from your fridge. Our experts recommend you test your new fridge with a thermometer and adjust as needed – but unfortunately the controls on the SRT3100B are difficult to use, so good luck setting the right temperature. 

And even if you manage to land on the right temperature, it's still unlikely to keep your food at the right temperatures to stop it going off. It has trouble maintaining a stable temperature, especially in the freezer, so you can say goodbye to perfectly-frozen icecream and perfectly-formed ice cubes. 

Read the full Samsung SRT3100B review

smeg fab32rpb5au

The FAB32RPB5AU: a follow-up fridge flop from Smeg.


  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 43%
  • Temperature stability score: 0%
  • Price: $3990

Smeg's done it again with another second-rate fridge. To give credit where it's due, this one is slightly better than its predecessors – but not much. 

While you'd think the company would've improved upon the poor temperature stability that sealed its fate as manufacturer of the "worst fridge ever", it seems Smeg hasn't bothered: the new FAB32 scored 0% for temperature stability. 

The temperature is also not evenly distributed, with the top shelf section recording significantly warmer temperatures than the bottom. 

Between the sketchy temperature stability and warm patches, your food is likely to go off faster, adding extra dollars to your grocery bill – which many of us can ill afford in the cost of living crisis.

And it has a huge price tag for a fridge this size: nearly $4000 for a fridge we classify as "small". So you're not getting much bang for your buck in terms of size or performance with this fridge. 

Read the full Smeg FAB32RPB5AU review.

bosch kfn96vpeaa

Bosch KFN96VPEAA: $3000 for a fridge that scored just 13% for temperature stability.


  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 43%
  • Temperature stability score: 13%
  • Price: $3099

Bosch has also made several appearances in our list of poor performers. 

Our last fridge review featured a 652L, $2198 Bosch fridge that scored just 45% overall and was rated just 5% for temperature stability.

This time it's a $3000 French door model that's marginally better on temperature stability, but only just: it scored 13% on this test. Like the Samsung above, it couldn't hold a stable temperature in the freezer, and also in the fresh food compartment. 

It performed worse than a number of cheaper French door fridges, so avoid making a $3000 mistake by checking our detailed fridge reviews before you buy. 

Read the full Bosch KFN96VPEAA review.

kelvinator ktm5402wc

Kelvinator KTM5402WC: unstable temperature stability.

Kelvinator KTM5402WC

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 45%
  • Response to outside temperature score: 35%
  • Price: $1349

This 503L fridge was so underwhelming that our experts literally couldn't find any good points to mention in our review. They rated it as 'Poor' for some of the basic things a fridge should do, like keep your food fresh and maintain the same temperature.

When we tested its temperature stability, it absolutely bombed out, which means you could end up with your ice cream melted and re-frozen, for example. It wasn't quite as bad as the Bosch in this regard, but it's still pretty terrible.

For the price, you can definitely do better.

Read the full Kelvinator KTM5402WC review

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.