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Fridges to avoid buying

These not-so-hot fridges have chillingly low scores.

illustration of two fridges with crosses
Last updated: 08 May 2024

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, running costs and more
  • Become a CHOICE member for exclusive access to our detailed fridge reviews, as well as reviews for thousands of other products

There's a staggering number of fridges on the market – all with different features, finishes, sizes and more.

Not to mention the huge range of prices: anywhere from hundreds to many thousands of dollars. It's a big investment, and if you choose badly you could be stuck with a dud for years.

So how can you find out which model will do the best job for your budget?

CHOICE has been testing fridges for decades to help you find the best fridge for your needs

That's why CHOICE has been methodically testing fridges for decades: to help you find the best fridge for your needs.

graham byrne fridge

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

We assess key criteria including how fresh they keep your food, whether they maintain a stable temperature, how much energy they use, and how much they'll cost to run.

We've reviewed 80 popular, currently available fridges 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, costing you even more 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.


It's pretty, but also pretty ordinary: the Smeg FAB32RRDNA1.

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."

haier hrf420bec

The Haier HRF420BEC scores less than the Shonky Ikea Nedkyld fridge.

Haier HRF420BEC

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 37%
  • Temperature stability score: 0%
  • Price: $1199

Remember the Ikea fridge above? It scored 39% – which means that this Haier scored even lower than a fridge so bad that we awarded it a Shonky (the award no-one wants to win).

Our experts' criticisms of this fridge are uncannily similar to their comments about the Ikea Nedkyld: namely, that it failed the energy check (meaning it uses more energy than its star rating suggests), and has poor scores for food safety and temperature stability.

This Haier scored even lower than a fridge so bad that we awarded it a Shonky

The only positive feedback the Haier garnered was about its heat load processing ability, which measures whether a fridge can operate efficiently when you put hot food inside. 

But considering that it can't keep food fresh thereafter, it's not exactly a selling point.

Read the full Haier HRF420BEC 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 FAB32 scored 0% for temperature stability. 

Between the sketchy temperature stability and warm patches, your food is likely to go off faster

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.

haier hrf420bhc

The temperature in this Haier fridge has more swings than a baseball game.

Haier HRF420BHC

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 43%
  • Temperature stability score: 6%
  • Price: $1299

Aside from the two models above, this fridge received the lowest temperature stability score of the 80 fridges in our review. 

For context, the best fridges we tested scored 90% on this metric – so 6% isn't just bad, it's shockingly bad.

Our lab experts rigorously assess each fridge, measuring the temperature at 12 different points in the fresh food compartment over a period of seven days to get an accurate picture of how much the temperature changes. This fridge's temperature fluctuated by a huge 10.5°C, and the freezer by 7°C. 

This fridge's temperature fluctuated by a huge 10.5°C, and the freezer by 7°C

These kinds of wild variations mean the fridge doesn't do its one and only job:  keep your food cold (or frozen).

"When it comes to temperature evenness, large fluctuations are bad," says Ashley.

"Large fluctuations can move your fresh food away from the ideal temperature of 3°C and, in extreme cases, may mean it's freezing and thawing again – or worse, getting warm enough to be in the food 'danger zone' where harmful bacteria can multiply. 

"While temperature stability is not as critical for frozen food as it is for fresh food, large fluctuations can take your frozen food out of the safe zone for long-term food storage, shortening the life of your freezer contents."

We've found plenty of other fridges around the same price as this Haier that will actually keep your food cold, so check our review to find the best fridges for your budget. 

Read the full Haier HRF420BHC 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 Bosch performed worse than a number of cheaper French door fridges

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 Haiers and Smeg above, it couldn't hold a stable temperature in the freezer or 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.

Kelvinator KTM5402WC

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 45%
  • Temperature stability score: 29%
  • Price: $1249

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.

This fridge was so underwhelming that our experts literally couldn't find any good points to mention in our review

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.