Modern fridges are sophisticated machines with many extra features, including drink dispensers, freezer cabinets and even touch-screens for leaving notes for other members of your household. There are so many choices available these days that shopping for a new fridge can be a bewildering experience. Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect fridge for your family.
How to Choose the Best Fridge for You
Most people want a fridge to store dairy products, fresh meat and vegetables. If that’s all you want your fridge to do, then there are just a couple of things you need to consider when buying a fridge:
- How much food you usually need to store: If you live by yourself, then you probably don’t need a large fridge-freezer. If you are part of a large family and you frequently cook from scratch, then you will need a fridge that has a capacity of at least 400 litres. Some American-style fridge-freezers have capacities of 650 litres or more.
- How much space you have in the kitchen: The size and layout of your kitchen will dictate whether you should opt for separate fridge and freezer units or a taller combo. Measure your kitchen carefully and make sure that you will be able to open the door of your new fridge fully. In addition, make sure that you, and the other members of your household, will be able to reach the highest shelf of the fridge comfortably.
Some other features that you may want to think about include:
- The number of shelves you need: If you do a lot of cooking from scratch, look for a fridge with lots of adjustable shelves and drawers so that you can keep ingredients organized easily.
- Extra features: Drink dispensers and easy access ice-cube trays are must-haves for some people and merely “nice extras” for others. Some features, such as anti-microbial coatings, are a waste of money, since the areas of the fridge that are likely to come into contact with food, such as the trays and shelves, are not treated with the coating. Think carefully before spending a lot of money on these extra features.
- The noise rating: Depending on where you plan to keep your fridge, noise may be an issue. Look at the decibel rating of the fridge freezer unit. A lower decibel rating means a quieter appliance.
- Colour and finish: Modern fridges come in all kinds of colours and finishes, not just “appliance white”. Choose a finish that complements the rest of your kitchen.
Choosing a New Fridge on Dimensions
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you can simply replace your existing fridge with a new one that is roughly the same size. Just because two fridges are the same height, width and depth it doesn’t mean that they are a perfect match in other dimensions.
You need to make sure that there is at least two inches of space on the hinge side of the fridge to allow the door to open without it catching the wall. In addition, there should be a gap of at least one inch at the rear of the fridge, and at the top, for ventilation purposes.
Another important thing to consider is how much space the fridge doors take up when they are open. Some fridges are perfectly usable with the door opened 90 degrees, others require the door to swing further open to allow easy access to salad drawers and other storage areas. Make sure that you will still be able to move around in the kitchen when the door is open.
If a traditional fridge takes up too much space, consider a fridge with French doors or side-by-side doors instead.
Finally, consider how you will get the new appliance into your home. If your kitchen is right next to your front or back door, then moving the appliance into position should be a fairly simple task. However, if you need to navigate your new fridge through a lobby or down a corridor, you should measure the amount of space available there too – you may need to move some furniture before the delivery men arrive.
Choosing an American Fridge Freezer
American style fridge freezers are a good option for large families. These fridge freezers offer twice the storage space of traditional fridge freezers. Instead of having the fridge at the top of the unit, and the freezer below, the two compartments are side-by-side.
American style fridge freezers are quite power hungry. On average, fridge freezers account for 20% of a household’s annual electricity bill. American style fridge freezers cost more to run than standard units, so could cost you even more. The good news, however, is that all brand new fridge freezers on the market today are required, under EU law, to have an energy rating of A+ or better. This means that if you have a very old fridge freezer with a lower (or no) energy rating, you could save money in the long run by upgrading to a more energy efficient model.
You can cut running costs even more by making sure that you keep your fridge in a room that is kept within the unit’s “climate class”. The climate class is the range of temperatures that the fridge is designed to operate within. Fridges are not designed to be kept in cold garages. Many people do get away with keeping their fridge in un-heated conservatories and garages without the fridges breaking down, but the temperature fluctuations will make the fridge work harder, and it costs more to run a fridge in less than optimal conditions.
Do You Really Need an American Style Fridge Freezer?
If you aren’t sure whether to opt for large traditional separates or an American style fridge freezer, consider the following:
- Do you want the added features, such as a built-in ice maker?
- Do you have the required plumbing in place for those features?
- Can you afford the increased running costs?
- Do you have space on both sides of the fridge for the double doors to open?
- Do you want an equally sized fridge and freezer or for one compartment to be bigger than the other?
- Do you want LED lighting which illuminates the entire fridge or are you happy with a single light at the top?
Once you have made a wish list of the features that you want for your new fridge, measure the area where it will live carefully. Your new fridge should last for many years, so make sure it’s a perfect fit for your home.