Fridge and Freezer Buying Guide

Faced with the abundance of styles and functions on offer, buying a new refrigerator can be a challenge.

The humble fridge no longer performs a purely practical function – now there's a host of aesthetic decisions to make all balanced against the usual budget and space constraints.

To help you choose the fridge that’s just right for you, we’ve prepared this handy buying guide.

Capacity

Your first consideration when buying a new fridge should be capacity. How many people live in your house? And how often do you throw parties or have people round for dinner?

Here is a loose guide to choosing the right fridge size for your household:

Family size

Combined fridge & freezer size

1-2 people

200-380 litres

3-4 people

350-530 litres

5+ people

440 litres +

If you're in doubt, the advice we normally offer customers in doubt is to go for the bigger fridge. You can never have too much space for grocery storage.

However, remember that shelving layout is a major space saver. Fridges with adjustable shelves are a plus because they allow you to optimise the storage space. Adjustable shelves are also convenient when hosting a party.

Make sure you thoroughly measure the space you have available prior to your purchase, also making sure you have enough room to properly open the doors.

Types of Refrigerators

Once you've figured out how many litres you need and how much space you've got to work with, you can make a decision about what type of fridge you would prefer.

Top Freezer Fridges

For many, a fridge with freezer on top is the perfect choice – plus they're generally the most affordable option. Top mount fridges are available in sizes ranging from around 200L up to about 500L. However one drawback is that they don't generally offer a large amount of freezer space, which doesn't make them the best option for long term bulk food storage.

Find out more in our Buying Guide for Top Freezer Fridges.

Bottom Freezer Fridges

The idea behind this style of fridge is that we tend to use the refrigerator section more frequently than we use the freezer section, so it saves you from bending down as often. One of the best advantages of having the freezer at the bottom is it makes it easier to reach the fruit and vegetable crisper bin. Sizes range from around 200L to 500L although they are not ideal for long term food storage due to their limited freezer capacity.

Find out more in our Buying Guide for Bottom Freezer Fridges.

Side by Side Fridges

Ranging in capacity from 550L to around 800L, side by side fridges are, to put it simply, big. Available in a range of stylish finishes, these giants feature a freezer on the left and refrigerator on the right – 'side by side'. These fridges have two doors which open outwards, and the fridge section is generally larger than the freezer.

Aside from the huge capacity, the great advantage of this style of fridge is that it makes it equally easy to access your fresh and frozen food.

Find out more in our Buying Guide for Side by Side Fridges.

3 & 4 Door Fridges

3 & 4 door fridges are another great choice for large families because they offer around 500L to 800L of storage capacity. Also known as 'French Door' refrigerators, these units feature a refrigerator section on top with a freezer section on the bottom. The fridge section has two doors which join in the centre and open outwards, while the freezer section will either feature one or two drawers which slide out, or two doors which open outwards.

It's the extra width which is these fridges' best asset – allowing you to store wide platters, cakes, pizzas, and more.

Find out more in our Buying Guide for 3 & 4 Door Fridges.

Pigeon Pairs

A 'pigeon pair' refers to a single-door refrigerator beside a separate but matching single-door upright freezer. Not only is this configuration visually appealing, it provides a vast amount of fridge and freezer space, making it an excellent investment for large households. Capacity wise, a pigeon pair can provide around 250L to 790L (combined total) of storage space.

Find out more in our Pigeon Pair/Upright Fridges & Freezers Buying Guide.

Bar Fridges

Perfect for your home bar or entertainment area, a bar fridge makes an incredibly handy addition to any home. Bar fridges are also great for studio apartments, college dormitories, or wherever space is an issue. Ranging in capacity from around 50L to 150L, most brands of bar fridge also offer a small ice box section for storing ice cubes, ice-creams and frozen veggies.

Find out more in our Bar Fridges Buying Guide.

Chest Freezers

Chest freezers are an excellent investment for large families because they make it possible to buy groceries in bulk. As a general rule, chest freezers are more energy efficient than upright freezers because less cold air escapes when the door is opened.

Our range of chest freezers are available in small (around 150L) to very large (up to around 700L).

Find out more in our Chest Freezer Buying Guide.

Other Factors to Consider

With the increasing sophistication of fridge technology, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of functions, accessories and variations on offer.

Here are some details worth considering:

Energy Rating: A fridge uses more energy than just about any other appliance, so investing in a quality model – with high standards of energy efficiency – is recommended.

Check the Energy Rating label on each fridge. The more stars displayed, the more energy efficient the model. Additionally, common sense dictates that the larger the fridge capacity, the more energy it is going to use – which is why it's important to choose the right size fridge to suit your needs.

Generally speaking, top freezer fridges tend to have reasonably good energy efficiency ratings. Another thing to look out for is fridges with an Eco or Holiday mode – which help to conserve energy during periods when the fridge is not being used as often.

Non-synthetic R600a refrigerant: Some fridges use a non-synthetic refrigerant (R600a) which has a significantly lower global warming potential and a shorter life in the atmosphere than the hydrofluorocarbon R134a.

Stainless steel doors: The stainless steel look has become popular in recently years because it is sleek, clean and professional. However one of the drawbacks of stainless steel is it's prone to collecting fingerprints and smudges. Some brands counter this problem with 'fingerprint resistant' stainless steel or brushed stainless steel. Other models come with a special stainless steel cleaning kit to keep your fridge looking shiny and beautiful.

Please note that models with high grade stainless steel finishes are non-magnetic – so you won't be able to stick magnets to the fridge door. Most fridge doors are slightly curved, however some higher end models have perfectly flat fronts to create a designer aesthetic.

However, the stainless steel look isn't to everyone's taste. The classic white look is still the most cost-effective option, and it's easy to keep clean using a damp soapy cloth.

Another option is the retro look, which has become quite popular in recent times. For example, the Smeg FAB fridge range combines bright colours and retro styling (with modern refrigeration technology) to give your kitchen a sense of personality.

Alternatively, black appliances are currently enjoying a comeback. The Electrolux Ebony range is a good example of this trend.

Ventilation: Fridges and freezers produce quite a bit of heat. If you squeeze your fridge into a space that's too small, this heat will have nowhere to go and you will risk overheating the appliance.

The amount of ventilation space required for a fridge or freezer varies depending on the model and the manufacturer, but 2cm either side and 3cm at the top and back is a good rule of thumb.

Temperature/Humidity Controls: Selected models offer electronic temperature controls which offer greater precision than manual dials. It is also useful to look for a fridge which allows you to control the temperature of the fridge and freezer separately.

The more advanced models allow you to set different temperatures within certain areas of the fridge. For example, some fridges offer a 'chill' compartment which is ideal for keeping meat and other perishables fresher for longer. Some fridges also provide a 'drinks chill' option to quickly bring champagne and other drinks down to an ideal serving temperature. Similarly, some freezers provide a 'turbo freeze' option to quickly freeze food that has been recently added to the freezer.

Humidity levels affect the freshness of your fruit and vegetables. Most fridge models supply a crisper bin to prevent your veggies from drying out, but the more advanced fridge models allow you to exactly control the humidity levels to best suit whatever it is you're storing. For example, leafy greens require high humidity levels (otherwise they will wilt), while low humidity levels are better for things like pumpkin, onions and garlic.

Lighting: We all know the frustration of trying to find a missing item inside a poorly lit fridge. Some refrigerators feature interior lighting right down the back panel of the fridge which lights the shelves more effectively than a roof light.

LED lighting is more energy efficient than traditional lighting, and it also emits less heat. This is an advantage because even slight temperature fluctuations can affect the lifespan of your food.

Some models also offer a freezer light, which makes an incredibly convenient addition. No more groping around in the dark for that missing bag of peas!

Adjustable glass shelves: Recommended – they offer flexible storage options and are easy to clean. Glass is sturdier than plastic and it also helps to retain the cold air.

Look out for shelving with spill proofing – some brands can prevent spills of up to 1 litre from dripping to the shelves below.

Door opening direction: When buying a top or bottom mount fridge (or a pigeon pair), make sure you know in advance which way you want the doors open. Some brands provide the option of manually reconfiguring the door to open a different way (using a special kit) however it's easier to simply buy a fridge that suits your requirements from day 1.

Water and ice dispensers: A filtered water and ice dispenser in the front of the fridge door is very convenient, but it can increase the price of the fridge and take up storage space. Please note that these dispensers must be plumbed in by a licensed tradesman.

Another option is to buy a fridge with a twisting ice cube tray that is located above an ice storage box. (Some models even come with a stylish bucket and scoop!) This is a handy addition for anyone who entertains frequently.

Air deodorisers: They keep your fridge smelling fresh by using an active carbon filter to absorb unpleasant odours.

Anti-bacterial agents: Some fridges have anti-bacterial agents built into the fridge to prevent the growth of mould and other harmful bacteria. For example, selected model Samsung fridges feature a Silver Nano Health System™ coated on the inner walls of the fridge to prevent bacteria and fungi from multiplying. This gives you fresher food and a more hygienic fridge environment.

Please call us if you have any questions

Our customer service people are hand-picked for their fridge and freezer expertise. If you have any questions feel free to contact us on 1300 000 500.