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The Which? guide to buying the best fridge freezer

A great fridge freezer will hold all of your fresh and frozen groceries, chilling and freezing food quickly to help keep it fresher for longer. Buying a fridge freezer is typically cheaper than forking out for a separate fridge and freezer for your kitchen. It will take up less space, too.

Fridge freezers come in various sizes - from compact 130cm-tall models to cavernous American-style ones - allowing you to choose the size that gives the storage space you need, fits the space you have in your kitchen and suits your budget. Find out more in this guide, and in the video above.

Which type of fridge freezer should I buy?

This will depend on how much food you need to store and the amount of space you have in your kitchen. To help you choose, here are the pros and cons of the different types available.

Freestanding fridge freezers

Freestanding fridge freezers - These are the most popular type, so there are lots of models to choose between. You can put them anywhere in your kitchen, providing there’s a plug socket close by.

Freestanding models are typically 55cm, 60cm or 65cm wide and 60-65cm deep. They come in a range of heights: from 123cm-high versions to fit under a high kitchen cupboard, to extra tall 210cm-and-over models which offer more storage space.

Pros:

  • Cheaper to buy and run than American and integrated fridge freezers
  • Greater choice of size, colour, features and prices to choose from
  • Easy to fit into your kitchen
  • You can take it with you when you move house

Cons:

  • Bulkier than integrated fridge freezers
  • Can dominate the space in a small kitchen

Slimline fridge freezers

If you don’t have much space, choose a slightly smaller freestanding model. These are typically 50-55cm wide by 50-60cm deep.

Pros:

  • Ideal for small kitchens
  • Can squeeze them into tight spaces
  • They have a smaller footprint than most freestanding models so they’re less likely to protrude into your kitchen

Cons:

  • Less storage space
  • Fewer models to choose between

Top-mounted freezers

These have a large fridge and a small freezer section on top. They’re great if you buy a lot of fresh food and don’t need much freezer space.

Pros:

  • Offer a huge amount of storage space for fresh food
  • Shorter than most fridge freezers, and more likely to fit under a high kitchen cupboard
  • Ideal if you have a separate freezer elsewhere in your home
  • Includes popular retro-style fridge freezers from brands such as Smeg

Cons:

  • Won’t hold much frozen food
  • Limited number of models to choose from
  • Retro-style models are expensive

Integrated fridge freezers

Integrated fridge freezers - These sit behind kitchen cupboard doors so they become a part of the kitchen itself. They’re only an option if you’re replacing an existing built-in model or you’re buying a whole new kitchen. They’re designed to fit within the dimensions of a typical 60cm x 60cm kitchen unit.

Pros:

  • Look great and give your kitchen a sleek, seamless look
  • Your fridge freezer is hidden from view
  • Won’t protrude into your kitchen

Cons:

  • Much more expensive than freestanding models
  • More expensive to run
  • Fewer models to choose between

American-style fridge freezers

American-style fridge freezers - You can fit a huge amount of fresh and frozen food in these appliances, which makes them a good choice for large households. They’re only really suitable if you have a big kitchen as they’re larger and bulkier than freestanding models - they can be more than 90cm wide and 70cm deep, so measure up carefully before you buy.

Pros:

  • Allow you to store lots of fresh and frozen food
  • They look great
  • Useful features - such as a frost-free freezer, digital displays and chiller cabinets - tend to come as standard
  • Many come with water and ice dispensers

Cons:

  • More expensive to buy and run than conventional fridge freezers
  • Take up lots of space and may be difficult to deliver if your doorways are narrow
  • Most with water and ice dispensers will need to be plumbed into the mains water supply, and so need to be sited close to it

Which size of fridge freezer is right for me?

Think about whether you want more fridge or freezer space. If you eat a lot of fresh groceries, choose a model with a larger fridge section - you can buy some with a 70:30 fridge-to-freezer ratio. And if you like to bulk buy and freeze fresh food or cook batches of meals to freeze for later, choose one with a 4-drawer freezer rather than the typical 3 drawers.

Whichever fridge freezer you decide on, it’s crucial to get the dimensions right. With some models, you’ll need to factor in extra space at the sides, back and/or top to allow air to circulate, so it’s important to double check your measurements before you buy. 

What about an American-style fridge freezer with a water dispenser?

Most of these have to be plumbed into the mains water supply, so they can be difficult and expensive to install. Plus, the water filters need changing frequently and can cost as much as £90 a time, so it’s well worth checking this out before you part with your cash.

Some don’t need to be plumbed in as they have jugs you fill from the tap - which means you can put them anywhere in your kitchen. But these only hold 2-3 litres of water, so you’ll have to top them up frequently if you have a thirsty household. Plus, these won’t filter your water.

Because they hold more food than conventional fridge freezers, they cost more to run. Some can add more than £80 to your yearly energy bill.

As well as taking up a lot of floor space in your kitchen, these appliances are so bulky that they might not fit through your front or kitchen door. If you’re concerned about this ask the retailer whether they will remove (and reattach) the fridge freezer doors on delivery - and whether this costs extra. 

How much food can I fit inside a fridge freezer?

Generally, the bigger the fridge freezer the more food you can fit inside it. But this isn’t always the case: some models offer more space than others of a similar size.

We’ve found that fridge freezer capacities (given in litres) can be misleading as they’re usually measured with all of the shelves, drawers and door racks removed. In our fridge freezer tests we leave everything in place and find big differences between these claimed capacities and the space you can actually use for storing groceries.

The worst offenders differ by more than 30%, so we wouldn’t pay too much attention to capacity claims when comparing fridge freezer sizes. You can see how much usable storage space all of the fridge freezers we’ve tested offer in our reviews.

Which fridge freezer features should I splash out on?

Choosing a frost-free fridge freezer means you’ll never face the hassle of having to defrost it. Some models come with useful temperature and open-door alarms that will alert you if the freezer temperature rises or you’ve inadvertently left the door ajar.

But some fridge freezer features are less handy: you may never use a holiday setting (which shuts power to the fridge but keeps your freezer running normally to save energy while you’re away), or the egg trays in the door racks.

If you simply want a basic fridge freezer, we’d recommend opting for glass rather than wire fridge shelves as a minimum. This will stop meat juices dripping onto items on the shelf below. We’d also advocate transparent freezer drawers - rather than opaque ones - so you can easily find the food you’re looking for.   

How much will a fridge freezer cost me to run?

Fridge freezers are switched on 24/7, so it makes sense to avoid buying one that guzzles energy.

Every new fridge freezer will have an energy label of A+, A++ or A+++ to show how energy efficient it is, with A+++ being the most efficient.

These energy labels are a good place to start, but they won’t tell you how much each model will add to your energy bill. To see and compare annual running costs for all of the fridge freezers we’ve tested, check out our energy costs calculator tool

If you simply want to know which is the best one to buy, head straight to our fridge freezer reviews