1 Size: Measure Your Space
When measuring, you’ll need to account for a certain amount of space that will be required at the sides, back and top of the fridge so that it receives proper ventilation.
How much clearance room you’ll need will depend on the model, and you could risk losing your warranty if you fail to leave the minimum requirements and your unit breaks down.
Also make sure to leave enough room to open the fridge doors! It may seem simple, but it’s an issue that can be overlooked.
2 Capacity: Size of the Fridge
Now that you have an idea of how much space you have, you’ll need to decide the capacity of your new fridge.
How many people you live with will have a massive impact on your choice, as you’ll be consuming much less food if you’re living alone than if you have a big family to feed.
Refrigerators in Australia are measured in litres, and as a general rule of thumb around 400 litres should be adequate for the average couple.
A family of four will need something a little bit more substantial, so between 520 and 600 litres is advisable, while families bigger than this should opt for at least 700 litres.
Of course, these are just rough estimates and there are other factors to consider, such as how much fresh food you consume or how frequently you eat out and order in.
3 Type: Layout of Fridge & Freezer Placement
Having done your homework, you’ll probably be eager to start browsing the kinds of fridges that are available. Here are some of the most popular models, as well as some benefits and drawbacks:
Top-mount refrigerator: This fridge has been a mainstay in kitchens for decades and remains one of the most common designs. Fitted with a freezer compartment above the fridge that takes up around one-third of the size of the unit, this model is the most cost-effective, but still offers the functionality and shelf space required from a modern refrigerator.
Bottom-mount refrigerators: As the name suggests, this is similar to the top mount model – only in reverse. Here the fridge sits above the freezer compartment, meaning the most commonly used items tend to be at eye level.
Side-by-side: Side-by-side refrigerators provide freezer and fridge compartments that are adjacent to each other. Great for galley-style kitchens, they usually don’t need as much door clearance space (despite having greater capacity than top and bottom-mount fridges) and if you’re feeling flash they can come with a variety of gadgets such as TVs and ice makers.
However, be prepared to pay out a little more than you would for top- and bottom-mount options, plus they tend not to be as energy efficient.
French door: A combination of the side-by-side and the bottom-mount fridge, this model is compartment heaven for any budding chefs out there. Two doors swing outwards, while the freezer is located underneath with either one or two drawers, depending on the product chosen. These fridges can store goods of all sizes, with wide shelves that can fit pizza boxes, lamb shanks and whatever else you want to keep cool.
4 Efficiency: Energy Efficiency
A fridge is a fundamental part of your white goods, so you may want to buy an energy efficient model to ensure you don’t overspend on electricity bills to keep it running so we recommend that you check the stars and the energy consumption before you buy a fridge.
Generally speaking the larger the refrigerator, the greater the energy consumption. A model that is too large will waste space and energy; too small could mean extra trips to supermarket and inconvenience.
Two door refrigerators with a top or bottom freezer are generally more efficient than side by side models.
Automatic ice-makers and through-the-door dispensers will increase both the energy use (typically 100 to 150 kilowatt hours/year) and the purchase price.
If two different sized refrigerators use the same amount of energy, the larger model can be considered more efficient because it keeps more space cold with same amount of electricity.
It is important to bear in mind that older refrigerators were quite energy hungry relative to the best models on the market today. So you need to factor in the energy savings that would accrue from early replacement.
5 Style: Design and other considerations
Bar fridges and wine coolers: The ultimate in convenience, bar fridges and wine coolers are for those who like to have their favourite snacks and beverages within easy reach. Smaller than a full-size fridge, these models are the perfect luxury addition to any room in your house and come in a variety of dimensions depending on your requirements.
Exterior material: Some thought will also need to go into the material you want for the fridge exterior. White vinyl is often the cheapest choice, but stainless steel will last longer. However, stainless steel will also show stains, fingerprints and scratches more easily.
Shelving layout: Shelving layout can do wonders for how much a fridge will hold. Maximise the storage capacity of your fridge by considering what it will need to store, and how items are usually organised.
Cleaning the inside of your fridge can also be made a little easier with shelves that are made from smooth moulded plastic or better still, safety glass, instead of wire. Safety glass shelves help contain spills and should preferably be in the freezer as well as the fridge.
6 Warranty: Warranties and Installations
Each brand offers different warranty conditions and terms. Once you’ve narrowed down to a select few fridges, be sure to check out the warranty conditions on each fridge. The fridge is a long-term investment for the home so you may wish to consider purchasing an extended warranty.
Some fridges have additional features such as water and ice dispensers that may need to be installed by a plumber – which could be costly. Find out whether specialist installation is required.