Choosing a refrigerator is no small decision. It is likely to be one of the most important appliances in your kitchen, keeping food fresh and drinks chilled. Where they used to be considered a luxury, refrigerators have now long been viewed as a necessity.
The refrigerator has evolved to encompass a vast range of options far beyond its basic uses. It’s important to choose the refrigerator that is most suited to your kitchen space and family needs. Here is our roundup of some of the top refrigerators available from the UK’s favourite appliance stores, or if you’re in a hurry you can jump to our top pick below.
The Best Fridges – Presenting Our Pick
Top Under-Counter Refrigerators
Looking for a small, practical and cheap refrigerator that will fit underneath your kitchen counters? This smart silver-grey under counter refrigerator from Indesit provides both value and high functionality. Ideal for smaller kitchens or utilities with limited space, this 55cm wide refrigerator offers a surprising amount of space – 126 litres in fact – considering its small size.
With three internal shelves, three in-door shelves and a roomy vegetable drawer, this refrigerator would work well for an individual or as a supplement to the main refrigerator if there are several people living in a household. Its safety glass shelves are removable and easy to clean, while its automatic defrost feature means you will never have to worry about removing ice build-up manually. The lack of ice box might be missed by some, but does mean there is more refrigerator space available.
This Indesit under-counter refrigerator model operates within a temperature range of 10-38°C and is exclusively available online. It comes with a 2-year guarantee as standard, with the option to include 5 years of Added Care, should it ever need fixing. The door can be reversed for a fee of £30.
Though at the cheaper end of the price scale, the design and colour of this silver Indesit refrigerator model gives it a more sophisticated look than a plain white refrigerator, and its annual energy consumption is pleasantly low. This is easily one of the better budget refrigerators available.
- Low noise level
- Spacious interior
- Smart-looking silver finish
- Door shelves seem a little unstable
- Ugly black logo
Verdict: The leading under counter fridge in its price range. A smart, good value appliance.
A flexible, hygienic and low-noise undercounter fridge
As always, the John Lewis name offers an assurance of quality. This neat A+ rated undercounter fridge – with its 150 litre capacity, easy-clean glass shelves, auto defrost setting and Quiet Mark assurance – offers the quality and reliability you’d expect at a reasonable price. At 38dB, this fridge is on the quietest end of the spectrum. Its door is reversible for ease of use, which you can change yourself or have done for you.
Inside there are three shelves, one vegetable drawer, two door shelves and covered dairy compartment, giving plenty of extra room for your bottles, dairy products, vegetables and jars. This product would be ideal for a person living on their own – two people at a stretch – or as a supplement to another fridge in larger households. The covered dairy compartment helps to minimise any smells and keep your butter soft enough to spread easily.
Being a compact fridge model with an A+ energy rating, the running costs of this fridge are estimated at just £12.80 per year. This classic white fridge would fit in with any home or utility without looking out of place, offering plenty of extra space for your chilled food and drink without taking over your kitchen.
- Nice and quiet
- Great quality for the price
- Shelves can be rearranged
- Door occasionally doesn’t shut properly – care must be taken when closing
- Door handle sticks out quite far
Top Tall Refrigerators
For a family or household of sharers who require plentiful space for food and drink, you can’t go too far wrong with big and spacious like this model from AEG. This tall fridge comes equipped with 4 glass shelves, 3 door shelves, 2 large drawers, a dairy compartment, a bottle shelf and an egg tray. It would take an awful lot of food to fill this to capacity.
This AEG model has an energy rating of A++ – not too shabby – and its smooth stainless steel exterior is protected with an anti-fingerprint layer that helps to prevent unsightly smudges. There is never a need to defrost manually, as it takes care of ice build-up automatically. Another particularly handy function of this AEG fridge is its holiday mode, which reduces the appliance’s energy consumption during long periods of absence – perfect for staving off mould and bad smells on your return.
This freestanding larder fridge has a reversible door that you can change over depending on its location in the kitchen. This comes at a fee of £30, although it’s actually relatively easy to do it yourself. It also comes with a 2-year warranty included, which can be increased by an extra 3 years if desired.
- Plenty of space
- Good quality
- Easy to clean
- Lack of shelves – one or two more would be an improvement
- Door can be tricky to open at times
An integrated larder fridge that merges seamlessly with your units
The appeal of integrated refrigerators (or indeed any integrated kitchen appliance) it its ability to fit seamlessly into your kitchen behind matching cupboard doors – so you never actually see the appliance, except when it is being used. Instead of lots of white goods, you have appliances concealed within kitchen units, so it all looks nice and tidy.
At 55cm wide, with a capacity of 310 litres, this spacious integrated model from Beko gives you plenty of room to store all of your fresh and perishable foods. There are multiple shelves, two roomy vegetable drawers, and plenty of smaller drawers tucked into the inside of the door – including an egg rack. The middle shelf contains a bottle rack, perfect for storing wine, champagne and mixers. Considering its size and capacity, this fridge is amazingly good value for money.
Should you ever experience a power cut – and we all do from time to time – it has a safe time of 13 hours, which all being well should be plenty of time to keep your food and drink fresh before the power returns. Even better, it’s super quiet to the point of being barely noticeable – just 34dB.
- Door is easily reversible if needed
- Low noise level
- Plenty of storage space
- Not a lot of space for larger bottles
- Installation instructions can be hard to follow
A spacious, retro fridge with high energy efficiency
This super-sleek, retro-style by the designers at Gorenje offers the much sought-after look that is often demonstrated by Smeg, without such a hefty price tag. Though a little more expensive than your average larder fridge, it is arguably worth the extra cost, with an A+++ energy rating, ionization technology, dynamic cooling and separate zones for vegetables and meat. A compact icebox is fitted into the top, providing a great place to store drinks and leftovers for freezing.
Contained within there is a CrispZone and a FreshZone – intended for vegetable and meat/poultry/fish storage, respectively. These areas are perfectly optimized to keep these perishable products at their freshest, for as long as possible. As with all the quality products, the auto defrost function also means you will never have to defrost manually or spend hours scraping ice out of the back.
This model has a temperature range of 10-32°C and a power cut safe time of 17 hours. It would make a great choice for a household of sharers, or a large family – though a separate freezer would certainly be required, as the icebox is relatively small. Currently one of the most environmentally friendly refrigerators on the market thanks to its A+++ energy efficiency rating, you can expect reduced energy consumption without any impact on performance.
- Attractive retro design
- Super energy efficient
- Small top freezer
- Freezer door can be a bit stiff
- On the more expensive side
Fridge Buying Guide
How to Choose the Right Refrigerator
Buying a refrigerator is an investment, as it is one of the most important appliances in your kitchen. Here are some of the factors you should consider and look out for.
Will it fit?
Finding the right size is key. Start by measuring the width, height and depth of the space allocated for your refrigerator model. Be sure to allow a few inches extra and factor in room for the doors to swing open. You should also consider the logistics of getting it into your house – will it fit through the door?
Above all else, the thing to think about is practicality. The positioning of the doors plays a key role here. Figure out which way you want the doors to open for easy access. With some models, you can opt to have the doors reversed. Make sure you specify this before delivery.
Most refrigerators are designed to live in a room with a consistent ambient temperature, like the kitchen. If you’re planning on storing your it somewhere else, such as the garage, make sure you choose a model that is designed for a colder environment.
Ice and water
Perhaps you’d like a fridge that comes with an ice and water dispenser? This feature is increasingly popular and regularly features in the american-style fridge freezers. Bear in mind that it needs plumbing, so for this to work it will need to be installed within 1.5 metres of a water source. You should also check that the dispenser is easy to use, especially if you have children.
The shelves will either be wire or smooth – thick plastic or glass. Think about which you would prefer to clean. Smooth shelves are sometimes easier, as you can simply wipe them down. You should also think about the outside. Stainless steel looks very beautiful when clean, but is prone to smudges. The better options have a white or smudge-free finish.
Lifestyle and eating habits
The type of fridge you need will differ depending on how many people you live with and whether you have any physical problems that make bending down or reaching high shelves tricky. It also depends on what type of food you eat, and in what quantity you usually buy it. For example, if you buy a lot of frozen food, a tiny little bottom freezer is not going to be the better option for you. Or if you like a lot of fresh veg, you’ll want an option with plenty of drawers. Think about what would be most useful for you and base your decision on that.
Who makes the leading refrigerators?
Hotpoint, Beko, Samsung and Smeg are considered among the top manufacturers today. Smeg products famously have a 50s retro look to them, whereas the other brands are more contemporary. All will serve you well for an appliance that is high quality, and the preferred aesthetic is up to you. Other top brands include Bosch, LG, Samsung, Whirlpool and Zanussi.
What is the prime fridge temperature?
The optimum refrigerator temperature is at or just below 4° C. You should take care not to pack the fridge so tightly that the air cannot circulate. The ideal temperature for your freezer is -18° C.
The temperature display is usually found at the top of the refrigerator. Use the arrows to adjust your fridge temperature setting until it is between 2° C and 4° C. Or if you have a keypad, simply type in the desired temperature.
What is the ideal refrigerator for a small kitchen?
It depends how small you need to go. The smallest you can get (without being super tiny) is an under-counter fridge, like this Zanussi Undercounter Fridge from Currys. These are quite inexpensive and maximise your surface space. This could work for an individual storing only a few days’ worth of groceries at a time, but not much more than that.
A standard freezer-freezer has width of 36 inches, but if you have a small kitchen you might want to consider a narrower model, more like 24 inches (or 60 cm). You knock 12 inches off, but you can still retain a lot of room inside. This slim Beko Fridge-Freezer is a great choice, offering 230 litre fridge and 97 litre freezer capacity.
If height is the issue but you don’t want something quite as small as an undercounter fridge, you may prefer something like this Logik Fridge-Freezer, which is 152.5 cm tall – approximately 18-25 cm shorter than the average full-height fridge.
What is the ideal fridge for a dorm room?
An under-counter fridge can be a great option for student residences, as they are smaller. The Indesit Undercounter Fridge has a useful icebox for storing ice cream or cooling drinks before a party, as well as being quiet and energy-efficient. Alternatively, you may want something even more compact just for your bedroom, in which case this LEC Free Standing Table Top Fridge could be perfect for you, at 49.2 x 47.2 x 45 cm including ice box.
What are the ideal fridges for camping?
Compact travel fridges can run off 12V power, mains power or gas, and they are the perfect (but most expensive) option for actively cooling your food on the go. This Waeco 3-Way Portable Cool Box is a good choice for serious campers, with 41 litre capacity, zero noise, and sleek aluminium exterior.
What elements do you look for and what features matter most to you? Let us know in the comments.
Hopefully, this buying guide has given you some idea of what to look for in new refrigerators. What are the most important features and functions that you will consider? Leave a reply and let us know.