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Fridges and Freezers Buying Guide - Sainsbury's
Find the perfect fridge and freezer, with Sainsbury's

There is so much choice when it comes to fridges, freezers and combinations of the two. This handy guide is here to help you decide what's going to serve you best.

Tell me about energy efficiency
What style of fridge or freezer?
What features are there?
What about cooling agents?
What about installation?
Shop fridges and freezers

Tell me about energy efficiency.

All freezers and fridges are rated by the EU for energy efficiency, which indicates the appliance's ratio of energy consumption in relation to volume. A++ is the most efficient, G is the least efficient.

Although A-graded models will be dearer, the appliance will use less electricity, saving you money in the long term. It will also reduce the impact of carbon dioxide - your 'carbon footprint' - on the environment.

The table below shows approximate calculations based on the average electricity cost of 11p per kilowatt per hour. It shows the considerable difference in energy cost that size and energy rating make:

Energy ratings with approximate energy costs.

What style of fridge or freezer?

Chest freezer - deep, large and with a top opening lid, these freeze large quantities of food. Because of their size, they're best relegated to a utility room or garage. They usually contain baskets, rather than shelves, which can make everyday access less easy than their upright counterparts.

Chest freezer

Upright freezer - these usually contain a combination of larger drawers, smaller shelves and ice-cube racks, and some may offer storage in the door section. Available in many finishes, they're easily coordinated to match your fridge, and exist as integrated or freestanding units.

Mini freezer - if you only need to store a few items, these are ideal. They can be chest-style or front opening, and come in a range of measurements to suit almost any space. They're great for hiding away in a kitchen cupboard, under the stairs or in a spare nook, and can make a significant difference to your cooking repertoire.

Integrated or built-in freezer or fridge - designed to hide away behind a front panel that matches the rest of your kitchen. The main advantage is to provide a seamless, modern and uniform look to your kitchen fascia. Integrated units tend to be higher spec, and subsequently cost more than freestanding alternatives.

Upright freezer
Mini freezer
Integrated freezer or fridge

Freestanding freezer or fridge - this describes a unit that is not integrated or built-in.

Freestanding freezer or fridge

Under-counter freezer or fridge - designed to fit under a work top. Under-counter fridges will contain an ice-box (for ice-cubes only), but will not have a freezer section.

Fridge over freezer - a larger fridge section (measured in L or cubic feet) over a smaller freezer section. This combination is highly convenient, offering accommodation for both fresh and frozen food, without a large appliance 'footprint' in the kitchen.

Under-counter fridge or freezer
Fridge over freezer

Freezer over fridge - a larger freezer section (measured in L or cubic feet) over a smaller fridge section. Ideal if you tend to live off frozen food, rather than fresh food, they're a handy way of storing it without the bother of two separate appliances.

Side-by-side or American-style fridge freezer - these have doors that open in opposite directions giving you access to fridge and freezer sides. Representing the upper end of the market, they are usually expensive, benefit from beautiful exterior finishes and interior design.

They feature frost-free operation, and usually have several cool zones - so you can match the temperature to the food. The freezer section will usually feature ice and/or water dispensers, which may or may not require the appliance to be plumbed in to your water supply.

Freezer over fridge
Side by side fridge freezer

Wine cellar - these offer temperature and humidity control for your wine collection. Typically they operate between 6°C and 20°C, and vary widely in their bottle capacity. Shelving options include metal, wire and oak - depending on your budget. Some options feature UV-protected glass doors, so your wine is protected from the sunlight.

Wine cellar

Compact fridge - ideal for student living or as a spare drinks chiller, these small, boxy fridges usually feature a shelf, a 5L ice box compartment and limited bottle storage.

Compact fridge

What features are there?

Anti-bacterial coating - fridges with this on their walls, shelves or door are protected against bacterial growth, creating a more hygienic atmosphere for food.

Anti-bacterial filter - these eliminate potentially harmful bacteria, mildew and mould spores from the air. Filters need to be changed on average every 6 months.

Auto-defrost - this means that the fridge defrosts itself, so you won't have to. Larder fridges usually have auto defrost, but if your fridge has an ice-box, you'll still need to defrost it.

Berry tray - designed for freezing soft fruit individually so they don't stick together, these trays are great if you're into home baking or blending.

Cool zones - some fridges have different temperature zones, for different types of food. For example, you may find a fridge with a cool zone for meat, fish or poultry.

Door balconies - these vary greatly in fridges, but usually include room for bottles, cartons or dairy goods.

Door seals - these insulate the freezer or fridge, and may be magnetic and removable for easy cleaning.

Fast freeze - freezes newly added food quickly, so the ambient temperature of the freezer isn't raised. It helps to preserve taste and quality, and some models have an automatic fast freeze that switches on if the temperature becomes too high.

Frost free - freezers with this feature freeze food without forming ice crystals, ensuring better taste as well as nutritional content. You'll never have to defrost an appliance with this feature.

Humidity control - this is usually applied to the salad crisper drawer inside fridges, and helps keep vegetables fresher for longer.

Ice-dispenser - these offer crushed or cubed ice, and are situated in the door of your freezer, with access to it from the exterior of the unit - so you don't have to open the door.

Pizza box - found in some freezers, these are made for pizzas and ready meals, and help free space in the main storage compartments.

Shelving - in fridges, this is either wire grid or glass. Safety glass is more expensive, but will contain spills and drips that might contaminate food, holding up to a pint of liquid before they drip. They're easy to wipe clean and won't shatter when broken.

Some models come with a wine rack or bottle holder, and most fridges have an egg rack and dairy compartment.

Thermometer - this lets you monitor the temperature of your fridge or freezer. Top of the range models usually have this on the outside, complete with temperature controls - so you don't have to open the door to adjust it.

Water dispenser - some models offer filtered water, others offer water straight from your mains system. Some models operate off bottled water, while others require plumbing in to within one metre of your mains supply.

6th Sense - this is a form of temperature control, that restores the original temperature of the fridge after the door has been opened.

What about cooling agents?

CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) gas is no longer used, as leaks were harmful to the ozone layer.

Today, manufacturers use a range of different gasses, but some, like HFCs or hydrofluorocarbons) may contribute to global warming instead.

An increasing number of manufacturers are using cooling agents such as Isobutene (R600A), which has no harmful effects on global warming or the ozone layer.

What about installation?

If you're fitting a freezer or fridge underneath a worktop, you'll need to ensure a gap of 25mm at the top, back and sides of the appliance. This allows warm air produced by the condenser to be properly ventilated.

After positioning your new freezer or fridge, allow at least 6 hours for the gasses inside to settle before switching it on.

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