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UNDERSTAND THE LATEST FEATURES

The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for fridges

Fridge buying guide

Your fridge is probably the most frequently used appliance in your home and in many ways, it’s impossible to imagine life without one. It’s also not an appliance that gets upgraded often. If you’re currently looking for a new one, chances are a lot has changed since you last went shopping for a fridge. Our fridge buying guide will take you through all the latest features available to help you find the best fridge for your family and home. 

Household size

The size of your family (and the size of your kitchen) should be the starting point in choosing the right sized fridge. Use the table below for a quick reference as well as an idea of the average price for each fridge size.

Fridge size

Households of 1-2 

  • Fridge volume: 200-380L
  • Average price range: $400-$2400

Households of 3-4 

  • Fridge volume: 350-530L
  • Average price range: $650-$4800

Households of 5+ 

  • Fridge volume: 440L+
  • Average price range: $1000-$5500

Sizing tips:

  • If you’re unsure which size to go for, and you have the space, opt for the bigger fridge. More space is always useful and it’ll come in handy when you have visitors, throw parties, or your family grows. 
  • Don’t forget to leave some gaps for hot air around the fridge when measuring the space where you want it to stand for the best ventilation. 
  • Be careful to budget enough space so the doors can open and close easily.

Types of fridges

types of fridges

Side-by-side:

Perfect for large families

This is also known as an American fridge. The fridge and freezer sections are roughly equal sizes.

This option offers lots of storage space for frozen and fresh food. 

As these fridges are quite large, check for operating noise before purchasing.

French door:

Perfect for design lovers

The freezer tends to be bottom-mounted with the fridge section on top, featuring two doors opening outwards. 

These models offer lots of indoor storage and a large fridge cavity. 

Quite often French door fridges also come with ice or water dispensers, often featuring both. 

This is a considerably larger style of fridge, so it won’t fit smaller spaces. 

Top mount: 

A great all arounder

This is the most common style of fridge, with the freezer section sitting above the fridge cavity.

As this style is very popular, it tends to suit a lot of kitchens and family types. 

The freezer section is at eye-level, which a lot of people prefer, but it can make perishable goods more difficult to reach at the bottom levels. 

Top mount fridges tend to be quite budget friendly, if that’s something you’re after, though top of the range models are also available.

Bottom mount:

Perfect for convenience 

Like the top mount fridge, just in reverse, giving you a bigger freezer space on the bottom. 

With a bottom mount style fresh produce is at eye level, making it a great option for cooks who use the freezer less. 

This style is more expensive than top mount and, as they’re less common, come in fewer design varieties.

Fridge only:

For anyone not needing a freezer

Sometimes you’re after just a fridge without a freezer. This style is great for storing lots of fresh and perishable items. 

A fridge only style is often more economical, suiting smaller budgets. 

Fridge only doesn’t mean that it lacks features as many models come equipped with advanced and modern tech, so you don’t miss out.

Bar and wine fridge:

Perfect for social occasions

Not a necessity by any means but a lovely addition for parties and social gatherings. Bar and wine fridges can be installed in any room of the house. 

Usually featuring a sleek design and a see-through door, they’re as much about displaying your drinks and snacks as they are about cooling them.

Wine lovers might want to look for a wine fridge with multi-zone functionality to cool different styles of wine and UV light protection to really look after your wine collection.

Fridge features to look out for

The functions of a fridge and freezer are pretty straight forward, but thanks to tech innovations your brand new appliance can do a lot more if you want it to. Make your life more convenient by choosing a model with features to suit your lifestyle.

Fridge features

Must-have features

  • A signal that lets you know you left the door open.
  • A well-sealing crisper to keep vegetables fresh; can be easily removed for cleaning. 
  • LED lights inside the fridge, which generate less heat and keep the fridge cooler.
  • Child proof settings on temperature controls as well as draw compartments to help keep kids safe.
  • A Frost-free feature that prevents ice build-up and eliminates the need for manual defrosting.
  • Split or adjustable shelves allowing you to customise the fridge cavity to your needs.
  • Spill-proof shelves to contain any potential mess.
  • Adjustable temperature settings that allow you to control the temperature levels of the fridge and freezer compartments. 
  • Rollers and adjustable feet that allow the quick and pain-free transportation and installation of your fridge.
  • Modern fridges should have an inverter compressor which means there’s less moving parts, allowing the fridge to run longer and quieter. 
  • Dispensers that provide free-flowing water and ice with the push of a button; there are internal and external options to suit your kitchen needs.

New & Innovative features

  • Fridge air deodorisers that remove unpleasant odors and help keep food items fresh and hygienic. Some units will feature anti-bacterial agents that prevent the build up of mould and harmful bacteria, for added cleanliness.
  • Multi-zone temperature controls that enable you to control the temperature of multiple areas of your fridge, outside of the fridge and freezer. 
  • Customisable ‘smart board’ screen that you can use to display your family photos, kids artworks, bills, shopping lists and memos - good-bye magnets!
  • Smart internal cameras that tag food expiration dates so you don’t have to memorise all the use-by dates in your fridge.
  • Smart Wi-Fi connectivity and internal fridge cameras that let you see what’s inside your fridge when you’re away from home using your smartphone. 
  • Smartphone bluetooth connectivity that allows you to stream your favourite cooking videos or video call your loved ones all from the comfort of your kitchen.
  • Voice control capabilities that allow you to change settings in your fridge, update your fridge’s smart screen or even play music, hands-free. 
  • IoT connectivity and controllability that enables your fridge to become the hub for all of your smart home devices - control your lights, oven, TV and more through your smart fridge. 

Accessibility

If you’re someone with additional accessibility needs, there are certain accessories that you can use in your fridge to help make things easier. For example, if you’re in a wheelchair or have back problems, drawers or baskets that slide out easily in a bottom-mounted freezer can improve accessibility. If you have a vision impairment, using bold labels on your compartments can ease finding things in your fridge.

Efficiency 

Besides the initial cost of purchasing the fridge, you should also consider how your chosen model will impact the electricity bill and the environment.

How is efficiency measured? By using an index that rates the fridge’s energy use against its size.
To make it easy to understand, the rating is expressed through a star system. The system is made up of 10 stars - the final 4 stars indicate super-efficient fridges. Look out for those if you want lower bills and less of an environmental impact. 

The below energy usage and cost saving information is based on star ratings for a modern 400L fridge.

0.5-1 star rating

Although fridges with this energy rating are the most affordable to buy initially, they will end up costing you the most in the long run.

Fridges with one star or less use approx. 350-400 kWh per year which is more than double the usage of a 4 or 5 star rated fridge.

2-3 star rating

Fridges with this rating can be priced at the lower to mid range ($800-$3000+). Although this rating isn’t too high, a 3 star rating is the most common energy standard for retail fridges in Australia. Additional features are what typically bump up the price of fridges with this energy star rating.

Fridges with 2 or 3 stars use approx. 220-290 kWh per year.

4-6 star rating

Fridges with 4-5 star ratings are a great choice if you’re looking to save money on your energy usage annually. They’re potentially a better choice than a 3-4 star rating fridge as the price bracket is only slightly higher ($900-$3000). Like the 2-3 star rated fridges, additional features will bump up the price of the fridge.

Fridges with a 4 or 6 stars use approx. 150-220 kWh per year.

7-10 star rating

Fridges with an energy star rating of above 6 are ranked as ‘Super Efficient’ and for good reason. The Super Efficiency category of stars is a fairly new addition to the rating system and doesn't regularly apply to fridges. Few fridges sold in Australia achieve this high rating.

Fridges with 7 or more stars use approx. 150 kWh or less per year.

Fridge Transport & Installation Tips

Many stores will offer an installation service that’ll connect your new fridge while removing the old one alongside all the bulky packaging, so be sure to ask the staff about options.

Whether it’s new or old, laying a fridge on its side during a short move (e.g. to the next suburb over) shouldn’t be a major problem, but when taking one on a longer trip, you should make sure it stands upright to prevent damage.  

It is important to wait at least 4 hours before plugging in your fridge to allow the compressor oil to settle. If the fridge has been on its side for more than a day you need to wait up to 24 hours. We recommend consulting with any sales representatives or removalists for the best advice. 

Fridges dispensing water and ice should always be fitted by a qualified plumber.

Stocking your fridge

When setting up your new fridge, considering which food items to put where is an important step as the temperature in your fridge varies in different sections - some parts are cooler and some are warmer.  As a quick reference: 

  • Meats in the chiller, and if no chiller, in the coldest part of the fridge (closest to the freezer)
  • Butter and cheese in the dairy compartment on the door (this warmer storage allows easy spreading)
  • Fruit and veg in the crisper (typically at the bottom of the fridge)
 
Fridge organisation