How to choose a fridge freezer: The basics

First thing’s first: how much food do you need to store? Domestic fridge freezers tend to range in capacity from around 100l in the case of under-the-counter models, to upwards of 600l. The smallest are best suited to individual use, while those at the higher end of the scale – especially American-style two-door models – are designed for families.

Your household headcount isn’t the only factor. It’s also worthwhile to consider how much food you tend to cool and freeze. If you eat out a lot, a relatively small appliance may suffice.

An obvious but important reminder for those with smaller homes: the larger your fridge freezer is, the more kitchen space it’ll take up, and the harder it may be to load into the room.  

Another point to consider is your preferred ratio of fridge space to freezer space, based on how you like to store your food. A 70/30 split in favour of fridge space is conventional, though some fridge freezers do swing further one way or the other. For those of you who favour flexibility, we’d recommend choosing a model with convertible compartments that can switch between fridge and freezer modes.

Finding a fridge freezer to suit your décor

The most important interior design consideration when buying a fridge is whether to choose a built-in model or a freestanding one. This is largely a matter of personal taste. Some think built-in fridges integrated into a kitchen unit look neater; others favour the appearance, flexibility and greater capacity of a freestanding unit.

If you’ve decided on a freestanding fridge-freezer, you should also consider the aesthetic. Most fridge freezers basically look either retro or contemporary, but there is significant variety. It makes sense to choose a fridge freezer you particularly like the look of as most fridge freezers last more than 10 years.   

Finally, you’ll need to choose a fridge freezer with a level of technological sophistication that suits your lifestyle. A few of the very latest models are now offering smartphone compatibility, enabling digital monitoring of food stocks and temperature control. Features like these can be useful, but they do tend to come at a premium. So, if you’re happy with a fridge freezer that simply does the basics, a far less expensive model could serve just as well.

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Swan Retro – SR11020CN 70/30 fridge freezer, cream: £605,

Dimensions: H189.9 x W59.5 x D64.5cm
Capacity: 295l
Annual energy consumption: 256 kWh

Functional, lovely-looking and available at a mid-range price, the Swan Retro is the ideal choice for shoppers seeking simplicity and style. In our opinion, this is one of the prettiest fridges out there, especially in cream as above. Some retro-style products tend to brush up better in photos than they do in the flesh – but this one more than lives up to its online product images. Aesthetic highlights include the metal trims on the borders of the doors and the slight curvature to its edges.

In practical terms, the SR11020CN is simple and effective. The 70/30 split between fridge and freezer space is on the money for the average user, and we found its adjustably spaced shelves and deep fruit-and-veg draw a pleasure to use. Its annual energy consumption is impressively low for a fridge freezer of the SR11020CN’s capacity, meaning you could stand to offset some of your initial outlay with energy savings over the years.

This appliance does need defrosting from time to time, so bear that in mind if you’re keen to avoid that particular chore. 

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Sharp – SJ-FS820VSL American fridge freezer, silver: £1,399,

Dimensions: H183 x W89.2 x D76.6cm
Capacity: 600l
Annual energy consumption: 380 kWh

Big, beautiful and packed with performance-enhancing features, this product is perfect for families who want to benefit from advanced tech without having to spend too much time reading the instruction manual. Standout features include an alarm that goes off when you’ve left the door open, and a hybrid cooling system which circulates air throughout the fridge freezer’s compartments to ensure its contents are cooled evenly.

Despite its whopping net capacity of 600l, the SJ-FS820VSL is quiet (37dB) and efficient (rated A++). All things considered, it’s a fantastic fridge for those who want to see their investment focused on tech that supports effective food storage. We love the electronic display with touch control, too.

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AEG – SFB5821VAF integrated under counter fridge: £449, John Lewis & Partners

Dimensions: H81.5 x W59.6 x D55cm
Capacity: 111l
Annual energy consumption: 172 kWh

Here’s an option that’ll spark joy in the Marie Kondo devotees among you. The AEG SFB5821VAF is a compact, space-efficient, integrated under-counter fridge, capable of operating as an overspill fridge freezer, or a standalone solution for those who don’t need to store much food.

Presumably due to its low freezing capacity, this appliance is advertised as a fridge, not a fridge freezer. However, it does feature a 16l, four-star freezer compartment, which should do the trick for those who tend not to freeze much more than a few bags of frozen vegetables and a tub of ice cream at a time.

Considering the fact UK households throw away 40 per cent of the bagged salads they buy, we’d venture that there might be a fair few people out there who could, in fact, make do with a smaller fridge, like the SFB5821VAF. Nonetheless, we would only recommend it for those who live alone and shop sparingly.

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Samsung – Family hub RF56M9540SR/EU American-style smart fridge freezer: £3,999, Currys

Dimensions: H182.5 x W90.8 x D73.3cm
Capacity: 550l
Annual energy consumption: 445 kWh

Do you want your fridge freezer to be merely a fridge freezer, or are you looking for something more akin to Nasa mission control? If you chose the latter, the Samsung RF56M9540SR family hub may be just what you’re looking for.  

This astonishing appliance boasts smart functions including an internal camera that monitors your supplies, Bluetooth speaker pairing, and the pièce de résistance: a 21.5in LCD screen with applications including calendar, notepad and shopping list. It really is mission control – for the family.

Traditionalists will be pleased to note these layers of technology are built around a highly effective fridge. It’s frost-free, has an A+ energy efficiency rating, and its 99l bottom-right compartment is a flexible temperature zone, meaning you can use it as either freezer or fridge.

Where the likes of Google and Amazon have bid to place themselves at the heart of the smart home using smart assistants, Samsung have done the same with a smart fridge. We think they might be on to something.  

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Bush Classic – BFFF60 frost free retro fridge freezer, red:  £399.99, Argos

Dimensions: H185, W59.5, D63.3cm
Annual energy consumption:
320 kWh

Great price? Check. Solid energy efficiency score? Check. Fabulous retro design? Check. Bush Classic’s knack for combining vintage style with contemporary performance standards is proudly on-show in the BFFF60, which looks its best in this bright red and silver colourway.

In a nutshell, this is a great-value contemporary fridge freezer dressed up as a lovely old one – just as noteworthy for its frost-free operation and LED lighting as for its retro styling. If you’re looking for an attractive, effective fridge freezer on a reasonable budget, this would be our recommendation.  

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Beko – CSG1582B fridge freezer, black: £289.99, Argos

Dimensions: H182.4, W54.5, D60cm
Capacity: 287l
Annual energy consumption: 316 kWh

The smart, versatile Beko CSG1582B is our favourite fridge freezer available for under £300. Its strong suit is flexibility – a quality delivered through its easily adjustable shelves and reversible door. Switching the door from opening one way to opening the other way should be achievable for most DIYers.

Inside, you’ll find a simple, effective appliance with more attributes than may at first meet the eye: for instance, the antibacterial seals around the fridge and freezer doors, which help with both hygiene and maintenance. More than just a great value option.

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Bosch – Serie 2 KIV38X22GB integrated 70/30 fridge freezer with sliding door fixing kit, white: £519,

Dimensions: H177.2 x W54.1 x D54.5cm
Capacity: 277l
Annual energy consumption: 276 kWh

This high-quality integrated fridge freezer from Bosch may be built to blend effortlessly into your kitchen interior – but it does have some features that stand out from the crowd. Perhaps most notable among these is the KIV38X22GB’s superfreeze function, which boosts freezing for a limited time to quickly bring down the temperature of newly added groceries.

The measure of a built-in appliance’s quality is not only in its function, but also in how it assimilates into the kitchen. This one passes that test with flying colours, thanks particularly to its sliding hinge, which allows your kitchen cabinet door to operate as one with the fridge freezer door. With an annual energy usage of just 276 kWh, the Serie 2 KIV38X22GB could save you a significant amount on your energy bills over its lifetime, relative to some of the less energy-efficient options on the market.

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Verdict: Fridge freezers

A winning combination of standout style and energy efficiency makes the Swan Retro SR11020CN 70/30 our favourite. It works like a charm, and will cost less to run than many of its competitors. If you’re looking for something with a more contemporary style and advanced tech, go for the Sharp SJ-FS820VSL instead. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.