Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Fridge-freezers are compressed all-rounders of food storage. They combine capacity, efficiency and a wide range of options. With selectable features and special functions, fridge-freezers can be adapted to almost any situation.

With our large fridge-freezer test 2021 we want to help you make your ideas of the ideal fridge-freezer combination come true. We have compared refrigerators, compiled the most important features, prepared decision-making aids and listed the advantages and disadvantages of built-in fridge-freezers and free-standing fridge-freezers. This should make your purchase decision easier.




Summary

  • Fridge-freezer combinations offer the possibility of storing food in independent refrigerator and freezer compartments. The appliances thus consist of two storage compartments that can be accessed directly from the outside.
  • A basic distinction is made between built-in fridge-freezers and freestanding models.
  • The combinations can be individualised by a variety of aspects. Here, the equipment, as well as the desired use and later special functions should be considered first.

The best Fridge Freezer: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a fridge-freezer combination

What is a fridge-freezer?

Fridge-freezers are appliances for storing and conditioning food with independent refrigerator and freezer compartments. Both the fridge and the freezer have their own door.

Kühlschrank Gefrierkombination-1

Fridge-freezer combinations complete the kitchen with space for refrigerating food. These models come in a wide variety of styles. They can be adapted to any cake design.
(Image source: unsplah.com / Stanislav Kondratiev)

Compared to the existing alternatives...

Refrigerator Characteristic
Fridge-freezer combination Independent refrigerator and freezer sections
Refrigerator with freezer section Within the refrigerator section and only accessible via it, there is a closed freezer section
Individual appliances Refrigerator

...there are the following advantages and disadvantages of fridge-freezer combinations:

Advantages
  • Large capacity for cooling and freezing in one place
  • Space-saving
  • Energy-saving
  • Acquisition costs usually lower
Disadvantages
  • Defective parts rarely replaceable
  • defrosting and cleaning may not be possible individually
  • size of both areas is limited compared to individual parts

How does a fridge-freezer work?

Basically, a distinction is made between three technologies for cooling and keeping fresh:

  • Compressor cooling
  • Absorber cooling
  • Thermoelectric cooling (Peltier effect)

In each case, a heat exchanger extracts heat from the inside of the refrigerator and releases it to the outside. This process is also called refrigeration cycle.

If you would like to understand the three cooling techniques in more detail, you will find more information below:

Thermoelectric cooling Absorber cooling Compressor cooling
Heat exchanger 12 V DC Water-ammonia mixture Gaseous refrigerant
Functional circuit Electrothermal converter (Peltier element) creates a temperature change by means of electricity Heating of the mixture → Water and ammonia are passed on separately → Ammonia is cooled in the condenser (heat is released to the environment) and becomes liquid →Water becomes gaseous due to pressure (cold is generated in the refrigerator) → Ammonia and water become a mixture again Gaseous refrigerant is compressed by a compressor → it heats up → heat is released to the air (refrigerant becomes liquid) → pressure is reduced → evaporation (refrigerant becomes gaseous) using the heat inside the refrigerator → pressure is increased (compressor) → cycle is repeated

A thermostat regulates the function of the compressor and thus the temperature.

Most fridge-freezers are operated using compressor cooling. Gaseous refrigerant is set in motion by a compressor, made liquid and evaporated again by the heat of the food. A thermostat determines the activity of the circuit and ensures constant cold in the household appliance, independent of the outside temperature.

Advantages
  • Stable cooling capacity
  • Independent of the outside temperature
  • High efficiency (1 watt cooling capacity - 0.5 watt consumption)
Disadvantages
  • Inflexible
  • Develops comparatively more noise

Both absorber cooling and thermoelectric cooling are predestined for mobile applications or for use in smaller devices.

This also illustrates their advantages and disadvantages:

Absorber cooling uses gas or electricity to initiate the cooling cycle. Their cooling systems consist of a tubular structure that contains no moving parts and functions maintenance-free. Therefore, they can be used flexibly. However, the low-noise and low-vibration cooling technology only achieves a worthwhile degree of efficiency with gas operation. In addition, from 35°C outside temperature, supporting the cooling process with ventilation is highly recommended.

Advantages
  • Operation with gas or electricity possible (flexibility)
  • Low noise and vibration
  • No wearing parts
Disadvantages
  • Poor efficiency with electricity operation
  • Dependent on the outside temperature

The most frequently used advantages of thermoelectric cooling (Peltier effect) are the small size, weight and robust components of the units, which qualify them for mobile use (car, tent, ...). The temperature can be influenced independently of the position and silently. Unfortunately, both the size limitation and an expandable insulation limit the effectiveness of the Peltier elements. An additional fan is therefore also worthwhile here to counteract high outside temperatures.

Advantages
  • Ideal for mobile use (flexibility)
  • low noise
Disadvantages
  • Poor efficiency (1 watt cooling capacity - 2 watt consumption)
  • depends on the outside temperature

How is the quality of fridge-freezers marked?

The aim of fridge-freezers is to reduce the temperature of food to your liking and thus make it last longer. To ensure that your appliance has the appropriate quality and can be used the way you want it, you should combine the following key figures:

  • Climate class
  • Freezer class
  • Energy efficiency class

The climate classes indicate the temperature of the environment in which the appliance should be operated in order to avoid complications. They must be adapted to your location. In Germany, SN and N are common.

  • SN - (extended standard) Ambient temperature from + 10 °C to + 32 °C (e.g. unheated cellar)
  • N - (Standard) Ambient temperature from + 16 °C to + 32 °C (normal temperature range)
  • ST - (subtropics) Ambient temperature from + 18 °C to + 38 °C
  • T - (Tropics) Ambient temperature from + 18 °C to + 43 °C

Freezer classes (star rating) indicate the temperature that can be reached in the freezer compartment. This determines the maximum length of time food can be stored.

Star labelling degrees cooling capacity
* -6 °C Short-term storage of frozen food (approx. 1 week)
** -12 °C Medium-term storage of frozen food (approx. 2 weeks)
*** -18 °C Storage of frozen food
**** Less than -18 °C Freezing and long-term storage of food

As an aspect of performance, the energy efficiency classes ultimately provide information about the appliance's power consumption. From this, the annual consumption can be estimated. All current appliances have at least energy efficiency class A+.

Energy efficiency class annual consumption annual costs at a price of 0.29 €/kWh
A+ approx. 300 kWh 87 €
A++ approx. 210 kWh approx. 61 €
A+++ approx. 155 kWh approx. 45 €

What volume can be developed by fridge-freezers?

The volume of refrigerators is expressed in decibels (dB). It is a decisive purchase criterion and can be found on the product label.

Modern fridge-freezers are 35-43 dB loud. This corresponds, for example, to whispering, soft music or a quiet residential street at night. This means that you can normally work next to the fridge-freezer.

Which size is right for you?

In order to adapt the energy and space consumption as closely as possible to your needs and to avoid unnecessary expenditure, the fridge-freezer combination should be the ideal size. To make this easier for you, you can use the following calculations according to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy :

120 L + (number of persons -1) x 40 L = useful capacity of the refrigerator area

Number of persons x 40 L = useful capacity of freezer area

As an example, the calculations result in the following sizes for fridge-freezer combinations:

  • 1 person recommendation: approx. 120 L usable capacity in the cooling area and 40 L in the freezer area
  • 4 persons Recommendation: approx. 250 L cooling area and 160 L freezer area
Your nutritional behaviour complements the guideline values.

If you freeze a lot, for example, it is advisable to supplement the calculated guide values and purchase 60-80 L more freezer space. Of course, you don't have to plan for this if you don't store much food.

How much does a fridge-freezer cost?

There is a wide price range between fridge-freezers. This increases with the size, freezer class, energy efficiency class and special functions. Likewise, the purchase costs for the appliance increase the quieter it works.

The cheapest freestanding fridge-freezers are available from around £150.

Type price
Built-in fridge-freezer from about £ 200
Freestanding fridge-freezer from about £ 140

Built-in fridge-freezers are often more expensive than freestanding models.

Because of the large amount of money that can be involved in buying a fridge-freezer combination, many sellers offer payment by instalments.

Decision: What types of fridge-freezers are there and which is the right one for you?

Fridge-freezers can be designed very individually. Their overall appearance is determined by many individual aspects. However, the basis of any purchase consideration must be the decision between

  • a built-in fridge-freezer combination

and

  • a free-standing fridge-freezer combination

are to be presented. On the one hand, the environmental conditions, but also the respective advantages and disadvantages are decisive. The following explanations should make your decision easier.

What distinguishes a built-in fridge-freezer combination and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Built-in fridge-freezers are seamlessly integrated into the kitchen unit. A space is often provided for them here.

Kühlschrank Gefrierkombination-2

The built-in fridge-freezer is a component of the kitchen unit. In the appliance visible here, the refrigerator and freezer compartment are arranged side by side (side-by-side).
(Image source: pixabay.com / Erika Wittlieb)

The appliance combination is either:

  • integrable (it is built into the tall unit and maintains the look of the kitchen front)
  • decorable (The fridge-freezer combination is built in. Its doors are covered by a customisable decor panel)

or

  • under-mountable (the combination is fitted under a worktop)
Advantages
  • Uniform look
  • Quiet operation
  • Space-saving (ideal for small kitchens)
Disadvantages
  • Higher purchase price due to necessary installation
  • Use in another kitchen unit problematic

What distinguishes a free-standing fridge-freezer combination and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The freestanding version is not linked to other components in its environment. It can therefore be used well to create a visual accent.

Kühlschrank Gefrierkombination-3

Freestanding fridge-freezers are independent of their surroundings. They can be rearranged as desired.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Krys Mantovani)
Advantages
  • No installation necessary
  • easy to take along/move/replace
  • size can be freely selected
Disadvantages
  • Small distances to other surrounding components make cleaning difficult
  • noises usually easier to hear

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate fridge-freezers

Fridge-freezers can be very diverse. In the following, we show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many appliances.

The criteria you can use to compare fridge-freezers include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what is important for each criterion.

Size / capacity (in L)

The size determines how much food can be cooled and frozen. In addition to the available space - and as a priority - the model dimensions should be adapted to the number of people in order to avoid the following scenario:

As soon as the doors are opened, more warm air flows into the interior of the appliance, which has to be cooled at great expense. The power consumption increases enormously.

Our calculation formulas (in the section "Which size is right for you?") help you to determine the ideal usable capacity.

Quality indicators (climate class, freezer class, energy efficiency class)

The quality of fridge-freezers is defined by the climate class, freezer class and energy efficiency class.

Only compare appliances that meet the minimum values you specify in each of the three areas.

Volume

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy advises against refrigerators with a volume of more than 40 dB.

Depending on the future location of your new household appliance, the volume will play a more or less important role. It is important to bear this in mind when making your choice.

To make it easier to classify the decibel numbers, there are standard specifications:

  • 30 dB corresponds to whispering
  • 40 dB corresponds to soft music
  • 50 dB corresponds to pattering rain

Design and material

In addition to the features determined by you in our checklist (downloadable at the end of the page), fridge-freezers are available in many different colours. From single-colour appliances to theme-specific designs, almost anything is possible.

Colour and material do not affect the way the appliance works. Your preferences decide here!

The appearance can also be influenced by the choice of material:

The front is made of either stainless steel or plastic, while the interior is made of glass or plastic. An anti-fingerprint coating gives your fridge-freezer a longer shine.

Kühlschrank Gefrierkombination-4

The choices within the equipment and design of fridge-freezers allow everyone to realise their personal refrigerator dream.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Alexa)

Warranty

A guarantee often shows how convinced the supplier is of their product. It also protects you for the duration. Even though the lifespan of a refrigerator is about 14 years, it makes sense to look at the guaranteed functionality.

Facts worth knowing about fridge-freezers

What should be considered when commissioning a fridge-freezer?

How is the installation carried out?

Many sellers install built-in fridge-freezers automatically. This saves you the - depending on the type of appliance - variously complicated to almost impossible steps of fitting the appliance.

Our research shows the following picture:

Under-mounted fridge-freezers are placed as far as possible in the space intended for them. Their cladding nevertheless creates a uniform appearance. This installation can also be done by amateur craftsmen. No general statement can be made about refrigerator-freezers that can be decorated or integrated, as the appliances and their connection to the kitchen unit differ greatly.

What temperature should be set?

Setting the ideal temperature saves electricity and therefore money.

  • The cooling range should be set to 7 °C. If the area does not have a thermometer, this usually corresponds to control levels 2 or 3.
  • Within the freezing range, the ideal temperature is -18 °C.

Once the fridge-freezer has been set and has reached the temperature, it can be filled.

How do you transport fridge-freezers?

If possible, fridge-freezers should be transported standing up to avoid oil from the compressor getting into the cooling circuit.

If only horizontal transport is possible, wait 4-24 hours (depending on the model) to allow the oil to drain back before connecting to the power supply.

Preparation for transport

  1. Defrosting and cleaning the appliance
  2. Remove removable parts
  3. Secure refrigerator door with adhesive tape
  4. Obtain and use fastening straps for upright transport
  5. Lay the appliance on its side for transport lying down
  6. Protect the back of the unit with foam/blankets

How to clean and care for fridge-freezers?

Fridge-freezers are used daily. Cleaning them is therefore an essential aspect that enables both hygiene and functionality.

Outside

  • Remove dust from the condenser and cooling fins (back of the unit)
  • Wipe the outside with a soft cloth

Interior - cooling area

  1. Disconnect the power supply
  2. Store food temporarily
  3. Remove removable drawers and shelves
  4. Clean walls, door seals, drawers, shelves with soft cloth and water
  5. Wipe dry
  6. Replace shelves and drawers
  7. Put food back into storage
  8. Connect electricity

Interior - freezer section - with automatic defrost / no-frost

  • Remove drawers, wash, dry

Interior - freezer area - without automatic defrost / no-frost

  1. Disconnect power
  2. Temporarily store frozen food
  3. Put a bowl of hot water in the freezer
  4. Collect condensation with towels/cloths or baking tray on the floor
  5. Close the door and wait 30 minutes
  6. Loosen and remove layers of ice (if this is not possible: place new hot water in the appliance and wait again)
  7. Clean the inside of the freezer with a soft, damp cloth
  8. Dry and insert drawers
  9. Put food back in storage
  10. Connect the power

Image source: Popov/ 123rf.com

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