Yet more fire-risk, plastic-backed fridges, freezers and fridge freezers have been uncovered, as part of our ongoing investigation into refrigeration safety.
Expensive models launched in the past 12 months, as well as models from brands we hadn’t tested before, are among the 20 new models to have been labelled a potential fire risk.
We’ve made all of them Don’t Buys, taking the total number of fire-risk refrigeration products currently available in UK shops to almost 270.
Don’t Buy fridges, freezers and fridge freezers
While the backing is not the cause of a fire itself, our research indicates that the 20 appliances below all have plastic backing capable of dramatically accelerating the spread of flames in the event of a fire in your home.
Check our full list of Don’t Buy fridges.
AEG ABB81216NF £709
AEG ABE68221AF £449
Consult our full list of Don’t Buy freezers.
AEG RCB53324MW £599
AEG RCB53325MW £569
AEG RCB53325MX £769
AEG SCB61812LS £582
Candy CBF6182WFHK £320
Candy CBF6182XFHK £300
Daewoo DRZB53NPES £900
Gorenje RF60309OC £749
Gorenje RF60309OC-L £749
Gorenje RF60309OX £799
Gorenje RF60309OBK £670
Hisense RB381N4WW1 £329
Hisense RB381N4WC1 £329
Hisense RB381N4WB1 £279
See our full list of Don’t Buy fridge freezers.
Prices correct as of 14 May 2018.
Pricey plastic-backed fridge freezers
Our latest tests have increased the tally of potentially unsafe Don’t Buys for the following brands: AEG, Candy, Gorenje, Hisense and Ikea.
Two brands that we’ve tested for the first time also have flammable plastic backing – Daewoo and KitchenAid.
The Daewoo DRZB53NPES (pictured above) is an American fridge freezer – meaning it’s 90cm wide and the fridge and freezer sit side by side. It costs £900 and is the first model of its type we’ve tested to have a flammable plastic back and should therefore be avoided.
The KitchenAid KCFME 60150R (pictured below) is a stylish red fridge with a retro design. It’s also available in black (KCFMB 60150L) and cream (KCFMA 60150R). But don’t be taken in by its looks. Despite its hefty price tag, all three models have flammable plastic backing and should therefore be avoided.
KitchenAid is the fourth Whirlpool-owned brand to have at least some plastic-backed models in its range. The others are Hotpoint, Indesit and Whirlpool.
Which? refrigerator fire tests
We’ve been investigating the flammability of refrigerator backings since July 2017 and have been publicly calling on manufacturers to stop making plastic backed appliances since September 2017.
In our testing we applied an open flame to various samples for 30 seconds and any product that was deemed to be unsafe because it failed to withstand the flame – which would leave the flammable insulation exposed – has been made a Don’t Buy. Further products were made Don’t Buys because the manufacturer either confirmed, or our own research indicated, that the backing on these products was identical to a product we tested and found to be unsafe.
It’s concerning that our fire tests continue to discover new plastic-backed fridges, freezers and fridge freezers, including models that have been launched since our work on this issue began. The three KitchenAid fridges, for instance, were launched as recently as September 2017.
While the manufacture and sale of plastic-backed refrigeration appliances remains legal, the safety standards that these products currently meet are completely deficient and are set to be replaced in January 2019.
Apart from Daewoo, which has not yet responded to Which? at the time of publication, every brand mentioned above has already told us it’s either in the process of discontinuing plastic-backed appliances or are upgrading to different backs. Follow the links to the review to find out whether a specific model is in the process of being upgraded in our product reviews. Our Don’t Buy recommendation relates to the plastic-backed version of any upgraded product and will remain a Don’t Buy until the plastic version is no longer available to buy in shops.
What to do if you own a plastic-backed fridge freezer
If you own a plastic-backed fridge, freezer or fridge freezer, please be reassured that refrigerator fires are very rare. We analysed government fire data in March 2018 and found that only 8% of fires caused by faulty household appliances were caused by fridge freezers, fridges or freezers.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that while the backing material can cause an existing fire to spread, it isn’t the cause of fire itself.
Check the backing of a model you’re interested in buying and minimise the risk of a fire starting in the first place by reading our advice on fridge freezer safety.
Sign our petition to ‘End Dangerous Products’
Unfortunately, it’s not just plastic-backed refrigeration appliances that pose a potential risk to consumers.
From tumble dryers to cars and cot mattresses, our research has shown that products aren’t as safe as they could or should be. Britain’s product safety regime is antiquated and no longer fit for purpose.
Which? has a long track record of improving safety standards for UK consumers and we can do it again with your support.
Sign our petition to End Dangerous Products.