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5 Mar 2020

Have you been caught out by the fridge freezer space scam?

Fridge freezer volume claims are a load of cold air
Woman putting orange juice into the door of a frid

By our calculations, the average fridge freezer claims to hold almost five bags of shopping more than it actually can. No wonder it's a chore to pack away all of your fresh food after every shop.

Fridge freezer manufacturers have been exaggerating how much food their fridge freezers can hold by a third, on average. That's based on checking the stated volume against the usable volume of more than 500 fridge freezers, tested since 2016.

The worst fridge freezer in this respect that we've examined, from Sharp, overstated its capacity by 55%. But, as you can see below, it's an industry-wide issue.

See the best fridge freezers

Why are fridge freezers smaller than claimed?

Fridge freezer manufacturers calculate the volume of their appliances by taking all of the shelves out and simply measuring the cubic volume.

This would be fine if we were in the habit of filling our fridges and freezers with cartons of orange juice stacked one on top of each other. You could get a pretty good idea from the manufacturer's stated volume of how many cartons you could buy and fit in your fridge freezer.

But real people don't shop like that, which makes the cubic volume of the appliance almost meaningless.

The placement of the drawers and shelves have as much of an impact on the storage capacity of your fridge freezer as its physical dimensions.

We tell you the real space available

In our fridge freezer reviews we publish each appliance's usable volume, not just its volume with all shelves and drawers removed.

When we measure storage capacity we leave everything in place and tell you the amount of space you can actually use for storing groceries.

Check the technical specification tab of each fridge freezer review to compare realistic sizes.

Look for evenly spaced shelves that can be adjusted to suit your needs or shopping habits.

When we measured, we found that more than half the claimed storage of this Sharp fridge freezer was dead space

Whose is the biggest?

The table below shows how much each manufacturer over-exaggerates the space in their fridge freezers, based on an average of all of the models we've tested since 2016.

Brand% food storage volume is exaggerated
Fisher & Paykel45%

The brands near the bottom of this table tend to be better at maximising the space within the fridge freezer for storing your food.

How to buy a big fridge freezer

The fridge freezer that can store the most food isn't necessarily the one with the biggest dimensions.

By using our reviews, you'll find plenty more-compact fridge freezers that punch above their weight when it comes to food storage.

A more compact fridge freezer will save you energy too. That's great for your wallet and the environment.

If you're looking to buy a large fridge freezer, make sure it can actually store as much as it appears, or if a small number of shelves and poor spacing make its volume claims out of whack with reality.

Here's everything you need to know about how to buy the best American fridge freezer.