All fridges, freezers and fridge freezers need insulation to keep cool. This insulation is flammable, so it's essential that it's sufficiently protected in the event of a fire. Before the new regulations, the backing that protected this insulation was made from either plastic, metal or aluminium laminate, depending on the make and model of the appliance.
Our tests revealed that plastic backing can be highly flammable. Watch the video to see what happens to a plastic-backed fridge in a fire.
It can be very difficult to tell whether or not your fridge freezer, fridge or freezer has a plastic back or not. While most appliances now have metal backing, there could still be some with a plastic backing, so it's worth knowing what to look for.
One way to find out is to check whether your fridge freezer, fridge or freezer has been reviewed by Which?. If so, the material of the back panel should be listed in the technical specifications section of our .
Those who already own an appliance with a flammable plastic back should be reassured that the likelihood of a refrigerator fire is very low. Our March 2018 research analysing government fire data found that only 8% of fires caused by faulty household appliances were caused by fridge freezers, fridges or freezers. It's important to note that the material used in the backing can allow an existing fire to spread – it isn’t the cause of fire itself.
If you've bought or acquired a second-hand fridge freezer, check our tool below to see what type of backing material it has.
If the model you're looking for isn't in our tool (or for any reason you can't see our tool, or it's not working for you), and it's a second-hand appliance, we recommend contacting the manufacturer.
Please note: products made since the new safety standards were introduced in July 2019 might not be listed in the tool.
To minimise the risk of fire in your kitchen, take the following precautionary steps:
In September 2017, we called on manufacturers to immediately stop producing refrigeration appliances with flammable plastic backs. In the apparent absence of any action from the then newly created Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), we started conducting fire testing on refrigerator backings.
We tested backing samples from more than 100 appliances, across every refrigeration brand we had on our website. We applied an open flame to each sample, and any product that was unable to withstand the flame for 30 seconds we deemed unsafe and made it a .
Hundreds more products also became Don’t Buys because the manufacturer either confirmed, or our own research indicated, that their backing was identical to a product we tested and found to be unsafe.