How to buy the best American fridge freezer
American fridge freezers look impressive and promise the end to an overflowing fridge and crammed-to-bursting freezer.
But before you get stuck with a bulky appliance that dominates your kitchen and costs a small fortune to run, make sure an American model really is the best type for you.
American fridge freezer pros and cons
American fridge freezers (also known as side-by-side or American-style models) are wider then freestanding or integrated fridge freezers and always have at least one set of side-by-side doors.
Most commonly, there are just two doors, with the fridge sitting next to the freezer. But, sometimes the fridge and freezer will each have two side-by-side doors but the fridge will sit on top of the freezer. Alternatively, the fridge can have two side-by-side doors but the freezer underneath will have one or two large external drawers.
American fridge freezers are wider and deeper than conventional models, so they take up more space in your kitchen, but they also give you far more space to store fresh and frozen food.
American fridge freezer pros
- American fridge freezers offer more storage space for fresh and frozen food than regular fridge freezers.
- Useful features – such as a frost-free freezer, door alarms and a fast-freeze function – often come as standard.
- They look great.
- They have lots of fridge shelves and racks for storing items of all shapes and sizes.
- Many come with water dispensers and ice makers.
American fridge freezer cons
- They’re pricey to buy and expensive to run.
- American fridge freezers take up a lot of space and may be too big for your kitchen.
- A water dispenser that offers unlimited chilled water has to be plumbed in to the mains water supply.
- Alternative water dispensers have refillable jugs, but you’ll have to keep topping them up.
- They have fewer freezer drawers than you’d find in a conventional freezer.
How big are American fridge freezers?
American fridge freezers are large and bulky, so it’s crucial to buy one that’s the right size for your kitchen – you don’t want it to dominate the space or block an area that you need access to.
You may also have to factor in extra space at the back, sides and/or top for air to circulate. With this in mind, it’s important to consider the following dimensions carefully:
The standard width of an American fridge freezer is 90cm, so it will take up more space in your kitchen but also gives you far more space to store fresh and frozen food.
Slimmer American models are available, but they'll always be at least 70cm wide – 10cm more than the width of a standard freestanding model.
They’re also deeper than standard models – typically 70cm or more. So make sure you factor this in if you’re planning to put your new fridge freezer in a different place.
American models can be too deep to manoeuvre through front doors and internal doors, so measure your doorways to see whether you’ll be able to get it into your kitchen. If you’re unsure, ask the retailer whether they will remove (and reattach) the fridge freezer doors when they deliver it – and whether this will cost extra.
American models are around 175-190cm tall.
The main appeal of American fridge freezers is the amount of storage space they contain.
As the graph below shows, the average American-style model contains 390 litres is usable space, which is enough for around 20 supermarket carrier bags' worth of shopping.
Unlike manufacturers, who measure fridge freezer volume with all the shelves and drawers taken out, we measure how much space you can actually use for storing food.
As a result, models with exactly the same external dimensions can very significantly when it comes to usable storage space.
How much do American fridge freezers cost?
American fridge freezers are larger than conventional models and so are generally more expensive. Prices start at around £450 and go well over £2,000.
You don't have to spend a fortune to get a great model, though. As the graph below shows, we've uncovered more Best Buys costing less than £900 than we have costing more.
Prices vary hugely between brands and whichever brand you choose, you’ll pay more for features such as a stainless steel finish, digital displays and water and automatic ice dispensers.
Scroll down to see the best cheap American fridge freezer we've tested.
What features do they have?
Lots of American fridge freezers come with extra cooling and storage features as standard. These can include:
- Frost-free freezer – This is probably the most useful fridge freezer feature of all, as it saves you the laborious job of scraping away ice and mopping up water from your kitchen floor. Every American fridge freezer we've tested has a frost-free freezer.
- Fast-freeze function – This boosts fresh-food freezing times, so food is fresher when you defrost it. This setting also consumes more energy though, so it's best to use it sparingly.
- Extra storage features – American models often have extra compartments, such as chiller drawers to help keep meat and fish extra-cold and shielded from the warm air that seeps in whenever you open the door.
- Adjustable shelves – Look for these in the fridge and freezer, so you can arrange the space as you want it.
- Door alarms – These alert you when you've left the fridge or freezer door open for too long, so you don't need to worry about whether you've accidentally left the freezer door open.
Which features should I pay more for?
It depends on your budget and the brand you want – as premium features, such as automatic ice dispensers and a stainless steel finish, are nice extras that inevitably bump up the price.
If you want an American model with the very latest mod cons and cooling technology, consider choosing the following:
- Separate thermostats – These allow you to create more accurate fridge and freezer temperatures.
- Convertible zones – These allow you to convert part of the freezer space into extra fridge space, which could be handy at busy times, such as Christmas.
- Independent cooling systems – Some have separate fridge and freezing cooling circuits. This helps keep moisture in the fridge and minimise food dehydration, which is good for preserving food with a high water content – such as salad.
- Digital display – From setting the thermostat to programming functions such as fast-freeze, a digital display looks good and can make fridge freezers easier to set up and use.
- Water dispenser – Whether plumbed-in or refillable, a water dispenser provides instant access to chilled water.
- Ice maker – Automatic ice makers are usually integrated with water dispensers and supply cubes of crushed ice. You’ll find manual ice makers in the freezer section – you fill the removable tray with water, and when the ice is ready you twist the dial to release it.
American fridge freezers with water and ice dispensers
Chilled, filtered water and instant ice are tempting features of American fridge freezers, but most models have to be plumbed into the mains water supply. This will affect where you can put it in your kitchen and can make them expensive to install.
Also, you’ll have to change the water filters every six months or so. Replacement filters can cost anything from £20 to more than £90 each, so it’s worth checking the cost of these before you buy, to avoid costly surprises later on.
Some models have removable water jugs that you simply top up from the tap. This means you won’t have to factor in plumbing costs, and you can put the fridge freezer anywhere in your kitchen. But you’ll only get two to three litres of water before you’ll need to refill the jug.
What type of back do American fridge freezers have?
All refrigeration appliances need insulation to keep cool. This insulation is flammable, so it's essential that it's sufficiently protected in the event of a fire. The backing protecting this insulation is currently made from either plastic, metal or aluminium laminate.
Our tests have revealed that plastic backing can be highly flammable. We're not recommending any appliances with flammable plastic backing. All fridge freezers with this type of backing have been made Don't Buys, regardless of how else they performed in our chilling and freezing tests.
Top 10 best American fridge freezers
None of the above take your fancy? Don't worry – we've tested more than 100 of the most popular models to help you find the perfect fit for your kitchen.