If you’re remodelling your kitchen, you’ll have to decide early on what type of fridge freezer you want. Integrated models (also known as built-in fridge freezers) sit behind kitchen cupboard doors to give your kitchen a seamless look, making them a great choice if you hate having appliances on show.
On the downside, there are fewer models to choose between, compared with freestanding fridge freezers. Integrated fridge freezers are also more expensive to buy and can cost more to run.
Integrated fridge freezers are hidden from view but cost a lot more than freestanding equivalents.
You can buy models with various fridge-to-freezer ratios, so make sure you pick a size that will suit your fresh vs frozen food needs. Most are similar in size to freestanding models – where the fridge is slightly larger than the freezer – but some have a huge fridge and a relatively small freezer.
If you’re replacing an existing integrated fridge freezer, you’ll have to choose one with the same fridge-to-freezer proportions as your old one.
Built-in models are designed to fit inside a standard 60cm-wide kitchen cupboard unit. They’re a standard depth and are typically 178cm tall – but do check, as some are a few centimetres taller.
Most brands have a far smaller selection of integrated fridge freezers, and they tend to be much pricier than freestanding models. You can buy a cheap one for less than £250, but most cost £500 or more - so expect to pay around this mark to get a good one.
Brands of cheaper integrated fridge freezers (£450 and under) include Beko, Candy, Hotpoint and Indesit. AEG, Bosch, Neff and Siemens models start at £500-£550, with top-of-the-range AEG and Neff models costing £800+.
At the premium end of the scale, models from Neff, Siemens, Liebherr and Miele can cost anything from £800 to £2,000.
Like-for-like, integrated fridge freezers are a lot pricier than their freestanding counterparts.
There are various theories as to why. One possibility is that the cooling technology was costly to develop. Another is that because fewer integrated models are sold than freestanding ones, manufacturing costs are higher. Or it could be that once your kitchen design incorporates a built-in fridge freezer, you have no choice but to replace it – so there’s less incentive for manufacturers to keep prices down.
The best integrated fridge freezers cool fast, locking nutrients in your food. At the other end of the scale, the worst ones struggle to cool and can't keep food safely chilled and frozen when your kitchen heats up and cools down.
All 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.
Since July 2019, the backing that protects this insulation is made from metal or aluminium laminate, depending on the make and model of fridge freezer you buy. Prior to this, it could have also been made from plastic.
Back 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. Our tests revealed that the plastic backings were highly flammable.
Following our campaign against fire-risk fridge freezers, new British safety standards designed to make these appliances safer were introduced from 11 July 2019.
Fridge freezers with flammable plastic backs do not meet this standard, so now, manufacturers are effectively banned from making them. While this is a positive, if overdue, development, it remains legal for retailers to sell fire-risk models that have already been made. We are therefore not recommending any refrigeration appliances that have flammable plastic backing.
If you already own an appliance with a flammable plastic back, it's worth knowing that the likelihood of a refrigerator fire is very low, and the material used in the backing can allow an existing fire to spread - but it isn't the cause of the fire itself.
We continually monitor and vary the assessments that underpin our reviews to take account of changing standards and areas of concern.