Fridges come in all shapes and sizes to suit different lifestyle needs. You might be looking for a mini fridge to store beer, or an under counter fridge to slot under your worktops. If you have a sleek kitchen then you'll probably want an integrated fridge to hide behind unit doors.
This guide will tell you all about the different types, how much you should expect to pay and the key fridge features to look out for.
Watch our video below for tips on choosing your next fridge.
If you’re replacing your old fridge, you’ll probably want the same type: be that tall freestanding, tall integrated, freestanding under-counter or integrated under-counter.
If you’re redesigning your kitchen, it’s worth deciding on the type you want early on, when you’re planning the layout. Do you want an integrated fridge that’s hidden away behind kitchen cupboard doors, or a freestanding one you can put anywhere? Or perhaps you want a small under-counter fridge with ice box to fit neatly beneath a work top.
These are the most widely available and cheapest type, and you can put them anywhere in your kitchen. Under-counter models fit under your work surface, or you can tuck tall models away in the corner.
If you don’t want large white appliances on view in your home, then consider an integrated or built-in fridge. These sit behind cupboard doors and blend in with your kitchen units.
You can buy tall or under-counter integrated fridges, and some are designed to fit above waist height into a tall bank of cupboards.
On the downside, there are fewer integrated models on the market and they’re typically more expensive than freestanding fridges.
These are fridges that don’t have an integrated freezer compartment (see fridges with ice boxes, below). You can buy tall or under-counter models and either freestanding or integrated styles.
These have a small freezer compartment at the top of the fridge. This comes in handy if you want to keep a few frozen items easily to hand or if you don’t have room for a freezer in your kitchen. Some allow you to store ice and ready-frozen food, such as frozen peas or ice cream. Others are powerful enough to freeze fresh food down to safe temperatures.
A wine fridge (or wine cooler) is a specially designed refrigeration appliance used to keep wine stored at the ideal temperature prior to serving.
You can find wine fridges with capacity for as few as six bottles, while others can store well over 100 bottles, so it should be easy to find one that suits your needs.
The range of prices is just as huge and there's a cooler to fit every budget. You can find basic models with space for around 15 bottles for as little as £60, while at the very top end of the market there are wine coolers costing over £1,500, with capacity for over 140 bottles.
Whether you want some cold beers to hand while watching a not-to-be-missed sports event, or you're working from home in an office room that's some way from the kitchen, a mini fridge stores drinks and snacks conveniently within arm's reach.
Mini fridges start pretty small with some models providing just enough room for four cans of beer or six cans of soft drink. Expect to pay around £30-£40 for one that size.
Far more spacious mini fridges are available once your budget increases to between £70 and £150. Mini fridges within this price bracket have room for as many as 40 regular-sized fizzy drinks cans or more, and they often have door racks for storing chocolate bars and other snacks, too.
You can find plain white or black mini fridges, but there are also plenty of branded mini fridges out there, such as Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Kopparberg, Stella Artois and Guinness.
The average price of the fridges we've reviewed is £516 at the time of writing, but you really don't have to spend that much to get a great one.
We've tested five outstanding tall Best Buy fridges that cost less than £500, and plenty of other good options within this price range. But, we've found almost as many Don't Buys in the same price category, so you need to pick carefully if you're after a cheap fridge.
There are times when it's worth spending a bit more. A number of the best tall freestanding fridges we've tested, for example, fall into the £500 to £900 price band.
On average, you'll need to spend a bit more to pick up an excellent tall integrated fridge, but that's no big surprise as these types generally cost more than freestanding models. That said, there are some fantastic bargains out there, too, and our reviews can really help you sift through the duds.
Paying more can unlock some cool features, such as a water dispenser in the door, a super-cool function that adds a boost of power to speed up the cooling process, and warning alarms that alert you to an open door or rising temperature inside.
The exact fridge size you buy will depend on the space you have to house it in your kitchen. Whatever type of fridge you’re looking for, it’s important to get the dimensions right.
Check whether you need to add extra space at the sides, back and/or top to allow air to circulate. Some models don’t need this extra space, but some need as much as 5cm on either side – so it’s important to check carefully before you buy.
A lot of a fridge's environmental impact will come from it being on all day, every day.
When replacing a faulty model, buying one that’s energy efficient is a great way of reducing your environmental impact, and saving you money along the way.
But not all energy efficient fridges are good chillers, and some are from brands that develop faults quicker than average.
That's why we've started recommending Eco Buy fridges. These models are ones that we've carefully chosen as balancing good chilling performance with energy efficiency and brand reliability.
From 1 March 2021 a new energy label comes into force, which replaces the confusing A+, A++ and A+++ ratings and resets the scale back to A to G. This is designed to reinvigorate the sustainability race for manufacturers by completely emptying the top A-rating to leave room for improvement. At first it will affect washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, lighting and TVs, with other appliances including tumble dryers and ovens remaining the same for now.
The new label for refrigeration (above) states the capacity of chilled and/or frozen compartments in litres and there is also a new measure for noise emissions.
The new ratings will go from A to G and is a clearer reflection of how efficient your appliance is by modern standards. Each label features a QR-code for more product information which links to the product on the manufacturer’s website. Energy consumption is presented either as kWh per year, kWh per 1,000 hours or kWh per 100 cycles, depending on the product group. This is a change from the old label, which was often based on an estimated usage over a year.
When buying a new fridge, you may spot that it comes with both the old label and the new label. This is because some retailers may have stock of products displaying both labels while the switch over happens.
Fridge features either boost cooling or make the fridge easier to use. They can range from quick-chill functions that speed up chilling to help food last longer, to bottle racks that free up shelf space.
Other features offer a touch of luxury, such as water dispensers. Some are nice to have, such as humidity controls to help lock moisture in the salad crisper drawer – this can help some vegetables (such as beans, carrots, lettuce and broccoli) to last longer.
The features you choose will depend largely on your budget, as most of the nice-to-haves will bump up the price. The following features come in handy and won’t make much difference to the overall cost:
Find out the main fridge features you need to consider when looking to buy a new fridge.
White is by far the most common colour for a fridge, but other colours are available. We’ve tested silver, stainless steel and black fridges in all shapes and sizes. If you’re looking to add a splash of colour to your kitchen, retro models tend to be available in colours such as red, cream and blue.
Most fridges include a plastic thermostat dial for you to adjust the temperature. But some models come with a sleek control panel with LED screen, that can be used to access settings such as super-cool and which tell you what temperature your fridge is currently at.
The average under-counter fridge, whether built-in or freestanding, will give you around 100 litres of usable space. You’ll get more than double that in the average tall fridge, which might be more suitable if you live in a large household, or prefer to do big weekly food shops.
Fridges are often between 50cm and 60cm wide and between 60cm and 70cm deep. Under-counter models are less than 90cm high, while tall models are usually between 150cm and 190cm in height. But it is possible to buy fridges between 90cm and 150cm high.
A fridge with an ice box can be handy if you only need a freezer for the bare essentials, or if you own a separate freezer that’s always full, and so need a touch of extra space. Our tests show that ice boxes usually freeze items in good time, but you’ll only get 25 litres of space at most.
We count the number of shelves, drawers and door racks in every fridge we review, so you know exactly what your storage options are. We also check for less common features such as bottle shelves, humidity-controllable crisper drawers for fresh produce and chiller drawers for meat, fish and seafood.
If you’re tight on space and want to keep your fridge in a corner, you may want to buy a fridge with a reversible door. Hi-tech models come with a door alarm to alert you when the fridge door has been open too long, or if you haven’t closed it fully.
Annual running costs vary significantly based on the fridge’s size and efficiency. The most economical under-counter fridge we’ve tested costs just £15 a year to run, while the least costs over £30. Even the least economical tall fridge we’ve seen still only costs £40 to run each year, so looks can be deceiving. Save money over your fridge’s lifespan by using our reviews to pick out an efficient model.
The faster food chills, the less time potentially harmful bacteria has to eat into the lifespan of your groceries. We’ve found that some fridges take several hours longer to chill than others, which won’t help to keep food fresher for longer. Some models come with a super-chill setting, designed to provide a burst of chilling power when you need it. This might be useful when you’re unloading a big shop, but it will force the fridge to work harder, consuming more energy.
The worst fridges have weak or poorly designed shelves, awkward drawers that don’t pull out smoothly, and nook and crannies that can harbour spillages and crumbs. We test every fridge for ease of use and ease of cleaning, so you can pick one that won’t end up leaving you frustrated.
Manufacturers measure a fridge's volume with all the shelves, drawers and door racks taken out. When we test fridges, we leave everything in place and measure the space you can actually use for storing food.
We find big differences between manufacturers' claimed capacities and real storage space - the worst offenders differ by more than 25%. This means that even fridges with the same dimensions can hold different quantities of food.
So check our capacity sizes before you buy to make sure you're getting the maximum amount of storage space for your money - you can find real sizes listed on the technical specification tab of all of our .
Every fridge has a climate class, which tells you the range of room temperatures it’s designed to work in. In the shop, you'll see the climate class denoted by letters – we've put these in bold below, along with our explanation of what temperature each class relates to:
The two you’re most likely to come across are SN and N. Both work effectively in room temperatures up to 32°C, but only SN-classed models are designed for rooms that get as cold as 10°C. It’s possible for kitchens to reach such chilly temperatures during cold winter months.
Unless the manufacturer states otherwise, using a fridge outside of its designated range could damage it and invalidate your warranty – which is why you'll struggle to find ones suitable for the garage.
Regardless of climate class, we test every fridge in room temperatures as high as 32°C and as low as 10°C, as this is how hot and cold in can get in your kitchen at different times of year.
The worst models struggle to maintain a safe and stable temperature in these conditions, potentially reducing the lifespan of your food.
All fridges 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 that protects this insulation is currently made from either plastic, metal or aluminium laminate, depending on the make and model of fridge you buy.
We continually monitor and vary the assessments that underpin our reviews to take account of changing standards and areas of concern.
Our tests have revealed that plastic backing can be highly flammable.
We are therefore not recommending any refrigeration appliances that have flammable plastic backing. All fridges with this type of backing have been made , regardless of how else they have performed in our chilling and freezing tests.
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.