Top five cheap fridges for 2019
By Patrick Gallagher
You don’t need to spend a fortune for a quality fridge. From integrated models to under-counter options, here are our top five budget fridges.
A fridge is one of the bigger investments you'll make for your home. But that doesn’t mean you should spend over the odds for a quality model.
We’ve found fridges that will not only offer high cooling power and keep your food fresher for longer, but will also save you money on your energy bills.
Some of the worst offenders on the market struggle to chill food, have a miniscule amount of usable storage and still cost you a fortune.
Whether you’re moving home, looking for a replacement model or you just fancy an upgrade, picking the best fridge can be difficult. And with prices not always matching expectations, our expert reviews can help separate the good from the bad.
No matter if you want integrated, under-counter or a model with a freezer box, our fridge reviews have it covered. Read on for our top cheap fridges – and the ones to avoid.
Top 5 cheap fridges
This tall, built-in fridge might look pricey but it’s not that expensive for an integrated model, and you get some fancy extra features. It has a quick-chill function, which adds a boost of cooling power to help chill a large load of fresh food quickly, the idea being that this will lock nutrients inside food and cut down on the time harmful bacteria has to grow. It also has a digital thermostat to help make it easier to set the temperature.
This small, under-counter fridge did well in most of our tests, and, most importantly, it chills quickly and efficiently. Although it might cost a little more to buy, it has an A+++ energy label, making it one of the most energy-efficient fridges we’ve ever tested. This should save you money on your running costs.
This under-counter, freestanding fridge is one of the cheapest you can buy. Not only does it chill fresh items quickly, but it has excellent temperature stability too. It's not one of the most energy-efficient models we've tested, but it's one of the best of this type of fridge you'll get for this low a price.
If you’re also looking to update your freezer, we have uncovered some impressive models during testing. Kit out your kitchen with one of the best models by looking at our freezer reviews.
The fridges to avoid
A cheap fridge to avoid would have a high price tag but struggle at its core job. If a model can't reach the temperature needed to keep your food fresh then we can't recommend it. We’ve uncovered cheap fridges that are so bad at keeping to a stable temperature that your food will spoil before you get a chance to enjoy it.
Cheap fridges to avoid
This small fridge takes ages to chill, warms up to unsafe levels when the outside temperature rises and it has no fancy features. But regardless of how it performed in our other tests, we have concerns about safety due to the backing of this fridge being made of plastic. This means we cannot recommend it. The manufacturer of this appliance is in the process of upgrading it to have flame-retardant backing and our Don't Buy recommendation relates to the flammable plastic-backed version of this product. It will remain a Don't Buy until this version is no longer available to buy in shops. Read more on fridge backings below.
This affordable built-in fridge has a poor recommended thermostat setting and because the temperature constantly fluctuates your food could end up spoiling. But regardless of how it performed in our other tests, we have concerns about safety due to the backing of this fridge being made of plastic. This means we cannot recommend it. The manufacturer of this appliance is in the process of upgrading it to have flame-retardant backing and our Don't Buy recommendation relates to the flammable plastic-backed version of this product. It will remain a Don't Buy until this version is no longer available to buy in shops. Read more on fridge backings below.
This large fridge might offer lots of usable storage, but it takes too long to chill and once cool it can’t keep to a stable temperature either. But regardless of how it performed in our other tests, we have concerns about safety due to the backing of this fridge being made of plastic. This means we cannot recommend it. The manufacturer of this appliance is in the process of upgrading it to have flame-retardant backing and our Don't Buy recommendation relates to the flammable plastic-backed version of this product. It will remain a Don't Buy until this version is no longer available to buy in shops. Read more on fridge backings below.
Which? fridge reviews
Aside from testing the cooling power of the fridge using gel packs to simulate food, we also vary the temperature in the room to make sure it can keep the contents safely chilled, too - it’s surprising how many don’t.
To be sure the money you save on buying the fridge won’t be spent paying extra on your utility bills, our experts measure how much energy each fridge uses to keep cool and how efficient each model is in comparison with its usable amount of storage.
We even spray cherry juice in every fridge, wait for it to dry and then score it on how easy it is to clean. If you can’t comfortably clear dirt traps then your fridge could end up harbouring unwelcome germs and bacteria.
Type of backing
We constantly monitor and vary the assessments that underpin our reviews to take account of changing safety standards and areas of concern. In September 2017, we called on manufacturers to immediately stop producing refrigeration appliances with flammable. Since then, and in the apparent absence of any action from the newly-created Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), we’ve been conducting fire testing on refrigerator backings.
So far, we’ve tested backing samples from more than 80 different refrigeration appliances, across every refrigeration brand that we have on our site. We applied an open flame to each sample and any product that was unable to withstand the flame for 30 seconds has been deemed unsafe, and has been made a Don’t Buy. Hundreds more products have also been made Don’t Buys because the manufacturer either confirmed, or our own research indicated, that the backing on these products was identical to a product we tested and found to be unsafe.
Buying the best cheap fridge for you
Deciding on the type of fridge you need should come first. Are you looking for a tall model that will have tons of usable storage? Or perhaps a small integrated fridge to save on space and blend in with your kitchen units?
Also, consider whether you need a freezer, too. If so, opting for a fridge freezer or a fridge with an ice box might be more practical. Take a look at our fridge freezer reviews.
The different types of fridges will come in varying prices, so always check the full review to know you’re getting the most for your money.
Even though all new fridges must have an energy rating of at least A+, our tests have shown that not all models with the same ratings cost equal amounts to run.
We check how much energy each fridge uses to chill and stay cool consistently. We also measure the efficiency against how much you can actually fit inside.
Don’t end up spending the money you save buying a cheap fridge on your energy bills – use our energy calculator to check how much your model could cost you.
There are lots of extra functions you can pick from, such as quick cooling and water dispensers, but this will normally increase the cost. More basic additions can be really handy and won’t break the bank either.
Here are some features to look for when choosing your fridge:
- Adjustable shelving
- Salad crisp drawers
- Adjustable door racks
- Ice compartment
- Quick-chill function
- Water dispenser
- Bottle rack.
Still not sure on the fridge you need? Our expert fridge buying guide will help.