Think fridge freezers’ claimed capacities will help you see which one will hold more food compared with another? Think again. We don’t think manufacturers’ quoted capacity figures paint an accurate picture…
So, you’re ready to buy a new fridge freezer. You know the type you want, the dimensions you need, the colour you prefer and roughly how much you’re prepared to pay.
You pick up the Argos catalogue, hit the shops or search online – or possibly do all three – to find the fridge freezer you want.
While you’re browsing, you might start narrowing down your options by picking models that offer more fridge or freezer storage space compared to others. Most retailers list the net capacity (in litres) of each fridge freezer to allow you to do just this. And if model X has a capacity of 290 litres and model Y’s is 250 litres, it surely stands to reason that you can fit more food inside model X.
But, we don’t think these capacity figures paint a true picture of the actual amount of food you can fit inside a fridge freezer, and they don’t really help you compare one model with another.
Fridge freezer storage claims don’t add up
Why do we think this? While manufacturers exclude bulky space-eating features like ice makers or water dispensers from their calculations, they can measure the fridge and freezer volumes with all of the shelves, drawers and door racks taken out. These minimal storage features might not seem to take up much room, but in our fridge freezer tests we find they soon eat into the storage space you can actually use.
When we get a fridge freezer into our test lab, we leave everything inside it and measure the space that’s actually available for storing groceries. We want to know how much space you’ll really get on each shelf – without counting the space between the shelf’s edge and the door. And if you can only keep fruit and veg inside the drawer in the salad crisper area, we think it makes sense to just count the volume of the drawer, not the space around it.
As the illustration shows, the differences between what the manufacturers claim and what we find can be big – as much as 32% with one Samsung model. We find these differences exist, to greater or lesser degrees, across all fridge freezer brands. For example, Indesit’s worst offender has 30% less usable space than claimed. Bosch’s has 22% and Beko’s has 21%.
And even within a brand’s own range of models you get some with actual capacities that are closer to the claim than others. So although Samsung, LG and Hotpoint can have fridge freezer models that have 32%, 27% and 20% less usable space than claimed, they also have models with only 11% or 12% less usable space as well.
All in all, it’s a pretty confusing affair. Do you think fridge freezer manufacturers should make more realistic capacity claims?