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A fridge is a big investment. Buy right and it should last you 10 years or more, so it's important you do a little bit of groundwork first so you can ensure you're buying the right one to suit your needs.
Firstly, think about how big you need the fridge to be. As a rule, if the fridge is for one to two people, you'll need one that's 250-380litres. If it's three to four people you'll need one between 380 and 550litres, and if it's for five people or more, you'll need one that's 440litres or bigger.
Before you buy, always measure the space you'll be putting it in: you'll need to allow at least 5cm gap around each side and the back, and 10cm on top in order to be able to install the fridge properly.
When it comes to finish, there are a few options: a stainless steel finish looks sleek, but can show fingerprints and other marks. To avoid this, look for a matte or 'fingerprint resistant' finish. Classic white fridges are easy to keep clean, and can be a bit cheaper than stainless steel options. Black and coloured fridges can look great, but if you're buying a fridge to last you long-term, consider whether you'll still like it in 10 years time.
These are the main types of fridge available, and some of the best options for each one:
Freezer on the top (top mount)
These are the cheapest fridge to buy and to run. However, you have to bend down to access the fridge which can be inconvenient. There are a lot of these around, so if you're looking for this style you'll be able to get a good deal.
LG comes out as the best fridge brand in a Canstar Blue review. This LG 393L Top Mount Refrigerator, $694, has a 393 litre total capacity, so is great for a small home. It also has a right-hinged door, a graphite finish, and a 3.5 star energy rating.
Freezer on the bottom (bottom mount)
Bottom mount fridges can be a bit more expensive that top mounted ones, but they're a lot more convenient as the fridge is on top. They are a bit more costly to run, and can be slower to chill, but many people find the convenience of having the fridge at eye level outweighs these factors.
The LG 454L Bottom Mount Fridge, $1417, has a 4.5-star energy rating, and there are air vents located inside to direct cold air onto items stored in the top door baskets. The crisper drawers have a special feature to keep your fruits and veggies fresh. It has tempered glass shelves and a two-step folding shelf to fit taller items.
Side-by-side (fridge next to freezer)
These are great for big families, or people who entertain a lot as they have so much space - although you do need a big kitchen to fit one in. They also give easy access for people in wheelchairs. They generally have extra features such as ice and water dispensers. Sometimes the temperatures can be inconsistent between the top and bottom of the fridge, and they can also be fairly narrow - so big items are tricky to fit in.
Westinghouse rates well for fridges in the Canstar Blue review, and this 620L side by fridge, $1789, is a great option for a big household. There's adjustable storage, a crisper with a divider to give extra space when you need it, and a seal on the drawer so your fruit and veg last longer. The glass shelves help improve visibility and isolate leaks, preventing spills from dripping down to the shelves.
French door (bottom mount freezer with a two door fridge)
These have the convenience of a bottom mount fridge but also have a big capacity and often have extra features. They often include ice and water dispensers, although these can take up a lot of space from the fridge itself. They can be expensive, but they fit a lot in, and people who have them usually love the space and versatility they bring.
This Fisher & Paykel 519L French Door Fridge, $2199, was awarded 'best brand' by Choice. It's in a stainless steel finish and has an ActiveSmart™ system that adjusts temperature, airflow and humidity to keep cool air inside and food fresh. It has adjustable shelving and easy slide crisper drawers for flexible storage space. It can fit large bottles in the doors, and is great for big families.
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