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Fridge size and dimensions guide

Here’s what you need to know about sizing up the internal volume and external dimensions – and making sure your fridge is the right fit for your kitchen.

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I am curious about how the 5 or more volume was arrived at.

Household size Recommended volume Price range
1–2 people 250–380L (1) $429–$2399
3–4 people 350–530L $699–$4799
5 or more 440L+ (2) $1079–$5500+

If 4 people need up to 530L, then why does the 5 or more start at the equivalent of the volume needed for 3.5 people? It would seem more logical to me if the 5+ started at say 500L, or even 530L.

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I think the number of people is unimportant anyway: the useful ‘layout’ of the fridge & its carrying capacity are far more relevant for me. Can I fit in tall bottles & how many? What is the largest size casserole dish I can fit on a shelf (for rapid cooling of contents)?
Will a fortnightly shop of perishables fit in? How many storage bins/how big are they?
Etcetera, etcetera…

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Bang on, Trish, I have the same concerns. I look at my 340L Westinghouse and realise that I don’t actually need that much space (I bought it because I was put on Insulin and that needs to be fridge stored, and you get 5 boxes of the stuff at a time, and if you are on 2 different kinds, then you have 10 boxes to be stored… arghhh)… but I think a smaller fridge would work just fine, as long as the dimensions and layout made sense in terms of my storage needs. Meds, veggies, dairy, meat. Need lots of veg space. In a bottom mount fridge because bending for the veg drawer these days is a real trial. And its just me. The cat refuses to help.

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We 2 mostly shop 1 day a week and comfortably fill a 519L (fridge+freezer) between produce, fresh foods, meats, frozen foods, and a few extras of refrigerated/frozen items on sale having long use by dates. Saving leftovers from dinners for a future lunch also expands the space more often than not since storage containers are often less space efficient than original packaging. We made do when there were 3 in the household but it often took strategic placement and rearrangement through the week.

When I was the only one retired in the house and shopped solo, twice a week, a 400~450L would have been quite adequate. Conclusion: The size fridge one needs has less to do with the numbers of people and more to do with their shopping habits.

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I am also thinking that fridge manufacturers should offer an option of more (? mixed size) fruit/vegetable drawers: I think they would be more useful than a chilled water dispenser…

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Hell yeah. My fridge space cant be set up for plumbing anyway, its just not doable without a total kitchen reno, which wont happen in my lifetime! I do like ice, though, and I am considering a separate ice maker so I don’t have to take up freezer space with trays. (I hate the twist icemaker in my current fridge, it never clears, completely)

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We have added a container to the freezer to take the last few cubes from a tray. Then we refill the tray and freeze, repeat as needed then when enough cubes are in the container we use them until too few then back to the tray. That may help if you have the room for a container.

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Yes, I reckoned I would have to do something like that. I was looking at a 251L bottom mount CHiQ though and I dont think it would have the space. There’s a Hisense (or maybe it was a Haier) which has 2 drawers and a pull out tray in the bottom mount so that might be OK. Slightly larger capacity as well.

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Our container is a 1 litre plastic ice cream container. Something of that size takes up very little room but holds a few ice cubes, you could even buy a more flat one to hold say around a dozen cubes and not take up much space.

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Why can’t smaller fridges be more energy efficient?

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I wonder if to make them smaller, the insulation within the smaller fridges is reduced to try an maximise the internal volumes. Also, smaller motors doesn’t necessarily mean more efficient. The compression units in smaller fridges may have to work harder reducing their efficiency.

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I think it is because the gasses used all need high compression and this requires similar energy input to obtain the desired pressures hence similar power sized compressors. So even though the fridge is smaller it uses much the same energy and a similar number of cycles to a larger fridge. Being a smaller space may mean it cools more quickly but may also mean it doesn’t have enough thermal mass to maintain temperature ranges for longer periods. Getting better/more insulation is better at reducing energy used than probably anything else but this leads to bulkier products, somewhat/largely defeating the reduction in size.

Using other cooling tech such as peltier uses large amounts of energy even though taking up less space. So again not so energy efficient just space efficient.

Ammonia based cooling still requires a lot of energy, this is to seperate the ammonia from solution. It then is cooled after separation and is circulated to be recombined with water vapour and in so doing uses heat energy (endothermic reaction) and cools the area around it.

Solar or other similar energy sources provide a freer source of energy and may help negate some energy use considerations but not all.

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Bar fridges are a classic example.

They are about as energy efficient as chest freezers.

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One reason is the square-cube law. Fridges gain heat through their surface. In a small fridge the ratio of surface area to volume is higher than in a large fridge.

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So is it better to have a bigger fridge with more energy efficiency or a smaller fridge with less efficiency?

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Getting an idea of energy used (should be able to use the Energy Star rating) might indicate which fridge size suits you better energy wise, this size will also be dictated by what you want to put in it…too small and thus not enough space…too large then a waste of space and possibly money. So first determine what capacity you need, then compare products that are the same or slightly larger than your size needs, looking at the energy they use then should point you to the best choice of fridge. If a larger fridge uses less energy than a small one and the cost of purchase difference isn’t unreasonable then I’d go for the larger one as the energy savings should outweigh the extra cost of the purchase over the lifetime of the fridge.

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If I may add, that if you have a larger fridge that is not over packed, it will be better a chilling the food to the required temperature than a smaller fridge which is packed.

Another consideration, is that if you wish to buy things in larger quantities when on sale, you can if you have spare space in the fridge freezer. There-by you can save money. One example is we buy milk on special and immediately freeze it. Then we thaw as needed.

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I have read that fridges and freezers work best when fully stocked as there is less air to chill, and less cold air escapes when the doors are opened.

However, even when fully loaded, the larger ones are likely to still be more efficient.

I ensure that both the fridge and freezer of our LG 563 litre side-by side are fully stocked, much to my wife’s horror.

She does not accept that it is better to buy everything at bargain prices than to buy only as you need something and pay full whack.

The only possible downside is if that if appliance fails, or the power is off for an extended perio of time, and the food losses are not covered by insurance

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Neither.

Is the best outcome to have the fridge that is the right size for your needs and uses less electricity over a year?

The Choice fridge reviews provide an estimate of the running cost over 10 years for each model tested. A larger fridge, even though it is more efficient may still use more electricity than a smaller fridge that is less efficient. Member content.

Our current fridge was selected first on the size and layout we required. We then looked for the model that size that had a good brand score and a good efficiency score. It was not the cheapest fridge to buy or the most efficient of all the brands. The Choice reviews ensured we did not buy a fridge that was inefficient and wasteful in electricity.

There are both larger fridges and small fridges which are very inefficient. It may be best to be able to make a balanced decision?

P.S.
We ran our fridge through a power meter for several months. It made almost no measurable difference to power used whether it was near full or half empty.

What made a difference was being away for a few days. Not opening and closing the fridge, taking cold stuff out and adding warm stuff in over that time. It reduced the power used, but only by a small amount 5-10%.

The fridge also uses slightly less power in winter than summer.

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