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Have fridges changed for the better?

While most of the changes in fridge technology are for the better, some are questionable: the disappearance of the butter conditioner, a fridge that plays YouTube videos and a $2750 designer fridge that you have to defrost yourself!
Choice has tested fridges for decades, so we looked at the top 5 advances we’ve noticed - what have you seen change, or what would you like to see change in fridges?

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Andrea, (@ajohnson),
Noted your comment on the Electrolux EHE5267SA having an inverter driven compressor, and the significant benefit to reducing energy efficiency.

Are there any other fridges in the review that use inverter driven compressors? A similar design change to split system air conditioners some years past has made a major improvement to their running costs.

I could not readily see this detail in the reviews or in the filter options?

We also noted recently while wasting an hour or two on holiday that “inverter” fridges may already be the norm in Japan. Both the apartments we rented while away included inverter fridges. It’s also always worth a tour around a BIC Camera store to see what we might be missing out on back home. From sake to nail polish! Okonomiyaki for lunch with sides and a beer on floor 6F or was it 7F (approx $15pp).

Mirror black or variations on it look to be the next big fashion statement for fridges. One we used had a muti-purpose cold drawer with it’s own compartment between the bottom mount freezer drawer/s and upper cold storage shelves/crisper.

Another fridge we used had zero crisper storage despite family sized capacity! It may be useful for a fridge to have storage for fresh fruit and vegetables totally independent of each other and the actual main fridge compartment (with independent real temperature and humidity regulation of each).

And for Oz, why not a separate wine storage compartment set to hold those bottles of red at just the right drinking temperature. Yes, I could spend $10,000 on a wine storage system, only they seem a little overpriced when compared to a fridge of similar size?

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We have done this in the past ourselves (for an old second fridge that we no longer have), but make the front of the door a blackboard…paint it with a blackboard paint. It can be one of the most useful features of a fridge other than its cooling function. One can write notes, reminders, shopping lists etc on the fridge door rather than using paper or using one’s brain to remember it. Children can also use it as a blackboard to keep them out of the way and safe when cooking in the kitchen.

I had a friend who’s fridge door had surface spot rust and looked at the sticker wrap for the door (he is from Germany and it is available over there). I suggested to paint the front door with blackboard paint which he did (and was cheaper) and he now thinks it is one of the best things he has done to a fridge.

I see Miele has a model available in other markets (such as the UK) and it would be good if the manufacturers could also introduce them here…rather than having to paint a door oneself.

I can imagine most organisations would be interested for their kitchens, schools and also for the home.

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Good question - I’m afraid I’m not an expert on this matter but perhaps @AliceRichard, @airedale or @CorinnaHorrigan can help us out with an answer? And if we see more fridges with this feature should we add it to the review’s filter options as @mark_m suggests? :slight_smile:

I very much like your idea for a wine storage compartment :wine_glass: It just makes sense!

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This is such a cool :snowflake: idea! I think you’re spot on, this feature would be perfect for schools, cooking schools, staff kitchens etc.
Do you find it gets messy at all? I imagine it might be tricky to get all the chalk residue off.

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No, there is a little bit of chalk dust on the floor after writing…but if one uses a wet cloth both this small residue and the writing can be easily removed.

A solution to the chalk on the floor would be for a small right angle ledge (say 5mm wide) protruding out from the bottom of the door to capture falling writing dust. When one wipes the writing off the door, this ledge could also be cleaned at the same time.

The only danger with children is the temptation of using the chalk on other surfaces which can be more difficult to clean (brushed stainless steel, carpet etc).

There is also dustless chalk available, but never bought it to see if it was in fact dustless as this would remove any dust problems. Maybe a test for Choice?

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Hi @mark_m, great question and the answer is yes - there’s an increasing number of fridges on the market that employ inverter compressor technology to deliver better performance and greater energy efficiency. We haven’t made too much of a song and dance about it to date because the compressor technology isn’t the benefit for the consumer, the performance and efficiency of the fridge is, so we prefer to focus on them.
The reason we highlighted it with the Electrolux EHE5267SA is because they have got the technology exactly right, which meant it scored a perfect 100% for temperature stability which we were super impressed with, and we wanted to give credit where credit is due. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing other manufacturers rise to the challenge now.
You’re also right about new fridge trends - black is, well, the new black when it comes to fridges, and it’s good to see the rise of the multi-purpose compartment - this makes your fridge more versatile by allowing you to vary the fridge/freezer capacity ratio to suit what you need at any given time. And as per your suggestion, there are now fridges (Mitsubishi for example) which do have a completely independent fruit and veg compartment.
Wine storage - aah, a tricky one. The problem there is that wine, particularly red wine, needs to be stored at a very different temperature than your fresh food. your fridge already has to maintain two separate temperature zones, -18 in the freezer and 3 in the fridge, so by adding another 17 degree compartment you risk dramatically increasing energy consumption, and of course cost. Not to mention there’s lots of other factors that go into storing wine correctly, such as humidity and vibration… Fortunately or unfortunately for me, wine never seems to last long enough in my household for long term storage issues to come up…

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Thanks @phb - I’d love to try this out one day and now I have all the tips and tricks I need. Also, dustless chalk! Will wonders never cease?

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Thanks for the feedback @airedale.

I’m expecting big things of inverter fridges, given just how much more efficient and quieter our new split system aircons are compared to their 2001 predecessors. Our not too shabby 2010 Electrolux fridge does not like hot Qld summers and consumes approx 1.6kW per day (Approx 580kwh annually). Or approx 30% higher than the manufacturer’s data sheet!

I guess the wine storage was a step too far. I use our old fridge (unpowered) for wine storage. It at least keeps the contents at a relatively stable temperature with the door closed, although it is rare for most bottles to sit around for long enough to show any benefits from aging. It’s just a good place for them to rest after being rattled around in the back of the courier truck. With most wine having screw caps humidity may not be such an issue, although many foreign wine producers still use corks - perhaps to give the impression of a superior product.

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Yes, we’re also pleased to see advancements in inverter technology in fridges - your fridge is responsible for around 8% of your total household energy consumption so efficiency gains will lead to big savings for the consumer. Coincidentally we’re having all sorts of issues with fridges meeting their energy consumption claims in our tests recently - we’re finding many of them will pass, but only on very specific settings (which may not be what you would expect). Of course, a hot Queensland summer will definitely make your fridge work harder, increasing your energy consumption.
Interesting you bring up screw caps (Stelvin seals) - Australia was one of the earliest adopters of the technology in wine sealing, for two reasons - one, the old world producers are steeped in tradition that we just don’t have, so they’re naturally more change adverse, and two, they have enjoyed very long and fruitful relationships with the cork suppliers, which means they typically received better quality cork than us Antipodean upstarts - poor quality cork leads to a higher percentage of ullaged or corked wine, so Australian wineries had a greater incentive to look for alternatives to cork.

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Hi ajohnson
I wholeheartedly support the inclusion in tables whether a refrigerator uses ‘inverter’ technology.
Apart from the improved efficiency and lower power, with more people installing solar PV power, the gradual ramp up of power in an ‘inverter’ refrigerator will keep the power demand flatter. This will avoid the power (current) spikes from normal refrigerators as their pump motor starts.

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Thanks for the feedback @allandorrington :slight_smile:

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One thing I have noticed is that fridges all seem to be taller than our 12 year old Sharp. It’s something of a teapot - short and stout !
When our kitchen was renovated 10 years ago, the cabinetry was made to allow space for the fridge, and we told the cabinetmaker that we couldn’t see ourselves needing a larger fridge in the future.
Now, looking for a replacement fridge, even fridges of lesser capacity are too tall to fit in the available space. I’m going to have to remove the base of the above-fridge cupboard and cut its doors shorter. :persevere:

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We have found that US fridges are wider but shorter than European design fridges.

When we finally replaced our heap-of-junk Kleenmaid fridge (made by Amana in the US) we had to have the cupboard above it modified as the new LG fridge was not as wide but was taller.

Then when we bought our currnet home 4 years, we had to do the same thing as the original owner had an US made GE fridge and we bought another new LG.

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I keep a small magnetic white board on the fridge door, to write a shopping list or reminders on it. Any chance of the whole door being made like a white board?:wink:

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I purchased an LG bottom mount refrigerator (GB-450UWLX) as a result of the most recent Choice testing: it has inverter compression. It is very quiet & amazingly energy efficient (in fact, I have just ordered a new Smart Meter because I can’t believe the low power usage…).
I do have a couple of design quibbles with it, but none with the technology!

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Great to hear @evanstrish3, I’m glad you’re happy with your super efficient fridge - that’s why we do what we do.

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For the better? (image is a hot link)

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The window door looks to be a must have for future buyers needing more utility than just an internet connection. But for those who need choice of different themes to enhance their views and social experience while interacting with their fridge? Not yet!

Embedded cameras including a robot arm to move things about to ensure proper identification may be next so when shopping one can connect to the fridge to see what is in it, nothing hidden. Oh wait, another must have ‘Family Hub’.

I had not realised the potential for social shame since my fridge is in its 18th year and only keeps food cold and (luxury, luxury) makes ice. Opening the door is increasingly passé.

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And a snip at a mere $4,799.

How can you live without one?

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I can see advantages in this feature, providing it isn’t a place where heat enters/coolness is lost from the fridge. Seeing where things are before opening a door or also seeing what foods are available when thinking about what to prepare has merits.

To me the other features are gimmicks and possibly only increase the likelihood of a breakdown or expensive repairs in its later life.

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