If you are struggling with the sheer size or cost of a four-door fridge freezer, the Hisense FMN432A20C is a classy alternative. A four-door fridge freezer that’s 80cm and 70cm deep – narrower and shallower than many big American-style fridge freezers – it's also cheaper than leading brands.
Computer controlled temperature aims to keep food fresher for longer by reducing temperature swings and its twin evaporators ensure smells don’t pass between fridge and freezer. For chefs and dinner party hosts, the right hand freezer is Hisense’s My Fresh Choice zone, offering freezer temperatures from standard -18 degrees C up to a balmy -5 degrees C, which is ideal for serving frozen desserts.
Hisense is aiming to make a big name for itself in the UK with luxury kitchen appliances at relatively affordable prices. The FMN432A20C sits at the top of the company’s fridge freezer range and sports a fit, feel and finish that exceeds expectations.
The stainless steel effect finish on the four doors is neatly brushed and gloss coated to both enhance the look and resist fingerprints. It does this remarkably well. Even when you do plant a really greasy mid-cooking paw-print on the surface as you grab the built-in handles, the resulting marks wipe off easily.
The area between the handles is a three-quarter length inset of gloss black, with the touch controls and display seamlessly integrated into this long panel at about nose-height. The subtle blue LED segment display gives you details of the three zone temperatures (two separate freezers remember) as well as half a dozen illuminated symbols for various modes and warnings.
The touch controls take a bit of getting used to as there is no obvious area to touch and, by default, the controls are locked and you need to press the touch control to unlock before anything else will respond.
Some stabbing of the panel is required before you get familiar with exactly where the controls are. Once you have this established you can access temperature controls for each compartment, the Super Freeze and Super Cool functions for high speed chilling and the holiday mode setting.
Open the top doors and you are greeted with a cavernous space with four full-width shelves, two salad drawers with humidity control vents and eight door pockets that could store as much as a small fridge in their own right. There is little adjustment for the shelves or door pockets, though, with just the mid two shelves and the lower mid pocket offering two fairly close-by positions.
The whole fridge area is supremely well illuminated by two side-mounted bright white LED strips that do a great job of covering all the angles even when the fridge is packed out with produce.
Downstairs you have two completely independent freezer compartments, but why? Because you can set the temperature for each independently. For example, left hand side is a more traditional freezer with a temperature range of -15 to -25 degrees C, while the right hand ‘My Fresh Choice‘ zone can be set from -18 to -5 degrees C.
This allows you to utilise the space as an extra traditional freezer (-18 degrees C), as a ‘gentle freeze’ area for foods such as luxury ice creams (the default -12 degrees C) or as the perfect short-term freezing temperature for frozen fish and meats (-5 degrees C). We suspect most people will simply use it as a traditional freezer, but it’s nice to have the choice for special occasions.
Both freezer areas sport three drawers, the upper most of which is a slide out open style bin for easy access. These run out on traditional sliders rather than rollers, meaning they do require a good tug when full. This Hisense scores valuable points over some of their competitors with top-mounted LED lighting in each freezer compartment, which is a great asset when rooting around for those lost peas.
The FMN432A20C is unique as there are very few 80cm-wide four-door models on the market – most are 90cm or more. Moreover, this Hisense is designed with European rather than US kitchens in mind and its depth is a sensible 70cm from the back wall. That is up to 10cm shallower than some US-style four door models, meaning it won’t stick out miles into your kitchen either.
With those more compact dimensions in mind, the FMN432A20C offers a roughly 70/30 split in favour of the fridge. The divide is very notable in the fridge’s full width capacity and narrower wall thickness for insulation. While there is a capacious 290 litres of fridge space, total freezer space is down to just 140 litres, which is not too much more than some taller 60cm wide fridge freezers.
The fridge’s four full-width glass shelves with spill-proof edges will hold a family’s worth of fresh produce with ease, albeit assuming you don’t have any taller items. In practice we found that we needed to remove one shelf so we had more room for taller bottles and items we would generally stack up like spreads and plastic containers. Unfortunately, the limited shelf height adjustment once you have done this does means you do end up with two height restricted shelves and one very tall one.
The two salad drawers are reasonably large and can be removed for a worktop rummage if required. They run out on plastic rollers but are far from smooth and, like the freezer drawers, require a firm tug. The humidity control on each is a simple vent slider. Compared to some competitor models, each drawer is somewhat truncated in front to back depth due to the reduced depth of the appliance (just 70cm) and the large door pockets lower down on the doors.
The flip side of that is the range and capacity of door pockets could keep a small family in chilled food in their own right. While there is only adjustment for the lower-mid pocket, they are generally well positioned for typical UK produce.
Moreover, their depth is perfectly gauged to balance ease of access with security of items falling out if you open the door a bit sharpish. Wherever you place food in the Hisense’s fridge, the two LED light strips ensure items are always well illuminated and there are no dark recesses where a rogue sprout can hide.
The freezer space is evenly split between the two compartments and, assuming you remember what you have put in each side, the design should further improve energy efficiency. Opening the freezer door and letting cool air out is a big waste of energy and the smaller individual doors should help this.
Each compartment offers three good-sized deep bins with the uppermost of each being semi open for easy access of most commonly required items. The lower two drawers are deep traditional freezer bins.
As a finishing touch the freezer’s LED lighting works well, although perhaps more for the upper shelves as the light is somewhat obscured lower down. While this model does not have an automated or in-door ice/water dispenser, the FMN432A20C is supplied with a twist and serve ice maker that can be removed if you need the additional freezer space.
The FMN432A20C uses the latest evolution of a traditional refrigerator compressor motor and turns in impressive technical specification and performance. Despite the traditional motor technology and two evaporators to ensure odours are not passed between compartments, the FMN432A20C is impressively quiet and compares favourably with some very expensive competitors.
We measured its peak running noise at just 39dB(A), which is well below what we would call noticeable in a kitchen environment. In the depths of night you might be able to hear this Hisense working but at all other times the FMN432A20C will get on with its job almost silently. A great result.
The FMN432A20C promises to compete with some very affluent side-by-side refrigerators by offering computer controlled temperature modelling to ensure very stable temperatures throughout. The more consistent fridge and freezer temperatures remain, the better food is preserved in terms of life expectancy, flavour and vitamins, so this is a key consideration when spending a significant amount of money on a fridge freezer. This is what we test for.
We loaded up the Hisense with 0.5kg of produce per 10 litres of fridge space and 1kg of frozen food per 10 litres of freezer space including 2 litres of room temperature water to simulate fresh-to-frozen cooling. The fridge swallowed the best part of 15kg of mixed chilled foods with ease and still looked relatively empty.
We set the fridge to 4 degrees C, the left hand freezer to -18 degrees C and set the right hand ‘My fresh Choice’ freezer to its default -12 degrees C. Tesco’s Value vanilla ice-cream probably didn’t warrant such luxurious accommodation as the My Fresh Choice zone, but we never shy away from tests involving ice cream. Over the course of several days we opened the doors around six times per day, measuring shelf temperatures, food temperatures, energy and noise throughout.
While £900 or so might sound like a lot for a fridge freezer, it’s ‘entry-level’ so far as four-door fridge freezers go. All the same, the Hisense has very good temperature control that will definitely help keep your fresh produce fresher for longer.
The large fridge faired very well with a narrow spread of temperatures from top to bottom and a mean average of pretty much spot on 4 degrees C. Both salad drawers averaged just below 4 degrees C, ideal for salads and fresh fruit, and varied by just /- 1 degree throughout.
The middle shelf was the most consistent, averaging 4.4 degrees with just /- 0.5 degrees variation throughout the compressor cycle. That is an extremely impressive result and comparable with the temperature stability of some models we have tested at twice the price.
Only the top shelf struggled to remain as stable as the rest of the fridge compartment with short term chilling that dipped as low as -2 degrees C, albeit for very short period (just a few minutes). This could potentially cause mild frost damage to soft fruits. Although with most people storing bottles, jars and tins on the top shelf it is unlikely to be a major problem.
At the end of the compressor cycle a typical rise of 2 degrees above its average 4.8 degrees C was a little higher than ideal, but not problematic.
Both freezer compartments proved equally solid performers, with the lower temperature left hand freezer offering class-leading performance at the price. It averaged -18.4 degrees C and never wavered below -21 degrees or above -17 degrees C throughout the test. Our frozen food sample did take a lengthy 19.5hrs to reach -18 degrees C, but if you do need to freeze down such a large quantity of fresh food, the Hisense Super Freeze feature would be the way to go.
The food sample itself remained at a perfect -17.8 degrees with barely 0.2 of a degree variation at any time – an outstanding result that will ensure the maximum longevity and quality of your frozen foods.
The My Fresh Choice freezer at -12 degrees C proved a little more variable with average temperature ranging from -12.5 degrees on the top shelf to -14.4 degrees at the bottom. The top shelf in particular had a fair swing of temperatures throughout the cooling cycle, dipping to nearly -20 degrees and raising to above -10 degrees every couple of hours. The bottom shelf fared much better with a more stable 1/-4 degrees variation.
Hisense’s high-tech insulation worked exceptionally well during the three-hour fail test with both freezers showing excellent ability to keep your food frozen during a power cut. The left hand freezer crept up just 6 degrees C over the three hours, and would be unlikely to get above zero degree air temperature in less than 15 or 16 hours.
The My Fresh Choice zone went up just over 7 degrees for the top shelf. The latter might be an issue for longer power cuts (5 hours) if you are running the My Fresh Choice at a higher temperature, such as -12 or above. However given the outstanding insulation properties of the left hand freezer, we would suggest that in the event of power cut you put your premium foods in the left side freezer and simply eat the ice cream.
The Hisense’s A rating is good for this type of appliance and its actual energy consumption would indicate that it is at the positive end of its A rating too. Running in our controlled 18 degree C ambient environment with each door opened six times per day for approximately 20 seconds, the FMN432A20C used just 0.8kWh per day.
Over the course of a year that would be around 290kWh, or approximately £43 assuming you are paying an average tariff of 15p/kWh. Like all refrigeration appliances, if situated in a very hot kitchen environment with a larger family opening the doors more frequently, these costs will increase significantly.
While the FMN432A20C’s relatively bijou main freezer and higher temperature of the My Fresh Choice zone no doubt contributes to the low electricity consumption, this is still a very good result for a large four door appliance.
This is a great option if you’ve considered a four-door fridge freezer, but couldn’t find the space. At 80cm wide and 70cm deep, it’s a lot easier to accommodate the Hisense FMN432A20C than most American-style fridge freezers.
It looks great and performs creditably, too. Freezer space is somewhat limited, which might bother some people, but provided you can live with that then it’s worth seriously considering.
A smart, four-door fridge freezer that takes up less space – we like.