Currys Essentials CWC15B14

Score

Pros

  • Good temperature range
  • Looks the part
  • Great for cans
  • Cheap to buy

Cons

  • High running costs
  • Awkward wine storage
  • Controls at rear
  • No lighting
  • Flimsy cabinet quality
  • Noisy

Key Features

  • Review Price: £129.99
  • 15-bottle capacity
  • A-rated energy efficiency
  • Reversible door
  • UV glass
  • 5-10 degree temp range
  • 1-year warranty
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What is the Currys Essentials CWC15B14?

If you’re looking for a cheap, compact wine and drinks cooler for balmy summer days or nights in watching the big match, Currys might just have the answer. The CWC15B14 is a compact, 15-bottle cooler, and is part of the retailer’s own budget Essentials range. It costs less than £130 at full price and can often be found on special offer too.

It looks good and works well, offering a choice of temperatures from 2-16ºC. However, running costs can be fridge-freezer high, build quality leaves a lot to be desired, it’s very dark inside, and the controls are on the back. Its affordable enough for occasional parties or special nights in, but it’s going to cost you in the long-run.

Related: Best fridge freezers

Currys Essentials CWC15B14 – Design and features

The Currys Essentials CWC15B14 wine cooler is more “get some beers in for the match and throw a bottle of Pino in there for the ladies”, than it is a home for you collection of fine wines.

At 51cm tall, 44cm wide and 47cm deep, it’s a neat size for popping on a cabinet or on the floor beside the TV. Two screw-on pegs position it a little way from the rear wall to keep it working efficiently. That efficiency is A-rated for energy. By modern standards, and given the limited 46-litre internal volume, that’s pretty poor.

Build quality is what you’d expect at the price: it’s a bit flaky. The cabinet metalwork is foil-thin and, despite the box looking perfect, the cooler had been crushed at the back a little when we unwrapped it.

The black-painted cabinet is unobtrusive, and the glass door allows you to see the contents within. Well, it does if the unit is in a very well-lit room. There are no lights on the inside of the CWC15B14 and its dark interior makes it very gloomy. The door feels robust, though. It comes right-hand hinged but can be reversed easily enough; the grab-handles are recessed into the top edge.

The internal space is truncated on the lower half to make way for the old-school compressor at the back. The natural shelf mid-way up is extended forward by a wire shelf. You also get a small wire bottle rack. This offers carry-out storage for four average-sized wine bottles.

The controls are concealed at the back. No, really. One assumes you’re going to find a setting and stick to it; adjusting the thermostat knob is virtually impossible. Unless you have the arms of an octopus, you’ll need to pull the CWC15B14 out and spin it around to adjust temperature. You’ll also need a coin to fit in the slot and turn knob.

The thermostat control is arbitrarily labelled 0-5. The specification suggests that this fridge is good for setting an internal temperature between 5ºC and 20ºC, so you might assume that each number setting is worth about 4 degrees cooler. However, a sticker on the door suggests the thermostat is there simply to account for different ambient room temperatures.

Clearly, getting a temperature inside that works for you will be trial, error and several trips to the back to reach the thermostat. A small fridge thermometer will help.

Currys Essentials CWC15B14 – How noisy is it?

The compressor and heat-exchanger design of the CWC15B14 could have been thought of as cutting-edge in about 1978. The compressor sits on top of rubber bumpers, allowing it to wobble violently when the not soft-start motor fires up. That’s accompanied by the clatter of the compressor, refrigerant gurgling and running noises that are ‘nostalgic’, if nothing else.

The energy label claims 41dB of noise, which is fairly loud for a modern fridge. We measured the running noise around 41-42dB. However, the motor at startup and the gurgling and popping noises of the refrigerant add an interesting symphony to proceedings. You might need to ensure the TV is turned up loud for that match.

Currys Essentials CWC15B14 – How much can I get in it?

The CWC15B14 is classed as a 15-bottle wine cooler. Unless someone is a whole lot better at glass Tetris than myself or Jackie, that just isn’t going to happen. We managed 14 bottles at best, although you might get in 15 if you have only the narrowest Bordeaux-style bottles. For our tests, four bottles went in the rack at the bottom and 10 fitted in the top, albeit wedged in.

However, the space at the bottom of the CWC15B14 is perfect for a solid 15 cans of drink. You could have 10 bottles and 15 cans, which is a good session by anyone’s reckoning.

The solid part of the upper shelf is also quite handy for cans. That will easily hold a further 10 500ml tinnies, and you can still use the four-bottle rack on the upper wire shelf. The rack works well as long as you work out which way round to put the bottles in it. The wrong way and they simply drop out and smash when you remove the rack from the fridge. We find out these things so you don’t have to…

Where the interior furniture goes a bit wrong is with the wire shelf. The gaps between wires mean cans simply fall over, and it flexes alarmingly under any weight. As fitted, if you place a bottle sideways on the shelf, it will simply roll out. Flip the shelf upside down, however, and the wire ridge does then stop things rolling out. It didn’t help with the silly wire spacing or the flexing under load, though.

On the plus side, the wire shelf doesn’t go all the way to the front of the cabinet. Combined with a good recess in the double-glazed door, this means you can stand bottles on the lower shelf and still have room for 10 tins behind them.

Configuring how you store drinks in the CWC15B14 takes a while then, but you can get a fair bit into its 46 litres. Ironically, it’s a pretty useless shape for lots of wine bottles. Yet it holds plenty of cans and the four-bottle rack works well.

Currys Essentials CWC15B14 – Performance

Placed in our 18ºC ambient environmental chamber, the sticker on the front suggested thermostat setting number 2. Suitably set somewhere between 1 and 2, we loaded up the CWC15B14 with wine, cans and temperature probes top and bottom.

Three days later, very little had happened. The average temperature inside the cabinet was 16ºC, just two degrees lower than the ambient room temperature. That sort of temperature wasn’t cutting the mustard with beer or white wine. Arguably, though it would be good for full-bodied red wines.

We nudged the thermostat all the way up to level 5 to see how cool the Essentials would get. Surprisingly, it was very chilled indeed.

The top shelf averaged just 2ºC, while the lower shelf hit a very chilly 1ºC. The temperature on both shelves bounced around dramatically as the compressor kicked in and out. however. The upper shelf went between +3ºC and -2ºC. The lower shelf dipped right down to -4ºC before the compressor switched off.

Over the course of a week, that setting kept our drinks at a very appealing 2ºC. Personally, this was ideal; we just needed some balmy summer weather to go with our ice-cold beverages. That’s a few degrees cooler than the specification states, but better to have a wide range than not get cold enough.

Compared to more advanced wine cabinets, the CWC15B14’s abilities are rather limited. Its internal temperature fluctuates wildly, motor vibration will do little to help wines settle, and there’s no air filtration. Wine bottle storage is realistically four bottles comfortably in their rack and a teetering pile of bottles on top.

Currys Essentials CWC15B14 – How much will it cost to run?

Old-school compressor technology, thin cabinet walls and narrow-gap double-glazing were never going to amount to a super-frugal fridge. The A rating is low by current standards, and the energy label’s 138kWh for the year is very high for the limited capacity.

Running at around 16ºC, we calculate the CWC15B14 will use around 120kWh per annum. That’s about £18 per year.  Nudging up to the level 3 setting, the temperature dropped a few degrees and the chiller used just over 1kWh in three days. That ties in with the energy label’s claimed 138kWh per annum. In cash terms, this would amount to around £20 per year at 15p/kWh.

Dropping right down to our ice-chilled wines and frosty lager temperatures, energy consumption ramped up significantly. The motor came on and off more frequently and we calculate energy consumption would be near 180kWh per annum. That’s close to £30 per year. We’ve tested full-size fridge freezers that cost less to run.

Given the limited 46-litre capacity and high running costs, arguably a standard-sized under-counter fridge would make more sense, if you have the space. A model such as the Beko UL584APW is only £20 more to buy, has LED lighting and offers near three times the capacity of this Essentials cooler. It also boasts near half the annual running costs at just £15 per year.

That said, if you do want the compact size, black cabinet and glass door of a dedicated drinks fridge, the CWC15B14 does the job. It isn’t expensive and, on special offer at Currys at £79.99, makes an tempting impulse purchase come the TV sports season.

Why buy the Currys Essentials CWC15B14?

The Currys Essentials CWC15B14 wine cooler is a handy, compact fridge that won’t look out of place in the corner of the living room. It gets down to temperatures as low as 2ºC, is a great size for 500ml cans, and will hold close to 15 bottles of wine if you are happy to oust all your beer.

Conversely, it’s the least energy-efficient fridge we’ve ever tested per-litre capacity – this means running costs that would embarrass some fridge freezers. It’s also noisy, dark inside, vibrates your wine, flimsily built and the internal wire shelf is chocolate-teapot useful.

If you’ve got the space, a decent A+ rated under-counter fridge would prove more useful. If this isn’t an option then the Essentials CWC15B14 on special offer from Currys isn’t all bad for the occasional party or sporting event.

 

Verdict

Compact, affordable and gets to a good low temperature, the Currys Essentials wine fridge is okay if you can ignore the high running costs and impractical wine storage layout.

 

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