Partnering the staggeringly good SW8 AM2C XARL UK refrigerator, the UW8 F2C XLSB UK is the colder other half of this wardrobe-like cooling duo. Huge capacity, UK-worktop depth, sleek design and A++ energy rating all trump most US-style side-by-side fridge freezers with ease.
We love the LED lighting, super-fast Shock Freeze facility, and easily removable roller drawers. Its technical performance is just as good, with even and accurate cooling, great fail test results and very low running costs. Even without its SW8 fridge partner, the UW8 is an outstanding large-capacity freezer. Together they’re unbeatable.
As US exports to the UK go, American-style side-by-side fridge freezers are as subtle as Trump on Twitter. The main issue is the depth. With most over 70cm deep, they stick out into the kitchen. Enter Whirlpool’s more UK-friendly, flush-fitting SW8/UW8 fridge and freezer pairing. What we have here is the very cool UW8 F2C XLSB UK 252-litre freezer.
Over 250 litres is enough for a huge family, several visitors and a blow-out at the reduced counter. Most 60cm-wide fridge freezers offer around a third of that freezer capacity. Even US-style side-by-sides rarely crest 200 litres of frozen food space.
The trade-off is that a SW8 and UW8 placed together and joined with their linking kit are 120cm wide. That’s around 30cm wider than most US-style units.
The UW8 also has Whirlpool’s Xlent Fit door system. This ensures the door won’t foul on adjacent cupboards, even if fitted snugly in-between kitchen larder units. It also allows placement close to a side wall. The door will only open to 15 degrees past perpendicular, yet the drawers pull clear at only 90 degrees open.
You get seven fully enclosed storage areas across two flap-fronted shelves and five big drawers. A bright white LED lamp shines neatly down onto any open drawer, although it did leave the upper shelves a little gloomier. Unlike US-style appliances, you don’t get door pockets or an automatic ice maker – just oodles of usable freezer space.
The touch controls mirror the SW8 fridge and are located on the inside of the door frame at the top of the appliance. At near 1.85m up in the air, it might prove a stretch for some.
There’s plenty of tech on offer here, too. The freezer’s Shock-Freeze function promises to freeze up to 2kg of fresh food placed on the second shelf in just four hours. Whirlpool’s 6th Sense technology implementation encompasses circulating air-cooling. This runs at different modes based on inputting fresh or frozen foods, how long the door has been open, and ambient temperature. The idea is to maintain a consistent temperature throughout, eliminate frost build-up, and reduce the potential for freezer burn.
Other controls include a general Fast Freezing facility throughout the compartment and a high temperature/power outage alarm.
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The headline A++ energy rating is excellent for a freezer of this size. Not only should that ensure low running costs, Whirlpool’s innovative Eco Night mode can run defrost cycles during periods of cheaper night time electricity.
Whirlpool UW8 F2C XLSB UK – How much can I fit in it?
Short of a big chest freezer, there are few other freezers on the market that get close to the UW8’s capacity. The furniture layout is a simple stack of seven areas to maximise the usable space.
The upper two glass shelves have pull-down flap fronts with neat, metal effect trim. Space in the upper shelf is a little compromised by the sloping ceiling, so best suited to smaller items. The second shelf is Whirlpool’s Shock-Freeze area. Two imposing-looking fan vents at the rear blast-freeze fresh produce for super-quick freezing.
Below this are two mid-sized drawers that roll out smoothly on wheeled runners. The drawers have clear fronts with solid plastic bodies and moulded-in side handles. Each drawer lifts easily off the runners, in case you need to take it to the worktop for a proper rummage. It’s a fair bit trickier to get them back in place, though. That requires lining up lugs on the drawer with holes in the runners on both sides simultaneously.
Further down are two very deep drawers labelled XXL. These have an epic capacity for larger items and boxes. The lowest drawer is fairly deep as well, but its front-to-rear depth is truncated by the compressor area at the back of the freezer. This is a basic place-in drawer that forgoes the smooth runners but remains easy to remove, even when stuffed to capacity.
Accessories include a long freezer pack that fits neatly in the lowest drawer, a single drawer divider, and a small wire frame. According to a vague note in the manual, we think this might be a bottle rack. You also get a very small ice-cube tray that failed to deliver the Stevenson test minimum of six good G&T’s worth of ice.
With such a large amount of freezer space over seven individual areas, good freezer management and keeping things tidy will be essential.
Whirlpool UW8 F2C XLSB UK – How noisy is it?
The UW8’s energy label suggests a peak noise of 41dB. That’s right up there with many of today’s premium fridge freezers; but it’s a couple of decibels off the very best in class.
While the motor is running, we measured a little more than this, at around 43-44dB. Some of that might be due to the fact we measure sound output in free space, as opposed to having the machine snugly enveloped in kitchen cupboards. Suitably installed at home, that would certainly knock 1dB or 2dB off the sound output.
In our tests, in an 18-19ºC ambient environment, the UW8 ran for around 40 minutes before resting (silently) for about twice that period. That’s quite a long compressor cycle. However, it does mean the freezer is silent more than two-thirds of the time. The running noise will be barely perceptible in your kitchen, even if it is a little higher than claimed.
Whirlpool UW8 F2C XLSB UK – How well does it perform?
We set the Whirlpool’s thermostat to -18ºC and placed a temperature probe in each of its seven storage areas. Another probe went in a container of 2 litres of room-temperature water placed in the mid-drawer. This is used to test fresh-to-frozen times and the effect of a power failure. The freezer was then loaded evenly with 1kg of typical frozen foods per 10 litres of space. That’s a lot of food, even at that fairly light loading.
While tall freezer compartments will experience a range of temperatures from top to bottom, Whirlpool’s 6th Sense fanned cooling keep things fairly consistent throughout. Average temperatures ranged from -18ºC (upper drawer) to -22.5ºC on the Shock-Freeze shelf. The remaining shelf and other drawers all hovered around -19 to -21ºC. All good.
Our water sample in the mid-drawer went from room temperature to freezing in a very respectable 20 hours. It then settled solidly at -18ºC for the duration of our week-long test, which is perfect.
One of the disadvantages of a lengthy power cycle is fluctuation in air temperature during the cycle. The Whirlpool’s cycle is well over two hours, giving rise to slightly bouncy temperatures over that duration. Most drawers ran between +/- 3ºC either side of average, but the shelves were a little less stable. The top shelf ranged between -14 and -24ºC, with the next shelf down marginally better at +/- 4ºC.
Temperature stability is far less of a concern in a freezer than a fridge. So Whirlpool is quite justified in this long cycle and big temperature swings in order to hit that sweet A++ energy rating. After all, our frozen food sample remained at -18ºC +/- less than half a degree throughout.
Moreover, this freezer scored one of the best fail-test results we’ve seen. Most areas gained just 5ºC during the three-hour power outage. Only the very top shelf went up a couple of degrees more, peaking at -10ºC. Since that top-shelf performance is still better than many freezer’s ‘best’ drawer, you can see how good the rest of the storage areas are at holding temperature.
Better still, thanks to outstanding insulation and the thermal effect of nearly 26kg of frozen food, our water sample rose barely 2.5ºC during a three-hour power outage. That’s an exceptional result and would likely see your food remaining frozen (below 0 degrees) for almost 24 hours.
Whirlpool UW8 F2C XLSB UK – How much will it cost to run?
The energy label suggests this freezer will use around 242kWh per annum in normal use. At an average cost of 15p/kWh , this is around £36 per year. Given the huge volume of food that will freeze, this would be a very solid A++ energy rating.
However, energy label measurements use room air temperature a bit higher than the UK average kitchen. Put the same appliance in a cooler UK kitchen and it will use a bit less electricity to keep its contents cold. Measured in our test chamber kept at 18-19ºC, we found energy consumption was some 10% less than stated. That gave an annual consumption of 214 kWh, or just £32.20.
Why buy the Whirlpool UW8 F2C XLSB UK?
As a stand-alone freezer, Whirlpool’s UW8 F2C XLSB UK is a huge-capacity, energy-efficient appliance with even, accurate cooling and outstanding fail test results. It also offers great lighting, an effective Shock-Freeze facility and super-smooth rolling drawers that can be lifted out with ease. Put together with the matching SW8 fridge, the pair is a stunningly good-looking, flush-fitting stainless-steel duo, with capacity and energy efficiency that no US-style side-by-side fridge freezer can touch.
Okay, the freezer is a smidge noisier than the energy label states, and the lighting is a little shadowed on the upper shelf. As negatives go, that’s yer lot. Top all that freezer goodness with a price that’s comfortably several hundred pounds cheaper than most of its German-brand competition, and the UW8 F2C XLSB UK is another Whirlpool winner.
Outstanding looks, capacity, energy efficiency and performance make Whirlpool’s UW8 F2C XLSB UK freezer a stainless steel stunner.