How we test fridge freezers

All fridge freezers go through identical tests to let us gauge cooling performance, resistance to power cuts, noise levels and total power usage. The exact tests are detailed below.

We test each product in the same way to deliver consistency of opinion.

Technical tests and test environment

All fridge freezers are loaded into a temperature-controlled test chamber, which lets us monitor each one under the same conditions. Before starting any tests, we plumb in any water or ice dispensers and then leave each fridge freezer for 48 hours to give it time to cool down and bed in.

For every 10 litres of claimed space in the fridge compartment, we add 0.5kg of food. For every 10 litres of space in the freezer, we add 1kg of food. For freezers, we also add a 2-litre open container of water to freezer, embedding a temperature probe inside it.

We set the fridge to 4C and the freezer to -18C on all models where full control is available; where only general numbered settings are available, we select the option that gets us as close to our desired temperatures.

Temperature variance test: using temperature probes, we monitor the temperature variance at different points in the fridge freezer, from the top shelf to the bottom, and into any drawers provided. Regularly, we open and close the doors to simulate real use.

A fridge freezer that maintains a more even temperature is better than one that has high fluctuations.

Power cut test: for freezers, we test how a power cut affects temperature. Cutting the power for three hours, we record the temperature change. This demonstrates how well the freezer is insulated and shows the impact on your food should you have a power cut.

Noise test: we monitor the noise levels from a fridge freezer, as sound changes depending on when the compressor is turned on or off. We quote sound in dB, measuring each fridge freezer as its quietest, its loudest, and in general operation. We state how long each period lasts for, too.

Related: Best American fridge freezers

Usability test

How easy a fridge freezer is to load is critical. For each model, we look at the layout to see how practical each unit is. For example, can the door pockets hold large bottles of drink or milk, and are they secure if you open the door quickly? We examine the shelf options, how the drawers can be configured and any other storage options, explaining how practical each model is to use on a daily basis.

Power consumption test

Once the fridge freezer is settled in, filled and running, we measure its electricity consumption over the course of a week of normal use. Multiplying that figure by 52 gives us the approximate annual consumption and running costs which we compare with the energy label claims.

Scoring and verdict

After all the tests are complete, we score the product using the criteria mentioned here. We first check to see if the product’s performance matches the manufacturer’s claims, and that all the features work as expected and advertised.

Value is a consideration during scoring, too. If a competing product offers equivalent features or performance for less money then this will affect the score. Equally, if a device is only slightly more expensive but performs significantly better then we’ll score accordingly.