19 February 2021

Worst-performing fridge we have tested

A fridge-freezer just has to keep food cold. Smeg’s newest model can’t even do that.

The latest Smeg fridge-freezer sure looks stylish, but it scored just 22% in our testing! It’s the worst fridge we have seen.

Are you after a retro-looking fridge to match the new Smeg knives you got from New World? Smeg sells one, but it’s earnt the dubious honour of being the worst fridge we’ve tested.

Our lab tested the Italian-made 504L fridge-freezer and it scored a truly chilling 22%, mostly because of its inability to manage temperatures.

The Smeg FAB38RCRAU fridge-freezer
The Smeg FAB38RCRAU fridge-freezer


A fridge should be able to maintain stable temperatures, but this fridge scored zero in our test for temperature swings. We would have given it a negative score if possible. The freezer compartment fluctuated by 11°C, getting very cold. The fridge varied by more than 5°C, which means it can get too warm and could lead to food spoiling.

Winter woes

The fridge couldn’t cope with the outside temperature changing. A good fridge maintains a steady temperature when the seasons change. This one was bad. It particularly has issues dealing with winter – when the outside temperature was 10°C, the temperature inside the freezer dropped to a glacial -28.9°C.

To avoid this, you’d have to regularly adjust the settings yourself – work any decent fridge should be doing.

This fridge is also a hit to the pocket, it costs almost $6000!

Don’t buy

Don’t Buy this fridge. We bought it from a store, just like you would. However, while our testing showed its faults right away, you might not notice its poor performance immediately – or at all (though you might once food starts going bad).

Take a look at our fridges test results to find a fridge that actually works.

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Pamela L.
27 Feb 2021
Smeg kettle

As soon as ours was out of warranty it started leaking from the water level view area. Stylish landfill. Will never buy again

Mike H.
23 Feb 2021
Smeg whiteware!

When we moved into our house there was a Smeg retro styled fridge and dishwasher. Both looked fantastic but were totally useless! The fridge was tall and skinny, but you could not fit normal sized bottles in the door compartment and the freezer was non-frost free! It came with a scraper to remove the ice - it was described like a feature in the manual! The dishwasher kept blowing the circuit breaker - turned out it was a common fault with the heater element. Sold them both on Trademe for a reasonable amount with the purchaser saying he was going to fix the element and resell it because people wanted them! Never again!

Lindsay H.
22 Feb 2021

I have a smaller one than pictured (freezer box inside at the top) and never had any problems with temperature fluctuations. In fact I am impressed as to how quiet it is you are totally unaware of it compared to a F&P one we also have that vibrates so much when motor working it buzzes bottles etc in the most annoying way. So far very happy with the Smeg. I wonder if you get a dud every so often, it happens with cars!

Previous member
20 Feb 2021

My advice is don't buy anything Smeg. Our previous house had a kitchen full of Smeg appliances and we hated all of them. The worst fridge we ever owned was a $15,000 Gaggenau, expensive trouble every few months. We have a small bar top fridge for drinks it has lasted for well over 20 years with no problems at all and cost next to nothing.

Polly Sharman
22 Feb 2021
Worst fridge freezer we've ever owned!

3 years ago we moved into our current home with a fancy looking, expensive Smeg fridge/freezer. In 50 years of marriage it's by far the worst appliance we've ever had! Every day I dread opening it as the fridge can't chill - starts dripping when opened and the freeezer can't freeze without freezing up the runners and an expensive repair. If repaired, parts take up to 6 months to arrive from overseas (I think that's how long we waited) so no freeezer and lots of wasted food. Fortunately, we don't eat meat as it would never be safe to eat meat from either the fridge or freezer. Our old house had an ancient Westinghouse left by previous owners - probably about 25 years old. It never went wrong and was left by us for next owners and no doubt is still working well. How I wish I could go back to that again. We would never, ever buy anything made by Smeg!!