Before you hit Facebook Marketplace or Trade Me, look at our second-hand buying checklists and advice to avoid being stuck with a dud.
If you’re looking at buying a used fridge, it can be hard to spot a lemon. Here’s what to keep an eye out for.
Before buying any second-hand appliance, check it still works. For a fridge that means inspecting it in person and asking the seller to leave it running for at least 12 hours beforehand. If you can’t see it running before buying, consider walking away.
When buying a second-hand fridge, it’s a good idea to stick to well-known brands and models under five years old. Newer models are likely to be more energy-efficient.
For discontinued models we show individual test scores to show how well they should perform.
Measures how much the temperature inside the fridge fluctuates (or swings) as the compressor starts and stops. The higher the score, the less the temperature fluctuates.
Where we measure the temperature in the fridge and freezer compartments at the same time. A high score means the temperature in both compartments are managed well, for example if the freezer is set to its coldest setting, the temperature in the fridge isn’t affected.
A measure of how uniform the temperature is throughout each compartment. The higher the score, the more uniform the temperature is in each compartment.
A test of how well the appliance deals with changing temperatures outside. We test in a temperature-controlled room. We adjust the temperatures to simulated winter and summer conditions while monitoring the temperature inside the fridge. The higher the score, the better the fridge dealt with the changing temperatures, meaning little adjustment would be needed throughout the seasons.
A test of how well the fridge performs on the manufacturer's recommended settings. Many people will only change the temperature setting once, so we test with this setting. If there isn’t a recommended setting, then we test using the factory set or mid-setting.
Refrigerant gases are what keep fridges and freezers cool. Fluorocarbons (CFCs, HFCs and HCFCs) are nasty ozone-depleting and active greenhouse gases that were commonly found in fridges. A few new models still use the HFC R134a, but this should be phased out over the next few years. Instead, most new fridges use hydrocarbon R600a (also called isobutane), which is more environmentally friendly and energy efficient than fluorocarbons. Most fridges have a sticker, generally on the back, stating the model name and refrigerant gas.
The refrigerants in fridges are combustible. While this isn’t an issue during everyday use, it’s important to remember when you’re moving a fridge or freezer. If they're not transported properly, they could cause a fire when the appliance is turned back on if the gas hasn’t equalised. Make sure to transport the fridge or freezer upright. If you have to move it on its side, try to keep it on an angle. Once moved, sit it upright for about 24 hours (this may vary by manufacturer) before turning it on – this gives the gas time to settle.
What are your consumer rights when purchasing a used fridge or freezer? It depends on the seller. If you’re buying from a second-hand dealer (including those “In-trade” on Trade Me) and discover it’s faulty, you're covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. It should be of acceptable quality, fit for purpose and match the description. However, if you’re dealing with a private seller, you’re not covered by the CGA.
There have been a lot of changes in fridge design in the past decade. Advancements, such as inverters, have meant that compressors are more efficient, new refrigerants are being used, and the average fridge size has increased. But has this improved their reliability or owner satisfaction? Check out the trends from our reliability surveys.