The best fridges for keeping your food fresh.
A fridge’s temperature performance is important for both keeping your food fresh, as well as saving on energy costs.
Find the best model to fit your kitchen and learn what to look for in a new fridge with our buying guide.
We’ve also tested fridges for temperature fluctuations, uniformity between the fridge and freezer, and much more. Learn about how we test fridges.
A fridge’s “star rating” and annual energy consumption are printed on a label so you can make comparisons in the showroom. All fridges must have the label, but watch for tricks like putting the display card over the label.
We recommend looking at these labels, the annual running costs from our test, or the Energy Rating website which has a 10-year running cost calculator.
We trawled through our test data and analysed noise readings for household appliances, including dishwashers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Fridges were the quietest, with an average running noise of 33dBA. That’s almost as quiet as a cat purring.
Our noise test is conducted while the fridge’s compressor is on and off, but not while it’s defrosting. Measurements are taken a metre away and up from the floor. While our noise measurements are objective (31dBA is 31dBA), how people perceive noise is subjective. This is why we don’t consider noise when scoring fridges.
Our members often ask why our noise readings don’t match those stated by the manufacturer. The answer is they were measured in different conditions. When we test noise, we want our results to be directly comparable. This means all models are tested in the same lab and under the same conditions. This won’t be the same as how a manufacturer measures noise. Only compare noise readings of models we have tested.
The decibel scale is logarithmic, not linear so a sound difference of 10dBA will sound like double the sound. This means a 30dBA fridge will sound twice as loud as a 20dBA model, while a 40dBA fridge will sound four times louder. Most people will only notice a difference of 5dBA or greater, so two fridges with noise readings 3dBA apart will sound about the same.
The design and layout of your home also affects how noisy you’ll find a fridge. Sound waves are dispersed by objects, which will muffle the sound. This means open-plan areas do little to minimise a fridge’s noise. A fridge with walls or cabinetry at its back and sides will also be quieter as these help deflect the sound.
Here’s a guide to normal sounds fridges make and what causes them:
Plastic walls and shelves inside the fridge contracting and expanding as temperature changes.
Water draining during the defrost cycle.
Refrigerant gas moving through the coils during the compressor cycle.
Some fridges have an external fan that helps keep the compressor cool.
Usually found in models with an ice maker as it’s turning on or off.
Being separate from the main fridge compartment means humidity can be controlled more accurately, slowing the ripening process and keeping produce fresh for longer. Some multi-drawers also have separate temperature controls. This means you can store a wider range of foods or, if it goes low enough, use it as a freezer.
The Energy Rating Label has a scale of stars to show how energy efficient a model is, compared to other models the same size/capacity. More stars = more energy efficient.
The energy consumption figure is in kWh and can be used to compare with any other fridge or freezer. You can use this figure and the kWh cost from your latest power bill to calculate how much this model will cost to run. The average cost of power for a kWh in New Zealand is 25¢. Lower kWh = cheaper to run.
The product’s annual energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh) is based on standards testing. Check the key assumptions used in this testing to make sure they match how you will use the product. Annual energy consumption for fridges, fridge-freezers and freezers assumes the appliance is on 24 hours a day. You should only compare star ratings of fridges or freezers with the same or similar capacities.
For information on energy ratings and how to use them, see our Energy Rating Labels explained article.