Product overview

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Make the right choice with our test results and buying advice.

Whether you’re after a tiny apartment-sized model or a huge side-by-side for a family, we have a recommendation for you. We also explain what to look for and provide tips on maintaining the right temperature.

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In general a bigger fridge will use more power than a smaller one – some smaller models we’ve tested cost half as much to run as some bigger models.

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.

Energy ratings

Refrigeration technology is continually improving. To reflect this, the Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) and energy-rating labels have been updated.

Since April 2010, updated labels have been required on all new fridges and freezers. Star ratings on new models have been wound back by about 2 stars to encourage greater efficiency. (So a 4-star model on the old label became a 2-star model under the new labels.) It doesn’t mean a model is now less efficient – the star ratings have just been calculated differently. (You can use the kWh/year to compare models, too.)

Super-efficient models that exceed the current 6-star energy rating can achieve up to 10 stars.

MEPS applies to all fridges and freezers made in or imported into New Zealand from 1 January 2005. All models must use no more energy per year than an amount calculated according to their size and type.

MEPS is a requirement manufacturers have to meet. You won't see it on a fridge sales sticker, but better energy efficiency will mean more stars on the energy labels.

Check energy ratings at

Food storage

If you focus entirely on running costs (energy efficiency), you could get a model that doesn't store food well. Remember that energy is used in producing and distributing food too - if you have to throw the food out, that energy will have been wasted.

We test for all aspects of food storage and we only recommend models that'll keep food in good condition.


We looked at the reliability of freezers, fridges and fridge-freezers in our 2015 appliance reliability survey.

Fridges and fridge-freezers were not as reliable as stand-alone freezers, scoring 91 percent overall. Buying a stand-alone fridge wasn’t a more reliable option than a combined fridge-freezer.

95 percent of Panasonic fridge-freezer owners were satisfied with their appliance. This is likely to be a reflection of very good Panasonic fridge-freezer reliability. Haier and LG owners were least likely to be satisfied, despite those brands achieving average reliability scores of 90 and 85 percent respectively.

  • Above-average: Mitsubishi, Panasonic
  • Average: Bosch, Fisher & Paykel, Haier, LG, Sharp, Westinghouse
  • Below-average: Samsung

Total number surveyed: 3849

Freezer & fridge-freezer Top Brands

The Top Brand award recognises brands that perform consistently well across product testing, reliability and customer satisfaction.

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Buying second-hand

New fridges and freezers are more energy efficient – so if you’re buying second hand, newer is better.

  • Stick to well-known brands under 5 years old, as newer models are much more energy efficient. They’re also easier to get parts for if anything needs fixing.
  • Check the lid or door seal is intact, in good condition and the door or lid shuts properly.
  • Make sure the door is hinged on the correct side for your kitchen (or is reversible).
  • Make sure the interior is in good nick and free from funny smells. Only buy if it looks tidy and well cared for.
  • If you buy a fridge from a second-hand dealer and then discover it’s faulty, you're covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. If you buy privately, you're not.
  • Under the Electricity Act, all electrical appliances for sale must be safe – whether they're new or second-hand, bought privately or from a dealer.

Environmental issues

Fridges used to be made with and contain environmentally unfriendly CFC gases.

Now, they commonly contain "R134a" refrigerant, which does not damage the ozone layer, although it does contribute to the greenhouse effect. And they are made using ozone-friendly, low greenhouse-effect gases.

A more environmentally sound refrigerant, R600a, is used by some manufacturers. It's a hydrocarbon so it's flammable and therefore carries a small safety risk.

To make the smallest greenhouse-emissions impact over time, a fridge’s energy efficiency is more important than the type of refrigerant used. But if you want to check which refrigerant your fridge uses, all models have this information on the fridge specification plate in the cabinet.