When my under-counter freezer died a few months ago I opted to not only replaced the freezer but also my rather ancient fridge and I chose the same manufacturer. By buying both appliances together giving me a matching pair, I not only got a discount but also gave my kitchen a bit of a facelift.
I intend to move house within the next couple of years and will be replacing these appliances with a free-standing fridge/freezer so I didn't want to spend a fortune on items which will probably be left behind when I move and also I was fairly limited in the amount of space the two units were to occupy. After an internet search I decided to buy a freezer and fridge from the Currys Essentials range, not least because it came with a £30 discount and free delivery. This particular model is currently on sale for £129.99.
Dimensions: 839 x 494 x 494 mm (H x W x D)
Storage capacity: 104 litres or 3.67 cubic feet
Energy Rating: A+
Energy Consumption: 118 kwh per annum (average)
Storage Temperature: Up to -18⁰C
So what do you get for your money?
Well, for a kick off you get free delivery and the delivery men take away all the packaging! I've already sung the praises of Currys delivery service in my freezer review but it's worth repeating that this service is efficient and effective.
When my new fridge was revealed in all its unassuming glory I discovered I'd purchased a sleek little white number which fits perfectly under my worktops and doesn't shout to the world that I've bought cheap. There isn't a logo in sight and the door is opened using a recessed groove along the top. The door is reversible so if you prefer a left hand opener, it can be changed though Currys recommend using someone qualified to do this rather than attempting the job yourself.
Inside the fridge is every bit as streamlined. This particular model is frost-free so storage capacity is increased and besides the two moveable glass shelves, there is a third which doubles as the cover to the salad crisper drawer. The plastic door shelves are slightly wider than average and are removable for easy cleaning.
After three months of ownership and despite a couple of reservations I had when I first examined the fridge, I feel I can state quite categorically that this appliance definitely punches above its weight. When I first looked at the build quality, which is admittedly not up to the quality of a high end manufacturer, I wondered just how robust such fittings as the door shelves might be but so far they've stood up to the usual wear and tear of daily use. That being said, there are definite grades of plastic and this appliance isn't manufactured from the best quality. Although it doesn't look ultra cheap, close examination shows that the plastic is of a thinner quality which is certainly going to need more care when using on a daily basis. For that reason, I feel this fridge is probably not up to life as a family fridge where it's likely to receive rough treatment during its lifetime.
The fact that it's frost free is a huge bonus as far as I'm concerned. I hate defrosting the fridge and the fact that it's now a chore I'll no longer have to do is liberating and of course the extra space freed up by not having an ice box is very welcome.
Although the fridge doesn't run totally silently, it's not very loud. The specifications state it has an airborne acoustical noise level of 40 decibels but as I haven't a clue how loud even one decibel is, that means nothing to me. The fridge merely makes a rather comforting and pleasant little burbling noise every so often and compared to my previous ancient model it's very quiet.
The fridge door shelves are a really good size. My previous fridge door shelves were quite narrow, only being deep enough to take a litre of milk or an average wine bottle. The Essentials fridge comes with deeper shelves, roomy enough for storing all the usual bottles, packets and jars. The bottom shelf has enough headroom and is wide enough to comfortably take a bottle of champagne (not that I have much of that in my fridge at any given time) or one of those 4 litre plastic cartons of milk and the other two door shelves again are wide enough for larger tubs of butter/spread and all the other cooking accoutrements you might need to store. These shelves are easy enough to remove for cleaning but given the quality of the plastic, extra care should be taken when doing this.
The glass shelves are all easy to remove for cleaning and of a good enough quality for me not to worry about their longevity. The salad crisper pull out drawer, however, is deep and narrow and like the other plastic items is not the best quality so, again, I feel care should be taken when removing this drawer.
Unlike its companion freezer, the thermostatic control for the fridge is placed in an easy to reach location at the top of the appliance and is integrated with the fridge light.
My previous fridge belonged to an era before energy ratings were even dreamt of and I can't say I've noticed a huge drop in the amount of electricity I'm using since I bought this fridge. So despite this model having an energy rating of A+ I daresay over the course of a year, I'm only saving a few pennies but every little helps.
Overall pros and cons:
Sleek design which fits well with any kitchen
Wide door shelves for larger bottles and packets
Plastic is quite cheap and of a thinner quality
Might not be suited to wear and tear of family life
Summing it all up:
Overall I'm delighted with my new fridge. Unlike its companion freezer, there are more positives than negatives and I'm especially pleased that it's banished the need for regular defrosting. The appliance runs quietly enough to not be noticeable and although the build quality may not be the best available, with care I feel this appliance will give quite a few years good service.
For a basic appliance, Currys have produced a winner with the Essentials under-counter fridge which should suit the needs of anyone setting up home on a budget.
Short name: Essentials CUL50W12