Consumerism Home life

The new fridge

Amongst all the chaos in the world, a everyday standard curve-ball thrown my way: my fridge broke down on the weekend.

Okay – drag out the esky and buy a bag of ice (no I’m not going to a party) and save what food I can. Lucky I’m not a big hoarder of food, so not too much was wasted.

The old fridge had lasted almost 12 years, so when it conked out, I was inclined to look for a new one rather than try and wangle a repair in this pandemic-constrained world.

Online shopping makes it easy to filter by the myriad of different models. This time, my priorities came down to, in order of priority:

  • in stock for immediate (well, next day) delivery
  • roughly the same size, in the region of 400-450 litres
  • well-rated by customers and/or Choice
  • good rating for energy efficiency
  • freezer on bottom – I missed having this – it might yet save my back
  • perhaps stainless steel this time, to go with the dishwasher

Appliances Online will deliver next business day, unless it’s ordered on a weekend, in which case it’s Tuesday. Retravision, where I bought the last one, no longer trades in Victoria. The Good Guys is local, and usually very price competitive, and I might have been able to borrow a stationwagon to bring it home myself, but unfortunately had nothing suitable in stock.

Eventually I couldn’t find anything which met all the criteria, but got most and AO’s Tuesday delivery, and ended up with a 402 litre Mitsubishi fridge which is white not stainless steel (because only white was in stock), and isn’t the most energy efficient, with 3.5 stars (348 kWh/year) – but that’s still better than the old one with 2.5 stars (474 kWh/year for almost the same size).

The longer-than-usual 5 year warranty (10 on the compressor) was a bonus.

I was planning to renovate the kitchen sometime this year. That may be delayed due to external circumstances, but it seems step one is done.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

10 replies on “The new fridge”

Oooh, is that the one with the extra veggie drawer (2 doors, 1 drawer)? I’m also in the market for a new fridge and have been eyeing that one off.

The star ratings have become more stringent so you are still better off than the the old fridge in kWh per year, as you noted. Non matching appliances, you’ll never make it on The Block! For the record i have stanless steel appliances and a white fridge. I’m impressed that you were prepared to borrow a station wagon to bring it home yourself. Did Appliances Online unpack it for you or did you have to do that yourself? There’s a lot of cardboard and plastic to dispose of. Lets hope you get at least 12 years out of this one, good luck.

Just to be annoying, I can report that I still have the same fridge I bought when I moved into my first house in 1983. It is a 410 litre Frigidaire with the freezer compartment at the bottom. It probably uses enough electricity to power the MCG on a Friday night.

@Liz, yep that’s the one.

I’m liking it so far, but it’s early days.

@Peter, yes one of the reasons I like Appliances Online is they take the old one away and unpack the new one.

@Stephen, yes Choice said that too – I decided I was willing to live with it. I don’t think it was doing my back any good to keep stooping to look in the main section of the fridge!

As a point of comparison, our 420 litre Fisher&Paykel fridge from about 1994 is still going strong. It still has its energy rating sticker on it. It was rated 4-star, but that means it consumes 770 kWh per year, almost double Daniel’s 12 year old fridge and more than double his new one. And because it runs 7×24, most of that power is not from the solar panels, but is full price…

@Rod, thanks for that. Perhaps the 90s era F+P fridges were more reliable than the late 2000s models like I got.

Sounds like they have moved the goalposts a bit, but nice to know fridges are getting more efficient.

The fridge we used to have was a 2001 Whirlpool from new, while it was mechanically fine we had to get a newer one because the rubber seals had hardened and were splitting, making the doors not shut properly, and it would have been more expensive to have someone refurbish the thing than to buy another one. It was a bit too small anyway, always struggled to cram a frozen pizza or two in the freezer and still have room for much else, despite the 500g McCain pizzas only being 9 or so inches rather than the usual 11-12 for a large from a pizza shop. Ended up getting a second hand Mitsubishi fridge last year which was a bit larger, can’t find a manufacture date on this one though, it’s not on the schematic in the door.

The Whirlpool is currently living in the garage and has gone a bit mouldy inside despite giving it a clean beforehand (hasn’t been powered on for months though), probably time to put it to pasture. Maybe if I put it on the nature strip someone will grab it for the compressor or maybe recover the gas (if that’s still a thing people do). The fridge managed to survive a fall from a flight of concrete steps back in 2002 when one of the removalists slipped (the guy was lucky that the fridge didn’t send him down with it!), leaving a nice dent in the bottom door but no other damage. The fridge also saw five different houses in its lifetime (the joys of renting). Aside from the fridge, our other survivor was a 1989 Simpson top-loading washing machine, gave it to a neighbour two years ago, still works fine – we replaced it with an American-built Whirlpool (just a coincidence) with a 1 star energy rating. Typical American gas guzzler. :)

The newer fridges are far more power-efficient…as for longevity, that’s always a bit of Russian Roulette. One of ours has been really good, one was not great, jury is still out on the third.

Main fridge: Australian-assembled Kelvinator C350T from 1988/89, we got it third-hand in September 1994 (for $300). It had been in a dusty garage, doing duty as a beer fridge before we got it. It has been quite reliable to us over the past quarter-century but the power consumption is (probably) high. The sticker is long-faded out, so I do not know the actual figures. The only other main downside is that is a frost model, meaning it has to be de-iced every so often…

Although I recently obtained a parts fridge for it (as I broke the butter tray lid on it). It was easier to get the fridge than to source the spare part (which naturally, Kelvinator Australia no longer stocks). Depending on how it goes, I may undertake the investment of resealing it (about $110-$120 with shipping for both seals)…

Old second fridge: Korean-assembled Samsung, can’t remember the model now. We got it in February 2011 and it spectacularly failed in September 2016! (I can’t remember the exact part failure now but it was expensive). Luckily it was caught early enough, so not much was lost (it was always a second fridge from new) but the poor main fridge was severely crammed for a few days while we quickly prepared the food (and ate up all the spare icypoles)! It was frost-free, a rather nice advancement (anyone who has had to de-ice a frost fridge will understand this).

Current second fridge: Thai-assembled Panasonic NR-BY552XS (554L). Got it in October 2016, it replaced the Samsung. It is also frost-free, just like the Samsung, and we got a good discount on it, due to it being a demo model. So far, it has been good to us. Jury is still out on the long-term prospects of this one, it has yet to reach its fourth birthday. It is a bottom freezer model however. It has a 3-star energy efficiency rating (463 KwH), which even with the lower rating, is likely better than the Kelvinator! I expect it to last 10-15 years.

I feel like the move to make fridges more efficient has likely (at least, in part) contributed to newer fridges not lasting as long…but that’s just my opinion here. The older fridges were extremely inefficient but relatively long-lived (for the most part).

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