So which is a better solution, one large American fridge freezer, or separate large fridge and a chest freezer? Which takes up more space, how much does each cost and in this time of increasing energy bills and environmental awareness which option uses the most power? All are concerns when buying, as well as convenience and features.
American fridge freezers have the advantage of being an all-in-one approach, you order one item and it fulfils all your cold storage needs. In the modern rate race this is an enticing prospect. They are also the most likely to be equipped with such extras as water cooling and ice making. However convenience often comes at a cost. The currently available American fridge freezers from one well known chain for example, range from 499.99 to 1,639.99, with an out of stock example being over 3000. So clearly the convenience of everything in one package comes at a price.
Power usage is a big concern, not only are energy prices rising, but production of the electricity produces the greenhouse gas CO2 and for many people a wish to keep down running costs and a desire to limit global warming will mean that the power usage of the options is important. American fridge freezers use an average of approximately 494kWh per year, this compares poorly with the separates averages of 413kWh per year overall, 442 kWh per year with an upright freezer and 385kWh per year with a chest freezer. Straight power consumption does not tell the whole story however as the upright freezer separates total storage is generally smaller than the American fridge freezers, the chest freezers come out on power to storage best.
On average price the story is the same, the American fridge freezer is the more expensive option in general, the most expensive minimum price, the most expensive maximum price and the highest average price are all American fridge freezer solutions. The American fridge freezers average cost is 938, for separates overall the average is 780, with an upright freezer it's 810 and for chest freezers 769. Of course this does not take into account other factors such as aesthetics and extra features such as water cooling and ice making. If these are important then they need weighing up against the other options, as they also influence the price, some more than others.
One area the American fridge freezer gains a lot of ground back is storage space (with an average of 573 liters), beating both the average storage of separates (554 liters) comfortably, a large fridge and upright (532 liters) by a greater margin and a large chest freezer (577 liters) only narrowly beats it.
The layout of the kitchen is also a major consideration when buying. Some kitchens may not have the space that an American fridge freezer requires all in one go. Many may not have enough space for separates with the appropriate clearance (refrigeration devices require space between them and other items, especially those that produce heat such as other freezers), or the larger amount of floor space a chest freezer requires. Depending on your kitchens size and layout these may or may not be important considerations, with the additional thoughts to where you want the large fridge and freezer relative to other areas of the kitchen. In addition to space where you want to put the device, access is important as a larger single unit may be difficult to get into a flat, or into a cottage, whereas a separate chest freezer and large fridge would be relatively easy to accommodate.
Additional features come in a number of forms. The most common is water cooling, this can be plumbed or with a fill yourself hopper, plumbing will add to installation costs, especially if there is no suitable piping already present. The other common extra feature in many fridge freezers is ice-making, which can be built in trays in the lower end of the market, to automatic machines, found in those with plumbed water cooling. There are other additions on the market, generally in the premium models, such as separate wine cooling areas and touch-screen displays, showing pictures, allowing e-mail access and calendar functions. These are most commonly found on high end fridge freezers and generally carry a premium.
So what's the best solution? The American fridge freezers generally have the most features and in most situations provide the most storage, certainly for a given footprint. It is however less power efficient and more expensive than its competitors. Which is the most suitable depends on your kitchen and how much you value the extras, if you have the space and don't care for looks or flashy gadgets then you are probably better off going for the large fridge and separate freezer, especially if you have somewhere to put a chest freezer. If you would find the extra features useful and looks are important to you then an American fridge freezer may well be worth the extra investment.