Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fridge Freezer review : BEKO CXF5104w

Fridge Freezer : BEKO CXF5104w
Cost : £279.99 in Curry's
In the UK, seems to be only available from Currys.

Basic details :

Frost Free freezer (i.e., freezer has a fan)
54.5cm wide
Freezer storage capacity (1 shelf, 2 full-size drawers, 1 half drawer) : 87 litres (138 litres gross)
Freezer star rating : ****
Fridge storage capacity (4 shelfs and salad drawer) : 244 litres (298 gross)
A+ rating
Annual energy consumption estimate (Currys) : 251kwh (e.g. £42.67 at 17p per kwh) 
Suitable for outbuildings
Noise : 43db
One thermostat
Fridge auto-defrost
Reversible doors (if you are capable)

My priorities for choosing a fridge-freezer :
Must be Frost Free Freezer
As much freezer space as possible
Under £300

My verdict on the BEKO CXF5104w

Despite seemingly having more freezer space than any competitor in the same price range at the time (Oct 2013), it's still not enough. At the time of writing, I would have now chose the BEKO CXF5015APw which at this time was £299. More freezer space for £20 more (Feb 2014). However, this model is now £399.
A bit noisier than expected but not too bad
Frost free freezer works to a decent standard
Fridge is ok too 
Overall it is decent apart from still not having enough freezer space.
If you look around now, you probably can get a a frost free fridge freezer with more storage space than 87l.

There wasn't much choice a 'frost free' freezer with as much space as possible for under £300 a tthe time. I don't recall any getting near the claimed 87 litres for the BEKO CXF5104w. But even for 1 or 2 people, you might find the freezer still is a bit cramped for storage.

Recently Curry's had on offer for £298 (Feb 2014) what I believe to be a similar fridge-freezer but with an extra full-size freezer drawer (I think), which is what I would have chosen. The CF5015APw fridge freezer. One thing to note is that it is 201cm high, which may mean smaller people cannot reach the top fridge shelf.
(Note, as of March 2014, the price is now £399. Perhaps keep checking until it is reduced again.) 

Back again to the CXF5104w, aside from slight disappointment at the freezer capacity (my fault I guess), I find everything else about the CXF5104w to be a decent standard I expected. The frost-free works to a decent standard, and I have no major complaints about the purchase (bearing in mind the cost).

Full specification info on the BEKO CXF5104w (from Curry's site)  :

Dimensions : 1.83m high, 54.5cm wide, 60cm deep
Fridge space (litres) :  160 (gross), 157 (usable)
Freezer space (litres) : 138 (gross), 87 (usable)
Manufacturer guarantee : 1 year
Energy efficiecny rating : A+
Annual energy consumption estimate (kwh) : 251 (Curry's) 299 (BEKO)  
Suitable for outbuildings : Yes. Estimated external lowest temp -15 degrees
Estimated noise level : 43db
Climate class : SN
Interior light : Fridge yes, Freezer no
Fridge auto-defrost : Yes
Freezer frost-free (a fan) : Yes
One thermostat works both fridge and freezer (minimum to setting 7
Has anti-bacterial seals around the door.
Fridge shelves : 4 adjustable and a salad drawer. Transparent and made of safety glass
Lower fridge shelf acts as a 'chill compartment' (So sign says)
Freezer compartments : 1 flap shelf (top), 2 full-size removable drawers, bottom removeable half drawer
Freezer star rating : ****
Fast freeze function : No
Power failure safe storage time (freezer) : 13 hours
External controls : No
Temp/open door warning : No
CFC free
HFC free
Recommended space : 5mm top and sides
Flat back design : No
Reversible doors but you need to be capable of it.
Handles need to be screwed on (most should be able to do this)

In depth review :

For what it is, the BEKO CXF5104w (and presumably thesilver version) live up to all expectations and seems to be good value in comparison to any competitors. For a frost free freezer,  it seemed to have the most freezer storage space for under £300. The fridge-freezer itself is attractive looking (as most are now), being 54.5cm wide to fit most fitted kitchens that have minimum space. It is 1.83m high, which I suspect most people should be able to reach the fridge top shelf. It's A+ and the freezer rating is 4 star, but I would expect that as norm nowadays. Today, freezers can only be A+ A++ or A+++.

About storage space : Nowadays, most fridge-freezers seem to calculate space in litres or cubic feet. They often give the total litres on GROSS or NET. Net is the real important one, as this is actual storage space. Gross is the total space plus anything that takes up space such as drawers etc. So it's best to calculate storage in NET. The only downside might be that the higher the storage space, the less likely a small person will reach the top shelf. 

Freezer space and Frost free : These were my 2 priorities along with price. I think someday frost-free will be the norm (basically a fan in the freezer) but for now I would say make sure you get a 'frost-free' (a fan) freezer. At the time the freezer space (87 litres usable) was more than any other fridge-freezer I could see for under £300. Now I see another BEKO for £269 (Mar 2014) and the same freezer space (see links at bottom). But I would say even for 1 or 2 people, unless you don't use the freezer much, it is still not enough freezer space. I keep pizzas and rolls in the freezer, which take up a lot of space.

About the freezer drawers :  Although it claims there are 4 drawers, the bottom one is half a drawer (the motor being behind it), so it's really 3 and 1/2 drawers. The top drawer is a 'shelf' with a door flap. The flap is quite flimsy, so be careful not to break it. The fan is at the back of this drawer, which you need to make sure is clear of anything that could catch in it. The 2 middle drawers are 'full-size' but not very deep. They also rise at the back, so they are easy to fully remove. But this means you lose more space, as you can't stack things flat at the back. They have 2 handy grips at the side. The bottom drawer is a half-drawer and also removeable.The front panels are clear so you can see what's in. The flap says 'fast freeze' but I don't think it is.

Freezer fan air :  The freezer fan is at the back of the top shelf. When the freezer is packed full, it feels that the circulating fan air may not be getting fully around the bottom half-drawer completely, meaning some things in this drawer may be similar to food in a freezer that is not frost free. But after 4 months use there is no sign of frost on the freezer.

Ice drawer : At the top of the freezer is an ice drawer, but I take this out to create more space.

Some things taking 12-24 hour to freeze (note : I have the thermostat set at minimum) : I stack a lot of  home made soup on the top freezer shelf, but have noticed the containers at the front can take maybe 12-24 hours to freeze. I am not sure why this is. Perhaps because they are stacked together and high, and the high ones at the front may not be exposed to as much cold or to the fan. So far I have only noticed this with my soup when stacked in large bunches of containers.

Fridge is fine : I don't use the fridge for much, so cannot really comment on space. It some spacious enough. There does not seem to be a way they could lose space due to design. The spec sheet says 160 litres gross, 157 litres net. The clear safety glass shelves can be moved around 8 slots. The salad drawer seems spacious. The bottom shelf is supposed to act as a chill compartment. It has 3 door shelves, the bottom one capable of holding 2 litre bottles easily. The top 2 door shelves can be swapped but they are the same so there's no point.

Fridge auto-defrost : I think all fridges have this now. It seems to be a hole at the back to allow condensation to exit the fridge, usually via a gutter pipe at the back which leads to a drip tray above the motor at the back. If it get's blocked there's a plunger to clear it. 

Thermostat : The fridge-freezer has one thermostat. It has settings of minimum then 1-7. I have it set at minimum and my freezer food seems to freeze ok. My £1 analogue temperature sensor seems to indicate the fridge is around 4-5 degrees celsius when set a minimum.

Noise : The estimated noise is 43db. It is quieter than my old fridge-freezer but it looks like other fridge-freezers can be quieter. You probably won't notice the noise unless it is very close to you. It makes 3 noises : The hum of the motor, the freezer fan, and a 'wretching sound' (presumably some sort of adjustment). The freezer fan , I can't hear when the door is closed (not that I recall). The 'wretching' was a surprise to me. I'm not sure what it is. It is infrequent but daily. Seems to be some sort of adjustment. The motor home is what you expect. It is quite noisy close up but not too bad when standing away. It could be quieter though. The estimated noise (presumably the hum) is 43db. I have seen freezers claim to be 41db.     

Power consumption : Typically, when the motor is going, the fridge-freezer seems to be using about 60w of electricity usually. It is A+ rated, but nowadays this is the lowest efficiency rating (now models are to be A+ A++ or A+++). But it is still far more efficient than much older models and won't cost much to run. BEKO estimates it will use 299kwh a year, Curry's says 251kwh. Using a kwh as 17p per unit for estimates, that would be perhaps £50.83 or £42.67 a year to run. If the power is cut the freezer is said to have 13 hours safe storage time. 

Outhouse fridge-freezer : This fridge-freezer can stand external temperartures of -15 degrees celsius, so can be used say in a garage. 

Door handles : The fridge freezer has two door handles, but you need to screw these on yourself. You could do without them of course. The door handles are reversible to either side. The handles are a bit flimsy, so potentially could be ripped off.

Reversible doors : You can make the doors open on the left or the right. By default they come opening on the left. You are able to change this to open on the right, but I guess it is a bit of a chore. Befor ethe age of equality, the advice would have probably been to call in a man ... or two. It's probably heavy work and a bit tricky.

Interior light : The fridge has a good interiror light. The freezer has none.

Final thoughts : Looking around at fridge-freezers that meet my priorities for under £300, I see a few now which seem to have more freezer space. Since most fridge-freezers are now around 54.5cm wide, I guess they have another freezer shelf than mine. I would look at these now. If you don't have a tiny space in a fitted kitchen to squeeze the fridge-freezer, you could look at wider fridge-freezers. It seems that around 55cm is the size most often for a UK fitted kitchen. But if you don't have limited width, you could go for much wider. Personally, even for 1 or 2 people, I would look for more than 100 litres for the fridge freezer, and frost free of course.

Back to the BEKO CXF5104w, it's a decent basic frost-free fridge freezer but sadly 87 litres freezer space may not be enough even for one or two people if you buy a lot of frozen food.   

My main advice is :
Make sure the freezer is FROST FREE
Try and get as much freezer space as you can (my guess, over 100 litres NET (not gross)). Probably meaning 'five freezer drawers' (really 4 and a half).

Links :
CXF5104w on BEKO website
Currys : BEKO CXF5104w
Other fridge-freezer : BEKO CF5015APw (was £298 for a few weeks in Feb 2014) 

Other possible alternatives :
Beko EcoSmart CF5834APW : Sounds almost identical to CXF5104 (same storage, frost free) but slightly better spec (not for outhouse use).
£269 in AO (Current best price ? Mar 2014)
£310 Amazon

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