Beko’s Fridge is Right-Sized for Solar Electrification
A few weeks testing one of the company’s high-tech refrigerator-freezer suggests that this unit could help homeowners go all electric without sacrificing a more upscale look.
Beko’s products have a natural appeal for eco-minded homeowners like myself. The company is expanding its distribution and service connections in the Eastern U.S., and pitched me on reviewing one of their new refrigerator-freezers with something called “HarvestFresh” technology.
It’s a sort of “smart” air management system that's supposed to keep vegetables fresh longer by simulating natural light patterns. Other tech aims to remove odors and stabilize temperature shifts.
I found the idea of reduced food waste AND reduced energy consumption appealing.
What separates Beko from a lot of U.S. appliance makers is that they have a European aesthetic, where they’re not as obsessed with the cubic foot capacity of a refrigerator as they are with its performance. What this means is that you generally get a fridge that’s smaller, but a lot more efficient, and the model BFBD30216SS certainly fits this description.
The unit’s energy performance is on the lower end of Energy Star parameters in its size range, with an annual energy footprint of about 438 kilowatt hours. I borrowed a Kill-a-Watt device to do a little real time testing of how the unit uses power.
What I found is that power fluctuates quite a lot, from almost nothing to about 120 watts in “quick cooling” mode. I attribute this rapid response to the sophisticated “brain” that operates the condenser in the unit. I actually popped the top cover off the unit to take a look at the motherboard, and it’s not unlike what you’d see in a laptop computer.
Average out the energy demand at 50-60 watts (for both fridge and freezer), and you have an appliance that could easily become part of a solar plus storage electric home. In a power outage, for instance, or on a daily basis, it would burn about 1.44 kWh to run for 24 hours. That’s not bad, particularly if you’re running a house-sized battery bank of 10 or 12 kWh capacity.
Up and Running
The 30-inch model I tested was the right fit for my smallish kitchen, and at just over 200 lbs, something a DIYer can manage with a dolly. It also fits through old doorways.
The unit took a few hours for top and bottom to reach their stable temp settings. I used that time to install the HomeWhiz app, and try it out. This is one area where Beko needs to push its software engineers harder. The APP is not award winning. Not only does it lack a lot of the advanced features I would expect, like vacation modes, graphs of energy usage and so on, I found it sometimes lost connection with the fridge.
Another major upgrade would be diagnostic tools that connect the unit directly with a Beko technician. Since the company is still spread rather thin in terms of qualified repair people, this could enhance the “peace of mind” aspects for buyers.
The BFBD30216SS runs so quietly that I had to open the door to make sure it was running. After stocking it with a combination of fresh and recurring food items, I fiddled with the adjustable bars on the crisper drawers.
I found, over a week or so, that lettuce, cucumbers, and other foods did retain more of their freshness, with no signs of premature rotting. That’s important for our vegetarian family. A few extra days of life from vegetables means fewer trips to the store or public market, and a lot less food waste.
I also like the active filtration in the fridge. Even strong smelling foods like raw onions did not overwhelm the upper compartments with odors.
Some Awakening Required
This Beko product isn’t the gigantic double door fridge-freezer that seems to have crept into a lot of American homes, and that’s a good thing.
Several pieces of research have pointed out that oversized refrigeration options greatly amplify food waste in homes. People tend to “fill” refrigerators to whatever their size capacity, because it creates a sense of abundance. And when I say people, I’m mostly talking about Americans, where size is often valued over quality.
I could go deeper into the psychology of food waste. For example, this study looked at how people store and use leftovers. It turns out we don’t eat a lot of them, so storing them may be wishful thinking. The researchers suggest that we should instead eat smaller meals.
That’s not something Americans probably think about a lot. But maybe they should. This product has a distinctly European “vibe” that is what I would call “right-sized.” It’s big enough and sophisticated enough to handle any family’s food storage needs, but it’s something new, a fridge designed for a more thoughtful future, where we put more value on using the food we buy, and reducing the energy required to store it.
Specs at a Glance
Beko BFBD30216SS Features:
- HarvestFresh™ Technology: Simulates the 24-hour sun cycle in the crisper drawer to retain vitamins and minerals in produce for up to five days longer.
- AeroFlow™ Cooling System: Minimizes temperature fluctuations and reduces temperature differentiations between shelves for lasting freshness.
- FreshGuard: Uses a special filter and UV LEDs to neutralize up to 90% of odors.
- EverFresh+: Keeps fruits and vegetables fresh for up to 30 days.
- Interior Theater Lighting: Provides efficient, uniform lighting.
- HomeWhiz App Compatibility: Allows remote control via the HomeWhiz smart home app.
- Installation Type: Freestanding
- Energy Efficiency: ENERGY STAR® Qualified
- Net Volume: 16.1 cu ft
- Fresh Food Net Volume: 10.89 cu ft
- Frozen Food Storage Net Volume: 5.22 cu ft.