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Refrigerators & the British: A Question


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16 replies to this topic

#1 of 17 OFFLINE   alan halvorson

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Posted July 02 2005 - 06:15 AM

I was watching a program on Ebay on CNBC yesterday. On it was a British women who was a big Ebay seller and also furnished much of her home via Ebay purchases. She said she had and preferred American refrigerators, and that American fridges were a highly desirable appliance in Britain. Why is that? Don't you have access to good fridges?
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#2 of 17 OFFLINE   Claudia P

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Posted July 02 2005 - 06:19 AM

It's the SIZE of the refridgerators - american fridges are huge in comparison to fridges anywhere else in the world. Same goes for washing machines. Fisher & Paykel make wonderful appliances (good looking, functional, great quality) but don't get anywhere near the size of the american counterparts.

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#3 of 17 OFFLINE   JohnCZ

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Posted July 02 2005 - 06:28 AM

A British fridge is equivalent in size to a american bar fridge or the type you get in a hotel.

#4 of 17 OFFLINE   alan halvorson

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Posted July 02 2005 - 06:33 AM

Well, that makes sense. Seems like someone in Britain is missing an opportunity.
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#5 of 17 OFFLINE   Henry Gale

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Posted July 02 2005 - 08:58 AM

This would help explain the total lack of a clue about icy drinks in Great Britain.
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#6 of 17 OFFLINE   BrianB

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Posted July 02 2005 - 12:10 PM

British homes & kitchens are frequently much smaller than US equivalents with more appliances vying for space - washers & dryers are frequently kept in the kitchen instead of a seperate 'laundry room'.

So traditionally, fridges were the height of the worktops like a front loading dryer.

Nowadays, there's a much more expanded range of fridge freezer combos, though still not the huge caverns that fill the American fridge landscape.

http://www.currys.co....fm=0&sm=7&tm=1
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#7 of 17 OFFLINE   Robert_Gaither

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Posted July 02 2005 - 05:13 PM

Just enough to hold a day's worth of food? You'd think someone there would come up with vertical appliances (sort of the stack washer/dryer or oven/stove/microwave).

#8 of 17 OFFLINE   Mike Voigt

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Posted July 02 2005 - 11:44 PM

Not quite. One of the key differences between my household here and my parents' over there was the amount of meat, in the form of steaks, we eat here. It is significantly larger. Things like drinks, etc. were not stored in the fridge (think beer, and how much space it takes up) until and unless needed. - my parents always had a bottle of water going, but it stayed outside, and the fridge didn't have the water-filtering and serving capability mine does. No icemaker either, just self-filled cubes. Many of those items went into a cool cellar for longer-term storage. My parents also had a potato bin; none stored in the fridge. Food was bought fresh as much as possible, then possibly canned and stored - in the cellar. Many packages are also smaller - think quart-size vs gallon-size.

None of this amounts to much individually, but in sum, it adds up. And some households had a separate freezer - like here - though my parents never bought one once they moved back. We had one when we lived there before, prior to moving to Latin America...

#9 of 17 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted July 03 2005 - 03:39 AM

Quote:
A British fridge is equivalent in size to a american bar fridge or the type you get in a hotel.

They are a little larger than that. It's only fridges in student rooms that are likely to be that size.

Quote:
This would help explain the total lack of a clue about icy drinks in Great Britain.

I think it requires a surgical operation to get this concept into a yank's head - NOT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD LIKES A DRINK SO COLD YOU CAN'T TASTE IT. However, having tasted what passes for beer in your country, I can understand why you would want to drink that as near-frozen as possible. Posted Image

There is another aspect to this issue. A lot of things that Americans seem to think 'must' go in a fridge would never be put in them in the UK (most kinds of fruit and veg spring to mind). Thus, Brit fridges can be smaller. Having said that, American fridges (preferably in plain metal finish)are popular over here (I should know - we have one). However, except at Christmas time, ours never gets near to being full.

Quote:
Food was bought fresh as much as possible, then possibly canned and stored - in the cellar.

Mike, I think we're describing the older generation here. V. few Brits under fifty (unless they are a foodie) has a clue about how to preserve fruit and veg. I used to make pickles and jams (sorry, jellies) when I was a teenager (I was an odd teenager, okay?) but I gave up years ago (too bad an effect on my waistline). However, a lot of us still do buy fresh where possible. My wife and I generally make two or three trips to the stores weekly to buy fresh meat/fish and then do a weekly big shop for other imperishable goods. I don't think we're all that untypical. I think it's also worth pointing out that v. few Brit houses have a cellar. It isn't due to a high water table or anything like that - it's just simply that they're not built. It may have a lot to do with associations of the 'underworld' (the phrase originated in Victorian UK to describe the very poor/'criminal classes' who used to live in the basements/cellars of rented houses) so houses post-1900 or so often lacked a cellar (other than a coal storage cellar).

#10 of 17 OFFLINE   Mike Voigt

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Posted July 03 2005 - 06:29 AM

Andrew - interesting! I did not know that was the reason. I was thinking about the area where my parents lived.

My family gave up canning when we moved to Latin America, and certainly my wife and I haven't canned diddly-squat. The fresh markets we would visit if we had any - I was thinking about the ones near where my parents used to live in Germany (Kirchzarten, near Freiburg). What a wonderful thing; I will forever remember "waffle lady" in Belgium, too, when we visited a friend of ours. We couldn't speak (Flemish anyone?) but she sure made the best waffles I have ever eaten.

The closest we have here is Central Market, essentially a supermarket chain (HEB) that picked up the concept of having really fresh (and somewhat expensive) veggies and fruit available. As well as about 100 different varieties of cheesse, bread, fish, coffee, and the like. Great place to go to - kind of like a much reduced version of Harrod's, in a manner of speaking, including price. Not too hot on teas, though.

Other than that, it's farmer's markets. They're hit and miss. At least in Florida you had roadside stands, those were fantastic, excellent quality fruits and veggies.

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#11 of 17 OFFLINE   Philip_G

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Posted July 03 2005 - 06:43 AM

eeenteresting, wonder what it costs to freight a refrigerator over to the UK. Ebay.co.uk here I come!

how do you handle the 220 to 115 conversion? that's a big autotransformer to fire up the compressor.

#12 of 17 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted July 03 2005 - 06:59 AM

Good heavens, I thought this thread was discussing the old chestnut joke:

Why do the British drink warm beer? Because they have Lucas refrigerators.

Quote:
However, having tasted what passes for beer in your country...I was an odd teenager, okay?

We actually have very good beer here, it's just that the major brands are uniformly bland.

The national beer brands in the US were formed from scratch after Prohibition. They were still in the nascent stage when WWII happened. With most of the men in the country overseas (bailing out the UK as I recall), the beer brands were heavily influenced by the tastes of the vast legions of women war workers. Since these tastes ran to weak lagers, those became the trademarked brews from Budweiser, Miller, et al. And once their trademarked brews were established, they never revisited them (think of the "new Coke" fiasco). So I suppose we could maintain that the insipid quality of the national beer brands in the US is the fault of the British. However, if you feel any twinges of guilt you can ship me a barrel of Whitbreads and I will consider the matter closed. Posted Image

Quote:
how do you handle the 220 to 115 conversion? that's a big autotransformer to fire up the compressor.
I'm sure that you just change the wiring on the coils of the drive motor....should be quite simple. No external transformer should be required.
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#13 of 17 OFFLINE   Kevin Hewell

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Posted July 03 2005 - 07:41 AM

Quote:
My parents also had a potato bin; none stored in the fridge.


You store potatoes in the fridge?

#14 of 17 Guest_Eric Kahn_*

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Posted July 03 2005 - 07:48 AM

the transformer would not be that big, I had one as a kid in germany to power my stereo and it was overkill since it would put out 15 amps of 120, but military families got them dirt cheap from some store on base, I think my parents paid like 10 dollars for mine and we sold them back when we moved back to the US

the compressor in a refrigerator is a sealed unit and cannot be rewired on 99.9% of consumer line refrigerators sold in the US, there are some of the new HUGE models that are 220, but then you also have to deal with the 50 cycle issue which will slow the compressor down by about 13% and cause it to draw more amperage

#15 of 17 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted July 03 2005 - 08:38 AM

Quote:
We actually have very good beer here, it's just that the major brands are uniformly bland.

Dennis - I know; I was just pulling your leg. Just to kill the old canard dead - Brit beer served properly should be cool (i.e. the temperature you'd expect something kept in a cellar), not chilled, but certainly not room temperature. Lager is always drunk chilled, but most of it tastes like beer after it's been recycled by a horse. On reflection, that's probably an insult to horse pee.


Quote:
You store potatoes in the fridge?

Um ... my parents do. :b Ever since a couple of trips to Canada many years ago they've had a fridge you could hold a dance in and they store everything in it. All the canned goods (as in tins of beans, that sort of thing) go in as well. Apparently their Canadian hosts did this and my mom and dad thought it was a neat idea. I have taken this as evidence that: (1) the sooner we Brits recolonise North America the better and (2) my parents really are going senile.

Quote:
However, if you feel any twinges of guilt you can ship me a barrel of Whitbreads and I will consider the matter closed.

Clearly you've never tasted Thwaite's mild. Piece of trivia - I did once interview one of the Whitbread family for a university place. He was a really nice guy (decided on another course at the same university in the end, though).


Quote:
Other than that, it's farmer's markets. They're hit and miss. At least in Florida you had roadside stands, those were fantastic, excellent quality fruits and veggies.

We have them here, but they vary enormously according to where you live. If you live in one of the traditional fruit and vegetable growing areas (basically the midlands and east of England) they can be great. Elsewhere, it's hit or miss. Living in the south of Wales as we do now (agricultural produce - sheep, sheep and sheep; and lamb gives me migraines)there's relatively little on offer. You do see the occasional roadside stall, usually run by a guy who failed the auditions for Deliverance and Straw Dogs because he looked too weird. Curiously enough I've never stopped to find out what's on offer.

#16 of 17 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted July 03 2005 - 10:07 AM

I've had a soft spot for Whitbreads since the 1960s, when they underwrote Sir Francis Chichester's around the world voyage. And I was a teenager at the time and didn't even drink beer/ale.
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#17 of 17 OFFLINE   Philip_G

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Posted July 03 2005 - 10:15 AM

Quote:
I'm sure that you just change the wiring on the coils of the drive motor....should be quite simple. No external transformer should be required.

the motor is inside the compressor, sealed. There might be an external means, I'm not sure but don't think so.

Quote:
the transformer would not be that big, I had one as a kid in germany to power my stereo and it was overkill since it would put out 15 amps of 120

motors pull large loads when they start up, a residential AC compressor would pull around 60 amps, a refer much less, I don't have an amprobe handy or I'd go check how much.

Quote:
the compressor in a refrigerator is a sealed unit and cannot be rewired on 99.9% of consumer line refrigerators sold in the US, there are some of the new HUGE models that are 220, but then you also have to deal with the 50 cycle issue which will slow the compressor down by about 13% and cause it to draw more amperage
looks like you beat me to it Posted Image


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