We think it's an ideal size for a two- or three-person household, but Frigidaire also touts it as "garage ready" if you're looking for a secondary model.
How does it perform? Well, as was the case with all of Frigidaire's new top freezer lineup, our tests measured relatively stable temperatures over time, though the 1821 was the least consistent of the pack. As with the other models, setting the thermostat to the recommended setting causes it to run warm
While simply turning down the thermostat helps minimize this fridge’s most glaring flaw, the FFTR1821QS also lacks the refined interior of its pricier counterparts. In fact, the door-mounted shelves feel downright flimsy. We think it's best to move up the line to a slightly pricier model.
Like many budget-friendly top freezers, the 18-cu.-ft. Frigidaire FFTR1821QS (MSRP $829) was not without some issues. However, as long as you take the time to find a cooler setting on the thermostat, this low-cost fridge should do a fine job preserving your food.
Easy to match, hard to keep clean
Unlike Frigidaire’s new Gallery models, the stainless steel finish of the FFTR1821QS isn’t smudge proof. That means it’ll take more work to keep it clean—especially for consumers with small children—but it’ll also be easier to match with stainless appliances from other manufacturers.
If you’re not partial to stainless, you’ve got options: This model is also available in white (1821QW) or black (1821QB) for an MSRP of $729, or in a non-stainless metallic with black handles (1821QM) for an MSRP of $779. If you're buying this for your garage, one of those might make a better deal.
Inside, the layout looked convenient and accessible, but felt cheap—a common complaint with fridges in this price range. Cheap models like this one still use incandescent bulbs in the fridge instead of LEDs. Full-width shelves did slide easily, but they weren't spill-proof, and had large gaps between their edges and the fridge interior. Worst of all, the fixed door shelves are extremely thin. Compare that to the innovative new sliding door shelves on more expensive Frigidaire top freezers, and you'll see how easily a salesperson could upsell a customer to the higher-end model.
The freezer is quite basic, with no interior light. On the brighter side, the lack of an included icemaker means you can move the lone wire shelf around to suit your storage preference.
We don’t normally talk about product packaging, but in this case, it seems necessary. Nearly all refrigerator exteriors are covered in a thin, protective plastic, but this Frigidaire's was especially problematic to remove, as it extended far beneath the fridge door gasket. We had real trouble removing it, and you may as well. Plus, it's bright blue—not clear—so it really stands out against the stainless door edges.
As has been the case with all of Frigidaire’s new top-freezer models, we found the recommended manufacturer setting on the FFTR1821QS’s thermostat was rather misleading. At that setting, fridge temperatures averaged 41.32°F at the top, 41.41°F in the middle, and 42.84°F at the bottom. That’s too warm, but you’ll notice the difference from one shelf to the next is minimal. If you turn down the thermostat, temperatures should cool to a more appropriate level.
The freezer had a similar issue. Our sensors recorded averages of 8.68°F and 9.14°F at the top and bottom, respectively. That’s definitely warmer than the 0°F ideal. While this model only has one compressor to regulate temperatures, there is a supplementary control slider in the freezer that will help guide more cold air into the freezer if you turn it down.
Altering the thermostat won’t change consistency over time. The fresh food area experienced temperature shifts of ±0.31°F over 72 hours, while the freezer shifted ±0.51°F.
Turn down the dial
As is the case with many budget top freezers, the FFTR1821QS did a merely competent. In the freezer, the temperatures we recorded weren't consistently low enough to combat freezer burn. In the fridge, however, temperatures and humidity levels stayed cool and stable enough for good food preservation.
However, the biggest issue with this model is one we’ve seen before: The recommended setting on the thermostat actually causes the fridge to run warm. While lowering the thermostat won’t make the fridge run more consistently over the long term, it will help reduce the average temperature.
Aside from the temperature and thermostat issues, this Frigidaire is actually a very effective unit. The crispers did a decent job retaining moisture, and our meters confirmed it's one of the most energy efficient models we’ve tested to date.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Despite the temperature issues, we found that the FFTR1821QS’s crispers actually did a decent job retaining moisture. Our artificial produce lost an average of just 0.16 grams of moisture per hour over the course of 3 days. Your salad greens should stay crisp for at least a few days.
Good, for its price
The Frigidaire FFTR1821QS is definitely an entry-level fridge. It's appropriately priced at just under $600, but has some drawbacks compared to models that only cost only slightly more. While imperfect, the fridge doesn't have any major issues: Performance was acceptable, as was the fit and finish.
That said, it may be worth shelling out a little extra for more accuracy and style for something you're going to see in your kitchen every day. Frigidaire advertises the FFTR1821QS as "garage ready," and we're inclined to agree: Interior design doesn't matter as much when the fridge in question is out in a garage or basement.
The Frigidaire’s freezer section froze food at a relatively average speed. We placed sensors in the freezer and they were cooled down to 32°F in 1 hour and 34 minutes. We’ve seen freezers that could do so in less time, but an hour and a half still gets a passing grade in our book.
At an advertised 18 cu. ft., the FFTR1821QS should house more than enough space for a small family.
Based on our practical measurements, the actual amount of storage space available in the main fresh food section totals 11.16 cu. ft., while the freezer can hold about 3.6 cu. ft. of groceries.
The most impressive aspect of this Frigidaire might actually be its energy efficiency. We estimate that it needs only about 0.04 kWh to cool each cubic foot of usable space. Assuming the national average electricity price of $0.09 per kWh, that comes out to roughly $19.75 per year—less than the cost of most dinners.
Meet the tester
Logistics Manager & Staff Writer@ReviewedHome
Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.
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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email