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Compressor Compressor


  • Failure mode Poor quality components and manufacture of compressors, without appropriate testing.
  • Durability feature Better quality components and construction, with appropriate testing.
  • Cost

Good practices

  • Good practicesGood quality parts
  • Good practices Compressor inspection and testing
  • Good practices ‘Linear’ compressor with fewer moving parts
  • Good practices Brushless motor

Bad practices

  • Bad practicesPoor quality parts
  • Bad practices No inspection/testing

Key facts

  • Which? Consumer surveys indicate some of the most common faults relate to bad smells, mould and leaks. 
  • Around 1 in 3 of all fridges replaced in the UK each year failed to meet customer’s expectation for an 8 year product lifetime. 
  • Which? surveys show that the most common faults are build-up of ice, blocked drain and flooding in unit.

Icon key

  • Failure mode Failure mode
  • Durability features Durability features
  • Cost saving Cost saving
  • Low cost Low cost
  • Cost neutral Cost neutral
  • High cost High cost

Key failure modes

Early to later in lifetime

  • Some newer fridge freezers use relatively cheap compressors that are prone to premature failure.
  • While these may meet performance requirements when new, poor quality components and construction can lead to early failure.
  • Repair or replacement of the compressor is often not cost-effective, resulting in the whole unit being returned or discarded. 

Specification for improved performance

The specification below provides the recommended improvements needed to improve product durability. They are ranked from bronze to gold based on the effectiveness of the change in improving durability, with bronze being the minimum and gold being the maximum.

Easily repairable; specified for 21,000 hr operation

  • Compressor to be easily accessible to remove/replace and available in the UK at reasonable cost (less than 40% of the new machine cost) for at least 5 years after the machine was last manufactured.
  • Quality control procedures to be in place and documented for compressor Compressor to be specified to last at least 21,000 hr of operation (~7 yrs) * #

Specified for 27,000 hr operation

  • Compressor to be specified to last at least 27,000 hr of operation (~9 yrs)

Specified for 33,000 hr operation

  • Compressor to be specified to last at least 33,000 hr of operation (~11 yrs)

Testing to demonstrate performance

Ask for clear evidence of meeting the requirements listed above:

  • technical specifications, drawings
  • test data (ideally from an independent test house), quality control data 

* Compressor test method: 10 compressors to be specified and tested to ensure that they operate for at least the specified hours of normal fridge-freezer operation (i.e. simulated cycling on and off load, 15 times every simulated 24 hour period, i.e. on-off every 1.6 hr with a short (e.g. 2 minute) break; @ 20 degrees C ambient) without failure or reduced performance in 100% of cases.

A cycling on and off endurance test should be carried out for 500,000 switching cycles, in line with the DIN 8974 (1975-08) standard.

The compressor should operate for 2,000 uninterrupted under a high temperature test, in line with the DIN 8974 (1975-08) standard.,/p> The fan motor should be run for 15 days uninterrupted. 72 hours later, it should be able to withstand an electrical strength test (as per IEC 60335 Part 2-24 Annex AA).

# WRAP research suggests that consumers expect a lifetime of 8 years.

Cost implications

Improved reliability of components can reduce early returns and improve brand reputation which, in turn, can lower business costs and increase long-term sales.

To calculate overall cost savings for your business, use the WRAP cost/benefit analysis tool (currently in draft form and available on request).



Basic compressor with testing (7 years)

A basic design to last at least 7 years, with the required testing, should be possible to purchase off the shelf.

Low cost

Mid range compressor with testing (9 years)

The compressor is the single most expensive electro-mechanical item on a fridge freezer. Higher quality components and construction and additional testing time will help to increase product reliability.

High cost

High quality compressor with testing (11 years)

Long lasting compressors, guaranteed to last over 11 years. The most reliable compressors include those with brushless motors and ‘linear’ design.