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Panasonic 2012: a fridge Odyssey

Panasonic is finally ready to launch its refrigerators onto the Australian market.

Panasonic is finally ready to launch its refrigerators onto the Australian market.

(Credit: Panasonic)

Here, the company is better known for its presence in the audio-visual field, but, for the past two years, it's been making headway in home appliances. At the end of this month, it will launch a line of six fridges — its first — in Australia.

The Econavi fridges will provide important home energy savings, Panasonic has said.

"Fridges are amongst the most wasteful appliances in the home," said Prue Sheehan, Panasonic's Product Marketing Manager for whitegoods and small appliances. "According to a Victorian energy organisation, they account for 12 per cent of the home electricity bill. One of the biggest reasons for this heavy electricity blow is opening and closing the refrigerator door."

The Econavi system seeks to combat that by learning and memorising the times at which a fridge is most often going to be opened; (for example, dinner time); and adjust its power levels accordingly, decreasing the power used when it is not in use.

It also gauges the level of lighting in the room, switching to a low-power mode when it's night time; and it also gauges external temperature levels, so that it can adjust its own.

(Credit: Panasonic)

The other power-saving measure is LED internal lights, rather than the more electricity-guzzling incandescentsincandescent bulbs from days of yore.

The other standout feature was something Panasonic is calling "Vitaminsafe". This consists of blue and green LEDs in the vegetable crisper, that mimicking the effect of sunlight. This, according to Panasonic, keeps the vegetables fresher for longer, and has actually been seen to increase the Vitamin C levels in fruits and vegetables that are naturally high in Vitamin C.

All the while, gentle air is circulated indirectly, leading to less dehydration.

It all sounds magnificent, but we were probably most impressed by the design of the fridge, which demonstrates that Panasonic has really thought about how people use things. As well as the newish trend of putting the freezer on the bottom (which means less bending down), it has its lights at the front of the fridge for easy visibility. Also, and the crisper is large, but not deep, meaning you can store a lot of vegetables without having to rummage around too much for the soggy forgotten cucumber at the bottom.

The chiller drawer is positioned at the bottom of the fridge, and a lidded container sits in the door to seal in sensitive items, such as medications.

The fridges, both in brushed steel and white, will be available in late June, and are priced as follows:

  • 554L Bottom Mount Fridge (Stainless steel): AU$1999
  • 554L Bottom Mount Fridge(White): AU$1799
  • 465L Bottom Mount Fridge (Stainless steel): AU$1599
  • 465L Bottom Mount Fridge (White): AU$1499
  • 421L Bottom Mount Fridge (Stainless steel): AU$1499
  • 421L Bottom Mount Fridge (White): AU$1299
But who only ever buys 10 eggs? (Credit: Panasonic)