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HELP! Need New Refrigerator Fast


robyn
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Our 13 year old Kitchenaid refrigerator has apparently bit the dust. The refrigerator part was somewhat warm this morning - which led to one set of possible diagnoses based on some internet reading. This evening - the freezer started to warm up too - which leads me to believe that the compressor is dying. Doesn't make much sense to make such an expensive repair on an appliance this old. I will check with the repair people tomorrow - but I am not optimistic.

I only have several non-negotiable requirements for a new refrigerator. It must be white (our kitchen is "white on white"). It must be a 35-36" wide model to fit into the existing space. It must be available for fast delivery. And it must be a brand that is relatively common (it's hard enough to get common brand appliances repaired where I live - and I have no desire to wait 2 weeks for parts for more exotic usually higher end appliances and then find that the repair person doesn't have a clue how to fix the thing).

That said - we made the rounds of all the usual suspect big box stores today - and the model I think I liked the best was the 25 foot or so cubic foot LG with the ice in the door and the 2 freezer drawers on the bottom (which I can get in a couple of days from Home Depot). I don't know beans about LG - it didn't exist when I last bought a major appliance. Nor do I know about the advantages/disadvantages of the "French" freezer drawers as opposed to the older side-by-side models (because the former didn't exist when I bought my last refrigerator).

The freezer drawers seem useful - but more useful when there are two. About the main disadvantage I saw in almost every model I looked at were the crispers weren't very tall - not tall enough to hold - for example - a cabbage. The manufacturers seemed to pay more attention to how many pizzas you could store conveniently than to fresh food storage. But I guess that is how most people eat these days. And I am not sure how well an "in the door" icemaker works when it is stuck in the refrigerator compartment or refrigerator door - as opposed to the freezer. Or how convenient a refrigerator without an "ice in the door" feature is (haven't had one of those for maybe 20 years or more).

Anyway - if you've bought a refrigerator in the last couple of years - or have been exploring to buy a new one - or even just "window shopping" - I'd be glad to hear what you have to say pro and con. FWIW - I am a pretty decent home cook and cook a lot from scratch. Any and all opinions are welcome. Thanks. Robyn

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Not that I frequently agree with their choices, but you may want to look at Consumer Reports (you can buy online access for as little as a month, last I checked). Their reliability ratings can be interesting.

Freezer drawers are a good thing IF there are at least 2 of them; otherwise it's a backbreaker to find anything in the deeper ones. My Fisher & Paykel has 3 drawers -- which I dearly love -- but you wanted a common brand. Good luck in your quest!

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Two weeks ago we bought a Sears Kenmore Elite (can't remember model #) 25 cubic foot French-door refrigerator & are very pleased with it. It doesn't have exterior water & ice because we had problems with the ice-maker tubing on our previous 13-year-old GE fridge. Access to everything is much easier than with the old GE (things would get pushed back in the back to turn green between cleanings) & it's easy to see everything, even in the chest-type freezer. You're right about the vegetable bins - they are shallower, but so far that hasn't presented any problems. It's also very energy-efficient. To our surprise, we found that there are actually only 2-3 refrigerator manufacturers & that our Sears model is actually made by LG. I looked at all of the different models available at Sears (Kitchen Aid, LG, Kenmore, Amana, Samsung & probably a couple I've forgotten) & found very few differences in them. The Kenmore also has pull-out shelves so that I can easily get to all the stuff that's in the back. After 2+ weeks, I'm still delighted with it. Of course, I still have the old GE in the basement, so there's plenty of space.

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I'm also curious about LG.

I've been looking at this one which also has the 2 freezer drawers. I want a counter/cabinet depth model.

I bought my current fridge 27 years ago. I've been waiting for it to die but I guess I've gotten my money's worth. Its longevity's probably due to the simple design - no icemaker, no water dispenser, etc.

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I had a KitchenAid side by side with ice in the door in my old house. When we moved here, I had a Frigidaire, no ice. It broke within months of moving in and I replaced it with the same Kitchenaid. I like the removable ice bucket on the KA.

I've had the bottom freezer drawer model, and I found I hated it. Just a personal preference. At the cottage, we have a Whirlpool top freezer mount, and on the porch, a Kenmore 25 inch side by side, no ice.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I've had the bottom freezer drawer model, and I found I hated it. Just a personal preference. At the cottage, we have a Whirlpool top freezer mount, and on the porch, a Kenmore 25 inch side by side, no ice.

We got a GE Profile french door/bottom mount and I HATE IT. After numerous repairs, it was replaced by the company free of charge( during the first year). I still hate the bottom freezer though. I find it holds a lot less and its just a general PITA to find something as you have to remove everything to see whats on the bottom.

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I've had the bottom freezer drawer model, and I found I hated it. Just a personal preference. At the cottage, we have a Whirlpool top freezer mount, and on the porch, a Kenmore 25 inch side by side, no ice.

We got a GE Profile french door/bottom mount and I HATE IT. After numerous repairs, it was replaced by the company free of charge( during the first year). I still hate the bottom freezer though. I find it holds a lot less and its just a general PITA to find something as you have to remove everything to see whats on the bottom.

Exactly. The drawers are a pain to pull out fully loaded as well.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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So far I haven't had that problem with the Kenmore Elite, but I do have a separate freezer that holds all the long-term stuff so the fridge freezer is never filled to the top. In my old GE with top freezer, I found that items would - again - get pushed to the back & neglected till I got around to emptying the freezer (infrequently - about once a year).

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I've had the bottom freezer drawer model, and I found I hated it. Just a personal preference. At the cottage, we have a Whirlpool top freezer mount, and on the porch, a Kenmore 25 inch side by side, no ice.

We got a GE Profile french door/bottom mount and I HATE IT. After numerous repairs, it was replaced by the company free of charge( during the first year). I still hate the bottom freezer though. I find it holds a lot less and its just a general PITA to find something as you have to remove everything to see whats on the bottom.

Exactly. The drawers are a pain to pull out fully loaded as well.

That seemed like a potential problem to me too - especially since many models have flimsy bottom shelves. Figured they would groan under the weight of even a 12 pound turkey. That is why I figured if we bought a model with bottom drawers - it was best to have 2 separate ones than 1 with a bottom shelf and top pullout. And perhaps I should take another look at the side-by-side models - like the one we have now.

FWIW - there is an old thread here about having a refrigerator in the garage, We have one - a Montgomery Ward house brand we bought about 14 years ago. As basic as it comes - all wire shelves - not a single drawer. Cost about $200. Used mostly to store liquids from water to beer to wine - but it saved me more than it cost me today (I tend to cook a lot in the winter - and had a freezer loaded with everything from quail to pork loins). And to the people who wrote in that thread - the temp in our garage ranges from about 40 to 90 (we're in northeast Florida) - and the refrigerator is still going strong. Perhaps one day it will die - but it doesn't owe us a thing at this point. Like the $79 TV we keep outside on our porch all year (it's kind of cute - the lizards live in it during the winter to get a little heat). Robyn

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I have a strong preference for the bottom freezer refrigerators. I open the fridge more than the freezer, and hate having to crouch down to search for veggies in the bins. Having the refrigerator section all at eye level is great. I'm on my second such model and would never go back.

My current fridge is 36", one of the french door models, and I've had it only a few months. I like it. The reason I purchased this style, rather than the single door model, was because of its location in my newly renovated kitchen. It opens into a corridor across from an island, the corridor being only 40" wide. I was afraid that opening a single 36" door in such a relatively narrow area would feel cramped and awkward. I'm sure I made the right call, it's very comfortable opening the doors while standing directly in front of the fridge, no need to worry about which way the door will swing open. So if your kitchen space is tight, I would definitely recommend a french door model. Otherwise, it's simply a matter of personal taste.

My renovation let me fit a 36" fridge into my layout. My intention also had been to buy a white refrigerator, I'm not a big stainless fan. But I was shocked to find that most 36" models come in stainless only. I did find that Kitchenaid and Jenn Air carried 36" white models, but that they were surprisingly more expensive than the stainless. My favorite of the two was the Jenn Air "floating glass" series. Some friends have the white floating glass fridge and dishwasher in their kitchen, and it's really lovely.

In the end, I decided that the premium for a white fridge wasn't worth it, given my budget, and went with the Jenn Air stainless. I'm really happy with it, despite the "fingerprint" issue of stainless appliances that I'd been trying to avoid. The vegetable bin holds a good size cabbage, no problem.


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I have a strong preference for the bottom freezer refrigerators. I open the fridge more than the freezer, and hate having to crouch down to search for veggies in the bins. Having the refrigerator section all at eye level is great.  I'm on my second such model and would never go back.

This is my reason for looking for a bottom freezer model, too. I often just put veggies on the bottom shelf rather than reach all the way down to the bins.

....In the end, I decided that the premium for a white fridge wasn't worth it, given my budget, and went with the Jenn Air stainless. 

How's the noise factor on the Jenn Air? I have a small place and am hoping for something quiet.

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LindaK - The prices quoted to me for Kitchenaid in white are less than those for stainless. Perhaps you were dealing with places that had stainless in stock while white was a special order - so they were willing to discount more on the stock item? FWIW - the Kitchenaid white these days isn't that attractive IMO. It's a high gloss kind of hospital white (my current refrigerator has a more muted textured white surface). The most attractive finishes I saw were satin somewhat stainless looking (but not real stainless which shows a lot of fingerprints). Still one huge stainless looking appliance would stick out like a sore thumb in my kitchen - and you can only see the refrigerator if you're standing by the stove. So it probably won't be a problem.

As for the configuration. I have some problems with the French door models. Most have very shallow bins. Many put the icemaker in the refrigerator compartment itself - which takes up a lot of room. When you put the icemaker "on the door" - you lose a lot of door shelving. If the icemaker is in the freezer section (no "ice" in the door) - that takes up a lot of freezer room - and you wind up with a plastic tub of ice cubes (which - best I can recall from years ago - frequently winds up being one big ice cube).

The side-by-sides have disadvantages too - like the narrow shelves in the freezer. But - overall - they seem to have more "useable" space in the average 36" wide model. But be really careful when looking at any refrigerator in terms of drawers - shelves - etc. For example - one Kitchenaid side-by-side model I saw on the floor had 3 freezer bins - one of which wrapped around a freezer light smack in the middle of the freezer compartment. Pretty nice use of space. But - upon checking - the current version of that model had 2 freezer bins - and a shallow shelf with perhaps a 2" "lip" on the back which backed up to the freezer light. That shelf would hold almost nothing - things would tumble off the back of it - and it wasted a whole lot of space compared to the previous bin. Seems that the manufacturers are trying save a buck here and a buck there and they don't care very much about the resulting utility of their products.

I think in terms of configuration - it comes down to a matter of personal preference IMO. What you buy - and how/when you use it. Think about it when you're looking. Take stock of your current needs - and your wants - even make a list. Where will I put this - that or the other thing. For example - I use the bottom bin in my current refrigerator (one of three) for onions and the like. They sprout too quickly if left on the counter in Florida most of the year - and we don't have "root cellars" (or any other kind of cellars for that matter - not with a water table 2-3 feet below ground level :wink: ). So I am only bending over for onions. And if I need to store a "party platter" (which isn't too often) - I can put it in my garage refrigerator.

Today I went to the 2 higher end appliance stores in town. Ferguson's (a national outfit) and a local store. I expected to be blown away - but I have to tell you that I was surprised at the cheesy quality of the fittings in many very very expensive refrigerators (like from $5000 to low 5 figures). Thin glass - lots of plastic like you'd find in a low end Whirlpool - no metal on the shelves. My 13 year old Kitchenaid has heavy duty tempered glass shelves which are edged in metal - not crummy plastic. But the new lighter glass/plastic cheaper shelves on the Kitchenaid didn't look or feel any worse than those in the high end brands. I happen to be a cabinet nut - have a lot of expensive German cabinetry throughout the house. But at least the cabinets I've bought have superior finish work and fittings. With these expensive appliances - I am not sure what you are paying for except a lot of advertising. Although my research wasn't exhaustive - the warranties seem the same as on the low end - 1 year except for things like the compressor - where Kitchenaid - at 10 years - seems to have the best warranty.

FWIW - since I will probably wind up with a side-by-side Kitchenaid just like my old one if my old one can't be saved at a reasonable price - I am going back to the appliance store to see if my old shelves and the like will fit into the new model.

weinoo - I looked up some reviews for LG refrigerators (among others). And all I can say is that a fair number of people reported that theirs had caught on fire! (Apparently a problem with lights not going off - and melting stuff which in turn caused fires). I can understand complaints about mushy ice cream or frozen lettuce in a refrigerator - but not complaints about fires. So that manufacturer is off my list (even though the problem may have been solved with the newer models - I am not taking any chances).

The appliance repairman will come tomorrow morning and give us his verdict. I have to say - it is not much fun shopping for appliances these days. Robyn

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I have the LG and love it. The two freezer drawers are very handy and I like the configuration of the fridge. It doesn't have a lot of room for very tall things, with all the shelves installed, but I have a second fridge so it isn't a problem for me and I also have a big separate freezer for long term storage.

I have checked the temp in various parts of the fridge and this one keeps stuff in the door much colder than in fridges I have had in the past so it is safe for dairy. (Some units simply do not keep things stored in the door as cold as they should be without having other parts too cold.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The side-by-sides have disadvantages too - like the narrow shelves in the freezer.  But - overall - they seem to have more "useable" space in the average 36" wide model.  But be really careful when looking at any refrigerator in terms of drawers - shelves - etc.    For example - one Kitchenaid side-by-side model I saw on the floor had 3 freezer bins - one of which wrapped around a freezer light smack in the middle of the freezer compartment.  Pretty nice use of space.  But - upon checking - the current version of that model had 2 freezer bins - and a shallow shelf with perhaps a 2" "lip" on the back which backed up to the freezer light.  That shelf would hold almost nothing - things would tumble off the back of it - and it wasted a whole lot of space compared to the previous bin.  Seems that the manufacturers are trying save a buck here and a buck there and they don't care very much about the resulting utility of their products.

The biggest challenge I have w/ my new KA stainless fridge is that it is NOT magnetic! So much for attaching recipes/lists/poetry. I am disappointed w/ the fridge and dishwasher, but the rest of the apartment is wonderful.

I AM liking the bottom drawer freezer. The ice-maker is in the top basket of the freezer, and so really handy. Other, longer-storage items can go in the bottom basket, which should theoretically stay colder (cold descends, heat rises).

When I work in other people's kitchens, I am frustrated beyond belief at the lack of space in a regular side-by-side. The shelves are much too narrow, for even the smallest of my platters. But the Fisher and Paykel French door fridge rocks!

Karen Dar Woon

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Today I went to the 2 higher end appliance stores in town.  Ferguson's (a national outfit) and a local store.  I expected to be blown away - but I have to tell you that I was surprised at the cheesy quality of the fittings in many very very expensive refrigerators (like from $5000 to low 5 figures).

For that kinda budget, you could put a small reach-in in the kitchen and the den, then have walk-ins next to where the wife parks. It might be a little more costly to operate, but EnergyStar ratings probably aren't of high import for the higher-end shoppers. I'd certainly be more impressed with a walk-in than some shiny kitchen cooler.

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But the Fisher and Paykel French door fridge rocks!

I took a look, and it's a nice fridge! The pictures I looked at showed that the bottom freezer has a regular door rather than just a pull-out drawer (which I hate). But the drawers seem awfully shallow. Could you stick a turkey in there? Do the drawers come out completely if you need more space for something like a turkey?

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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But the Fisher and Paykel French door fridge rocks!

I took a look, and it's a nice fridge! The pictures I looked at showed that the bottom freezer has a regular door rather than just a pull-out drawer (which I hate). But the drawers seem awfully shallow. Could you stick a turkey in there? Do the drawers come out completely if you need more space for something like a turkey?

I have the bottom-mount F&P, that has a regular freezer door. I love the drawers, particularly the shallow center one (great for individual freezing of small items like berries or cookie dough balls). The top bins can be removed from their tray to make a large space, but I don't think the bottom drawer is removable. It is, however, big enough to hold a large turkey.

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Good news. The apppliance repairman came today and he actually got the refrigerator working (although it needs 2 new parts - machine will fail again in about a week without these parts). Total repair bill will be about $300 - and there is no guarantee something else won't fail 4 months from now - but the cost/benefit analysis makes sense (compared to our washing machine - which died a few months ago - there we were talking about a $350 repair versus a new machine for $450).

FWIW - I have used this repair service (large firm) and this particular repairman before (I think he's good). Asked him which of the high end machines he would choose for himself and he said Subzero (because of its commitment to customer support). OTOH - he said the firm - which does warranty work for lots of manufacturers - stopped working for LG last year because of the difficulty in getting parts from the company for warranty and other repairs (put the repair service in a bad light). Of course - the repairman only tends to see appliances which are broken :wink: .

pnwradar - I'm the wife :hmmm: . And my husband always brings in the groceries (he does a lot the shopping too). We have a pretty big garage - but I am not sure where we'd put a walk-in. There would also be a flood danger (we're in hurricane country and the garage is lower than the rest of the house). Also I keep lots and lots of things in the fridge that I want handy. Guess if I planned the house again - the idea of making a pantry even larger than the walk-in-pantry I have now - which is a couple of steps from the kitchen - and putting some sort of refrigeration unit in it - would make sense.

KarenDW - Perhaps you could use magnetic tape (sticky on one side - magnet on the other) or something similar. If you have to remove it sometime in the future - you might need to use something like Goo-Gone - so I'd make sure the finish is "Goo-Gone" safe.

LindaK - The list prices for all of the refigerators I looked at this morning before the repairman came were lower or much lower for white than stainless. So I don't know why you got the quotes you got.

Finally - regarding lack of storage in various units - I have at least one clue why. I was cleaning off my shelves/drawers today - and counted how many I have. I have a lot more in use than you get with the current model of my refrigerator (and there are some I don't even use). You can probably get a fair amount of extra space if you buy additional drawers/shelves as needed for a new unit. And I have a clue why manufacturers are doing this. The current version of my unit costs less now than I spent for mine 14 years ago (found the same when I replaced my washing machine) - even though the CPI is up almost 40% since then. So - to keep prices down - manufacturers have to cut lots and lots of corners. Robyn

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How's the noise factor on the Jenn Air?  I have a small place and am hoping for something quiet.

It's not noisy, some hum when it cycles on, which is infrequently. My last refrigerator, a relatively inexpensive Amana, was all most as silent as my Bosch dishwasher. The ice maker in the Jenn Air is momentarily noticable when it dumps a batch of ice in the bin. But I don't go through much ice, so except after a party, I forget about it. I was very happy with the Amana, by the way, which is manufactured by the same company that makes Jenn Air, one of the reasons I went with Jenn Air for the new one.

LindaK - The list prices for all of the refigerators I looked at this morning before the repairman came were lower or much lower for white than stainless.  So I don't know why you got the quotes you got.

Perhaps we're comparing apples to oranges. Most of the 36" french door models available in my market didn't come in the the basic textured white finish that I had in my previous single door fridge. That size/style was almost exclusively in stainless. The price difference I mentioned was between the stainless Jenn Air and the white "floating glass" Jenn Air.

I'm glad you were able to get a repair. Appliances are expensive, no matter what you buy.


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Hi Linda - I'm glad I was able to get a repair too. Hope it lasts <fingers crossed>. And now the refrigerator looks good as new (combination of throwing out things that should have been thrown out 3 months ago - a thorough cleaning - and replacing a couple of lightbulbs I didn't even realize had blown out).

FWIW - there are a lot of good appliance repair web sites. And I was glad that the fix the repairman did matched the suggested fix on many web sites for people who had similar problems with their refrigerators.

Thanks for the clarification about the quotes you got on white. Robyn

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Finally - regarding lack of storage in various units - I have at least one clue why.  I was cleaning off my shelves/drawers today - and counted how many I have.  I have a lot more in use than you get with the current model of my refrigerator (and there are some I don't even use).  You can probably get a fair amount of extra space if you buy additional drawers/shelves as needed for a new unit.

That's one of the reasons our next refrigerator will be a Liebherr: there's no shortage of shelves or racks. Even if one of them in the the 36" model will be a bit tall for me to reach...hubby can keep his special snacks up there!

The current version of my unit costs less now than I spent for mine 14 years ago (found the same when I replaced my washing machine) - even though the CPI is up almost 40% since then. 

So funny...when we bought our current refrigerator 20 years ago, it cost $500. Of course, it was a very basic model, but it's worked fine all these years. Its replacement will cost about $3,700.

- L.

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My refrigerator (Frigidaire) decided to crap out on us last year...in July, on Canada Day long weekend! It also happened to be the hottest weekend of the year....

Anyways, we dumped out all our food, because the repair guys wouldn't have been able to come in till after the holiday. When he did, he told us the compressor died, and there's no point in fixing it because it wouldn't have been worth the cost of replacing the part, as it was nearly 10 yrs old and at the end of its lifespan.

We replaced it with a Fisher Paykel digital fridge, glossy white, bottom freezer drawer. It took 2 weeks to come in (yes, we were fridgeless for 2 whole weeks - in July!), but worth the wait. It has a higher price point (I think after taxes it came out to around $2400 CDN), but much longer lifespan (15 to 20 yrs). Pros: lots of freezer space, digital controls, large crisper drawers, very quiet. Cons: less shelf space.

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