Refrigerator buying advice: best brands for bottom freezer

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by sorange, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. sorange

    sorange

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    It's finally, finally time for us to buy a new fridge.  We're planning on a bottom freezer, something in the $2,000 - $2,500 range.  I've been reading all the threads on ChefTalk, but could use help in a couple of areas:

    1.  Most problems seem to come from compressors, fans, and ice makers.  Who makes the most reliable components?

    2.  Does it even make sense to have water & ice?  I understand the convenience, but there seem to be a lot of risks - partly due to the components failing, partly that not all service techs do the install properly.  For those of you who decided to do without water & icemaker, are you glad you did it?

    3.  Which manufacturer?  We thought we'd buy a Samsung with bottom freezer, but heard too many horror stories from customers who found the company difficult to deal with if the fridge had problems.  My wife doesn't like the design of the LG's; we're both OK with Kenmore but they seem pricey.

    Does anyone have experience with Kitchenaid refrigerators?  Made by Whirlpool but we haven't seen any yet; reviews are scarce.

    Many thanks for your comments!
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    177
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    My commercial fridge repair guys all tell me LG is the one with fewest repairs. Best compressors on the commercial market are still Copeland I have one or 2  20 years old. Best all around fridge for me is still Traulsen. Kenmore could be made by any one of 3 manufacturers ,  Sears does not make anything.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,499
    Likes Received:
    480
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    With a bottom freezer, water and ice through the door become added hassle. You have more water lines to route in the fridge and an extra ice freezer in the door of the fridge taking up useful space with limited ice capacity.

    If bottom freezer is your priority, skip water and ice through the door.

    Brands, LG has the ratings. Too bad she doesn't like them.
     
  4. sorange

    sorange

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    If water & ice are skipped, what's the best way to make ice for the bottom freezer?  Are there models which make ice in the bottom freezer only?  Or are you making ice in trays and continually laying them in the top drawer of the bottom freezer?

    Maybe we should consider the LGs again, if water & ice are out of the equation...
     
  5. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,499
    Likes Received:
    480
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    You can still have automatic ice makers in the bottom freezers.
     
    sorange likes this.
  6. ryan.brosseau1

    ryan.brosseau1

    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I would recommend staying away from the kitchenaid. It is way overpriced for what you get, compared to the Amana, Whirlpool, Maytag, and some Kenmore models that are the exact same fridge. If the kitchenaid brand offers a colour or feature you can't live without then by all means, but be aware what you are paying for. This fridge is historically pretty reliable, with some more recent compressor issues, but those issues aren't isolated to this manufacturer in particular. Compressor for alll fridges are supplied by 4 or so third parties. 

    Additionally, as of late LG is having some quality control issues and may well be best avoided. This information was given to me by two indipendant sources, both of whom are factory authorized LG service personel.  

    Adding an ice maker to any fridge is very simple, there is usually a part number for an ice maker kit listed on your serial number tag or owners guide that you can order at anytime. This is just an ice maker however and not a dispenser of any sort.
     
    sorange likes this.
  7. sorange

    sorange

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Good points all.  I agree, there seems to be a lot of paying for a brand when the working components are basically the same from high end to low.

    Funny that you mention Amana - I've liked this brand in the past & want to give it a look.  Visits to retail so far haven't turned up any.

    Regarding Kenmore, we've been surprised at the price premium the fridges we want seem to carry.  You would think as an OEM they'd be a little less, but they seem to be $200+ higher than comparable brands.  And the one bottom freezer we liked had a lousy slide mechanism for the lower drawer, and quality overall appeared to be a step down.

    On the LG, the reliability info is much appreciated. 
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    177
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    The Sears of today and their products are a far cry from yesteryear.
     
  9. sorange

    sorange

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Any word on Electrolux?  I've heard they had problems with the icemaker in the past, but that new components & design have fixed this.

    I just checked out model EI28BS51IS and it seemed solidly built...
     
  10. martiniman

    martiniman

    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I'd skip the water/ice combo, just something else to go wrong and it seems no matter how much filtering you do, it still tastes like "fridge ice".  Don't like it.  Take no time at all to make ice, then you don't get those funny looking half moons.  No moons in my Scotch!!

    Interesting to hear about LG, I might have to look into that.
     
  11. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

    Messages:
    2,011
    Likes Received:
    183
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I've heard, I don't know quite how reliably but from contractors, that the Sears brands actually vary strongly: they generally have two or three basic levels, and within each level there's a fairly obvious progression as you add toys, size, expensive colors, etc. What they tell me is that the bottom end is a disaster functionally, and its principal purpose in life is real estate flipping: basically you do a surface renovation of a place, including kitchen, and then you buy this great-looking but actually pretty terrible fridge (and stove and dishwasher), and chances are the people buying the place won't realize what's going on, so you make out like a bandit. The middle grade is supposedly reasonably okay, but with intermittent reliability problems that stem from the Sears people trying to use the least expensive components in places where the customer won't really notice until the warranty runs out. The high end is supposed to be actually pretty good, according to these same sources, and in fact some salespeople will try to steer you away from buying a high-end model with minimal toys for a similar price as a middle-end model with lots of toys, and claim that it's all the same thing really, which it ain't. Sounds very plausible, but I have not an atom of evidence to support any of this, so I just pass it on in hopes that someone else knows something more definite.
     
    (Singing:) Scotch mooooooon, you saw me drinking aloooooone, without no ice in my driiiiiink, I drink my Scotch on its oooooooown.
     
  12. ryan.brosseau1

    ryan.brosseau1

    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Again, the issue with sears products (Kenmore in all it's various guises) is that it may be manufactured by anyone. So a high end model may be made by a third tear company like Samsung or a High end brand like Bosch, most consumers and for that matter sears sales people have no idea.

    As for ice makers themselves, as long as the water supply line is installed correctly you should have no higher risk of issue than any other component on the machine. As fr through the door ice and water dispensers, that is a different story. They can be big trouble depending on brand and very expensive to repair. And currently, no one seems to have this function down properly. The water part usually isn't an issue but the Ice can range from overflowing bins to stalled auger motors to whirlpools biggest problem of broken wire harnesses that require entire door assemblies to be replaced. ( no i am not kidding).  
     
  13. elliemae

    elliemae

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    My fall of 2008 Amana bottom mount with Kenmore label (596 prefix) needed a new freezer condenser in 2011, a new computer part in 2013.

    Had I known it was an Amana, I would never have bought it, as my previous Amana had similar problems and  was so noisy I could not stand it. Despite several Consumer Reports that these have good components and need less repair than others, Kenmore-Amana are A WASTE OF MONEY