Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

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Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby dgdevil » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:48 pm

The built-in Sub-Zero (born 1983?) that came with my house seems to be on its last legs - with a bottom freezer sustained by $200 bursts of freon. The repairman said it would cost about $1,200 to fix the compressor and other parts.

A new fridge would have to fit into a space that's only 24 inches deep and 29 inches wide. Options are shockingly limited. Premium brands like Sub-Zero, Bosch and Liebherr - with units in the $7,000 range - are out of the question. A local salesman recommended a Spanish brand called Fagor, which has a 24 inch-wide model for about $2,000. But I can't find any consumer reviews of the brand. Anyone got one? Sears also has similar-sized LG fridges for $645-$845, but reviews are hardly stellar. It's aimed at the singleton/rental market. And both brands have less capacity than the current fridge. Or I could move the adjacent granite-topped bench, reluctantly and expensively, to accommodate more width though not that many more options.

The overall kitchen needs a makeover, but my wife and I are not culinary in any way. I think we have a frying pan somewhere, and the fridge's contents are usually limited to some dairy items and a few cans of beer. Being jobless and preferring to blow my money on travel, I'm warming to the admittedly absurd idea of repairing the Sub-Zero. Unless someone has a better idea? Many thanks ...
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby CaliJim » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:28 pm

I agree with the idea of replacing rather than repairing. The newer models are much more energy efficient.

I feel your pain. I replaced my fridge recently. It too was a slightly odd size (36" wide, counter depth) I searched the internet and read online reviews. I bought a one-month online subscription to consumer reports and read their refrigerator report. I got confused and frustrated. Seemed like every brand had disgruntled customers with a broken ice maker or botched service calls and whatnot. There was no clear BEST model or even brand.

I ended up buying a mid-range Kitchenaid and am happy with it. But who knows - it may break next week.

My advice: find a local independent small box retailer and work with them to find a unit made by any one of the leading brands [Electrolux, Bosch*, GE, Kenmore (Sears),LG, Samsung, Sub-Zero*, Thermador*, Viking*, Whirlpool (Maytag, Amana, KitchenAid, Jen-Air)] and you'll be fine. I'd stay away from smaller and more esoteric brands; parts and service may be spotty in the future. And negotiate. My local independent retailer matched the online price for the unit I bought when I told him I'd pay by check rather than credit card. I also paid for delivery, installation, and removal of the old unit and I think that was worth it. I even got an energy rebate for replacing my old unit.

*IMHO - the luxury brands are not worth it unless status symbols are important to you. Cold air is cold air. Guests who even notice what brand of appliance I have are categorized by me as shallow, and not likely to be invited back!
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby campy2010 » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:40 am

A design blog I frequent, aimed at apt dwellers has a post about skinny fridges. They mention the Liebherr brand and ConServ (now called Summit) as the less expensive alternative. Both fit the dimensions you're interested in.

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/refrigerator-re-6057

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-conserv-ref-1653

http://reviews.ajmadison.com/7421/FFBF2 ... eviews.htm


And an LG with similar specs but slightly cheaper.

http://www.sears.com/lg-10-cu-ft-bottom ... eviewsWrap
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby dgdevil » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:02 am

Wow! Amazing stuff, thanks. Holding my breath to see how much they charge to ship across USA.
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Postby campy2010 » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:10 am

dgdevil wrote:Wow! Amazing stuff, thanks. Holding my breath to see how much they charge to ship across USA.


No idea. But, they come from Denmark to NYC for $1,000, including the unit so you never know.

If you had one more inch, you could get a generic up/down fridge.

http://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajmadi ... 2149L.html

I would definitely be on the fence about fixing the sub-zero. Doesn't seem like a long-term solution.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby donall » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:57 am

House and demolition sales can have working Sub-zeros for low cost, often for a few hundred dollars.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby retiredjg » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:08 am

dgdevil wrote:The overall kitchen needs a makeover, but my wife and I are not culinary in any way. I think we have a frying pan somewhere, and the fridge's contents are usually limited to some dairy items and a few cans of beer.

In that case, it seems the LG brand at Sears would be sufficient for your needs, wouldn't it? What part of the reviews is worrisome for someone who hardly even uses the fridge?
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby greg24 » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:34 am

I'd much rather spend $800 on a new mediocre LG than spend $1200 to repair a 29 year old fridge. Especially if you just use it to store beer! :sharebeer
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby Valuethinker » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:55 pm

greg24 wrote:I'd much rather spend $800 on a new mediocre LG than spend $1200 to repair a 29 year old fridge. Especially if you just use it to store beer! :sharebeer



It's much much worse than that-- the 29 year old fridge I mean.

The 29 year old fridge could use 2000 kwhr pa- $220 at average US electricity prices pa.

OK it's small, let's say 1500 - $150 pa

The new one will use 500 kwhr pa $50.

Save at least $100 pa. If you live in a place like NYC-- $200, California in the wrong place, it could be over $250 pa.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby Valuethinker » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:56 pm

retiredjg wrote:
dgdevil wrote:The overall kitchen needs a makeover, but my wife and I are not culinary in any way. I think we have a frying pan somewhere, and the fridge's contents are usually limited to some dairy items and a few cans of beer.

In that case, it seems the LG brand at Sears would be sufficient for your needs, wouldn't it? What part of the reviews is worrisome for someone who hardly even uses the fridge?


LG is a good brand, at least over here (UK/ Europe). OK it's not Bosch-Siemens, but it's still pretty good.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby Valuethinker » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:59 pm

dgdevil wrote:Wow! Amazing stuff, thanks. Holding my breath to see how much they charge to ship across USA.


On reliability.

Miele is the gold standard in Europe for reliability (and price).

Bosch & Siemens is probably number 2 (Siemens is the better of the 2 brands-- same company). Neff maybe.

After that travel with care, I'd definitely consider the Korean (LG).

My brother had an Electrolux dishwasher which was horrible, and the parts had to come from Sweden-- never again.

Just about any other brand I don't know, and I'd probably avoid. In the UK you have things like Hotpoint and Ariston and Bekko, and basically should be avoided.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby Valuethinker » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:02 pm

dgdevil wrote:The overall kitchen needs a makeover, but my wife and I are not culinary in any way. I think we have a frying pan somewhere, and the fridge's contents are usually limited to some dairy items and a few cans of beer. Being jobless and preferring to blow my money on travel, I'm warming to the admittedly absurd idea of repairing the Sub-Zero. Unless someone has a better idea? Many thanks ...


1. Put the fridge in another room? (our freezer is down at the bottom of the garden)

2. Replace don't repair. Freon is an environmental horror so best gotten rid of. A new fridge will save you at least $100 pa in electricity costs (more than that if your kitchen is frequently air conditioned, and assuming you don't use electric bar heating in winter-- that waste 1000 kwhr pa goes as *heat*).
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby dgdevil » Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:24 am

Thanks for the feedback. You guys are great. It seems my only option is a Summit, perfect dimensions - though it would be nice to see it in person before buying it on Amazon. While the LG looks good, it is just 10 cu - fine for my wife and me -- but we need to think of the needs of potential, foodie-type tenants if we put the house up for lease. And yes, you have saved me from the repair option.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby FNK » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:17 am

Why do you even care for perfect dimensions if you're not using the thing? Get a dorm fridge for your uses, then put in a standard when you remodel, or leave the house fridgeless to the next owner.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby retiredjg » Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:06 am

Don't forget to use the Boglehead Amazon link, so that this great website gets a little reward. :D
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby jegallup » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:40 pm

Valuethinker wrote:My brother had an Electrolux dishwasher which was horrible, and the parts had to come from Sweden-- never again.


Our front-loading washer, which says "Frigidaire" on the front panel but "Electrolux" inside, has required multiple repair calls; its door seal leaked in a fiendishly slow way so as to create a rust streak down the lower front panel.

I've seen a bunch of narrow reefers in Italy, where people expect the fridge to have the same finish as the cabinet fronts. Seems like a great idea to me, but then my fridge mostly has pills from CanadaDrugs.com, white wine and bottled water in it. Don't know why they should be so expensive here, but, like the smaller front-loading clothes washers, they are.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby Valuethinker » Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:06 pm

jegallup wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:My brother had an Electrolux dishwasher which was horrible, and the parts had to come from Sweden-- never again.


Our front-loading washer, which says "Frigidaire" on the front panel but "Electrolux" inside, has required multiple repair calls; its door seal leaked in a fiendishly slow way so as to create a rust streak down the lower front panel.

I've seen a bunch of narrow reefers in Italy, where people expect the fridge to have the same finish as the cabinet fronts. Seems like a great idea to me, but then my fridge mostly has pills from CanadaDrugs.com, white wine and bottled water in it. Don't know why they should be so expensive here, but, like the smaller front-loading clothes washers, they are.


Because there is not a market for it. Therefore it is a niche and premium product.

High efficiency boilers (heat water and provide heating) here were quite expensive-- premium product. Then the government passed a law basically requiring new and replacement boilers to be high efficiency. Prices came down to pretty close to the old prices of the lower efficiency models. (there still are reliability issues, inherently they are more complex and unreliable).
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby Valuethinker » Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:07 pm

dgdevil wrote:Thanks for the feedback. You guys are great. It seems my only option is a Summit, perfect dimensions - though it would be nice to see it in person before buying it on Amazon. While the LG looks good, it is just 10 cu - fine for my wife and me -- but we need to think of the needs of potential, foodie-type tenants if we put the house up for lease. And yes, you have saved me from the repair option.



email manufacturer, see if they have a list of outlets in your area.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby rjbraun » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:46 am

I came across a Blomberg refrigerator today. I believe this could meet your specifications ...? I don't think this manufacturer is already mentioned in this thread, based on my quick review, but apologies if it is.

http://www.blomberginternational.com/coolingFeat.html
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby dgdevil » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:54 am

rjbraun wrote:I came across a Blomberg refrigerator today. I believe this could meet your specifications ...? I don't think this manufacturer is already mentioned in this thread, based on my quick review, but apologies if it is.

http://www.blomberginternational.com/coolingFeat.html


Intriguing, thanks, though apparent lack of availability in USA is a hindrance.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby jegallup » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:14 am

dgdevil wrote:
rjbraun wrote:I came across a Blomberg refrigerator today. I believe this could meet your specifications ...? I don't think this manufacturer is already mentioned in this thread, based on my quick review, but apologies if it is.

http://www.blomberginternational.com/coolingFeat.html


Intriguing, thanks, though apparent lack of availability in USA is a hindrance.


Check this out: https://www.google.com/search?q=blomber ... 38&bih=633

Google Shopping is a place to start, anyway.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby rjbraun » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:38 pm

dgdevil wrote:
rjbraun wrote:I came across a Blomberg refrigerator today. I believe this could meet your specifications ...? I don't think this manufacturer is already mentioned in this thread, based on my quick review, but apologies if it is.

http://www.blomberginternational.com/coolingFeat.html


Intriguing, thanks, though apparent lack of availability in USA is a hindrance.

Should definitely be available in the US. A friend just bought one. I can ask where they got it. I'm pretty sure they said they bought all of their appliances at Home Depot when they remodeled recently
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby N1CKV » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:44 pm

if the rest of the fridge is in decent shape, you may reconsider repairing it.....

the comments about the efficiency are invalid when you consider that the repair will include a new compressor. The compressor is the item that consumes the power. The replacement unit (unless extremely old stock) will be of a newer design, properly sized for your unit and every bit as efficient as a compressor in a newly purchased fridge.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby FNK » Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:51 pm

N1CKV wrote:the comments about the efficiency are invalid when you consider that the repair will include a new compressor. The compressor is the item that consumes the power. The replacement unit (unless extremely old stock) will be of a newer design, properly sized for your unit and every bit as efficient as a compressor in a newly purchased fridge.

Cough, insulation, cough.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby pteam » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:39 pm

I replaced my $7000 subzero fridge that came with the house recently as it started to need repairs and bought a new stainless steel Samsung with LED lights and built in wine rack. We bought in on Black Friday last year for like $799 and after they missed delivery and I complained I got a $200 gift card because our old fridge had already been moved out! How bout that for being a boglehead? Sure beats spending $7k or repairing a 20 year old fridge. Sure it wasn't an exact fit it sticks out like 2 inches but you can't even notice it. It looks nicer because of the updated look now.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby N1CKV » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:17 pm

FNK wrote:
N1CKV wrote:the comments about the efficiency are invalid when you consider that the repair will include a new compressor. The compressor is the item that consumes the power. The replacement unit (unless extremely old stock) will be of a newer design, properly sized for your unit and every bit as efficient as a compressor in a newly purchased fridge.

Cough, insulation, cough.

It's a sub-zero... even back then it had top of the line insulation, probably exceeding the current cheap models. There hasn't been any major advances in refrigerator insulation to amount to any recognizable savings, especially in a built in unit. The biggest factor is the compressor.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby vesalius » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:11 am

I am awaiting delivery of a Summit refrigerator that would fit into your space very well. It also cost slightly less with in home delivery than your expected repair cost at the link below.

Summit FFBF285SS
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby Valuethinker » Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:02 pm

N1CKV wrote:if the rest of the fridge is in decent shape, you may reconsider repairing it.....

the comments about the efficiency are invalid when you consider that the repair will include a new compressor. The compressor is the item that consumes the power. The replacement unit (unless extremely old stock) will be of a newer design, properly sized for your unit and every bit as efficient as a compressor in a newly purchased fridge.


Interesting.

My understanding is that the improvements in fridge efficiency (which are huge by any standard-- 2/3rds+ drop in energy consumption in 30 years) are to do with:

- more efficient insulation (not necessarily thicker: indeed the Germans (who else?) have vaccuum walled fridges, but not in a mass commercial product)

- control systems

- compressor

- 'cleverness' about where and how the whole thing works (basically the movement of air currents over the surface from the outlet, and within the fridge itself

Not sure just replacing the compressor will do that?

Note also that with most consumer machinery, the spare, if you can get it, is 'like for like' ie it's not a different or better design, just happens to meet the original spec and fit in the space.
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Re: Sub-Zero dying, need a tall, skinny (cheaper) fridge

Postby Epsilon Delta » Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:52 pm

There were also improvements in the motors, although you may be including those in with the control system or compressor.

Many years ago you could buy triac based devices that would plug in between the fridge and the AC supply. These would reduce the effective voltage supplied to the motor until it was just sufficient to turn the compressor. This increased the efficiency of the motor and could substantially reduced the energy consumption of the fridge.

These devices do not work on modern designs both because motors are better sized and because the fridge often already contains circuits to do the same thing.
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