Northstar vs. Big Chill

emily_gFebruary 24, 2009

I am remodeling a kitchen and I am thinking of including a retro fridge so it is a little more fun and less "stiff". I've been looking at Northstar, Big Chill, and Smeg. Smeg is a little too small for my space, but the Big Chill and Northstar would work. I've finally learned what kind of refrigerators these are and did a little research:

Elmira/Northstar uses an Amana Model ABB1922FEB for the 1950 model refrigerator (freezer on bottom). They use a Whirlpool Model ET8FTEXSQ for their 1952 model refrigerator (freezer on top). Big Chill uses the Whirlpool ET1FTEXSQ for their original model.

So, CR says the Amana is GREAT, but the reviews are AWFUL. The Big Chill using the Whirlpool is also a best buy per CR, but only one review.

Does anyone out there have any history with either of these? I need to buy in the next 3-4 weeks?

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farmhousebound

I am considering purchasing one of these two refrigerators - did you decide to go with one of these? If so, how do you like it? I can't seem to find a whole lof of reviews on either. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 9:15PM
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gsciencechick

Also would like more info.

There are some new Amana fridges available in bright colors that are very reasonably priced, but they are pretty small, 17.6 cu. ft. I emailed them, and there are no plans to make them in a bigger size. We have 18 cu. ft. now, and we really need something a little bigger.

Do you plan to order from them directly, or are you close to a showroom? With our current remodel, a retro fridge would just look so awesome.

Here is a link that might be useful: Amana color refrigerators

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 10:12AM
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farmhousebound

Right now I'm just in the research phase and am leaning toward the Big Chill. I would have to order directly as there are no dealers in Georgia, but would love to see one up close before putting that much down on an appliance.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 11:24AM
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gsciencechick

Same thing here. I'm in Charlotte, but the only Big Chill dealers are about 3 hours away in Raleigh and Asheville. I want to see one in person, too. We have some time, but our current fridge is from mid-90's and with its horrible putty color now looks awful in a blue and white kitchen.

DH is not thrilled about the price, either. If the economy were better and more stable, I think we'd have one on order. Of course, the Northstar are even more expensive than the Big Chill.

I have had no luck at all with CL or Ebay.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 12:19PM
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farmhousebound

Looked there, too, and didn't see any and there doesn't seem to be much (if at all) variation on price on any of the sites that I have visited. I can take some time looking as I have a 1951 GE that I had reconditioned and it looks great and keeps things cold . . . but I didn't count on having to defrost it. We have just had hardwood floors layed in our renovation and I don't want to even take a chance on ruining them after seeing how you have to defrost (guess I'm spoiled--all the fridges I've been around and have had have been frost free). DH thinks I'm absolutely crazy even thinking about getting another after what I had to pay to get this one done. I will see how the one I have works in new kitchen and start saving pennies for down the road!

If you get a chance to see one in person, let me know what you think and whethe or not you think it's worth the $.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 3:40PM
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gsciencechick

That sounds gorgeous! I have wonderful memories of helping Mom defrost the freezer, and even in my first apartment by myself the fridge was not frost free thought it wasn't old, just budget. Like a non-self cleaning oven, it's a huge messy job, but it has to be done.

We hope to take a day to go up to the Biltmore soon, so perhaps we can stop off at the place in Asheville. But we still have to have the cabinet doors finished with paint and then reattached, then put the kitchen back together!

Seriously, I'm willing to give up a lot (vacation, whatever) to get the Big Chill.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 4:01PM
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farmhousebound

If you like defrosting, maybe I should sell you mine then that would help me to get the Big Chill! (LOL) Please let me know if you make it up on your vacation to Biltmore/Asheville and what you think of the fridge--maybe they would give us a deal if we both bought one.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 5:58PM
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guadalupe

North Star made by GE, Big Chill made by Whirlpool

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 9:09AM
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farmhousebound

Decided to call Big Chill during a break here at work - very nice to talk to! Differences between Big Chill & Northstar appear to be: (1) manufacture - Big Chill uses Whirlpool and he advised you can check out any of the 20.9 cf line as they all use the same compressor to get reviews; (2) metal (Big Chill) versus powder-baked fiberglass (Northstar); and (3) price (seems Northstar is out of Canada which results in the higher pricing).

Other info on Big Chill: 1 year warranty on parts & labor, 5 year warranty on the compressor. I asked about how long to expect to receive after ordering and he advised about 3 weeks. Pricing on their website is current.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 4:15PM
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gsciencechick

Wow, thanks for the info. So, do you think you will order soon?

I wonder if there is any advantage to ordering from a dealer or Big Chill directly since the dealers are not local. But if the components are Whirlpool, then it could be serviced locally if it ever needed anything.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 9:38PM
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farmhousebound

Probably will not be ordering soon as DH and I are trying to come up with a solution to any possible water leakage when defrosting my current GE and I promised him I would give it a try (and not spend any more money right now); however, I am starting a slush fund for down the road! Since there are no dealers around here, I would order from them directly--they seemed very responsive and appear to have been in business for some time, and as I mentioned there does not seem to be a break in price with any other dealers.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 10:38PM
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gsciencechick

Right, they probably mandate uniform pricing throughout their dealer network.

What color are you interested in? We want the light blue. They told me that's what they have in the Raleigh showroom.

Was the GE brought up to today's energy standards?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 8:38PM
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farmhousebound

Would go with basic white--my Chambers stove and farmhouse sink are white.

Not sure whether or not my older fridge brought up to today's standards. I do know the fridge keeps things cold, the freezer freezes . . . and it has to be defrosted.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 9:21PM
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etmlhm_earthlink_net

I know this is a long time afterwards, but may help new people doing research.
My wife and I own a Northstar AND a Big Chill. Our primary consideration when purchasing was appearance and they both look great. Our main home has the Northstar (about 6 years), it has worked great. The only problem we have had was we needed to install a heat circulator in the motor (about $100) because it all froze up once. Icemaker works great. The Northstar has the freezer on the bottom. that works for us but would be a personal preference.
Our second home has the Big Chill. We chose it because of a better size match in our small kitchen. If you've read other reviews, you'll already know the main problem. The icemaker takes up WAY too much space in the freezer. It does make a lot of ice pretty quickly.

Quality comparison. The Northstar wins hands down. Better outfitting (Brita water filtration, nicer produce drawers/egg container/meat drawer, better door seal). And the Northstar FEELS more substantial. The best I can describe is using a car comparison, the Big Chill is a Hyundai, the Northstar is a Volvo.

In the end, we are happy with both purchases and would probably do the same thing all over again. But if space was no issue, prefer the Northstar.

Also, the SMEG is TINY.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 10:33AM
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ebaymailgirl_yahoo_com

My husband and I are considering a Big Chill. We saw a Northstar and did not like that it looked like it just had a retro front over a refrigerator. Is the Big Chill like this?
We will have to take a look at a Big Chill but the closest dealer is about 3 hours away!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 7:55PM
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maryannechappel_comcast_net

Hi! I can't comment on Northstar, and we've only had our Big Chill for about a week now. But I can tell you that I absolutely love it. I noticed the comment about the icemaker, and I can't say that we've found that to be the case (we have the full-size, not the studio version, but the freezer has tons of space). We were fortunate to have a dealer (Sozio appliances) close by, so we were able to see it in person before ordering. It took about a month to arrive after ordering.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 4:29PM
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retro_fan

My family and I LOVE our Big Chill fridge. We designed our basement remodel around it and in fact, will have to leave the fridge with the house when we decide to sell (and will be in the market for a new BC at that time). It provides ample space for our needs in both the freezer and fridge sections, and we use it not only in our bar area but as an overflow on items that we use frequently. I've found it keeps my food and party trays colder than our kitchen fridge. We've had it for about three years and have had zero issues, only compliments. Highly recommend the Big Chill.

Here is a link that might be useful: big chill fridge

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 12:56AM
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amanda_redmond_neal_gmail_com

I'm trying to make this decision myself, and I'm awfully glad that I ran into these two sets of reviews today, because I had previously been leaning Northstar. I was already starting to get frustrated with Elmira's three (3) failures to return a voicemail or email, and here I see confirmation that this is par for the course. How I wish that one could just buy the Northstar door and/or casing to fit out a normal, reasonably priced fridge.

http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/northstar-refrigerators--1950-retro-contemporary-and-modern-kitchen-appliances

(way at the bottom)
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/boston/good-questions/sources-for-retro-style-refrigerators-good-questions-105698

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 12:04PM
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daphjerr

I have a question for those comparison shoppers out there: Is the color "buttercup yellow" exactly the same paint on both Elmira and Big Chill? It looks the same, but I'd hate to order the fridge from one company and a stove from the other and not have the colors match.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 3:52PM
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Thedanman

To any concerned parties out there that are shopping Big Chill Stove/Ovens, I won a Brand spankin new BC stove/oven on a game show. Still in the box. If you have been pricing this item then you know what quality means. Today is your lucky day!! I have this unit in the Retro Green Color I live in California and can be reached @ my email michaelmallers@gmail.com......Thanks

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 3:58PM
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AbSage

I have a Big Chill refrigerator that is just over one year old. Bottom Line: The concept is great and the fridge looks fantastic, but once the fridge is paid for and leaves the plant, you're on your own. Just hope your delivery goes smoothly and pray you don't need warranty service.

My dealings with Brian were great during my shopping/pre-purchase period. But the shipping experience was a complete nightmare. I don't know where he found the freight company he used for my area (Pittsburgh), but they were terrible. Long story short, scheduling delivery was to THEIR convenience, not mine. I took off work, and they stood me up...twice...with no phone call, apology, or explanation. They called me a couple days later that they "put me on the schedule" (didn't ask me if the date was OK). Since they had to cancel me twice (without letting me know they were canceling me) I got bumped to the bottom of their schedule twice, leaving me with no refrigerator for 10 days. No apology, no money off shipping, no satisfaction from Big Chill or Shipping Company.

Fast forward 3 or 4 weeks: Fridge is in, shipping issues are now a distant memory. It is June in Pittsburgh, and the freezer starts to look like a block of frosty ice with some food sticking out. I must now call Brian for Warranty Service. Again, I don't know where they dug up the service person, but he was a complete moron. After 4 trips to my home (one of which involved stuffing a paper towel into the gasket as a solution), the issue still wasn't resolved. After talking to Brian, he finally allowed me to choose my own repair person to look at the freezer. However, instead of allowing this guy to do his job, Brian instructed this service person, via telephone, what he should do. The guy did as Brian told him, but, having 30 years experience fixing refrigerators, he expressed doubt that it would work. But by now it's February, which means it's cold in Pittsburgh...no humidity to build up in the freezer. I told Brian I would need to wait till summer again, to see if the solution really worked. So now, June 2012 arrives, it's very hot and humid in Pittsburgh, and frost again builds up in the freezer (not as bad, but more than should be in there). I contact Brian, he never gets back to me. I suppose he figures that this fridge is now out of it's 1-year warranty and he is off the hook. But because of the incompetent people he sent, this ongoing problem was never resolved during the warranty period.

I would not recommend or buy from Big Chill again. However, I do love the look, so I will end up having it fixed and having to pay for it myself. So, if you can't resist the wonderful look of Big Chill you must be willing to gamble on the delivery and service that go with it. I hope your luck is better than mine.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 6:27PM
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ajryland

I would love to be able to provide a review of my Big Chill gas range and hood. But they would have to get here first. After doing my research, I called to place an order several weeks ago and was told they had a 6-8 week delivery window (when I had called several weeks before it was 4 weeks). So I told them this wouldn't work for my time frame as we had a drop dead delivery date that we needed to make work, thanked them for their time and hung up. I was in the process of placing an order for my second choice when the rep from Big Chill called me back. She said she had talked with the owner and plant manager and they all agreed they could absolutely meet my deadline and I should place the order. So I did.
Fast forward several weeks, lots of follow up on my part, lots of changing answers, and I still don't have them. After many calls and emails Big Chill did agree to refund my shipping fee. But despite the rep insisting she had made many calls and done all she could do, whenever I check the story it doesn't hold up. She insisted she spoke with the freight companies to let them know our situation and she had done all she could do. When I spoke with the freight company they say no such conversation took place. I am hopeful I will like the product (given the expense and trouble to get it) but the customer service leaves a lot to be desired. They said what they had to say to make the sale, but failed to deliver on their word.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 11:37AM
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jxa44

Any new information on Northstar? I'm planning my kitchen, and wouldn't you know it, I'm looking at Northstar and Big Chill. After reading your comments, Big Chill is out. But I'm wonderin if it would be a similar gamble to choose Northstar???

    Bookmark   November 9, 2014 at 6:06AM
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