Building new house and need help on built in refrigerators

snvyasJune 9, 2012

Hey all,

We are building our first house and fell in love with the look of the built in Thermador refrigerator but not so much the price. We are very new to the world of built ins and high end appliances but our builder has allowances for a Thermador range so we decided to go with the fridge as well (with the current promotion we get a free vent). But the price tag is just mind blowing as our current GE Profile fridge was $800 and the Thermador is north of $8000 (for the 48" model).

We found out today that we will be getting a cabinet built around the fridge for no extra cost and were wondering what it would look like to get a non-built in refrigerator put in instead. We have perused the forums and see we are not the only ones with this question but as our house is still in the building stages maybe we can achieve the built in 'look' without the price? We don't mind if the fridge sticks out a few inches but it will be next to a wall. Our counters are going to be the standard 24" and space is kind of tight. We want a 48" side by side fridge with 30" being the refrigerator portion. Any ideas to what specific ones people have would be greatly appreciated as well.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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The cost of refrigerators is ridiculous, as it's essentially an insulated steel wrapped box and a condenser with a thermostat. What's more, a built-in should cost maybe double a standalone, since the market is smaller and economies of scale are different. To be fair, they have to build in their profit, distributor profit, dealer profit, and warranty support on something they won't be able to sell you again for 10-20 years (though selling you overpriced parts helps a little).

Attempts at making 33" deep fridges look built in is one of my pet peeves, because they stick out 12" past the 24" deep lower cabinets. The only way to get a standard 33" deep refrigerator to approximate the look of a built-in is to have the wall behind it jog backward about 12" to reduce the apparent depth of the fridge. And it still won't look truly built-in. The extra refrigerator depth gives you a LOT of capacity (a 36" wide can have up to 32 cu ft, equivalent to a 48" wide built-in), but you'll have a hard time utilizing all the space due to the inability to see the deepest couple of rows of items. You could get a counter-depth refrigerator, but the capacities are pretty anemic (18-20 cu ft).

If you love built-ins but cost is a factor, my suggestion is to consider Northland. I just ordered a 36" all freezer and 36" all refrigerator (48.3 total cubic feet) for $6990. You can get a 60" (24" freezer, 36" refrigerator, 39.3 cu ft) for about $6K, or a 48" (32.5 cu ft) for a little over $5K. The main issue I've read about in my Northland research is a loud compressor which I hear isn't a problem if you have a cabinet built around it (as your builder will do). I have yet to finalize my cabinet order, so I can't tell you how noisy mine is for another 2-3 months. The upside is everyone seems to LOVE the all-metal interiors (rather than the plastic that everyone else uses except one Sub-Zero model).

My wife and I are very much looking forward to receiving our set! (We have moths in our current house, and we've read that freezing all open containers of food gets rid of them. So we look forward to keeping all our rice, flour, and grains in the huge freezer soon.)


Here is a link that might be useful: Northland

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 4:09AM
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If you have the space, a lot of people with large kitchens seem to like the all fridge/all freezer combinations by Frigidaire (I think Kenmore also has a similar model.) The cost is very reasonable. They are about 25" deep plus handles and have a separate trim kit to make them look built in. But they are each 32 inches wide, plus cabinetry, which is too wide for many. You could always use a 32" all-fridge in this way with separate freezer drawers or some other option. Otherwise regular counterdepth models are usually about 27" deep plus handles, and can be nicely blended in with cabinetry... but if you want a width bigger than the standard 36", you're pretty much stuck with a built-in. I'm not one of hte experts here but have a tiny kitchen and am stressing the whole refrigerator piece of things. BTW, the AJ Madison website is really useful because you can search by width, depth, etc.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 8:23AM
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We wanted a 48" counter depth side by side frig, built-in, and decided to (probably) go with the Sub-zero. I agree that the options for a 48" panel ready frig are limited. I found that all the brands we looked at were expensive (ie the price you mention for Thermador is about the same as we would pay for the Sub-zero). Also, we wanted to go with a model that we could see and purchase locally. I hate having to put so much thought into a refrigerator purchase :-) but they are darn expensive. I want to be careful to choose a good one because tne that came with our house (a 36" stainless steel Maytag, counter depth, side by side.) is terrible. It doesn't get very cold and I feel like produce rots instantly in it.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 11:18AM
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If you can fit a 60" space then the Electrolux all fridge all freezer is a great option. I love mine.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 2:41PM
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