Perlick vs. Sub-Zero

halgreeneAugust 2, 2014


I was all set to buy a SZ under-counter wine cooler when I started reading about the Perlick. Better quality and quieter? What's the buzz?


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Don't assume either of those two things.

Perlick is a commercial manuf. dabbling into the residential market. Sub Zero is a residential manuf. with a long track record and large service network should you need it.

That doesn't meant the Perlick cooler isn't any good, just that it's a small player in the market.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 9:40AM
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I have an SZ main refrigerator (very nice IMHO), Perlick wine cooler (for Cabernet's), and Perlick small refrigerator (used mainly as a beer and softdrink cooler). The Perlick's are also very nice IMHO. Both manufacturers products are very quiet. Perlick's are all stainless steel, inside and out. In my experience, both company's actually answer their phones and connect one to technical people when it is appropriate. What more could I want for imitation money?


    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Hello, my wife and I are building a house with a bar in the finished basement. I want to have a kegerator installed under the counter and have an opportunity to buy a used Perlick. The seller said it is a commercial kegerator they purchased to use at a golf club but didn't sell enough beer so he took it home, used it for a couple years and now it's been setting for a couple of years.

Here's what I know: It is 15 years old, the model # is 8184BUL, there is some rust in the bottom, it has all of the parts and is ready to tap a keg, the owner said it cost over $3000 when purchased new and he said he'd sell it to me for $400 but I'm fairly certain I could get it for $100-$200 (his wife is pressuring him to get rid of it)

I asked him to plug it in and check the temp but said he only got it to 44F but he said he wasn't sure how to adjust it...

I have never owned a kegerator but read that Perlick is a top of the line commercial brand. Given the info provided would it be worth say $150 to buy it? Also, how difficult is it to find someone that will work on one if there is a problem? I like my beer very cold and 44F won't work for me. What's the worse possible scenario on the temp issue, if it weren't just an adjustment?

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 4:55PM
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Al, you'll get more responses if you start a new thread. Unlike other forums, we're glad to see a new thread for each topic.

With any specialty appliance, it's often best to start by making sure you have a good service and repair company available. With a used kegerator, especially one that's been out of service, it's very important to make sure all the tubing is okay, and that there aren't colonies of bacteria growing. Even if there are, it might be worth fixing, so I'd say find yourself a good service tech, and have him/her look at it before you buy. Like taking your mechanic to see a used car.

The temperature of a beer tap is really important or why bother, so that's the other thing to check out. That it holds the correct temperature very closely.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:14PM
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Perlick offer's some of their stuff at discounts on their site, they are in the factory seconds section. You can find that at this link:

When we bought our perlick almost 2 years ago now, it was from that section and it changes on a pretty regular basis. I just went to it and it was blank, but they look like they might have outsourced their factory seconds now, here is the link they point to from their site:

That link is sorted in reverse alphabetic order, meaning Z's are at the top and it goes backward from there.

We went with a C-Series Wine reserve and love it. It is NOT as quiet as the Signature Series though, from what I have read and been told, but it has performed great and for us it is plenty quiet.

Ours had a dent on the corner on the upper back of the unit, it was pretty bad, but since it was going under a counter it would/will never be seen, so we saved about 50% at that time on it and it has performed flawlessly, as expected.

As stated though, i don't think you can go wrong with either brand.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:40AM
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The "Deluxe model Perlicks", (the more expensive ones), use the Variable speed compressors, as do most modern Fridges, (except for SZ) according to a Knowledgeable (former poster here in GW,antss), who claimed SZ found a way to make the old style on/off compressors more efficient.

So far I can not confirm that, because, as SZ keeps it's spare parts
as "secrete as they can".
There used to be a site that sold spare SZ parts , so I could use them to find out what parts were in which SZ fridge, but they no longer have the parts~~~~~
~Hmmmm, I wonder why that happened, don't you?,
so any way, to the best of my Knowledge, SZ does not use the variable speed compressors as does Perlick, in their more expensive models.

There are a number of advantages to VSP's, (variable speed compressors).
The temp control is much better using VSP's instead of the old style only off or on type compressors, VSP's slow down as the temp reaches the set temp, instead of shooting below the set temp as an on/off compressor must do.
Likewise the VSP's gradually speed up as the temp gets above the set temp, where the on/off type will have to wait to turn on, till the temp is "x" above the set temp, then it comes on full.

Generally the VSC's are quieter, except for one that gave a "Wa Wa sound", in a Liebherr as I recall, and there has been a complaint or 2 about a high pitched sound from some VHC's~~~I can't recall which fridge, ~~~
but as a "General rule", (with the above exceptions), Most VSC's are far quieter than the old on/off style.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:42PM
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Consider True as well, another commercial refrigeration vendor that recently started selling to the residential market. Their commercial units which i've used are indestructble but sometimes noisy; the residential ones have been made much quieter which was my main concern, whilst retaining the reliability that was the commercial models' selling point. Nothing but high grades from anyone here who's used them. Perlick also excellent.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:54PM
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Perlick factory seconds are a great deal. I recently picked up an outdoor fridge. It has a dent on the side where it won't even be visible once installed. The warranty is shorter, but the savings were worth it.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:44AM
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I have the old style SZ 632 refrigerator. It is very quiet and (unless SZ uses a lie circuit) very temperature stable. I am not asserting the SZ uses any particular type of compressor, just reporting my observations. I believe I was the one who pointed out that it is possible to use on/off compressors to operate efficiently and maintain stable temperatures. It would depend on various design options in construction of the refrigeration loop that a mechanical engineer can make use of, particularly when price is a lesser object than in other applications. I would also agree that all of this is undoubtedly mechanically easier with variable speed, but very likely at the cost of greater electronic complexity.

As for the Perlick Signature series units, they are also temperature stable once they cool down (takes a while when freshly filled with bottles), and also very quiet.

I personally think that in this case the choice of brand depends more on features one might need or want than on reliability, efficiency, or consumer support. I am confident that any differences in efficiency, converted into electricity cost, is far below the imputed interest on their purchase prices.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 2:25PM
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"unless SZ uses a lie circuit"

Just like ovens, all electronic controlled refrigerators fudge the temps a bit. They don't lie outright, but they purposefully react slowly to any changes. If the fridge gets too warm for an extended period due to a malfunction or forgetting to shut the door the controls will let you know about it, but they won't reflect normal fluctuations. Customer support would get too many nuisance calls otherwise from those people who actually think a freezer stays at 0 or an oven stays at 350 when you open the door for several seconds.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 12:01AM
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Yes, I've always assumed that they were buried in thermal mass. In my rare cases of paying attention to the temperature readings, reading would be upon door opening and not significantly later. However, it should be easy to test this on my Perlick refrigerator, because there is nothing that is in it will care if the temperature rises a degree or more with the door open. I just have to look up the instructions to confirm I'm not mistakenly reading the setting instead of the measurement.

The instructions are interesting. First, in spite of the touted variable speed compressor, the refrigeration unit is evidently designed to allow a 6-degree swing in temperature. I assume that means +/- 3 degrees, but could mean +/- 6 degrees.

The actual words are: "The LED display reads actual air temperature, not product temperature. The following swings in temperature do not affect the actual product temperature.

Refrigerator & Beverage Center: 6 [deg]F swing
Wine Reserve: 4 [deg] F swing"

I think the " do not affect" assertion is probably true when the product is bottles of wine or beer, or cans of soft drinks. I'm not so sure it is true if the product is loose lettuce leaves, but I wouldn't be cooling those in the Perlick.

The open door experiment will be partially thwarted by the compressor and fan continuing to run against the warmer air that drifts in through the open door. So I don't think I'll get a proper sensor thermal time constant from the experiment posed above. Observationally, it is greater than a minute per degree F.

So, of course this calls for measurement with a high-low capturing electronic thermometer with a lower time constant remote sensor. News at 11.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Perlick Signature Refrigerator temperature measurements:

Temperature probe was hanging on a wire shelf. The display unit was outside the refrigerator. High/low values reported below exclude effects of opening the door, which causes a rapid increase in displayed temperature.

High 47F
Low 43F
Room Temp ~74F
Ice bath cal test 32F (The digital thermometer was traceable to NIST when purchased but is now out of calibration; this was a check.)

I think this four degree F spread is tight enough for most purposes.

Note: This refrigerator is set at its highest temperature setting, which in my view is more optimal for ales. I remembered establishing a setting of 44F, but the Installation & Operation Manual asserts the maximum setting is 43F, so my memory may also be out of cal.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:26PM
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