Best (Affordable) Bottom-Freezer CD 30-33" Fridge - Can You Help?

steph2000October 4, 2013

Okay, I really did not want to write this post. I've been working for weeks trying to pick a bottom freezer fridge for our small kitchen remodel. We really need it to be as counter depth as possible and a 36" would REALLY cramp the space. I'm sold on bottom freezers, though I might be willing to give up the freezer drawer as I hear they are harder on short people with back issues (which is me) than the door. We are leaning towards avoiding water/ice to just stay away from those issues, which we experienced on our last fridge.

You'd think it would become an easy decision, given how few the options really exist in this category. However, everything I research gets bad reviews.

Initially, we found the 33" Samsung RF197ACRS. It was looking like an inexpensive and easy fix. It has some of the bells and whistles, like adjustable slide-in shelves and LED lights and twin cooling. Until I asked various salesfolks and called various appliance shops to find out what fridges they discouraged due to repair issues. (They said don't buy LG or Samsung, btw.) I found out there isn't any qualified repair folks for Samsungs in the entire state of Alaska, apparently. It seems people are generally really very happy with their Samsungs - until something goes wrong with their Samsungs and then they are very unhappy with the service issues... However, it's the lowest price option at around $1200 and it is the only one that is french door. It's also the largest at 17.8 CF. I think it also sticks out the most, at 30 1/2 with handles and 28 1/2 without. You can't get it without ice maker, but I assume you can just not hook it up?

Then, a salesman recommended Fisher Paykel RF175WDRUX1. We were able to see it in the store and liked it okay. It seems pretty functional and has a lot of space, though the shelves go all the way across the length, which could be limiting. It has the EZKleen stainsteel finish. It seems a tad less deep, at 28 1/2" with door handles - 27 3/8" without. In seems there is also a E522BRXU model we could consider that is a tad bit deeper (an inch). But, then we started researching on-line and it seems the units do not get cold enough to be safe, both in the freezer and the fridge? That seems like, um, a major problem if that's true. It's also considerably more expensive, which is worth it if it means more reliability and ease of repair, but that doesn't seem true in this case.

So...that doesn't leave much else! Except my first love, which is Liebherr. Okay, I love Liebherrs. I had basically written them off as being too indulgent for my budget - and the neighborhood. And I was unsure about the height with my short-less-than-8-foot-ceilings. And, replacing it would be really limiting. And..the freezers seem super tight. They all fall in the 15.5'ish CF arena. However, there is little question that one would look great in my kitchen! And, I love that they look more integrated/stick out less - with a depth of 24 13/16". Liebherr CS1640 seems to be the base model (at $3800 at AJ Madison). Liebherr CS166 has LED lighting, ice maker, 3 freezer drawers and gallon door storage at $4400 - but still no biofresh, apparently. Liebherr CS161 seems to be it's counterpoint without ice maker, at $4300. I'm knd of confused about which come with biofresh, if any. On some sites, it seemed you had to go integrated to get the biofresh feature. The same questions, though, come up about service. Some of the appliance shops I called were like "Lieb...who?" when I inquired about them. And I do see complaints about smells, frosting and temp. fluctuations with them. And, of course, the proverbial ice maker disasters, which we can avoid. I hear the freezer space is REALLY limited in Liebherrs.The other downside of the Liebherr is the unique dimensions would really limit future replacement. Oh, and I'm 5"2.

I think it basically comes down to these choices. I can't afford a SZ, Liebherr would already be pushing it- at 2-4 times the cost of these other options.

Which do you think is the best value?
Which do you think is the most reliable?
Which do you think gives the best/most freezer space? (This is really important, as I don't have room for a separate freezer)
Are there other options I am unaware of and should be considering?

Thanks in advance for any illumination you can bring to the issue!

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I just went through a refrigerator purchase with similar requirements - 30" wide, shallow depth, bottom freezer, no ice maker, stainless steel. I ended up buying a Fisher & Paykel E522B and have been very happy with it. It was a floor model "FD" flat door version which I think has been discontinued - which is why I think it was only $999. But I liked the flat door - it didn't seem to bulge out into the room as much as the one with the curved door.

I liked the interior design vs. the Whirlpool, Maytag, Amana, etc. models that all seemed to be the same - and just poorly designed. I was a little concerned about possible lack of flexibility of the full width shelves but after I got them set at the right spacing I'm happy with them and like the simple, "clean" configuration they provide. I was also concerned about the lack of flexibility of the freezer drawers but I now actually like how they keep things organized and accessible.

I had not found any complaints about them not getting cold enough - though I did end up turning the settings down a notch from the factory ones to get the temperatures where I wanted. I did find complaints about noise but I think it is quiet compared to the one it replaced. It does seem to run almost all the time - but I assume that this is the variable speed, DC compressor just running at low speed. Not sure of any other manufacturers that use these compressors in home units?

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 2:13PM
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Late in the game, Steph, but how can a bottom freezer be worse for your back than bottom vegetable drawers?

I have a regular freezer-on-top fridge (came with the house) and I am forever bending over, sometimes squatting to the floor, to get the damn vegetables out of the crisper.

We cook a lot from scratch, so we use the freezer for storing bulk meat, frozen veg, and ice cream. And vodka.

Naturally I reach for fresh veggies 1-2x a day, and ice cream/vodka… more often than I should, but not THAT often!

I hate, hate, HATE squatting for the crisper drawers.

Bottom freezers are also much easier to get into than bottom vegetable crispers because the drawer handle is usually around knee height not ankle height. There is less bending.

I don't have a new fridge yet but I pinned several bottom freezer, counter-depth units of various widths (mostly smallish) for our someday remodel.

It won't let me paste this as a clickable link, probably thinks I'm spamming *sigh*. But I've done hours of research and just want to make it worth something!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 7:15PM
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I don't need one yet (knock on wood) but I've been preemptively researching 32" counter depth freezer bottom fridge, and the Samsung was the one I came up with, too. But I worry about that ice maker thing. Is it OK just not to hook it up? If you do think you might get one, I'd check with Samsung first. Their customer service via email is very responsive. I mention this because I have a vague recollection of reading something about a fridge that wouldn't work if the water wasn't connected or something. But I could be completely confused and wrong - wouldn't be the first time. Doesn't hurt to check, though.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 4:33PM
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Thanks, dennisgli. Glad to hear from a happy F-P person. I haven't been able to see the model you have, or the one that replaced it. It doesn't seem to have a FD option any more, which is livable for us. The one in the appliance shop is just a titch bigger, which is actually a downside for us as we want to keep things as low profile as we can. I was impressed with the amount of fridge space, though. Particularly on the door... There were a few GW threads talking about both the freezer and the fridge not being able to get cold enough that scared me off of F-P when we were prepared to purchase. Now, I am rethinking it again and will do more research (ugh).

ahoyhere - what people talk about on-line, and it resonates for me, is that when short people with a small arm research (or bad backs) try to bend into freezer drawers and pull large things out of the bottom, it can be difficult (or painful). This resonates with me, as someone with a short reach and bad back. In those cases, it is actually easier to open a bottom door and have full access via squating than having to bend over and reach down and in.

I totally get your loathing of squating for the crisper drawers and we are sold on a bottom freezer for that reason. Surely we access the freezer less than the fridge. However, it doesn't negate the point that proper back mechanics (which matter to those of us with back pain) involve using the knees (squatting) versus bending over and using back muscles to lift ourselves and items up.

Your Pininterest page is a lot of fun. Appliance eye candy, which I couldn't appreciate until this remodel. I took some repins for my own underused pininterest page. Thank you! By the way, we have one of those single induction burners that we purchased to use during the remodel - it sold us on getting an induction range. Just LOVE it.

Ginny20 - I have no idea about whether Samsung's ice maker/water can be shut off. And I really, really do not want water on the door. I'm not loving that the Samsung CD sticks out so far past the cabinets, either. And, apparently the service and repair issues are nightmarish up here in Alaska. The appliance repair folks who used to repair them have dropped them because it is just so bad to work with them. I really don't want to treat a major appliance like a disposable item, which is basically what I'd have to do with Samsung. Take my chances that I get a good one - be prepared to take it to the dump if it breaks...

I went out again and did the rounds. Fell in love with the Liebherr's looks again, as I do every time I see it. For sure, it would look the best. It's the thinnest, narrowest and most integrated look. It's also freaking pricey...and the freezer storage seems pretty slim.

Thanks for the feedback, folks. I'm still not sure where this boat is going to land.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 9:39AM
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We have an LG and a Kenmore - both purchased in the past 3 years, and have no problem with either. They both have ice makers in the freezer which I just turn off. I wasn't crazy about the bottom freezer drawer, but it's worked out better than anticipated. One of the features that I had to have was the french doors. It's the feature that, in hindsight I would be happy to do without. Too much wasted space on the door (and in a 33" model, that space is important to me). I also find that more often than not I am opening both doors, not just the one. Just something to consider.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 6:01PM
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I have a F&P fridge for 5 years. No problems and I am amazed at how much I can fit in it. My reason for buying "I wanted a counter depth, bottom freezer without water/ice". Not easy to find. I did give up the freezer drawer which I had before and loved but have found the door with compartments works very well. I know there was some complaints about noise, I find it isn't loud just different than I was used to.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 10:51AM
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sherri58 - In all my research, I haven't found an LG or Kenmore fridge that is counter depth within the 30-33" range. Am I missing something? I'm not sold on the french door, either, though it looks nice. I agree with you that door space is a priority.

eahdhi - Glad to hear you are happy with your F&P. It does seem to fit a LOT, especially on the door. That's one of the things that I am finding appealing about it.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 11:21AM
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Steph - I'm sorry if I misled you. My fridges are both regular depth. I was commenting more on the FD since you mentioned the one Samsung as being the only one with the FD - I thought you liked it as an option.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Glad to read this post,
I have exactly the same requirements as you:
Freezer on bottom, no wasted space on doors(ie. no soda bottle shelves), large produce bins 30-33" max width, NO ice/water. I ended up buying a used GE profile. With the1400. I saved I was able to get my Miele DW so I am very happy even if the fridge is an older model. I did buy from a place that guaranteed the appliance for 6 months I think.

You can find more recent models if you have alittle time, people update their kitchens and remove many appliances that work but do not fit in with their new design. I read another post where they are replacing 8 month old appliances so there are options out there in the slightly used market also.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 9:35AM
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