Replacing that dead refrigerator

We rang out the new year with the demise of our 10 year old Kenmore fridge and started the new one with ice chests and a trip to Sears, Best Buy and Home Depot in search of its replacement.

They don’t build them to last anymore.  There are reports of refrigerators 25 to 50 years old  still humming along but the evidence is accumulating by people sharing notes,   that few  refers bought 10 or 11 years ago are still operating.  I think of a  refrigerator as a long-term investment, but “long” term is being redefined silently. The fact that manufacturer’s build in self-destruction as slightly longer than the warranty period and the ability of the consumer to hold them accountable.  This is a reflection both of the buyers and the manufacturers.  The sellers – the guys in the middle, are stuck selling junk to the gullible.  It’s a sad reflection of the times.

Kenmore is a reseller so the brand means virtually nothing.

Consumer Reports may help to trigger a constructive approach to buying a new fridge, but its advice is weak.  The main reason – they don’t have engineering data, so they are unable to objectively analyze many products, including refridgerators.

The Energy Star rating has arguably done more harm than good. To satisfy the lower power consumption rating required of the Energy Star label, capacity is sacrificed in refrigerators.  Compressors are undersized, which contributes to rapid mechanical breakdown and failure.

Water dispensers and ice makers take up room, add complexity.

Computers in refrigerators burn out and may require surge protectors to survive more than a few years.

The compressor is the most expensive component that can burn out.  A $2000 refrigerator may have the same compressor as a $700 refrigerator.

It’s hard to find a fridge without a water dispenser, ice maker, or computer.

It’s hard to find a refrigerator that is 65″ high (not counting the hinge/door assembly) with a 20 cu foot capacity.

Top freezers seem to be more reliable than bottom freezers, but the latter are very popular.

Refrigerator design is driven by popularity of features such as ice makers, water dispensers, french doors.

Defrosting seems to be the main positive innovation in my opinion.

Long-running consumer reports forum thread on refrigerators that triggered some of my reflections.  I’ve been disappointed by CR because their testing is subjective; the sample size and test duration are not long enough for many quality issues to emerge.  For example, if a compressor is undersized, the effects only emerge after months if not years of wear.


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