Does Sub-Zero Really Make The Best Refrigerators On The market?

So we just got through reading the recent issue of dwell magazine’s “100 Kitchens We Love” and something occurred to us: there were an awful lot of Sub-Zero refrigerators mentioned in the credits section. Naturally, we decided to tally them up and came up with an interesting (to us, at least) finding.

As expected, many of the familiar mid- to high-end brands were fairly well represented in the projects—GE Monogram, Miele, Fisher Paykel, GaggenauWhirlpool KitchenAid. But they all pale in comparison to the number of Sub-Zero mentions.

On our unofficial count, 26 of the 100 kitchens featured a Sub-Zero refrigerator. Based on that math, that’s 26 percent—26! What accounts for this Sub-Love?

Well, for one, just look at the damn things! They are freaking amazing in their modernist simplicity—you know, less is more and all that stuff. Plus, the company continues to innovate (or, some might say, bite from the Europeans) with undercounter refrigeration, slim profiles, and integrated units. It’s no wonder that, as we reported here earlier this year, Sub-Zero is the go-to brand when Hollywood producers want to convey wealth and power.

But that doesn’t mean the brand is any better than, say, Kenmore or GE or Whirlpool. In fact, if you believe Consumer Reports, the brand is actually worst. To be fair, CR has said that most of the major luxury brands—including Viking Range Corp., Thermador, Dacor, and Jenn-Air—pretty much suck when it comes to dependability. In short, they are repair prone.

I know at least two friends who inherited Sub-Zero refrigerators and repeatedly had to fork over serious dough to fix the little buggers. These were older units so it’s hard to say with certainty what was going on. Plus, a high-end appliance executive once told me that luxury brands are “fragile” and break easily because they are loaded with sophisticated electronics that are easily damaged from power outages, improper use, etc. So the debate rages on.


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