At Linfoot Repairs, we are asked for our recommendations a lot.
We no longer recommend any specific brands outside of Sub-Zero for refrigeration; however many people cannot afford a Sub-Zero including myself. Rather we give you a crash course on what to look for in a good refrigerator versus what to avoid in a problematic one. If you look back at the ’80s and ’90s brands were racing to create the best long-lasting unit.
The driving force behind the decline in longevity
Homeowners were looking to invest their money wisely and in something that would serve their children and their childs children. The big brands realized that this was not a good marketing strategy as they were making units so efficiently and long-lasting that they weren’t getting repeat sales. Their bottom line was hurting from the fact that they were performing better than expected. Presently we look for fancy, pretty units when making our purchase. Interestingly enough the price point hasn’t changed much from back then to now but we are still seeing improvements on the design and looks of units. This is largely due to the design of the machine components becoming of lesser quality.
When the brands first started producing residential refrigerators they were using metal to metal alloys to seal the sealed system, which contains all the refrigerant. Now upon closer inspection of any brand you will notice they no longer use that method but rely on the use of crimp or compression fittings as well as aluminum instead of copper for the coil sets. Cheaper material allows them to invest more into the design of the look and feel of the unit. This simple premise branches out over all different makes and models, the fancier it looks the more likely it is to fail.
Based on years of research and note keeping I have found that the most reliable units remain to be the top freezer bottom refrigerator. The second most reliable would be the side by side refrigerator and freezers with the caveat that it can only have one evaporator cooling section. The second least reliable unit belongs to the French door category of refrigerators where the refrigerator is on the top and the freezer is on the bottom as a drawer. The most failures belong to any of the above that have a split system, meaning there is cooling in the refrigerator section and the freezer section that run independently through two separate compartments and coil sets.
If we jump back to the science class we had in high school you will come to the realization that most modern units fight against nature’s laws. Cold air wants to sink and hot air wants to rise so the original design of a top freezer bottom refrigerator uses in many cases natural flow of air to cool off the refrigerator. A side-by-side refrigerator will work a fan to push the air to the right into the fresh food compartment and it circulates as it drops the cold air through the food and shelves down to a return vent to the freezer section. A french door refrigerator will use a fan to push the cold air directly up into the refrigerator section with normally two return vents on each side of the refrigerator section. A split system will have two sets of cooling coils, two sets of fans, two sets of defrost timers and two sets of defrost drains which equals two times more likely to fail.