Sub-Zero BI-36UFD Review
We give the Sub-Zero BI-36UFD French Door Refrigerator an A and our "Head of Class" award. If you can afford it, we highly recommend this or any similar models from Sub-Zero's built-in refrigerator collection. Sub-Zero is known for designing extremely high-quality refrigerators that can last for as long as 20 years in normal residential settings. Unlike most refrigerators, the BI-36UFD features a dual cooling system and an electronic microprocessor that continually monitors internal temperature and humidity levels in both the fridge and the freezer to ensure optimal conditions in each compartment. It also has a very flexible storage system that maximizes useable capacity and allows you to keep your food well organized and visible. With that said, we had to deduct a few points because the BI-36UFD is extremely expensive, isn't Energy Star® certified, and doesn't have gallon-size door bin. The bottom line however is that, if you can afford the upfront costs, any of Sub-Zero's refrigerators will far outperform and outlast their cheaper competitors, but, if the Sub-Zero is out of your price range, we also highly recommend the Samsung RSG257.
The BI-36UFD is an energy efficient refrigerator that meets the strict requirements of the Department of Energy. It uses 571 kWh/year, and Sub-Zero estimates that it will cost about $61 per year to run (based on 10.65 cents per kWh). Most impressive is the BI-36UFD's dual refrigeration system that controls conditions in the fridge and freezer separately. It features an electronic microprocessor that continually monitors temperature and humidity levels in each compartment and makes precise adjustments when necessary according to the current information and your usage patterns. You can also make precise temperature adjustments to either compartment manually by using the internal illuminated electronic control panel located at the top of the fridge. The refrigeration system is so effective that it is able to keep temperatures within 1° of the preset temperature.
The BI-36UFD has a total capacity of 21 cu. ft. Its fresh food compartment has 15.7 cu. ft. of capacity with very flexible storage options. There are four spill-proof, full-width glass shelves (three are adjustable in 1" intervals) and six clear door bins (four are adjustable). It also has an adjustable, magnetically sealed dairy bin on each door and two full-width clear drawers, including one for produce and one for meat/deli items. Within these drawers, temperature and humidity levels are adjusted to extend the life of the food, and the interiors can be divided into three sections to help make the contents more organized and items easier to find. (Side note: If you are unable to open up the fridges' doors any wider than 90°, you may have to remove one or both of the shallow door bins in front of the drawers to be able to open them.). Lastly, the BI-36UFD's freezer is designed with a pull-out drawer and has 5.3 cu. ft. of capacity. In terms of storage, it has two metal wire drawers with separate compartments for organizing items and a removable icebox.
The BI-36UFD has a few convenient extras. First, it has 40-watt appliance light bulbs in the fridge and the freezer to illuminate the entire interior and make food items easy to find. If the lights have ever been on for too long and could start to negatively impact your food, the refrigerator will automatically shut them off. Along the same lines, the refrigerator can also be programmed to beep when the door has been left open for more than 60 seconds. Additionally, the BI-36UFD features an air purification system that filters the air every 20 minutes to reduce airborne bacteria, odors and even ethylene gas, which causes fruits and vegetables to ripen prematurely. Its factory-installed automatic icemaker is equipped with a built-in water filter, and it can also increase ice production by 40% over a 24-hour period when in "MAX ICE" mode. Lastly, the BI-36UFD is Star-K certified with a "Sabbath" switch, and it also comes with a "cheat sheet" in the fridge detailing the best temperatures for keeping certain foods fresher for longer.
The Sub-Zero BI-36UFD is a French Door refrigerator with a pull-out freezer drawer. It is 36" wide and can be used in a standard installation or in a flush inset installation. The BI-36UFD is Sub-Zero's first French Door style refrigerator and is part of its popular built-in line. Sub-Zero, a brand well-known for manufacturing high quality refrigerators, waited to release its version of the French Door style refrigerator until its engineers were able to perfect the door sealing system, which has previously been a big issue for other manufacturers of this style. Using independent sealing systems on each door and improved gaskets, Sub-Zero engineers were successful at creating a more secure seal and therefore more stable internal conditions. In terms of style, the BI-36UFD is available in a Stainless Steel finish or it can be fitted with a custom panel overlay. You can also choose whether you prefer a Pro Handle, Tubular Handle or Framed Handle.
In a 2013 J.D. Power and Associates refrigerator study, Sub-Zero received the highest rankings in overall customer satisfaction, and it has also received excellent reliability ratings from Consumer Reports. The only major issue anyone seems to have with Sub-Zero refrigerators is their hefty price tag. After speaking with some local retailers and reading expert reviews online however, we feel like Sub-Zeros are worth the price because they have such a remarkable lifespan. One retailer we spoke with had been selling Sub-Zeros for close to 25 years. He said that he could almost guarantee a lifespan of 12-15 years, but that they should last for over 20 years. Sub-Zero's impressive warranty also demonstrates its confidence in its product. When used in normal residential settings, the BI-36UFD is covered by a full two-year warranty on parts & labor for the entire unit, a full five-year warranty on parts & labor for the Sealed System and a limited twelve-year warranty on just parts for the Sealed System.
Since the Sub-Zero BI-36UFD French Door Refrigerator was only recently released, there aren't really any customer reviews available online. However, the BI-36UFD is just the newest model in an already successful line of built-in refrigerators from Sub-Zero, a manufacturer that is well known for the quality and design of its products. Whether the BI-36UFD is a good refrigerator for your kitchen is more of a personal decision. Some customers prefer the aesthetics and functionality of the French Door design, while others find it annoying that they have to open two doors to retrieve large items or access the drawers. Our team personally loves the look of built-in, French Door refrigerators and the fact that we can store wide/bulky food items on the shelves or in the drawers without any problem. Depending on how much you use your freezer, you might want to consider the BI-36UFD's useable capacity in this compartment (especially with the ice bin) and whether you like its two-tiered storage system or if you would prefer a different set up (ex. door bins) for more organizational capabilities. Another potential drawback, in our opinion, is that lack of an external water and ice dispenser, but there are rumors that Sub-Zero may include one on the 42" version they are planning to release down the road if you want to wait for it. Finally, I was a little surprised that the BI-36UFD isn't an ENERGY STAR® compliant refrigerator, but it is still very energy efficient and Sub-Zero also takes care to ensure that it is a green company (see "Green Facts" PDF on their website). Overall, if you like French Door refrigerators and are willing to spend almost $10K, it doesn't sound like you will ever be disappointed with the quality and value of the BI-36UFD.We'd like to give special thanks to Thurston Kitchen & Bath and Kitchens at the Denver for providing us with a BI-36UFD refrigerator to use during our test.
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