January 9th, 2013

Basics about Refrigerators and Ice Makers

Jennifer Tyrrell

Whether you are buying, leasing, or remodeling a home, chances are you have to buy a refrigerator, and if your new home permits the space, an ice maker, too. Refrigerators Here’s what you need to know. There are three basic types of refrigeration to choose from:

  • Freestanding
  • Counter-depth
  • Built-in

Within these three basic types, there are three basic styles:

  • Side by Side 
  • Top Freezer 
  • Bottom Freezer

All of these combinations are available in various colors, finishes, sizes, and with different features such as water and ice on the outside, or inside of the door.

Freestanding refrigerators are the most popular type for the replacement market and are the least expensive. While they are portly, they are also portable so you can take them from house to house. The drawback to this type, however, is that in standard kitchens, a freestanding unit will protrude into the kitchen up to ten inches beyond the cabinetry. Pricing of this type of refrigerator ranges from about $375 up to $3000, depending on the features, style, and size of the unit selected.

Counter-Depth refrigerators are steadily increasing in popularity. Although they are technically a freestanding unit, they are typically much more shallow, so they protrude into the kitchen less to create a more ‘built-in’ look without the high price tag. Pricing of this type of refrigerator ranges from $1500 to $3200, again depending on the features, style, and size of the unit selected.

Built-in refrigerators offer the most customized look available in the market today and are found in widths from 27″ to 72″. Also increasing in popularity are built-in refrigerator drawers that can be placed virtually anywhere in a kitchen, bar, or butler’s pantry, and like the built-in refrigerator, can be custom designed to blend in with the kitchen cabinetry. With the ultimate in luxury refrigeration, one can realistically expect to pay a minimum of $2900 for the integrated drawers up to almost $10,000 for a refrigerator, depending on the features, style, and the size of the unit(s) selected.

Ice makers

Ice makers are an entertainment necessity for all kitchens, bars, outdoor kitchens, game rooms, and media rooms, but not all ice makers are made equal. Residential ice makers come in two basic styles:

  • Cloudy Ice 
  • Clear Ice

Cloudy Ice makers are all grown-up versions of refrigerator ice makers, in which water is dispersed into a cube reservoir where the water freezes into ice cubes. Air molecules in the water freeze into tiny air bubbles inside the ice making the ice cloudy and giving the ice a slight taste which is disagreeable to some people. Cloudy ice makers are available in some undercounter models and do not require a drain or pump.

Clear Ice makers , which make the type of ice we get in restaurants, make ice differently. The difference is that the ice is formed by a continual flow of water across a cooling coil which eliminates or minimizes air freezing inside the ice. The continual flow of water creates the need for a drain, which can be a gravity drain located behind, and under the ice maker or drainage by pumping the water to a drain location above or away from the ice maker. A drain behind and under the ice maker is preferred to a pump when possible. Clear ice makers provide superior ice, but do require scheduled maintenance approximately once a year.

To choose the right refrigerator and ice maker for your home, work with a kitchen professional. They are trained to help guide you to choose the refrigerator that best fits your kitchen and your budget.

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