Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sub-Zero BI-36UFD

Sub-Zero BI-36UFD Review

Refrigerators

Product Grade
Report Card Grade
0 Reviews
Best Feature:
Exceptional temperature performance and design
Worst Feature:
Very expensive
Best Uses:
Mid-size households with flexible budget
Pricing:
$8,575 - $10,060 (see review for warranty info)
Manufacturer:

Where to Buy

Store Name
Price
$8,575.00
ABT
$9,699.00

Overview

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.

Photos

A kitchen featuring Sub-Zero BI-36UFD French Door Refrigerator.
The Sub-Zero BI-36UFD French Door Refrigerator.
The refrigerator is available in a Stainless Steel finish or it can be fitted with a custom panel overlay.
Sub-Zero is a brand known for producing high-quality refrigerators.
Stainless steel finish with tubular handles.
The freezer door also features matching tubular handles.
The pullout freezer has two wire drawers and a removable ice bin.
The freezer drawer is incredibly lightweight and easy to open.
Drawers slide smoothly back and forth making it easy to access items in either bin.
The fresh food compartment features adjustable shelves, door bins and dairy bins, as well as temperature- and humidity-controlled drawers.
Both the fridge and the freezer are illuminated by 40-watt appliance light bulbs.
Three of the shelves can be adjusted in 1" intervals.
Sub-Zero door bins
Sub-Zero door bins
Sub-Zero door bins
The refrigerator has 2 magnetically sealed dairy bins.
The drawers feature optional dividers for improved organization.
The drawers are designed to keep meat/deli products and vegetables fresher for longer.
While not Energy Star® certified, the refrigerator is still energy efficient.
From the control panel, you can adjust the temperature in the fridge or the freezer.

 
This Product
Most Popular
Head of Class
Overall Score
77%
76%
73%
Our Awards
Date Reviewed
January 2013
December 2012
January 2013
Pros
Superior temperature performance; high-quality design built to last for 20 years; highly adjustable storage design; air purification system; built-in water filter; bulk ice making feature; humidity- and temperature-controlled drawers; open door alert; can be used in a standard installation or in a flush inset installation; Star-K certified with a "Sabbath" mode
ENERGY STAR® qualified; maintains optimal internal conditions; has external digital temperature controls with child lock; quiet; space-saving icemaker design; built-in water filter; external water and ice dispenser; bonus storage (ex. egg container, wine rack and can holder); open door alert; available in multiple finishes; LED Tower Lighting
ENERGY STAR® qualified; has external digital temperature controls with child lock; maintains optimal internal conditions; quiet; great lighting; humidity- and temperature-controlled drawers; three tiered freezer storage; Tilt-N-Take freezer door easy to open; built-in water filter; external water and ice dispenser; air purification system; open door alert
Cons
Very expensive; useable freezer capacity is relatively limited; no gallon-size door bin; energy efficient but not ENERGY STAR® compliant
Some complaints about the icemaker not working properly; some reported quality issues with the handles (loosening and/or falling off); door bins aren't adjustable; some complaints about small drawers that didn't open fully; doesn't have built-in air filter; doesn't have temperature-controlled drawer
Many complaints about the icemaker not working properly; some complaints about Sears' customer service; some complaints about frost build up in the freezer; left side door bins very narrow and won't be able to accommodate many condiment jars
Refrigeration System (25%)
Storage Capabilities (20%)
Extra Features (25%)
Exterior Style/Functionality (10%)
Brand Reputation/Reliability (10%)
Customer Feedback (10%)
Type
Built-in
Freestanding
Freestanding
Style
French Door (pull-out freezer drawer)
Side-by-Side
French Door (Tilt-N-Take freezer door)
Total Capacity (cu. ft.)
21.0
24.5
30.7
Price (MSRP)
$8,575 - $10,060
$2349 - $2399
$2576 - $2812
Warranty
2-year full warranty on parts & labor for the entire unit; 5-year full warranty on parts & labor for the sealed refrigeration system; 12-year limited warranty on just parts for the sealed refrigeration system.
1-year limited warranty on parts & labor for the entire unit; 5-year limited warranty on parts & labor for the sealed refrigeration system
10-year warranty on the linear compressor. You can also purchase an additional In-Home Master Protection Agreement for either $379.99 (3-year) or $549.99 (5-year).
Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth)
36" x 84" x 24"
35.88" x 70" x 29" (taken from instruction manual)
35.75" x 70.25" x 36.25"
Depth with Door Open at 90°
43.38" (note: the freezer drawer fully open will exceed that depth at 47.5")
45.44"
48.13"
Width with Door Open at 90°
40.75"
36.33"
44.25"
Weight
529 pounds
254 pounds
Unknown
ENERGY STAR® Qualified
No
Yes
Yes
Power
It uses 571 kWh/year. Sub-Zero estimates that it could cost about $61 a year to run.
It uses 560 kWh/year. Samsung estimates that it could cost about $60 a year to run.
It uses 579 kWh/year. Kenmore estimates that it could cost about $62 a year to run.
Cooling Technology
High-tech dual refrigeration system with electronic microprocessor monitors/controls temperature and humidity levels in the fridge and freezer separately. The system is able to keep temperatures within 1 degree of your preset temperature.
Twin Cooling Plus™ technology (single compressor / dual evaporator) offers precise monitoring and control over humidity and temperature levels in each compartment. There are also 5 temperature sensors and multiple vents to ensure that cold, fresh air is always circulating evenly throughout each compartment.
GeniusCool™ technology features a linear compressor and dual evaporators to maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels in the both compartments.
Auto-Defrost (Frost-Free)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Temperature Controls
A digital control panel at the top of the fridge allows for precise temperature adjustments in the fridge and in the freezer.
An external digital control panel (with a child lock) allows for precise temperature adjustments in the fridge or the freezer. Panel also has "Power Cool" and "Power Freeze" button that will quickly drop the internal temperature in the fridge or freezer.
An external digital control panel (with a child lock) allows for precise temperature adjustments in the fridge or the freezer.
Built-In Air Filter
Yes, it has a built-in air purification system that reduces airborne bacteria, odors and even ethylene gas.
N/A
Yes, it has a built-in CleanFlow™ charcoal air filter to keep air fresh and clean.
Fresh Food Capacity (cu. ft.)
15.7
15.2
20.7
Shelf Material
Tempered glass
Tempered glass
Tempered glass
Spill-Proof Edges
Yes
Yes
Yes
Shelves
4 full-width shelves (3 adjustable and 1 stationary)
4 adjustable shelves including 1 that is also retractable
5 shelves including 1 stationary full-width shelf and 4 adjustable split shelves
Total # of Drawers
2
3
3
Humidity-Controlled Drawer (Crisper)
1 (full-width)
1
2 (half-width)
Temperature-Controlled Meat/Deli Drawer
1 (full-width)
N/A
1 (full-width)
Door Bins
8 door bins including 4 adjustable bins, 2 stationary bins and 2 adjustable dairy bins (magnetically sealed)
5 stationary door bins including 1 gallon-size bin and 1 dairy bin
6 door bins including 2 gallon-size bins, 3 narrow bins and 1 covered dairy bin
Additional Storage
N/A
Egg container, optional wine rack and foldable can holder
N/A
Freezer Capacity (cu. ft.)
5.3
9.3
10.0
Freezer Storage
2 pull-out wire drawers that are divided into separate compartments
4 shelves, 2 drawers and 3 stationary door bins
3 tiers of storage including 2 pull-out drawers and 1 deep bin
Icemaker
Yes, it has a factory-installed automatic icemaker in the freezer.
Yes, it has a factory-installed automatic icemaker that is built into the freezer door. The ice bucket is clear, so you can easily check ice levels when necessary.
Yes, it has a slim, factory-installed automatic icemaker built into the fridge door.
Bulk Ice-Making Capabilities
Yes, in "MAX ICE" mode, ice production increases by 40% for a 24-hour period.
No
No
Built-in Water Filter
Yes
Yes
Yes
External Water/Ice Dispenser
N/A
Yes, it has an external water and crushed/cubed ice dispenser on the freezer door.
Yes, it has an external water and crushed/cubed ice dispenser on the left-hand door.
Lighting
40W appliance light bulbs in the fridge and the freezer
LED Tower Lighting systems in the fridge and freezer
LED lighting system along the sides and top of the fridge and 2 LED lights under its doors to illuminate the freezer.
Open Door Alert
Yes, after 1 minute (optional)
Yes, after 2 minutes
Yes, after set amount of time
Product Design
It is available in Stainless Steel or Overlay (with custom panels). It has flat, smooth doors, and you can choose between 3 handle styles including Pro, Tubular or Framed.
It is available in 4 different finishes including Black (RSG257AABP/XAA), White (RSG257AAWP/XAA), Stainless Steel (RSG257AARS/XAA) and Stainless Platinum (RSG257AAPN/XAA). It has flat, smooth doors with concealed hinges and a concealed grill at the bottom.
It is available in 3 different finishes including White (72052), Black (72059) and Stainless Steel (72053). It has smooth, contoured doors and matching handles.

ProductReportCard Editors' In-Depth Review


Specifications

Refrigeration System

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.

From the control panel, you can adjust the temperature in the fridge or the freezer.
From the control panel, you can adjust the temperature in the fridge or the freezer.
Credit: Mary Griffin

Storage in the Fresh Food Compartment and Freezer

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 interior of the fridge is designed to keep different types of food fresh, well organized and visible.
The interior of the fridge is designed to keep different types of food fresh, well organized and visible.
Credit: Mary Griffin
The pullout freezer has two wire drawers and a removable ice bin.
The pullout freezer has two wire drawers and a removable ice bin.
Credit: Mary Griffin

Extra Features

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.

Exterior Style and Functionality

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.

The refrigerator is available in a Stainless Steel finish or it can be fitted with a custom panel overlay.
The refrigerator is available in a Stainless Steel finish or it can be fitted with a custom panel overlay.
Credit: Mary Griffin

Brand Reputation

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.

User Reviews

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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