The Best Built-In Refrigerator Brand On the Market Is…

The Best Built-In Refrigerator Brand On the Market Is…


One built-in refrigerator brand dominates the market. And the winner is…


Sub-Zero is the best built-in refrigerator brand on the market. Flip through any kitchen design magazine — or ask a friend who previously hired a design professional to work on their kitchen – and you will quickly realize that the Sub-Zero brand is ubiquitous in the high-end market.

Why do professional designers spring for Sub-Zero over other built-in refrigerator brands? A few reasons: luxurious design, an all-American company history and of course, superior craftsmanship and attention to details with every product they build.

That attention to detail even extends to Clarke, the distributor of Sub-Zero and Wolf products. They offer white-boot repair service, a guaranteed 2-hour service window, and the highest satisfaction rate in the industry. Above all, they are focused on taking care of their customers for the entire life of the product.

Since Westye F. Bakke founded the company in a garage in 1943, Sub-Zero has positioned itself as the best manufacturer of professional, integrated and built-in refrigerators in the world. Their attention to detail and relentless pursuit of improvement has led to market dominance today.

(Still confused by the terminology in the high-end refrigeration market? Take a look at our breakdown of the difference between built-in, integrated, and overlay refrigerators.)

Here’s what sets the Sub-Zero brand apart…

A Brief History of Sub-Zero

American Made & Family Owned

Westye F. Bakke invented the first freestanding refrigerator in 1943 in Madison, WI, where Sub-Zero’s headquarters remain today.

Sub-Zero manages to stay ahead of the professional refrigeration market by consistently reinvesting its profits back into the company. Less than 5 years ago, President & CEO James Bakke renovated the production line in their Madison, WI, and then immediately set to work redesigning the entire built-in refrigeration series.

This reinvestment of capital allows Sub-Zero to stay ahead of its direct competitors on the research and development front. That is why most technological advancements in the refrigeration market make their debut on a Sub-Zero model, then trickle down to competing built-in refrigerator brands.

So what makes Sub-Zero the world’s best built-in refrigerator brand?

Dual Compressor System

Sub-Zero is the only built-in refrigerator brand to feature a dual compressor system in every model. Including two compressors allows the refrigerator and freezer compartments to run on independent cooling systems. This affords more precise temperature and humidity controls in each compartment, and prevents against complete system failure — if one compressor shuts down, the other keeps on trucking.

Most refrigerators have a single compressor, which is controlled by an internal thermostat. When the refrigerator temperature rises above a certain level, the compressor kicks in to cycle air between the freezer and refrigerator compartments to regulate the unit’s internal temperature.

It’s not very efficient to use one compressor to regulate two compartments at different temperatures. And the more the refrigerator temperature fluctuates, the faster the food inside it spoils. That’s the logic behind Sub-Zero’s dual compressor system: it’s all about maintaining temperature and humidity stability to prolong the life of your food.

The real, measurable difference in produce shelf life tends to surprise new Sub-Zero owners. For example, even though fresh cabbage tends to spoil very quickly, it lasts 3-6 weeks in a Sub-Zero built-in fridge.

The benefits of adding weeks to the shelf life of the contents of your fridge: less money wasted on spoiled food, less to throw away from the fridge, and take fewer trips to the grocery store.

NASA Designed Air Purification System

sub-zero-best-built-in-refrigerator-brandThe air purification system located inside every Sub-Zero built-in refrigerator features technology which was designed by NASA for use on board their space shuttles. The same technology which keeps astronauts alive in outer space also purifies the air inside a Sub-Zero.

The interchangeable filter reduces bacteria, viruses, odors, and perhaps most importantly ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is released from certain types of fruits and vegetables as they age and begin to decompose. (Ethylene is responsible for the ripening — and over-ripening — of fruits.)

Refrigerators without a filtration systen trap the ethylene gas inside the refrigerator compartment. It then comes into contact with other produce and expedites the spoiling process. The air purification system in a Sub-Zero is central to its industry-leading food preservation system.

Extra-Durable Lexan Plastic Compartments

Lexan Plastic has been used to make space and sports helmets, high-performance windshields, and bullet-resistant windows. Sub-Zero uses the same material for its shelves and drawers.

I bring this up not because it’s a revolutionary feature, but because it’s emblematic of Sub-Zero’s company philosophy as a whole. Where other companies can (and do) cut corners, Sub-Zero uses commercial-grade plastic even in their door shelves. The Sub-Zero logo is an assurance that everything from the compressor on down to the nuts and bolts are built from top-quality componentry.

An Industry-Leading Warranty

Sub-Zero’s residential warranty is the most generous in the industry:

  • All parts and labor are covered for two years against defective materials or workmanship
  • Parts and labor for the compressor, condenser, evaporator, drier and all connecting tubing are covered up to 5 years
  • 12-year sealed system warranty guarantees customers repairs or replacements on the same five parts from the five year warranty.

A Sub-Zero is built to last, and the warranty backs it up. Every so often, we encounter people who are finally replacing their Sub-Zero refrigerator after 35 years of faithful service. That longevity is what positioned Sub-Zero as the leading built-in refrigerator brand on the market.

The Big Question: Are Sub-Zero Refrigerators Worth the Price?

best-built-in-refrigeratorOf the high-end built-in refrigerator brands, Sub-Zero is the most expensive of the lot. So the real question here is whether Sub-Zero’s refrigerators justify the price premium. To answer this, you really need to think about why you’re exploring the market and what your priorities are.

If you’ve fallen in love with the built-in look to free up extra space in your kitchen floor plan, there are other unobtrusive options, such as counter-depth refrigerators, for under half the cost.

But if you want the best refrigerator money can buy, Sub-Zero is unequivocally the #1 built-in refrigerator brand. They boast best-in-class componentry, an industry-leading warranty, and an unwillingness to compromise and cut corners in their product development cycle.

Buying a Sub-Zero is an investment into the quality of life – and the quality of your food.

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