You probably did not have an option of column style refrigeration last time you renovated or built a new home.
Oddly enough, the government can be somewhat responsible for the sudden popularity, because columns meet all the energy standards now and in the future. Most upscale refrigerators do not as of yet.
The other reason is the coolness factor. Integrated refrigerators do not protrude from your cabinet and look seamless with your cabinets.
Have a look.
You can also place your refrigerator and freezer wherever you want in your kitchen. The freezer could be on the right or even under counter.
So before we compare Sub-Zero, Gaggenau, Thermador, Miele and Viking, let’s define what a column is and the available sizes.
What is a Column?
Quite simply, a column is an integrated all refrigerator and/or freezer. The sizes range from 18", 24", 30" and 36" fitting the most popular standard cabinet sizes. Although the words are interchanged, the difference between a column and a regular integrated refrigerator is a refrigerator/freezer vs. just an all refrigerator or all freezers.
Let's compare the brands.
Sub-Zero IC-30R - $6,789
- Nano-Coated shelving for easy cleaning when spills happen
- Air Purification system to keep food fresher, longer
- Soft Close drawers
- Optional internal water dispenser
Sub-Zero is an American company based out of Wisconsin. They were one of the first companies to introduce pro refrigeration for residential application. Sub-Zero also manufactures cooking products under the Wolf label.
Thermador T30IR800SP - $4,999
- Theater style LED lighting that ramps up when the door is opened
- FreeFlow air system that circulates air in the door panels
- FlexTemp Drawer for flexible temperature control
- Gallon sized storage bins on the door
Thermador is a U.S. company owned by BSH that produces a large number of appliances throughout the world. Bosch and Gaggenau are two other brands that this company produces.
Gaggenau RC472701 - $6,399
- Stainless Steel interior
- Aluminum bins
- Motorized glass shelf
- LED lighting system
Gaggenau is also part of the same parent company as Thermador. This brand focuses a little more on style and design when compared.
Miele K1803VI - $6,399
- Mastercool controls enabling you to control the different zones within the refrigerator
- Drop bin system for easy adjustments
- RemoteVision ready so it’s can be wirelessly connected to Miele's service network
Miele is a German based company. The refrigeration unit is built in the same factory as the Thermador but with a different interior and electronics.
Viking FDRB5303R - $7,909
- Ion Air Purifier
- Multi Channel airflow system
- LED lighting
- Nano coated shelving similar to the SubZero
Viking is company that was acquired by Middleby Corporation about 3 years ago which produces residential in addition to commercial kitchen appliances.
Sub-Zero offers the most configuration options and models with or without internal water dispensers. They also offer better features as well. The air purification system slows the spoiling process by scrubbing the gases off foods and nano-coated shelves for congealing spills, soft close drawers and their most recent update and LED lighting.
Miele, Gaggenau and Thermador have a similar layout because they are manufactured in the same factory. Advantage would go to Miele for better controls and a more adjustable bin system on the door.
However, Thermador is a tempting choice due to the One, Two, Free package promotion for a free dishwasher and hood with the purchase of the refrigerator columns and cooking product.
However, Gaggenau separates itself by offering a stainless interior.
Viking is the only one of this group that places the compressor on the top and requires a grill for ventilation. You won't be able to fully blend the refrigerator into the cabinetry.
Sub-Zero has the best features especially in terms of air purification. Then you are comparing essentially the same unit marketed three ways. Thermador has the best price and promotion. Miele has the better controls while Gaggenau has that stunning stainless interior.
There are a couple things to consider when buying integrated refrigerators. First, they are smaller than regular refrigerators, because the depth is cut so dramatically. They are not family size at 17-18 cubic feet.
Secondly, placing panels on an integrated refrigerator is not easy. Make sure your contractor understands the complexities before buying one. We now have 5 full installation crews, one of which is dedicated to placing panels on refrigerators.
Have questions about integrated and other counter depth refrigerators? Get the Yale Counter Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide with features, specs and detailed profiles of every brand like Sub-Zero, Miele, Thermador, Jenn-Air, Liebherr, Gaggenau, Samsung and more.