Updated November 2013...I rewrote Bills article, because in the short term one of these brands is having issues. We have 19 people on the road fixing appliance issues. One of these brands is popping up on the radar screen way too much
Viking and SubZero are arguably the industrys two best premium brands. Viking purchased the tooling of Amana's high-end refrigerator production about 15 years ago to become a refrigerator as well as a range company. SubZero bought Wolf to become a range and refrigerator company. For the last 10 years, they have become the choice of luxury homes. After some initial problems, Viking has produced a better refrigerator, but does it compare to the SubZero?
The History of SubZero
In 1943, Westye F. Bakke built the first freestanding freezer in the basement of his Madison, Wisconsin home. A businessman with a keen ability to anticipate post-World War II refrigeration trends, Bakke founded SubZero Freezer Company just two years later in an old two-car garage. From its modest beginnings, SubZero has become the recognized leading manufacturer of premium built-in home refrigerators.
Indicative of the company’s innovative engineering is its dual refrigeration system, which relies on two separate, self-containing cooling systems to keep food fresher and preserve frozen food longer.
For sixty years, SubZero has offered innovative, aesthetically appealing and technologically advanced solutions to meet virtually any home refrigeration need.
The History of Viking
Viking Range Corporation was founded by Fred Carl, Jr., a fourth-generation building contractor, as a speculative venture aimed at developing the first commercial-type range specifically designed, engineered and certified for home use. Viking is considered not only a major appliance manufacturer but a culinary company involved in all aspects of the kitchen and the world of food and wine. The Viking refrigeration plant was totally renovated in 2000 and produces Viking built-in refrigerators, freezers, wine storage units and an entire line of outdoor refrigeration products. Viking was acquired by the range manufacture, Middleby, earlier this year in February.
Viking VCBB536RSS $6849 after rebate
Sub-Zero BI36 $7249
Now Let’s Compare
Both SubZero and Viking produce excellent refrigerators. Both have air filtration systems inside the refrigerator. Viking uses Sharp's Plasmacluster Ion Air Purifier to eliminate airborne mold, bacteria and other impurities, while removing odors. SubZero’s air filtration system has an airscrubber, which scrubs the gasses off food, keeping food fresher for a longer period of time.
SubZero has a vacuum seal on the door. SubZero features a high-humidity drawer with dividers and an adjustable dairy compartment, as well as crisper and deli drawers which form a special low temperature zone. The crispers are magnetized to prevent air inside and outside the refrigerator from reaching food. Viking has two high-humidity zone drawers, as well as an adjustable cold zone drawer which can be set for either produce or long-term fresh meat storage with separate temperature controls.
Both have electronic controls to maintain temperature. SubZero maintains temperature within 3 degrees, while Viking maintains temperature within 1 degree.
Both have professional grade frost-free freezers. SubZero’s freezer features a water filtration system in its automatic ice maker and a full-extension roll-out freezer drawer with two tier wire storage baskets. Viking’s adaptive defrost controls extend to 96 hours which improves food storage due to less frequent defrost periods. Viking also has a full extension drawer for easy access and a large capacity ice bucket in its automatic ice maker.
SubZero uses a two-compressor system, whereas Viking utilizes one compressor. Both SubZero and Viking offer excellent warranties. SubZero is 2 full years and up to 12 years on the compressor and Viking is 3 years.
While Viking is much improved over previous models, from a technological standpoint, Sub-Zero still has the clear edge. Two compressors means the air stays chambered in the proper area. Thus the moist air stays in the refrigerator and doesnt mix with the drier air of the freezer and the tastes don't crossover (ice cream tasting like fish). I also like the vacuum seal of the SubZero which keeps air from infiltrating into the refrigerator, keeping food fresher, longer.
Middleby now owns Viking as of March this year. I originally was excited about the new Viking, but the service issues are perplexing especially on a brand so reliant on their name recognition. We are lucky with 21 techs on staff, because the Viking service rate is now over 60% in the first year. Technology aside, the product does not work as it should
I think the problems are organic and for the meantime I would stay away from this refrigerator. Hopefully, Middleby will sort out the issues
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William Hanley is an appliance sales consultant at Yale Appliance + Lighting. Before joining Yale, William worked for twenty years in jewelry sales and is a lifelong Patriots and RedSox fan.