Back when I wrote this 4 years ago, Sub-Zero seemed to be the best choice for a 48 inch refrigerator. With new competitors and new products, you may need an update.
So we will look at a few different types of configuring a 48 inch refrigerator, then look at the brands and then compare.
Professional vs. Integrated
There are two ways to buy a 48 inch refrigerator. The first is the one unit professional refrigerator.
The second is to purchase 2 integrated refrigerators, at 30" and 18" or two 24" units to make a total 48" width.
Here is the difference.
A professional refrigerator has commercial styling with the compressor on the top. The Pro can have cabinet panels applied, but looks better in all stainless. Until the release of refrigerator columns, the professional was the only way to buy a 48 inch refrigerator.
An integrated refrigerator is 24" deep including the cabinets, so there are no seams between product and cabinet. Although an integrated can be stainless, the product will be indistiguishable from the cabinet with panels. An integrated 48" can be achieved by combining 30" and 18" refrigerator columns.
Since 2012, people seem to be buying more integrated products, but they are two very different options.
Have a look at two different installations:
The Best 48 Inch Counter Depth Refrigerators
Jenn-Air JS48NXFXDW - $7,999
Jenn-Air has returned to the upscale market with a $300 million capital infusion from Whirlpool.
Its 48" is decent. By the way, you can buy the identical unit in KitchenAid, which is just a gray interior versus the Jenn-Air black. What sells Jenn-Air/KitchenAid is mainly price. They do have good wall ovens, cooktops and dishwashers to complete the package.
Viking VCSB5483 - $12,139
Viking has a redesigned refrigerator with better shelving, a new temperature management system as well as a plasma cluster ion-purifier.The refrigerator looks good as well.
However, Viking needs to work on their reliability, especially on the refrigeration side. Perhaps new owner, Middleby, will finally rectify the ongoing issues in the long term.
To be transparent, we do not sell Viking products.
Thermador Columns T18IF800SP & T30IR800SP: $8,799
The Thermador and Miele units are manufactured in the same factory in Turkey. Miele has better crispers with Thermador being less expensive. They also have an elevated shelf.
You can buy two 24 inch units or one 30 inch and one 18 inch depending on how much refrigerator/freezer space you desire.
As I said before, integrated is a better decorator option with panels, because you do not see it. You can still have the Pro look by purchasing stainless panels.
Sub-Zero BI-48S/S/PH - $10,439
Sub-Zero has owned this niche. They were the "first movers" and for a longer period of time were the only manufacturer. As I have said previously, I like this company and their committment to "keeping food, fresher, longer". The BI-48 has twin compressors, magnetic gaskets on the crispers plus a vacuum seal to keep air out of the refrigerator.
Since our last update, Sub-Zero has added an electronic air scrubber, which scrubs the gases off the spoiling food. This slows the food spoilage process as well as eliminates cross contamination to other foods.
In addition, they added a pure water filter as well as nano technology shelving to congeal rather than spread spillage within the refrigerator.
Unit is available with or without an ice dispenser. SubZero also has integrated refrigerators in the same size as the Thermador units with the scrubber, shelving and icemaker features as well.
True TR-48-SBS-SS-B - $16,999
Perhaps the biggest development at 48 inch is True's entry into residential refrigeration. Long considered the best commercial product available, True has a very solid looking Pro refrigerator. Look at the hinges and stainless shelving.
However, the price is more expensive than a Sub-Zero and lacks the air scrubber, shelving and ice maker standard in Sub-Zero.
Sub-Zero 648PRO - $16,199
The 648PRO emulates the commercial refrigerator in all stainless and is similar to the BI unit just without the scrubber and shelving.
The PRO48 is available with a window as well.
Which Do You Buy?
If you are placing panels on your refrigerator, you should consider integrated units. The look is pretty nice.
However, it is a feature versus price argument. The Jenn-Air refrigerator and overall appliance package with other appliances will be considerably less expensive than a Sub-Zero package.
However, in terms of features, keeping food fresher for a longer period of time, then Sub-Zero is the best…at least until True figures it out.
Have more questions about integrated, pro and other counter depth refrigerators? Get the Yale Counter Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide with features, specs and detailed profiles of all the brands. Well over 185,000 people have read a Yale Guide.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 21, 2012 and has been updated for accuracy, freshness and comprehensiveness.