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Is a Sub-Zero Refrigerator Worth the Money?

March 21st, 2024 | 12 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

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Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen

You probably wonder, "Is a Sub-Zero refrigerator worth the money?"

About two years ago, we wrote this article about whether Sub-Zero is worth $12,000-$20,000.

Now, Sub-Zero has new models and a new cooling system, but the central question remains: Do you need a $12,000+ refrigerator in your kitchen?

In this article, we'll explore the features of Sub-Zero refrigerators that ensure your food remains fresh for longer periods.

We'll dive into the specifics of their compressors, cooling systems, air scrubbers, and vacuum seals.

Lastly, we will compare Sub-Zero to the new True, Thermador, and Monogram refrigerators.

By the end of this article, you'll have the information you need to decide if a Sub-Zero refrigerator is right for you.

Let's get started.

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A Brief Introduction to Sub-Zero

Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen at Yale Appliance in Hanover

Conglomerates dominate the high-end appliance world.

For example, the German BSH Home Appliance company owns Gaggenau, Thermador, and Bosch.

In addition, Samsung, a Korean conglomerate, owns Dacor, while its Korean rival, LG, owns LG Studio and Signature Kitchen Suite.

Haier, based in China, owns Monogram. JennAir is owned by an American conglomerate, Whirlpool.

Yet Sub-Zero is the anomaly because it's family-owned and American-based in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Bakke family has owned Sub-Zero since its founding in 1945.

Westye Bakke built the first Sub-Zero refrigerator out of scrap metal in his basement to manage his son's diabetes.

All the Sub-Zero refrigerators are now made in their Arizona and Wisconsin factories.

Sub-Zero is also responsible for most refrigerator innovations worldwide.

They were the first to have professional refrigerators, integrated refrigerators, and wine units to store wine long-term.

Sub-Zero also invented counter-depth refrigerators and two compressor models.

Refrigeration is their heritage and specialty.

They are also manufacturers of Wolf cooking appliances and Cove dishwashers.

Sub-Zero Availability 2024


Sub-Zero was affected the most by the pandemic. In 2020-2023, you waited 12-18 months.

They were affected by their unique supply chain and their popularity. Home improvement was also popular because people couldn't travel.

In 2024, availability is much better. By the end of the year, you'll likely be able to buy a Sub-Zero refrigerator and have it installed within a week.

Now, let's look at why you should consider a Sub-Zero refrigerator.

10 Reasons to Choose a Sub-Zero Refrigerator

First, let's look at the main features and benefits of a Sub-Zero refrigerator.

1. Two Compressors


Sub-Zero was the first refrigerator with two compressors: one for the refrigerator and one for the freezer.

The air within the refrigerator and freezer compartments is contained separately.

This design ensures that odors and tastes from the refrigerator do not transfer to the freezer, and vice versa.

With two compressors, your frozen food will taste better.

Also, warmer refrigerator air never gets circulated to the freezer, which means there will be less frost in your freezer.

In a nutshell, the more stable the environment, the longer your food will stay fresh.

In 2024, most refrigerators have either two compressors or one compressor with two evaporators.

You will see a test of food preservation between these refrigerators later in the article.

2. Vacuum Seal Door


Sub-Zero has an active vacuum seal. Opening the door can be more challenging, but outside air does not infiltrate the refrigerator.

The vacuum seal's main benefit is that food stays fresh with less exposure to the warmer air outside.

The refrigerator drawers are magnetized to maintain food freshness by not letting air in or out.

3. GUI Temperature Screen Interface


A GUI temperature screen is like your phone's display.

You can control the temperature by one degree in the refrigerator and freezer.

Sub-Zero uses a variable-speed compressor and two fans, which creates less temperature deviation than other brands. The average refrigerator can deviate 5-10 degrees.

4. Air Purification Scrubber


When food spoils, it emits ethylene gas. Sub-Zero employs an antimicrobial air scrubber developed by NASA for the space shuttle.

This scrubs the air of ethylene, mold, viruses, and bacteria every 20 minutes.

This slows the spoilage process for your food. It also limits cross-contamination with other foods.

In 2024, air purification has become more common. It's almost a buzzword.

KitchenAid, Bosch, and Beko use filters. Thermador has crisper drawers designed to trap ethylene gases.

However, none are as efficient as Sub-Zero.

5. Magnetic Crispers


The refrigerator crisper drawers are designed to keep fruit and vegetables "crisp."

Sub-Zero has magnetized crispers, so they are completely close. Air cannot infiltrate into the crisper.

6. Spill-Proof Nanotechnology Shelving


Ever spilled any milk or soda in your refrigerator? You are finding those droplets for months afterward, even after a thorough cleaning.

Every shelf in a Sub-Zero is coated with nanotechnology to congeal spills.

This stops the liquid from spreading to other parts of the refrigerator.

7. Reliability

A Sub-Zero factory representative once asked me if there has ever been an instance where a Sub-Zero refrigerator was dead or non-functioning upon installation.

I could not remember any instance in my 32 years at Yale.

Every unit is tested before it ships. Most factories may test one or two units per manufacturing run.

8. Food Freshness

Our "Project Produce" experiment tested Sub-Zero along with Thermador, Samsung, Beko, and Bosch with identical fruit and vegetables.

Each company has unique claims of food freshness.

Sub-Zero won the experiment and had the freshest fruit and vegetables for over one month.

You can see the video here:

9. Many Design Options for a World of Possibilities


Sub-Zero offers the widest range of built-in refrigerator sizes among manufacturers, with options spanning from 18 to 48 inches.

You can choose any size in stainless, panel-ready for a custom cabinet front, or glass door options.

You also have several refrigerator and freezer options and columns in every series.

10. Sub-Zero Resale Value


I had lunch with an old friend from Hingham a few years ago. He was our lighting rep and later joined his family's lighting business.

He explained the process of selling his house. He was talking to his realtor about his home improvements.

She explained his house would sell better because it had a Sub-Zero and Wolf kitchen.

All the other improvements, like his lighting, would not resonate with potential buyers.

New Sub-Zero Refrigerator Features

Split Climate Intelligent Cooling System


Split Climate controls now use two fans to consistently optimize the refrigerator's temperature.

This ensures that every part of the refrigerator, including the crisper bin, stays within one degree of the set point.



"ClearSight" lighting is now under each shelf as well as overhead.

Temperature Controlled Crispers

You can now set the temperature for meats, fruit, or vegetables in each bin.


It's not new (new since the article), but Sub-Zero is now Wi-Fi enabled, so you can monitor temperatures and receive alerts on your phone.

What Features Sub-Zero Refrigerators Do Not Have

Stainless Interior


A stainless-steel interior that is easier to clean and more hygienic.

Custom Colors


Although Sub-Zero has many options, especially for panels, you do not have a custom color option. BlueStar has 1,000, and True has 14 plus six hinge accents.

5 Types of Sub-Zero Refrigerators

1. Pro Series

The Pro is available in 36-inch and 48-inch sizes. It is designed to look like a commercial refrigerator, with its restaurant look.

The Sub-Zero Pro series is only available in stainless steel with or without a window.

Remember that you generally do not want to place a commercial refrigerator in your house.

They are not designed for households.

Commercial refrigerators also use a ton of energy, are noisy, and do not have basic features like shelving on the door.

How Much Does the Sub-Zero Pro Series Refrigerator Cost?

The Pro Sub-Zero starts at $15,850 for 36-inch to $20,390 for 48-inch models.

Pro Tip: Pro and built-in refrigerators can weigh up to 800 pounds. They will indent your new floors if left in the middle of the room before installation. So, place it on a sheet of masonite.

You can find all sorts of delivery tips to prevent damage in our Free Delivery Checklist.


2. The Built-In Classic Series

The Classic series features a compressor on the top, like the Pro.

However, it can be ordered in several ways, from 30-inch columns to 48-inch French doors and side-by-side styles.

You can order it as a complete refrigerator or freezer in a 36-inch single-door size. Single-door bottom fridge-freezers are available in 30–36-inch sizes.

French doors (side-by-side doors on the top with a bottom freezer) are available in 36, 42, and 48-inch sizes. The 42-inch and 48-inch are also available with dispensers.

This series is available in all stainless steel or with a custom panel for your cabinet fronts.

How Much Does a Sub-Zero Classic Series Refrigerator Cost?

Prices start at $11,615 for a 36-inch model to $15,900 for a 48-inch model.

Differences Between Sub-Zero Pro and Classic Series Refrigerators

The Classic has more sizes and can be installed with custom panels to match your cabinetry. The Classic has an air purifier as well.

The Pro emulates a commercial or restaurant style refrigerator. It has more cubic footage with easily accessible crispers, an ice maker, and a freezer drawer.

The interior is all metal as well. Metal absorbs cold better and is more hygienic. The Pro costs $6,000-$8,000 more.

3. The Designer Series

The Designer Series is available in 18-inch to 36-inch sizes. All refrigerators, freezers, and fridge-freezer combinations are available in several configurations.

You can also customize your refrigeration to be placed anywhere.

You can have two-column refrigerators instead of a 48-inch refrigerator. For example, you can have a 30-inch refrigerator next to an 18-inch refrigerator.

The 30 and 36-inch units can also be ordered with two drawers for all refrigerators and different refrigerator/freezer combinations.

How Much Does a Sub-Zero Designer Series Refrigerator Cost?

The Designer Series starts at $8,205 for an 18-inch unit and goes up to $10,845 for the 36-inch over-under style.

Differences Between the Sub-Zero Designer and Classic Series Refrigerators

You can choose more options in the Designer series. In addition, the Designer Series is integrated and blends seamlessly with the cabinet.

The door will protrude in the Classic series, and you can see where the compressors are hidden.

However, with the added depth, the Classic series will have more cubic footage.

The compressors in the Designer series are totally hidden on the bottom, so they look great with custom cabinet panels to create a seamless look.

A Classic series refrigerator looks impressive in stainless steel.

4. Undercounter Refrigeration

Sub-Zero offers a wide range of undercounter refrigerators that cater to various needs and preferences.

In addition, Sub-Zero provides refrigerators and ice makers that are UL-approved for outdoor placement. Currently, Sub-Zero ice makers are not available.

5. Wine Storage

Earlier in the article, I said that Sub-Zero was the best storage for wine because it was designed for wine.

That seems like a strange statement,

However, the popularity of wine and wine units started in the 1990s. Most manufacturers just placed wine shelves in existing refrigerators.

Sub-Zero's wine coolers were designed from scratch with a Low-E door to refract harmful light.

Vibration can disturb the tannins in the wine, so Sub-Zero used roll-out shelves and mounted their compressor on grommets so it wouldn't vibrate.

Lastly, this refrigerator offers precise temperature controls that allow you to adjust the temperature by the degree, and it features two distinct cooling zones.

This is in contrast to many wine refrigerators, which typically have just a dial control and a single cooling zone.

Read More: Should You Buy a Sub-Zero Wine Cooler?

Are Sub-Zero Refrigerators Reliable?

Sub-Zero was the most reliable built-in refrigerator in 2022.

Most of service calls for Sub-Zero are installation issues, not product-related.

As I said earlier, in my 38 years at Yale, there has never been a Sub-Zero failure out of the box - a testimony to Sub-Zero's manufacturing and testing.

My parents had their first repair after 18+ years, and the Sub-Zero in my house has been working without repair for seven years.

Pro Tip: Ensure you clean the compressor at least once a year.

What's Included in Sub-Zero's Warranty?

Sub-Zero's warranty is amongst the best in the industry.

It's a five-year full warranty with 12 years on the sealed system components, compressors, and evaporators.

Sub-Zero Refrigerators vs. the Competition

This next section compares the best Pro, Classic, and Designer refrigerators.

Pro Refrigeration

There are fewer competitors for professional refrigerators than integrated and designer styles.

Energy efficiency could be a reason. It's harder to build the larger Pro series refrigerators to the tougher standards.

Monogram, Viking, BlueStar, and True are the only brands marketing a professional or classic built-in refrigerator.

Of those four, True, BlueStar, and Monogram are the best competitors.



True has new professional refrigerators. As a company, they have a profile similar to that of Sub-Zero.

They are family-owned, based in the US, and specialize in refrigeration. They are a large commercial refrigeration company.

You most likely removed a frozen item from a True freezer if you shopped in Whole Foods, Wegman's, or any other supermarket.

Their professional refrigerators have solid hinges and temperature controls similar to a Sub-Zero.

You can customize a True with 14 high-fashion colors and six accents.

So, if you want a color statement piece, consider True. It is a reliable refrigerator that is all stainless inside and out.

Yet, Sub-Zero has a better warranty, an ethylene air purifier, and more styles.

You also can't panel a True refrigerator.

Read More: True vs. Sub-Zero Professional Refrigeration



Monogram is now viable again after massive investment from its Chinese parent, Haier.

Their Air Tower cooling system provides sensors and vents for consistent temperature throughout the unit.

Their bins are like Sub-Zero displaying temperature, but they also allow you to "Express Thaw" or "Express Chill" your food.

So, you can super-chill that white wine before serving or thaw the package of chicken breasts in the bin.

Monogram has a lower price plus another $3,000 in rebates for other Monogram appliances with the refrigerator and a Monogram range purchase.

However, Sub-Zero has a better overall system for keeping food fresher longer with a tighter seal, magnetic crispers, air purification, and better nanotechnology shelves.

Read More: Sub-Zero vs. Monogram Refrigerators



BlueStar is the fastest-growing premium appliance company, mostly due to its high output ranges.

BlueStar redesigned their refrigerators with twin compressors, evaporators, and stainless-steel interiors.

For a unique refrigerator, BlueStar is available in 1,000 colors and eight trim styles.

BlueStar now has columns as well, starting at 18-inch widths.

BlueStar is interesting, but Sub-Zero still has a better seal, magnetic crispers, and an overall better system for preserving food.

Integrated Refrigerators

There is a wide variety of companies that manufacture designer-style and integrated refrigerators.

However, two brands dominate the appliance industry: Sub-Zero and Thermador.

In this section, we'll compare both.



Thermador is their main competition for integrated refrigeration. In this blog post, we compare the two refrigerators: Thermador vs. Sub-Zero Refrigerators.

Thermador has great features, such as customizable bins, a TFT interface, and a handless design. Their new models have stainless steel interiors.

Their 36-inch French door is extremely popular, while Sub-Zero doesn't market one in an integrated refrigerator.

Hopefully, Thermador will have a 42 and 48-inch French door bottom freezer by June.

Both fridges will have two ice makers and built-in cameras so you can view the inside. The 42-inch will be a 4-door, and the 48-inch will be a 6-door.

Yet, Sub-Zero still has a better seal, shelving, and air purification system.

Read More: Sub-Zero vs. Thermador Column Integrated Refrigerators

Is a Sub-Zero Refrigerator Worth the Money?

Sub-Zero is the best refrigerator sold at Yale and still the most reliable in its class.

Many competitive brands have improved, but none keep food fresh better than a Sub-Zero.

The features and branding are still the best in the industry.

That said, is it worth spending $10,000 plus on a refrigerator?

It depends.

I used to tell builders to buy Sub-Zero during recessions (pick one). It would help distinguish their properties from their competitors'.

In a seller's market, it's not as important.

For most of us, a $10,000+ refrigerator is not an option.

You can buy whole kitchens of affordable luxury appliances for less and have another $5,000 to spend.

However, if you're planning your dream kitchen or are a builder looking for the best brand to market your property, Sub-Zero is still your best choice and the best brand overall in the luxury market.

Sub-Zero Refrigeration


Answers to the most commonly asked questions about Sub-Zero refrigerators. 

What makes Sub-Zero refrigerators stand out?

How do I ensure a Sub-Zero fridge will fit in my space?

Are Sub-Zero refrigerators worth the investment?

What should I know before buying a used Sub-Zero refrigerator?

How can I troubleshoot a warm Sub-Zero refrigerator or freezer?

What are the maintenance requirements for a Sub-Zero fridge?

What warranty coverage does Sub-Zero offer?

Where can I find Sub-Zero refrigerators for sale?

Additional Resources

Expert advice is just one click away. Download our comprehensive Counter-Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide and make an informed decision on your next refrigerator. From Sub-Zero to Viking, get the lowdown on the best brands. Over 1 million people have found their perfect fridge with us. 

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve Sheinkopf is the third-generation CEO of Yale Appliance and a lifelong Bostonian. He has over 38 years of experience in the appliance industry, and he is a trusted source of information for consumers on how to buy and repair appliances.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

Steve is passionate about helping consumers find the best appliances for their needs, and he is always happy to answer questions and provide advice. He is a valuable resource for consumers who are looking for information on appliance buying, repair, and maintenance.

Despite being the worst goalie in history, Steve is a fan of the Bruins and college hockey, loves to read, and is a Peloton biker. The love of his life is his daughter, Sophie.

A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.