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Is a Sub-Zero Refrigerator Worth the Money? (Prices / Reviews / Ratings)

Neil Katz  |  February 25, 2019  |  8 Min. Read

Sub-Zero  |  Refrigerators

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You are probably wondering, "Is Sub-Zero really worth it?"

Do you really need a $9,000+ refrigerator in your kitchen? My answer is, it depends. After all, you can buy two complete Bosch kitchens and have plenty of money left over.

Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen

However for higher-end renovations, Sub-Zero has distinguished their brand versus others in the premium space like Thermador, Viking, and Jenn-Air with better features.

So why Sub-Zero? We will look at their features and overall value proposition, and then you can decide whether the product is right for you and your family.

You will also see a comparison between Sub-Zero and their competitors Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, and Thermador.

Who is Sub-Zero?

Sub-Zero is a third generation family-owned company based in Madison Wisconsin with manufacturing in Scottsdale, Arizona. They are credited with manufacturing the first professional counter depth refrigerator. 

In other words, Sub-Zero was the first company to produce a refrigerator that does not protrude into your kitchen. They would be the only major company to do so for 20 years. This would develop a strong relationship with kitchen designers and cabinet companies who still currently specify the product. Over the years, they have pioneered integrated refrigeration as well as professional refrigerators. 

Integrated Sub-Zero Refrigerator with Panel Options in Live Kitchen-1.jpg Integrated Sub-Zero Refrigerator with Panel Options.jpg

Integrated Refrigeration

Bi-36 Professional Sub-Zero Refrigerator with Glass Door in Live Kitchen.jpg Sub-Zero Professional Refrigerator BI-36UG.jpg

Professional Refrigeration

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Let's look at features. 

Sub-Zero Features

As I said before, there are plenty of counter depth refrigerators on the market, but none with features of a Sub-Zero. Let's look at the main features and benefits.

Two Compressors

Sub-Zero Compressors DualRefrigeration.jpg

Sub-Zero Compressors

Although this is no longer proprietary, Sub-Zero has two compressors, one for the refrigerator and one for the freezer. There is no commingling of the moist refrigerator air with the dry freezer air. 

Typically, the moist air will migrate to the freezer, so the odors and tastes from the refrigerator, like fresh fish, would be evident in your ice cream and ice. 

Two compressors solve that problem and your frozen foods will taste better. AS an FYI, most integrated brands now have two compressors. 

Most professional style, top mount refrigerators still have one compressor. For regular refrigerators, Samsung has two evaporators and one compressor to cycle air in each compartment. 

Vacuum Seal 

Sub-Zero has an active vacuum seal. It is tougher to open, but outside air does not infiltrate into the refrigerator. The main benefit of the vacuum seal is that food stays fresher for a longer period of time. 

The refrigerator drawers are magnetized for the same reason. 

GUI Temperature Screen Interface 

the temperature can be set to 1 degree in both the refrigerator or freezer using a GUI (like your phone) interface. Sub-Zero has less temperature deviation than other brands. 

Air Purification Filter

Sub-Zero Air Scrubber.jpgAir Purification System

When food spoils, it emits an ethylene gas. Sub-Zero employs an antimicrobial air scrubber to scrub the air of ethylene, mold, viruses, and bacteria every 20 minutes. Thus, the spoilage process is slowed. Other foods are not cross-contaminated with gases from other spoiling foods, so they last longer as well. 

Nanotechnology Shelving


Ever spill any liquid in your refrigerator? You are finding that liquid for months afterward. Every shelf in a Sub-Zero is coated with nanotechnology, so spills congeal and do not spread to other parts of the refrigerator. You will like this feature, especially if you ever spill milk.


A Sub-Zero factory once asked me if there ever was a Sub-Zero dead upon installation. I could not remember any instance in my 32 years at Yale. Every unit is tested before it is shipped. Most factories may test one or two units per manufacturing run. 


Sub-Zero has arguably the most cachet of any residential product. In many ways, appliance manufacturers have understood the value of branding better than tile, cabinet, and countertops in the kitchen. 

It is more valuable to have the Sub-Zero brand name than an equally good cabinet manufacturer like a Woodmode or Siematic. Prospective buyers of your property will correlate the Sub-Zero with premium construction far more than any other name. 

Sub-Zero Design Contest - Live Kitchen.jpg
Beautiful kitchen. You know the appliances, but what are the names of the cabinets and tile?
Why Buy a Sub-Zero Refrigerator?

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Sub-Zero vs. The Competition

For the commercial style, Sub-Zero is better than Jenn-Air and KitchenAid because of their features like air scrubbing (the air purification system), their better shelving, and their temperature controls.

Thermador is their main competition for integrated refrigeration. We compared the two refrigerators in this blog post: Thermador vs. Sub-Zero Refrigerators

Thermador has some great features with their customizable bins and handless door design. However, Sub-Zero still has a better seal, shelving, and air filter. 

As for price, the difference between Sub-Zero and their competitors is roughly $2-4,000. 

Is Sub-Zero Worth the Money?

Sub-Zero is the best refrigerator sold at Yale. The features and branding are the best in the industry. That said, is it worth the money? It really depends.

I used to tell builders to buy Sub-Zero during the recession because it would distinguish their property versus their competitors. In a seller's market, it is not as important for builders.

For most of us, a $9,000 refrigerator is not an option. You can buy whole kitchens of affordable luxury products for less and have $5,000 to spend. 

However, if you are planning your dream kitchen or you are a builder looking for the best refrigerator, Sub-Zero is your best choice without question

Additional Resources

Want to learn more about Sub-Zero and Counter Depth Refrigerators? Get our FREE Yale Counter Depth Buying Guide with features, specs, and complete breakdowns of integrated and professional counter depth refrigerators from Sub-Zero, Thermador, Viking, Jenn-Air, GE Monogram, and more. Over 270,000 people have read a Yale Guide. 

View our counter depth refrigerator buying guide

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A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Neil Katz

Neil Katz has been in appliance sales at Yale for over 25 years. Neil spends time following the Sox and Patriots and watching the stock market.

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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.

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