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Sub-Zero vs. Thermador Integrated Refrigerators

Steve Sheinkopf  |  March 06, 2014  |  7 Min. Read

Refrigerators  |  Integrated Refrigerators

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An integrated refrigerator is a refrigerator designed to be built into your cabinetry. This style of refrigerator can accept a custom panel to match your kitchen cabinetry or have a stainless steel front.

It differs from a regular counter depth, because it fits inside a 24 inch cabinet. In a regular or pro unit, the door and handle will protrude. 

modern kitchen with integrated refrigerator
traditional kitchen with integrated refrigerator

Integrated refrigerators are now offered by Gaggenau, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Liebherr, Miele, Sub-Zero, Thermador, and Viking. In this article I will compare the two most popular, the new Sub-Zero IC series and Thermador 36’’ integrated bottom mount refrigerators.

36’’ bottom mount refrigerators are the most popular configuration in the integrated market. Today, many people prefer the refrigerator on the top because they have easy access to fresh foods and produce. A 36’’ refrigerator is the most common refrigerator size in many kitchen designs.

Sub-Zero and Thermador are the best and most popular names for integrated refrigerators. Let’s see how the new unit from Sub-Zero compares to the popular Thermador.

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Sub-Zero is one of the largest family-owned appliance companies in the world, founded in 1945 in Madison, Wisconsin. They are extremely well-known for their built-in refrigeration. Sub-Zero was a forerunner in the built-in refrigeration market. It gained popularity due to its dual refrigeration system. This system relies on two separate cooling systems for the refrigerator and the freezer. They also were the first to market an integrated refrigerator in 1994.

In 2014 Sub-Zero introduced their new integrated refrigerators. This series combines the air scrubber from the built-in series, with the integrated profile of their previous 700 series integrated refrigerators. The new integrated series is designed to sit flush in a 24’’ cabinet, comes in 18", 24", 30", 36" widths, has an internal dispenser on select models, and a new water purification system.

subzero-stainless-integrated-refrigerator-IT36CIT-36CIID-LH - $7749


  • Dual Compressor and Evaporator
  • Accepts custom or stainless steel panels
  • Double freezer drawers for optimal organization
  • Full height door - True cabinet integration without exposed venting grille
  • Internal water dispenser (optional)
  • Air purification system scrubs air of ethylene keeping food fresher longer
  • Crystal interior with nano-coated spill-proof shelving
  • Soft close doors and drawers
  • Soft-on LED lighting gradually illuminates refrigerator interior
  • Smart-touch control panel for user-friendly precise temperature management
  • Low temperature and high humidity controlled storage crispers



Thermador is a premium brand owned by the BSH Corporation. The BSH Corporation is one of the largest appliance companies in Europe; they own Thermador, Bosch, and Gaggenau. Thermador is gaining popularity in the United States market due to their luxurious cooking and refrigeration products; you will immediately recognize their star burners on the professional gas cooktops and ranges.

Thermador has been a successful manufacturer of integrated refrigeration and the first to produce columns. Like Sub-Zero, Thermador manufactures a refrigerator with a dual refrigeration system. One of the biggest features on the Thermador refrigerators is the hinge system. Thermador integrated refrigerators will sit flush in a 24’’ cabinet without a large gap around the sides. These refrigerators require very small hinge clearance because the hinge pops forward when the door opens. Thermador produces integrated refrigeration products in 18", 24", 30", 36", 42", and 48’’ widths.

thermador-stainless-integrated-refrigerator-T36IT800NPThermador T36IT800NP - $6999 (panels and handles extra)


  • Dual Compressor and Evaporator
  • Accepts custom or stainless steel panels
  • True Flush/Full Height Door Panels
  • FREEDOM(R) Hinge enables true flush design
  • Full height door - True cabinet integration without exposed venting grille
  • Electronic controls for precise temperature management
  • Extra bright LED interior lighting
  • Full width meat drawer
  • Carbon air filter reduces odors and keeps air clean and fresh
  • Full length cantilever racks for ultimate adjustability
  • Full width glass shelves with metal trim
  • Full extension drawers at 90(degree) door opening angle
  • Gallon door bins
  • Large capacity freezer drawer
  • Filtered ice-maker
  • SuperCool - Chills food quickly
  • SuperFreeze - Freezes food quickly
  • Sabbath mode
  • Economy mode
  • Vacation mode
  • Door open alarm
  • ENERGY STAR(R) Qualified
  • 19.5 Cu. Ft.

Sub-Zero vs. Thermador: Which is Better?

One of the most common questions I receive when selling refrigerators is “Why would you want an integrated refrigerator?”

To most customers their decision to purchase an integrated refrigerator is largely a decision based on design. However, both the Sub-Zero and Thermador refrigerators give the customer more value than just a built-in look.

Both brands have dual refrigeration systems. This means no air transfer from the refrigerator to the freezer. As a result, food stays fresher for longer.

Sub-Zero Highlights

  1. Air purification system now available in the integrated series removes ethylene gas from perishable foods keeping them fresher for longer
  2. Internal water dispenser with new water purification technology gives you fresh water internally, great for those who aren’t too crazy about the external dispenser models
  3. 2 years full, 5 years limited, 12 years compressor warranty

Thermador Highlights

  1. Thermador hinge system allows for seamless flush installation in a 24’’ cabinet
  2. Great rebate promotions with purchase of select Thermador appliance packages

I really think Sub-Zero has the technological edge with the water filter as well as the air cleaner. The internal dispenser is a good feature as well. Thermador, however, is one of our most reliable brands and has better prices and promotions.

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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.

Steve Sheinkopf

My goal has always been simple: I want Yale to be the best retail experience anywhere. I have tried to create a compelling environment for customers and employees alike.

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