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kitchenaid kbfs22ewms7 22 cu. ft. fd fridge review.

11 years ago

I have only had this fridge for a few days but thought my initial impressions might be helpful to others who are looking for a mid-size (22 cu. ft) FD rerigerator.

I bought this FD model to replace a 15-year-old Maytag top-freezer. Basically, I am remodeling the kitchen and wanted/needed a larger capacity fridge. I decided on a FD model because my old-house kitchen is narrow. So narrow that opening the door on the old Maytag blocked the kitchen entirely. What I really wanted was a counter-depth model, but all of the larger capacity ones were way beyond my budget. With that budget in mind I narrowed my choices down to Whirlpool-made FD fridges. I might have considered one of the new GE units being produced in the Louisville plant but those do not seem likely to be readily availble for a month or so.

Through what seemed to be a fluke in pricing at my local Lowe's (more on that later), I wound up with the stainless version of the KA KBS22. This fridge is made by Whirlpool in its plant in Amana , Iowa along with the FD and bottom-freezer fridges for its corporate siblings, Whirlpool, Whirlpool Gold, Amana and Maytag (and possibly some of the fridges that Sears sells under its Kenmore brand). As far as I can tell, the KA KBFS22 uses the same sealed system and running components as the other 22 cu. ft. and 24 cu. ft. Whirlpool-built FD and BF models such as the Whirlpool Gold GX2FHD and GBF22 , and Maytag MfF2258. It seems to be the same componentry used in the 25 cu. ft. models, as well.

There are differences in internal fittings, with the Kitchenaid models having slightly more robust bins and shelves, a few more features, and a longer warranty on the sealed-system. (There are some Maytages out there with a similar warranty but all the new ones only seem to have a 1 year general and five year sealed-system warranty.) All of these FD and BF fridges come in white, black and stainless steel (with painted cabinets.) Although I do not care for the "industrial chic" of stainless steel, I find myself being pushed in that direction. When I recently bought a new stove, the models I liked came only in stainless. Also, the stainless KA KBFS22 which normally lists for several hundred dollars more than its corporate brandmates, was on sale through the local Lowe's for less than the the cost of other WP FD models. Unlike the other models, Lowe's had them in stock and offered a rebate, too. (The online price is still less than AJ Madison's, which I found surprising, but maybe Lowe's have an overstock.) At that point, I was done with shopping. I bought one and drove it home.

Performance seems very good, so far. Consumer Reports gives all of the Whirlpool-made 22 and 25 cu. ft. models "excellent" ratings for temperature performance in fridge and freezer and "very good" ratings for energy efficiency. has tested the white and stainless versions of the 22 cu. ft. Whirlpool conventional door bottom-freezer (GB2FHD) and the 25 cu. ft. Maytag FD (MFF2258. Both models were found to have have excellent temperature performance and had very even temperatures top to bottom in botht he freezer and fridge sections. The tests reports had the stainless 22 cu. ft. conventional door-bottom freezer models with slightly more even temperature performance than the white version and the larger FD Maytag.

I ran my own tests using a glass of water with a remote probe thermometer. With an empty fridge, after the 24 hour run-in and stabilization period, I found that the fridge's digital readout is pretty accurate (+/- 1/2 degree F) and that the temperature is even top to bottom in the shelves. The KA has digital controls with temperature settings and readouts. The other WP-made fridges in this line (both BF and FD) all use an arbitrary 1-7 scale. The KA allows me to set the fridge temp to, say, 37F where the setting would be 3 or 4 on the others.

Although I found the temperature settings to be accurate when the fridge was empty, I've found them a degree or two off when the fridge is packed for normal use. With the temperature set to the recommended 38F, I found food was chilled to 40F. When I set the temp to 36F, pretty much everything was at 37F which I what I've always thought to be the ideal fridge temp. The crispers register 39F which seems good. My old Maytag kept the crispers at 40F and that seemed to keep greens fairly fresh for weeks.

I do not have a sound-level meter so I cannot give a precise rating on the noise this fridge produces. CR rated this fridge as "average" for noise levels. rates the similar WP and Maytag models as very quiet. Some posters here at GW have reported that other makes of fridge, such as Samsung, are virtually silent. Some on-line reviews of this and similar WP-made fridges say these fridges are very noisy; others say they are very quiet. I gather, some people get noisy fridges but most do not. I definitely hear and notice the fridge noise when I'm in the kitchen and nothing else is going, but it is not very loud. To me, the noise level is less than the computer case cooling fans for my heavy-duty video editing workstation when the computer is idling. (The fan noise can ramp up on the workstation when it is under heavy load). When I am in the dining room that adjoins the kitchen, I may notice the fridge running but only if I listen for it. The noise is not obtrusive. (I gather that the ice-maker can clunk and thonk, but I am not using it and cannot comment further on that aspect.) While this KA is not silent, it is far quieter than my old Maytag ever was.

The freezer section in the WP-made 22 cu. ft. bottom-freezer fridges seem small to me. The KA is no exception. The manufacturer specs claim 6..3 cu. ft. but that seems to be a measurement of the cavity rather than the usable space in the two wire freezer baseket-drawers. I'm not using the ice maker and am guestimating that the usable space is maybe 4 cu. ft., maybe a bit less. RefrigeratorInfo reported 2.88 cu. ft of usable space in the freezer after subtracting out the entire upper left quadrant where the ice-maker and tray sit. CR reported 5 cu. ft of usable capacity.

For me, the smallish freezer section is not a problem because I have a stand-alone freezer in the basement for bulk buying ---- such as repacked large quantity purchases from Costco, the annual side of beef, the hog, etc. --- and for long term storage. I only use a fridge freezer for near-term storage and overflow. If this were your only freezer and you shop at Costco or do bulk-buys that need freezing, this fridge's freezer capacity might not be enough.

CR says these WP-made fridges have very good to excellent crisper performance. reports that the Maytag FD model lost moisture from its crispers at the rate of .12 gph (twelve-one hundreths grams per hour) which they say is outstanding. The results for the two BF models differed, the stainless one showing an even more outstanding .11 gph moisture loss while the white one showed a more average .19 gph. (The site has no explanation for the differing results between two otherwise identical models. There may have been measurement issues as the reviews seem to have been done by different people at different times, or WP quality control may be slipping.). Humidity retention in the crispers is a good thing if, like me, you buy a bale of spinach in a monthly trip to Costco. The former fridge, a 15-year old Maytag top-freezer model, had excellent crisper performance. So far, this KA's crispers seem to be at least the equal, if not better than, my old Maytag's crispers.

The crispers are clear plastic boxes with the front framed in white plastic. They seem more durable than the ones on my old Maytag. In comparison to other current WP-made models of fridges, the KA ones seem slightly more robust than the ones I saw in the Maytag and Whirlpool Gold FDs, and definitely better than the ones I saw in the BF fridges. The crispers slide in slots rather than on rollers. I've read other reviews where some people complained that the crispers were cheaply made and fragile, did not slide easily, and that the the fridge doors did not open wide enough to allow removal of the crisper drawers. The drawers are definitely cheap, but I've had no problems with fragility, sliding or removal of the drawers.

The fridge section has four, adjustable half-width glass shelves. Each is rimmed with a white plastic lip (called "spill catcher" by the marketing flacks.). I find them fairly easy to re-position. My old Maytag had a shelf that could be repositioned with a crank, but the new KA does not. Only two of the shelves are slide-outs. I would have liked them all to be slideouts. I find the slide-outs handy because this KA is about 3 inches deeper than the old Maytag it replaced. That is just deep enough to be a problem for me when I pack a shelf, as I do. (This will be less of a problem next year when I have time to get back to canning and do not have to store as much in the fridge.)

There is an open-door alarm and an over-temperature alarm. I did not see these features mentioned for the other, similar WP-made fridges, so these may be up-market upgrades for the KA models, like the digital thermometer read-outs. I have not tested either alarm. I note that only the left door seems wired to the open-door alarm. (That may or may not be significant. I do not know how the alarm works.)

The left hand door definitely needs to be pushed to close, which is different from what many people have come to expect with conventional door and SxS fridges. I find only the right hand door is pretty much self closing. The freezer drawer also needs positive pressure to close. Some reviewers of the WP-made FD fridges have reported problems with leaving a door or freezer drawers slightly ajar. This has not been a problem for me but YMMV.

There is a "Max Cool" button on the control panel. When pressed, Max Cool enables a rapid cooling and freezing function. Seems handy for preventing freezer burn and ice build-ups when you bring home a large amount of stuff that needs rapid freezing or cooling. It seems to work by dropping the fridge temp to 33F and the freezer to -6 F. Judging from user manuals, it seems that other WP-made fridges in this size lack this.function.

There is a "Humidity Control" button that switches on a heater to prevent moisture build-up on the doors. I live in a pretty dry area so I have not tested this function.

Like many models of FD fridges, this one has a full-width deli drawer with its own temperature control. Full-width deli-drawers have generated a fair amount of commentary and seem to be a particular sore point for people who do not care for FD fridges. A big gripe is that both doors have to be opened to access the deli drawer. I find that I can open one of the doors, lift the flap on the deli-drawer and grab something from the front portion. Both doors have to be opened in order for the drawer to slide out for access to things in the back part of the drawer.

Overall, I like the deli drawer. It has a much larger capacity than the deli-drawer in my old Maytag. Like the deli drawer in my old Maytag, this also has temperature controls that allow it to be held at a sightly cooler temp than the rest of the fridge. (Being at the bottom of the fridge compartment probably helps, too.) I like this a lot for keeping the cured meats and sausages that I make. One thing about the drawer, though, is at it is only about 3 and 1/2 inches tall. If you buy large wedges of cheese, as I sometimes do, you may have to divide and repack them into two packages to get it the cheese into the deli drawer. (A recent wedge of Jarlsberg from Costco was 4.5 inches thick at the wide end; I have to cut it into two and repack them for that cheese to fit in the drawer.)

This fridge comes with six removable door bins, three for each door. All of the bins are clear plastic with a gray non-slip liner for the bottom. The liners can be removed for cleaning. For the right side door, there is one bin that will hold two gallon jugs of milk Inside dimensions are 12 inches across and 7 inches deep. (I have not yet tested the temps in the bins so I do not know if I would keep milk on the door.) A second bin is narrower (about 5 and 1/2 inches deep); I would call a "half-gallon" jug-holder. The third right-side bin has a flip up clear plastic cover and presumably can be used for butter or eggs. It looks like it will hold four or five pounds of butter The left side bins are not as wide (about 10-inches wide inside dimension). There is one that is about 7 inches deep (so maybe a couple of gallon juice jugs which tend to be narrower and taller than milk jugs). The other two right side bins are about 5 inches deep. If you have a lot of condiment bottles and jars, it might be worthwhile buying another right side bin. Sears Parts Direct seems to have them for about $25 each.

I cannot comment on the ice maker and water dispenser as I have not connected them. This winter, I might consider adding a water tap in the wall behind the fridge as there is already a cold water line running through that wall (it serves a tub on the other side of the wall.) Or, I might not. I rarely use much ice and our tap water is about 45F, already. (That happens when you live in mountain town.) Ice and water dispensers are the most common source of complaints about fridges, so why court trouble? On the other hand, I have friends who see refrigerators as nice add-ons to their through-the-door ice and water dispensers.

Ths fridge is about 3 inches taller than my old Maytag. If you have a kitchen with a refrigerator nook which was constructed back in the days when fridges were 66 inches tall, you might have trouble fitting this KA fridge into the opening. This fridge also projects a couple of inches further out into the room than the older fridge. The 22 cu. ft. fridges were almost too deep for my narrow kitchen. The 25 cu. ft. WP models are even thicker and the Samsung 26 cu. ft. models (which I liked for reasons including the dual evaporators) were just plain too massive for my small kitchen. As I said above, what I really wanted was a counter depth fridge, but the larger ones were too far outside my budget.

Another thing to be aware of in fitting the fridge into existing cabintry is that the door fronts have a kind of false-front effect. Like the store-fronts on old-west false-front buildings, the tops of the doors extend about 2 1/2 inches above the top of the cabinet. This hides the hinges when the fridge is viewed from the front.

Appearance-wise, the front of this KA has shiny brushed stainless steel doors. These are relatively more impressive looking than the "fingerprint resistant" metallic finish that passes for stainless on some appliances. Of course, the trade-off is that a "real" stainless finish does show smudges from everything and anything that touches it. Keep a microfiber cloth and cleaner or windex handy.

The cabinet top and sides are painted a textured, metallic gray, When I saw the floor model in the store, the grey seemed to be a light shade that coordinated well with the stainless steel doors. At home, however, the shade seemed considerably darker, akin to the slate color that VIking used to use for their fridges. (Maybe they still do?) Anyway, it is darker than I like. It almost makes me wish I had paid extra and waited a couple of weeks to get a white fridge. (Now, there's a pricing oddity, eh?) I will say that the gray cabinet is less annoying to me than than the black sides used on the other 22 cu. ft. Whirlpool-made stainless models. The 25 cu. ft. models use the same gray as on my KA, so I'm guessing that WP apparently thinks the gray shade is more upmarket. My guess is that the designers probably thought that this fridge would be sitting in the middle of a wall with upper and lower cabinets and countertops concelaing most of the sides, .or maybe sitting in a corner with a wall on one side and cabinets/counters on the other side. When the one year warranty on the exterior runs out, I may consider painting it with a lighter gray. Or, instead, maybe Ill make a faux cabinet enclsoure that looks like an extension of the wall cabinet above the fridge.

The warranty on this fridge is the standard one-year parts and labor with a non-standard 10-year warranty on the sealed system components. I did not get a separate extended warranty. If the electronics on the intergrated circuit board go a year from now, it will be far less expensive for me to buy a new board and swap it in myself. (I checked on this). The only thing I cannot fix is a sealed system component. For the controller board, I am considering getting an appliance surge protector, but have not gotten far in my research. (Boy howdy does the subject of appliance surge protectors stir some virulent passions! A lot of heat with very litle light.)

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