$10,000 built-in refrigerator ranks last in our Ratings

$ 10,000 built-in refrigerator ranks last in our Ratings

Consumers willing to spend ten grand on a refrigerator might not be too concerned about annual energy costs. But at Consumer Reports we take energy efficiency seriously, and so models that consume a lot of power relative to their capacity in our tests get dinged. That was the case with the Fhiaba Series MG Stand Plus MG8991TST6/3U, a $ 10,000 Italian-made refrigerator that landed at the bottom of our built-in refrigerator Ratings, with an overall score of 27 out of a possible 100.   

In our tests, energy efficiency reflects power consumption per cubic foot of measured usable storage space. Two models could have the same annual energy costs, but if one has less usable storage it gets a lower efficiency score. Built-ins as a category tend to be less roomy than other types of refrigerators. This Fhiaba bottom-freezer is especially so, with just 13.1 cubic feet of usable capacity, based on our measurements. The lack of space hurt its energy efficiency score, which could also be a factor if you have a large household with significant food-storage needs.

Storage capacity aside, Fhiaba’s built-in consumed a lot of electricity in our tests—829 kilowatt hours per year to be exact. That translates into an annual operating cost of $ 98, or about $ 1,000 over a 10-year period, making it $ 400 more expensive to operate over the same period than the top-scoring built-in in our Ratings, the Thermador Freedom Collection T36BB820SS, $ 7,400.

Our energy measurements tend to be higher than what’s on a refrigerator’s yellow EnergyGuide label, because our tests differ from those mandated by the Department of Energy. The Fhiaba did not come with an EnergyGuide label, however, nor is one posted on the company’s website, despite a new federal rule requiring manufacturers and retailers to make labels available online. The Fhiaba website does list an annual energy consumption of 398 kWh per year, but that figure is based on European standards, according to the company.              

Fhiaba also informed us that this model is currently going through the third-party certification required for an EnergyGuide label, but the federal law clearly states that appliances should not be sold until this process has been completed. We are in the process of notifying the DOE, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates appliance labeling.   

Even if energy efficiency isn’t your top priority, the Italian built-in still might not be your best bet. Though it offers very good temperature control and quiet operation, the pricey refrigerator is short on convenience features that are available on models costing as little as $ 1,500, including gallon door storage, spillproof shelves, and a water dispenser with built-in filtration.

Check our refrigerator Ratings for built-in refrigerators that offer those features, as well as top performance and energy efficiency, often for thousands of dollars less.

—Daniel DiClerico

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S.

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