What is in a name? Greater expense but less personal effort...
Recommend this product?
I should start by saying that I have always thought highly of KitchenAid appliances, having had good memories of their reliability and quality from the family kitchens of my youth. Therefore, about six months ago, I updated a kitchen in one of the family vacation places and the family vote was to go with KitchenAid. As it was not a complete renovation, it was decided a new full suite of KitchenAid appliances would give the place a better look despite only really needing a new dishwasher.
If you read through my other reviews, you will see that I also renovated another kitchen using appliances from IKEA. The thing is, KitchenAid, Whirlpool, and IKEA appliances are manufactured by the same company.
And unless it is really important for you to have the KitchenAid label on every appliance in your kitchen, having both versions of what are pretty much the same counterdepth side-by-side with different labels and slightly different features, I would probably choose the IKEA version over the KitchenAid based on design, features, and a huge difference in price.
Eerily Similar Designs
For over $1000 more than I paid for the IKEA Nutid, I expected some major differences in design and quality of the KitchenAid Architect II model. They are just not there. The exterior and interior layout are extremely similar. The doors of the IKEA Nutid and KitchenAid models are exactly the same except for the handles and the thru-the-door water/ice delivery details. The doors even have the same sharp folds and came wrapped with the exact same plastic protection wrap.
The interiors are almost identical except for the heavy white plastic trims used by KitchenAid. The IKEA interior actually seems to use space more effectively and is easier to see into more drawers clearly due to greater use of clear plastics and thinner bezels. Both machines have ice makers mounted on the inside of the freezer door. Both use the same water filters. Both have max-cool (called fast-cool by IKEA) and fast-ice modes (called holiday mode by KitchenAid) but KitchenAid buries these features inside the refrigerator where IKEA, smarter to my mind, lets you access them via buttons on the ice/water control panel.
The KitchenAid handle design matches their other Architect II appliances; white thick plastic handles. IKEA offers up stainless steel handles that just look higher end.
The KitchenAid provides what seems to be a slightly taller water and ice delivery opening with a neat screen that counts the ounces you are filling into a container, if you can trust it. The grey rubber activators are in the door and must be pressed inward; they are hard to use with anything but strong glasses/cups and weaker plastic cups bend trying to get ice or water so you have to use your hand to press the grey rubber activators inward. KitchenAid supplies a very nice stainless insert for the bottom of the opening to catch drips.
The IKEA opening is less deep, has a plastic insert on the bottom, and uses the more typical white plastic paddles that hang from the top of the opening to get ice and water. They are, to my mind, an improvement over the KitchenAid's grey rubber push switches that are, though bigger, harder to activate. The IKEA ice/water control panel provides complete access to all the device's controls, including temperature and various modes. KitchenAid splits these functions between the ice/water area and a control panel on the inside of the refrigerator.
Exterior dimensions are exactly the same (see specs below). Oh, and Ikea's warranty is only 5 years versus KitchenAid's 10 year sealed refrigerator compressor/evaporator parts warranty (see KitchenAid's website for details).
Even the electrical plug is identical; both units come with a flat-plug cord so the unit can fit snugly up to the wall even if the outlet for the electricity is directly behind the refrigerator.
A Full-Featured Side-by-Side
The KitchenAid KSCCK23FV is a full-featured side by side and the design is thoughtful, if similar to the IKEA. The exterior is smooth and glossy on the front doors which are completely flat and very simple. The sides and top are textured metal to reduce fingerprints showing. The back of the refrigerator/freezer is completely flat and covered with a seamless panel of galvanized metal. No bulk and easy to clean, the refrigerator moves easily forward and back on its built-in casters. As noted above, the power cord and plug are designed to be completely flat so that the appliance can be plugged into an outlet directly behind itself and remain flush to the wall.
Here are the specifications and features of the KitchenAid KSCK23FV Architect Series II Counterdepth Side-by-Side: (note that dimensions are the same as IKEA Nutid counterdepth model but the refrigerator interior of the KitchenAid is rated .1 cubic foot smaller)
-Exterior Ice & Cooled Water Delivery with Electronic Controls, Display and LED lighting
-dispenses crushed or cubed ice
-fully automatic and adjustable electronic touch controls with LED lighting on the ice-maker and interior-mounted control panel
-holiday mode for fast ice-production for a 24 hour period
-max-cool feature increases cold production for a 24 hour period to accomodate large loads from the supermarket
-Freezer-door mounted Ice Bucket dispenser increases available freezer space
-Tempered glass adjustable refrigerator shelves with "spill guard"
-adjustable, customizable refrigerator door shelving
-3 crispers, one with temperature control (you choose crispness level), one with humidity control
-clear, sealed butter compartment
-3 pull-out freezer baskets
-adjustable, heavy duty wire shelving in freezer
-multiple lights in the freezer and refrigerator
-door open alarm
-Pur water filter for ice & in-door water (1 is included, replacements are suggested every 6 months and run around $35 on-line) - the water filter removes with the push of a button
-Energy Star qualified
-14.0 cu ft refrigerator
-9.1 cu ft freezer
-electrical requirements: 15 or 20 amps, 60 Hz
-36" wide X 27.5" deep (including handle) X 68 3/4" high
Large Stuff Loads into the Doors Just Fine
Counter-Depth Side by Sides have positive attributes but also require compromises. At only 27.5" deep, these give a custom look by integrating with the rest of the kitchen cabinetry. It is easier to find things in a refrigerator when each shelf is not too deep and the interior fittings are glass or plastic. But, being shallower, a counter-depth appliance has less interior capacity than deeper side by sides. This is a 23.1 cu ft total appliance. This may a bit small to be the right refrigerator for a very large family. It is much more than adequate for a couple or a small family.
Some feedback from my own use:
-a pizza fits easily on a freezer shelf, as does a large turkey (but a large turkey does not readily fit in the drawers)
-the interior is smartly designed and holds more than it would appear
-adjustable refrigerator door shelves hold large soda bottles or milk
-you can place 24 .5 liter water bottles fits onto the refrigerator door shelves and have room for more items
-the freezer-door mounted ice bucket/dispenser greatly increases useable freezer shelf space
Easy to Keep Clean
This refrigerator's simple lines and painted finish make a it a breeze to keep clean. It helps, too, that the unit slides out easily on its own castors. There are no exposed coils in the rear to trap dust and dirt since the back is completely flat and smooth and covered with a seamless galvanized steel panel.
Dealer Handling and Service; You Get What You Pay For
A big plus with KitchenAid is that these appliances are available from full-service dealers who are able to deliver, install, and service the appliances. The service provided by our local dealer is impeccable and that is worth considering and paying for if it means something to you. Is it worth over $1000 extra? You must decide.
Unlike dealing with an IKEA appliance, the KitchenAid experience was effortless on my part. They rolled it in, removed the old appliance, set up the new one including hooking up the ice maker and water, and then took the old appliance away. It does not get any easier than that.
Documentation and Installation
The appliance comes with a specification sheet, installation instructions, instruction manuals, and the warranty agreement. The top hinges are exposed but very flat, keeping the front silhouette sleek.
The appliance was slightly noisy on the initial plugin when compressor and expanding/contracting components made metallic noises. This is normal and I recommend you read the owner's manual before you plug in the device so that you won't worry yourself unnecessarily. Once this ends, the refrigerator is quiet and no noisier than any other refrigerator I own or have owned. Of course, ice makers do make odd sounds as the ice falls into the storage bin and the water rushes in to fill the ice-making equipment. In normal operation, the fridge is no noisier or quieter than my IKEA and Whirlpool refrigerator/freezers in other kitchens.
I use professional plumbers to do all my water feeder line installation and plumbing work. The fridge uses a Pur filter that literally changes with the push of a button and is of a type readily available online for around $35. All push button release water filter fridges use the same design, I get the one that filters everything including cysts as you get increased protection for the same price (Whirlpool's website explains how all push-button filters are standard so even though a different model filter is standard, the better cyst-filtering model filter fits as well).
This refrigerator is, so far, very reliable and doesn't draw attention to itself. It is very easy to live with. Food is kept uniformly cooled without hot or icy spots in the interior. There is an interior port you can open for additional door cooling, a feature not found on the IKEA Nutid model but so far I have never had call to use it.
Recommended if the Additional Cost is not an issue...
Though this is a reliable unit, and a pleasure to own, please go compare KitchenAid to other units made by Whirlpool before you spend the extra grand on a KitchenAid -- $1000 is a great deal of money to spend as a premium for a brand name unless you feel you must have the white-glove services from the dealer.
As an owner of both, I can honestly say that, in my humble opinion, at $2350, this KitchenAid refrigerator is bested by the $1349 IKEA Nutid Counterdepth Side by Side despite a better warranty and an easier installation process.
Amount Paid (US$): 2350