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Fridge Frenzy: Smart Systems, Modular Designs Take Center Stage

It was a busy month for white-goods manufacturers and retailers, what with major back-to-back exhibitions — CES 2017 and the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show — and a wealth of new appliance product to share.

This year refrigeration was once again a centerpiece of the presentations, given its central role in the kitchen (the new hearth of the home), and the host of new modular designs and high-tech trappings.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

Dacor: The new Samsung subsidiary went columnar at KBIS with an all-new Heritage Column Refrigeration Collection. The separate refrigerator and freezer units are available in stainless steel and panel-ready configurations; feature an exclusive auto-open door requireing minimal touch; and received the prestigious 2017 E-Star Emerging Technology Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for utilizing environmentally safer refrigerant.

Electrolux: The majap maker’s latest French door, bottom mount fridge is counter depth yet affords 23 cubic feet of chill. Customizable Perfect Temp drawers provide a 28-to 38-degree cooling range; humidity-controlled crispers keep fruits and veggies fresh; and a Wave-Touch control panel activates upon touch and fades away to display only the selected program.

The unit also boasts glass shelves, easy-glide freezer drawers and a stainless steel finish.

GE Appliances: The new Haier subsidiary has entered the door-in-door fray. Their take, available in the GE and GE Profile lines, features a three-bin outer section that’s opened with a concealed handle hidden behind the main door’s badge. The company has also introduced its first modular refrigerator and freezer units under its premium Monogram handle. Its new Monogram Columns feature adjustable panels and flush installation, allowing a refrigerator and freezer pair to fit within the space of a 48-inch or 42-inch built-in fridge.

Haier: The latest brand on the GE block offered up a 33-inch quad-door, bottom mount refrigerator and 14.2-cubic-foot French door model with capacitive touch controls in Haier’s first showing since its parent company acquired GE in June.

LG Electronics: The company’s second-generation InstaView smart fridge can predict family activities based on past behavior, and, for example, automatically fill the ice tray at the time of day when cold drinks are most in demand, or initiate a four-stage sterilization system to extend food life when it senses temperature and humidity conditions that could promote spoilage.

Like its predecessor, the latest InstaView fridge features a 29-inch vertical touchscreen that becomes transparent with two knocks on the glass. But its newfound connectivity also allows users to: converse with Alexa, Amazon’s ubiquitous virtual digital assistant that has been integrated into the fridge; place food orders via webOS; stream video content; play music through a 10-watt Bluetooth speaker; and “smart-tag” food items by their expiration dates and alert owners when their time has passed.

Samsung Electronics: Samsung introduced the second generation of its acclaimed Family Hub refrigerator, which has grown from four to 10 models, including new three-door and four-door French door options which join the current four-door Flex offering.

The company incorporated advanced voice technology across many of the Family Hub 2.0’s apps, allowing owners to ask for the time and weather, add items to shopping lists, order groceries online, or manage to-do lists and calendar schedules.

Thermador: The BSH Appliance brand, a pioneer in modular design, has expanded and restyled its Thermador Freedom Collection of built-in, standalone refrigerators and freezers, from its Culinary Preservation platform. The 2017 lineup offers multiple options for mixing, matching or combining units for a customized configuration, including a 36-inch refrigerator column, a 36-inch freezer column, and a 23.5-inch refrigerator column that can fill a pre-existing cutout of 42 or 48 inches when matched with an 18- or 24-inch freezer column.

The new interior design features glass shelves and aluminum trim, and new handle options are sleeker with a bright chrome finish on the end caps. Owners may also opt for handle-less operation thanks to Open Door Assist, which opens the door with a push, and the updated columns also offer all-leg leveling for quicker installation.

True Refrigeration: The premium majap maker introduced custom finishes and hardware options for its full-size, stainless steel refrigerators, including The True 42 and The True 48, as well as its new 30-inch columns. The custom colors add new design options to True’s flagship products and enable homeowners and designers to customize their kitchens with “luxurious color combinations,” the company said.

Whirlpool: The world’s largest majap maker touted its take on door-within-door design with its latest French door fridge iteration. Whirlpool’s version features an active cooling system with a designated “Cold Space” that keeps milk and other drinks extra cold. The unit also revisits the company’s innovative, pantry-inspired shelving system that reportedly holds 30 percent more contents than its competitors, which is another reason the model took home honors in the CES 2017 Innovation Awards in the Home Appliances category.