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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Samsung RF265ABRS French Door Refrigerator

Faithful readers of this blog are aware that Samsung appliances, even though they look great on paper, can be sometimes a hit or miss proposition. I can safely say that Samsung refrigerators are definitely a home run (especially with their French Door models). However like all high-performance appliances, you have to be prepared for some compromises, and they must be factored carefully before making a buying decision. Following the jump is my review of our RF265 (RF265ABRS) French Door stainless steel refrigerator.Samsung RF265ABRS Refrigerator in placeAlong with our recent kitchen renovation, we had planned on increasing the space for the refrigerator. This was to accommodate a larger 25-27 cu. ft. unit that are typically 36 inches wide and up to 74 inches tall.


We were leaning strongly towards Samsung. Not only because it would match our other appliances, but due to features, performance, price and reputation. While planning, we had plenty of time to shop around and compare, and we were willing to give a fair shake to other manufacturers. We began to establish our criteria by size, and then concentrated on making an initial selection based on the most energy efficient units using National Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency database. Curiously, Samsung was leading the field in the 24-26 cu. ft. category with the RF265-266 between 462 and 470 KwH per year for units at the higher end of capacity of 25.8 cu. ft. These are amazing numbers considering our (trashed piece of junk) Kenmore 18 cu. ft. bottom mount was rated at 650 KwH per year (and our ancient Eaton Viking 18 cu ft in the basement at 1200 KwH). What is really astonishing is how much energy efficiency has improved even in 8 years...especially when put into the perspective that you can get 50% more capacity and a 30% energy saving at the same time!

Comparing other manufacturers, such as the GE Profile, Kitchen Aid or Maytag, the Samsung came out on top for capacity, superior build quality, appearance and mainly price. We were also looking at $1000 to $2000 savings (mainly due to unneccessary gadgets like touchscreens), and to top it off, Samsung refrigerators have been getting glowing reviews both from consumers and publications like Consumer Reports.

To top it off, we found a brand new unit with exactly the features we were looking for at the Brault & Martineau liquidation centre in Brossard at about a $1000 discount when we factored in the free extended warranty that we dealed for. We ended up with the RF265ABRS Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator with no water dispenser as with the RF266ABRS (but with an ice maker). Because it was a liquidation model, we had to take delivery within a week, which meant keeping the unit in our garage for a few months until the renovations were complete.

This is one big mother*** of a refrigerator, and having it sit there seemingly taking up all the space in our garage, we began to have second thoughts... is this thing going to be too big for our kitchen? Not only that, we had quite a time getting it into the house.

After getting a strong enough dolly and with my son and son-in-law helping, we found out the damn thing would not fit through the front door. we began by removing the doors, then the freezer drawer and it still wouldn't go through (this thing also weighs in excess of 300 lbs.). After a bit of nail-biting, with this sinking feeling that it was definitely too late to return the unit, I removed the front leveling feet, and it (just barely) fit through the door.

Installation and Setup


After putting everything back together, we rolled the fridge in place, and let it settle for several hours (always a good idea for the refrigeration system). We breathed a sigh of relief as the cabinetry we designed perfectly accommodated the fridge, and it did not look anywhere near as imposing as we had originally feared. Not only that, the huge expanse of high-quality stainless steel was simply stunning, in perfect harmony with our dark grey polished granite countertops. It is definitely the showpiece of our kitchen! It looks considerably more expensive than the $1800 we paid!

Setting up was straightforward. I put a T splitter on the outlet of our under-counter reverse osmosis water filter system. With an inexpensive ice maker installation kit from the hardware store, I then ran a poly water line around the back of my kitchen cabinets to the fridge. This negated the need to use the built in Samsung filter system (let alone have to find and pay for replacements). However I could not find out from the manual if the internal water system would work without the built-in Samsung filter. A quick call to Samsung customer service, where they told me it runs fine without the filter in place, and to just throw away the first few batches of ice to purge. (For anyone not familiar with reverse osmosis filtration, ice doesn't get that gross freezer taste, and I highly recommend going this route).

After plugging in and turning on the unit, you are presented with pretty blue LED display of the current temperature of both the freezer and refrigerator. Controls are very simple, with simple up/down for desired temperature of both compartments independently (due to the twin cooling system), Power Freeze and Power Cool buttons, an "energy saver" button and a button to shut off the ice maker. Additionally, there is a 3-level control for the "Cool Select Pantry," which keeps temperature in the tray slightly warmer to slightly cooler than the fridge compartment.

Nothing else needed to be done except turn on the icemaker, and load the beast up with food. While our old refrigerator was packed and it was always a chore to get things pushed to the back, this refrigerator appeared positively empty with the same amount of food. The freezer compartment is particularly well designed, with a storage shelf mounted to the inside of the drawer, and a pull-out drawer that comes out automatically over the main storage bin that can be used for lighter items. The icemaker is particularly compact and does not take up much room. The ice capacity is huge.
Day-to-day with the refrigerator - and some pretty geeky features

After a couple of months of use, we are very impressed at the even and stable temperature in the refrigerator compartment. In our old Kenmore, it was always a struggle to find that sweet spot where items in the vegetable crispers wouldn't freeze while maintaining a sufficiently cold temperature on the shelves above. Some areas were noticeably warmer (door shelves) and this is no longer the case. It is hard to believe that this simple thing would make such a huge difference, but I would recommend this refrigerator for this alone.

Another nice feature is the door ajar warning. Since it can be hard to tell if a door is slightly open, a gentle chime starts chirping after a couple of minutes. Other features I appreciate are the independent temperature readouts for both the fridge and freezer, which eliminates the need for an interior thermometer, and the Power Cool system, which is useful when loading up the fridge or freezer with warmer items (thus preventing existing items from warming up or thawing).

Often stainless steel appliances can be very troublesome to clean (such as with the Samsung DMR77 dishwasher) but this unit is not only resistant to fingerprints, it polishes up beautifully with the 3M mineral oil based stainless cleaner and polish.

Not everything was rosy

Despite the accolades we are giving this appliance, we did encounter a problem. After about 6 weeks of use, we notice ice was building up in the freezer. This indicated either a blower fan or defrost malfunction. It was serious enough to require a manual defrosting. After emptying out the freezer and letting it completely defrost and dry and then resetting, evertything went back to normal. We haven't had any more problems with ice buildup after 4 weeks of this happening.. I suspect that the drain tubes or other parts of the defrost system iced up and blocked, or somehow the vents were blocked. This will be something that I will monitor closely, and if it happens again, I will call service.

Summary
Samsung entered the North American appliance market with refrigerators, and along with their washing machines and ranges provide top level performance, high-end build quality all at a lower cost. While customer service and parts availability remain issues to resolve in many areas, I can recommend this refrigerator without hesitation.

Strong Points

  • Even cooling throughout the refrigerator compartment
  • Huge capacity, no need for a second fridge
  • Independent temperature controls for refrigerator and freezer compartment, with current temp readouts
  • Door ajar chime
  • Energy efficiency - the least energy consumption in its class
  • Innovative hinged and magnetic door seals will not wear as quickly as standard seals
  • Easy to clean stainless steel. Stunning fit and finish.
Weak Points
  • Icemaker a bit slow (runs faster on Turbo Cool however)
  • Possible problem with ice buildup in freezer means manual defrosting and reset






20 comments:

Barry said...

I've been investigating Samsung counterdepth fridges as well as accompanying matching Samsung kitchen appliances. Lots of positive reports from retailers about Samsung brand. I really like the sleek contemporary styling & the prices are reasonable. My dilemna is that Samsung does not make a slide in range, only traditional range style. Does anyone know what other appliance brand would most closely match Samsung's stainless steel in color & brush pattern?

Random Royalty said...

@Barry

For a slide-in range that matches fairly close, take a look at Kitchenaid or Kenmore Elite.

We also liked the look of slide-n designs but decided against. The oven capacity is typically much smaller than a standard unit. They are also a potential safety hazard as little hands have ready access to the controls.

Barry said...

Thanks for quick reply. Oven space not an issue for non-cook like myself. Also no children for safety issues. How important is it to have all the appliances the same brand?

Random Royalty said...

@Barry

Well if you had good tools, maybe you would start cooking :-).

Aside from not having the look matching appliances, it should make no difference if you mix brands. We went all Samsung due to the positive experience with our range, but if Samsung refrigerators had bad reviews, we would have not hesitated to buy something else.

Now if I were to start over, I would definitely go for a Bluestar gas range (they have them at our Costco for $1899 CDN).

Richard said...

After 14 months and 3 refrigerators, I'm giving up. The RF265 and RF263 series refrigerators make loud popping sounds. I've been through two RF265s and one RF263, and they all make the same noise. The popping sounds are random, and wake the family in the middle of the night. Now my RF263 makes squeaks and cricket sounds. I've given up on Samsung refrigerators.

Tracey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracey said...

Hi there, our Samsung did form frost as well and we're trying to lower the temp to 2. How did you do the manual defrosting just in case we need to? Will it require us to turn off the whole refrigerator by unplugging it?

Random Royalty said...

@Tracey

Yes it required turning off (not unplugging), then pulling everything out of the freezer, including the tray and the drawer. It thawed pretty quickly, then it was just a matter of drying everything off.

So far this problem has not recurred, and our freezer is pretty jam packed.

Bala said...

Suddenly I've lost the door ajar chime in my new french door bottom freezer Samsung RF197ACWP Fridge. Did any one have this problem and how to fix it? Thanks Bala.

Random Royalty said...

@Bala

As far as I know there is no way to reset the chime. You can try unplugging the refrigerator for a minute or two and see if it resets. If not, you will likely need service.

Mike said...

can I ask you how long your fridge ran the first time you loaded it with food? My wife and I purchased the same fridge you bought, and it seems to be running longer than I would have expected.

Mike said...

can I ask you how long your fridge ran the first time you loaded it with food? My wife and I purchased the same fridge you bought, and it seems to be running longer than I would have expected.♦

Random Royalty said...

@Mike,

Wow what a question! I have no idea how long it ran. I remember however that I used the power cool and power freeze initially to get things going. As long as the temperature drops to where you set it, and it does not fluctuate everything should be OK (ours keeps its temperature rock solid).

McManus said...

I have this model and love it for the most part. However, the Cool Select Pantry drawer comes off the runners any time we try to open and close it. Samsung sent a repair guy and a new drawer unit, but the new one does the same thing. They're trying to tell me this is how it's designed.

Can some of you look at your drawer for me? If you look under the drawer when it's open, you can see the two tracks and the wheels that roll on the tracks when the drawer is being opened or closed. On ours, one of the wheels is completely on the track and the other is not. The wheels and tracks are not adjustable; they simply don't fit correctly.

It does this when full and empty. I'm shocked that this refrig has such great reviews with this problem. This is a major problem for me and Samsung isn't helping.

Thanks in advance for your help.

randomroyalty said...

@McManus

Ours does not exhibit this behaviour at all...what I suspect that if they changed your drawer and it still does the same thing, the runners on the fridge walls are not aligned right somehow.

terrileew said...

We love our Samsung RF265 as well, but had a problem after about a year with ice forming around the fan. It's now been another year and the fan noise is starting again. I'm concerned that this appliance is going to need an annual service call.

k.scott phillips said...

For anyone thinking about buying a Samsung fridge, this ice problem is an engineering flaw that Samsung makes consumers pay to address. If you research it online you will find that thousands of people have the same problem with their samsung french door fridge. Samsung has several class action lawsuits against them for selling junk and then refusing to make good on defective units.

k.scott phillips said...

There are several class action lawsuits against Samsung for their refrigerator problems. My french door has the same ice buildup problem. There are thousands of people online reporting the same problem. Samsung thinks that they can sell defective products and make the consumer pay to fix them with "improved" parts. If you are thinking about buying a Samsung, I would research carefully and consider another brand.

randomroyalty said...

@ k. scott phillips....

Could you please post any links to those class action lawsuits? I am sure readers of this blog would appreciate it.

I should also add that since my initial ice buildup problem, I have had no further incidents.

Unknown said...

We've had this fridge for about two years. We've been happy with its operation and ability to keep things to the correct temperature.

But: First off it was measured to be the same size as the fridge we were replacing, but it bulges on the sides and we had to trim the cabinetry to make it fit in the space. Also, after about 18 months the rubber strip around the doors began to crack and break at the thin overlap. Now, after two years since we bought it, we have a thin strip of gasget that dangles from the top of the left door. A replacement gasget is difficult to find and expensive.