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Dacor Renaissance Epicure EF36BNNFSS 19.8 Cu. Ft. French Door Stainless Steel Review$2,999.00
Ease of Access
The two different compartments have two very disparate levels of user access. The fridge employs shelves that slide out and plenty of open spaces, making food access a breeze. Since this is a counter-depth model, though, the pull-out freezer door doesn't extend that far. Bending down to get into bottom freezers is already difficult; the fact that this narrow space makes it harder to get your arms in is just an added nuisance.
Controls for this model are located at the top of the fridge interior, something we never expected to see on a refrigerator that costs this much. At the very least, the thermostats still manage to use actual degrees instead of an arbitrary scale. Everything on this fridge is controlled from the main panel except for the ice maker; that is managed using an old-fashioned wire switch attached to the ice maker itself.
Internal controls are never really approved of on high-end fridges, but at least the manufacturers have done a decent job designing them. Despite not having actual buttons to press—they're really just markings on a plastic covering—the controls are actually quite responsive. As long as you can reach them, getting this fridge to work according to your desires shouldn't be at all difficult.
While opening the fridge door to get at the water dispenser is a little convenient (not to mention a small waste of energy), the dispenser itself is very easy to use. You hold a cup under the spout, push the button, and out comes the water. It's low-tech, low-brow, and gets the job done.
The old-fashioned ice maker is found inside the freezer compartment in the upper left-hand corner. You turn it on or off by flipping the large wire switch. Since the freezer itself is so shallow, the ice maker—and, as such, the switch that activates it—is fairly close to the front.
Two design choices make keeping this fridge clean a snap: sliding shelves and rubber mats. The fridge shelves not only have a small lip around the edges for spill containment, they can slide forward. This means you can bring the spill to you instead of trying to take the shelf off and dripping it everywhere. Also, not only are the door shelves completely contained and removable, they also have rubber mats on the bottom. These are supposedly dishwasher safe, and very easy to clean...though getting them out isn't always the easiest thing in the world. There's one major negative thing that needs mentioning, though: the freezer shelves are all wire and there's no bottom to the portion that pulls out. If, for instance, you have a bag of frozen vegetables that has a rip in it, there's nothing to keep them from falling out all over your kitchen floor as soon as the door opens.
It's certainly not a loud fridge by any means. That said, the ambient hum of this particular model was a bit louder than its neighboring products. If you've got a very quiet kitchen, you'll definitely know this machine is on, at least if you're standing in the same room with it.