Electrolux EI23CS35KS Counter-Depth Refrigerator Review
Not a standout counter-depth, even among slim pickings
If you're checking out this fridge, you're probably in the market for a good-looking counter-depth that will blend into your cabinetry with the charm of a built-in. With its Swedish name, stainless façade, and 28.2-inch depth (from back to bowed-out front), the Electrolux EI23CS35KS (MSRP $2,399) seems like a solid contender, but the results of our lab tests neutralized our enthusiasm. It can be tough to find a counter-depth to fill the narrow void in your kitchen, and this Electrolux makes it tougher.
Design & Usability
The Electrolux EI23CS35KS's design is hampered by one main flaw: it's a side-by-side. That affects everything. Since the individual cavities in side-by-sides are half the width of those in your typical fridge, it can be tricky to reach items in the back, and big deli platters, pizzas, and cakes just won't fit. This Electrolux swaps most shelves for drawers, which may not gel with your food storage habits. If you're as tall as I am, the fridge's height makes it possible to use the fridge without leaning down. Of course, this advantage bites back when you bend down to grab something out of the freezer. You can't win 'em all.
The fridge door has movable shelves, but lacks a covered butter area. Toward the bottom, there are four rows of can storage, and you can fit three sodas or beers on each. Drink storage is a nice use of that harder-to-reach space because you don't have to scrutinize any labels or search for the proper can, as you might while searching for the grainy Dijon. Down by the can storage, one of the two crisper drawers has two cavities with separate moisture controls, for proper storage of fruits and vegetables.
On the outside, the control panel and ice dispenser are easy to use. There's a button for everything, instead of complex menus, which makes the panel look a bit busy. Luckily, the panel only illuminates when you press a button, so it's not too garish.
Behind the left door, the icemaker hogs a ton of space toward the top. The freezer only has two shelves, neither of which seems that large. Most of the freezer is divided into drawers which don't reach all the way back. That waste of space is especially frustrating, since this is already a shallow counter-depth. Having so many small drawers might be useful for access, but it makes the fridge feel more cramped than it would otherwise.
Performance & Features
The freezer just isn't that cool.
The fridge ran smoothly at a couple degrees above the set temperature of 37°F, the standard temperature setting for food refrigeration. Interestingly, we found that temperatures were cooler at the bottom than at the top, the opposite of what we usually see. Fridge temperatures generally should be lower as you get closer to the crisper, since produce doesn't need to be as cold as dairy products or meat. Despite the odd temperature distribution, temperatures were relatively steady over time throughout the testing period.
The humidity selector may give the impression of control, but the crisper drawers failed to lock in the moisture when compared to other fridges on the market. Lettuce and other produce might not stay as fresh for as long as you might want, so if you're into stocking up with just one trip to the grocery store per week, this fridge may not work for you.
The freezer's temperatures may have been consistent, but they were a bit warm for our taste. Though the display showed the recommended temperature of 0°F, we recorded an average temperature of 4.5°F—a pretty big difference, and cause for concern about freezer burn. You might think you can just recalibrate the fridge by setting it 4.5°F lower, but there's no guarantee that the temperatures will continue showing excellent consistency at 0°F. To round off these poor marks, this Electrolux became one of the few freezers to struggle in our power-loss test, so if you experience frequent power outages, this freezer could spoil all your food.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
The search continues.
The Electrolux EI23CS35KS may fit your kitchen, but it may not be a great choice for food preservation. Even among other counter-depth models, we were concerned about this Electrolux's poor humidity control, warm freezer, and power-loss difficulties.
Since they're niche products, counter-depth fridges tend to be more expensive than their standard-depth brethren. At just over $2,000 on sale, the EI23CS35KS is one of the lower-priced models available. Still, we'd want to be fully aware of this fridge's flaws before making a purchase.
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