Summit CP171SS Review
The Summit CP171SS is a fascinating compact fridge for numerous reasons, both positive and negative.
The Summit CP171SS—a commercial fridge manufactured by Vestfrost in Denmark and sold under a variety of different brand names—is a fascinating compact fridge for numerous reasons, both positive and negative. Its approach to using vertical space in order to maintain a small footprint in your kitchen is ingenious, its overall design is both edgy and attractive, and its performance is still quite good despite being a smaller model. That being said, vague and complicated controls, in addition to lacking any sort of defrost cycle and being very energy inefficient keeps this product from being an ideal appliance. The extra vertical space—it measures 6 feet 7 inches tall—in addition to other positive attributes and features, makes the $1,400 MSRP very reasonable, but there are enough flaws in performance and usability to make you consider doing some comparison shopping.
Design & Usability
Offers a lot of polish, both inside and out
Towering at over 6 feet, the Summit CP171SS has a stainless style exterior finish on the front. The finish isn’t quite as shiny and reflective as other types of stainless steel, so make sure it doesn't clash with your other appliances before purchasing. It can be bought in actual stainless, but will likely cost a few hundred dollars more.
Normally, we don't bring up the handles, but they're very unusual for two reasons. First, they're almost comically tiny compared to the size of the door, but are still large enough to grip easily. Second, they fold over and overlap the front. These two elements make for a look that’s about as streamlined and unobtrusive as you can get without actually recessing the handles.
The Summit has a striking internal color scheme, combining traditional white walls with vibrant blue trim and blue plastic shelves. Even with its stylish interior and lots of extra detachable features, the inside of the fridge is still quite straightforward, almost spartan even. The freezer, too, is very low-tech, with three drawers breaking up the overall compartment. Above the three drawers is a short pull-out shelf designed to hold small ice cube trays.
There are a few little extras available, as well: an ice cube tray to go with the aforementioned freezer drawer, a beverage rack that can slide into place on one of the fridge slots, and a removable egg tray that can be placed on a door shelf. There's also a ridged blue container that proved to be somewhat of an enigma. Perhaps it’s for loose item storage, perhaps a light-weight, easy-to-clean bin for storing defrosted meats so they don’t spill on the shelves—your guess is as good as ours. There wasn’t any mention of it on the manufacturer’s website or in the user’s manual, so... feel free to do what you want with it.
Hard-to-use controls that are placed very high up make for a big black mark on this fridge’s record.
Food placed at the top of the fridge, either in the main section or on the door, may be difficult to reach for shorter consumers. The freezer also has a minor accessibility problem: The smaller bottom drawer hardly comes out at all—you pretty much have to remove the entire drawer to get anything in or out. Other than that, every other spot on the fridge should be reachable without any hassle.
The control panel is found in a very unusual location. All the fridge’s controls are located on the top of the fridge’s door frame bracketing the interior light. It may be difficult for shorter individuals to reach since the fridge is so tall, and it also doesn’t help that they were designed with labels so small as to be just barely legible. The left side has a thermometer, as well as a switch for a super freeze option. The right has two separate dials controlling the fridge and freezer temperatures.
The temperature controls for the two compartments aren’t adjusted with knobs; rather, they use dials that have an indentation a bit like the head of a screw, which you have to twist in one direction or the other to adjust. There is a thermometer, but it only applies to the freezer, and does not adjust automatically. There's no recommended manufacturer settings, either; for the freezer, you can shift the control and wait for the thermostat to adjust, but with the fridge it's essentially trial and error unless you own an external thermometer. Oh, and did we mention that since this is a European model, the thermostat is in Celsius?
Unlike most modern fridges, the Summit has no internal defrost cycle. This means that, over time, frost and ice may build up inside the freezer, making it less energy efficient. Instructions are found in the user’s manual as to how to deal with this using the Super Freeze function, which is controlled by the switch located to the left of the fridge’s light bulb. The spout located at the bottom of the freezer makes it a bit easier to deal with as opposed to sitting there with a screwdriver, hacking away at built-up ice. The manual provides more detailed instructions, but once the frost in the freezer has melted, it will drain out the spout into a bowl of your choice, at which point you can just pour it down the sink.
If not for the snag we hit in setting the fridge temperature, this would have gotten nearly straight A's on its report card.
While actually setting the temperature on this blasted fridge was an absolute nightmare, the good news is that temperatures—once set—remain very consistent over time. Once you’ve set your fridge, you shouldn’t have to worry about fiddling with it ever again. Things weren’t quite as consistent from top to bottom, however. The very top of the fridge was substantially warmer than the rest by a noticeable amount. The middle was perfect, however, so as long as you don’t keep items that spoil easily near the top, you should be fine.
The presence of a thermometer for the freezer didn't really help matters any. Temperatures remained consistent over time, as was the case with the fridge, but there was yet again a big shift from top to bottom. The top of the freezer was spot on, but the bottom was actually somewhat colder. Normally this is fine—a good thing, even—but given how small the freezer compartment is, we found the lack of consistency to be unfortunate, simply as a matter of principle.
The back of the lowest shelf has a small ventilator that supposedly controls the humidity level for the two matching drawers at the very bottom. It's a questionable system at best, and we definitely had our doubts. As it turns out, those drawers did a very respectable job keeping moisture in; it wasn't amazing, but fresh produce should last for at least a few days before starting to go bad.
Despite its flaws, this is a great compact for apartment owners looking to make the most of tall ceilings.
The Danish-made Summit CP171SS is quite the anomaly in the world of refrigerators. Taller than many full-sized models, this compact appliance makes quite a few interesting leaps in both internal and external design, using small alterations to develop a fridge that has class and character. The massive height that gives it so much personality may in fact be a detriment to shorter consumers, but its vertically-oriented spatial efficiency cannot be ignored. While the fridge performs very well, the controls have a rather high learning curve, and the lack of any recommended manufacturer settings means you will need to buy an external thermometer to calibrate the thing. It’s advertised with an MSRP of $1,400, but don’t be discouraged if this is too high for you—it can be found on sale for as low as $1,000, which makes the Summit CP171SS an excellent buy for consumers looking to maximize the use of a vertically oriented kitchen.
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