Summit FF1074SS Refrigerator Review
Mini performance, full-sized price.
The price bracket in which the Summit FF1074SS (MSRP $729) sits can be a difficult one to assess. On one hand, you don't expect mind blowing performance because you're crossing the threshold into low-end, budget-friendly appliances. On the other hand, the Summit is still expensive enough that you should expect some modicum of quality.
The Summit itself is similarly difficult to gauge. On one hand, it looks like a stretched out mini fridge, with a cheap external finish and cramped interiors. Calibration is difficult, and the crisper drawers are the worst we've ever seen. On the other hand... wait a minute. There is no other hand! Energy efficiency is decent, as is modestly reliable temperature output, but this Summit did no better in those regards than some larger and cheaper fridges that we've tested.
Design & Usability
A compact that feels like a mini.
We've seen Summit products that place a lot of emphasis on style. The FF1074SS is arguably not one of them. It looks suspiciously like a taller, slightly higher-end version of one of those dorm fridges you see piled up at discount stores in late August: the maybe-stainless exterior, the cheap-feeling shelf materials, even the poor internal visibility. The humidity control slider popped off the first time we tried to move it, and the finish on the doors is so soft that just a bump from our elbows during movement caused it to dimple. The small indents were made all the more prominent as a result of its highly reflective finish which picks up every smudge and smear.
Our sight wasn't the only sense to be assaulted by this fridge. Most of the products we test inevitably give off an ambient noise that blends in with the workings of our labs. This particular model was loud enough to be noticeable, though, with a prominent hum that pierced through the white noise of other appliances. If you're in a small apartment the size of which this fridge was likely designed for, be prepared to either steel yourself to get used to it or slowly go mad.
On the plus side, the small number of shelves are mostly adjustable, with lots of flexibility. Two of the three fridge shelves can each be placed into one of the ten available slots, while the freezer shelf—usually a non-adjustable element in fridges this cheap—gets three slots to choose from. Even some of the door shelves, most of which are made of plastic that sport a dark and smokey tint, have a small degree of flexibility.
Aside from the small ice tray and the single, full-width crisper drawer, there aren't any features here to speak of. We did, however, want to bring your attention to one element of this fridge that doesn't usually merit acknowledgement: the back. This fridge sports black, external coils which got very warm over time, more so than is typical for a fridge back. You'll want to keep them clean just to be safe, which may require moving the fridge around every few weeks.
Performance & Features
A painfully wide temperature spread.
The performance of the Summit smacked of mini fridge quality even more so than its design. We had to use external thermometers to calibrate the fridge since it lacked any recommended control setting. At its best, the fridge displayed a seven degree shift from top to bottom... and it's not that big of a fridge. We never could quite get it to produce the ideal temperature of 37ºF, either: the closest we could get was just over 38ºF at its coldest. The ironic thing is that this fridge was actually pretty consistent. If the calibration process were easier or more accurate, the Summit could have been pretty good.
The freezer did a bit better when it came to temperature spread, but it was worse with consistency. Again, despite turning the control down to a cooler setting, it never officially hit 0ºF. It also fluctuated nearly a full degree over time. That combination of too much warmth and too little stability will generate freezer burn, resulting in spoiled food and wasted money over time. The fridge was only moderately efficient, too, so it's not like you'll be saving money on your electric bill to make up for wasted food.
To add insult to injury, the crisper drawer proved to be absolutely atrocious. Despite completely closing the slots that "regulate" moisture loss, our test materials lost almost four times as much moisture as any average fridge. The crisper might as well not have even been there for all the good it did, and you should treat it as such when purchasing any produce.
The Long and Short
A Summit that's far from the pinnacle of quality.
Fridges this size are definitely niche products, and the Summit is nowhere near the peak of the bunch. If space is more of an issue than money, there are a number of higher-end models roughly the same size. Should budget be a bigger restriction than floor space, we've encountered many larger and cheaper models that do better than this tiny one. If both space and money are bogging you down, well... there are number of similarly sized models on the market that may not be exponentially superior, but should cost you much less. Regardless of your limitation, the conclusion is clear: there's really no reason to buy this Summit.
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