Whirlpool WRF535SMBM Review: First-Class Deal or Second-Rate Steel?

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Purchasing a refrigerator is a big investment. It can be difficult to know exactly what your family needs, and whether the features marketed as time- or money-saving are worth the extra cash. There’s also the very real possibility that a big-ticket item like a fridge may work fine for a few years, only to develop problems after the warranty expires. Here, we take a look at a relatively affordable fridge, the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM to answer the big questions: is it convenient? Is it durable? And most importantly—is it right for you?

What Kind of Fridge Is the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM?

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM is a stainless-steel French door refrigerator, meaning it has two doors which open outward from the center. It contains both a fridge compartment and a freezer, as well as an icemaker.

What Are the Product Specifications?

  • Frameless glass shelves
  • Adjustable gallon door bins
  • Temperature-Controlled Full-Width Pantry
  • Adaptive Defrost
  • ENERGY STAR® Qualified

Kitchen appliances, including refrigerators, can come with all sorts of gadgets that claim to make life easier. The following is a quick breakdown of the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM’s size, storage capacity and special features to help you determine if this model fits your needs.

Space

The fridge itself is 36 inches wide, nearly 30 inches deep, and a little over 70 inches tall. The refrigerator volume is 17.75 cubic feet and the freezer is 7.44 cubic feet, for a total volume of nearly 25 cubic feet.

Shelving

The interior features frameless glass shelves, giving you a clear view to see the contents, as well as adjustable door bins specifically designed to fit a gallon of milk. Among the characteristics specifically highlighted by the manufacturer is its full-width pantry, allowing for the storage of large items like baking sheets and party platters within a temperature-controlled space.

The freezer contains several racks for optimal storage, while the refrigerator has two adjustable shelves. In addition to the pantry space, the fridge has two side-by-side drawers, and three shelves on the inner side of each of the doors, providing ample opportunities for storage and organization.

The glass shelves can actually be taken out of the refrigerator for washing, making it easy to clean. The only thing to keep in mind is that you can’t wash the cold shelves in hot water, as the glass may shatter. Instead, either wait for the shelves to become room temperature or wash with cold water.

Features

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM has an Energy Star label, which means this model is energy-efficient. This is a plus for anyone looking to save money on the electric bill or reduce their carbon footprint.

This fridge also uses adaptive defrost, which is a recent upgrade in many modern appliances. Refrigerators and freezers require defrosters to prevent frost build up. In the past, most defrosters ran on timers: every six to eight hours, the defroster would run for a set amount of time (usually a few minutes) to melt any frost that had accumulated. Adaptive defrosters possess control boards that take into account the amount of time the compressor runs between defrosts, the amount of time the heater runs during the defrost, and how many times the fridge doors have been opened and for how long. This means the defrost only kicks in when the fridge needs it, reducing energy waste.

How Much Does It Cost?

Currently, the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM is difficult to find through traditional outlets. Many large chains, including Home Depot, Amazon, Best Buy and Lowe’s, showed the item as either temporarily out of stock or no longer available to order online. It appears the model has been discontinued, and therefore no brand-new options are available.

It is still available for purchase, however, in refurbished or used condition. You can find the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM listed as “refurbished—good condition,” through Sears Outlet for $889.93. There are also postings on eBay for models ranging from $750.00 to $1,249.99 in various conditions. Some posts even describe the item as “new,” though you may want to take this with a grain of salt, as these are third party sellers.

How Does It Compare to Other Brands?

Since the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM appears to be discontinued, it can be at a disadvantage when compared to models still in production. For comparison purposes, we’ve chosen to compare this model to other pre-owned fridges. The following alternatives are all available through Sears Outlet as refurbished and in good condition. Brand-new options are available but cost several hundred dollars more than their refurbished counterparts and the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM.

Sears Outlet offers installation service for refrigerators when delivered, though this costs an additional $89.99. Customers also have the option to pick up the item at a local store and install it themselves. The stars awarded for the assembly time are based on self-installation. This includes the possible necessity of removing the doors or door handles in order to fit the fridge through a narrow space, as well as reassembly and connecting to the waterline.

Sears Outlet also offers a 1-year limited warranty for all refurbished products. Because it’s limited, this warranty only covers material or workmanship defects that arise from standard, specifically non-commercial use. If the product is damaged due to alterations made by the customer, misuse, abuse or accidents, including power surges, you’re out of luck. The warranty also fails to cover damage caused during “unauthorized” repairs, which seems to mean third party services or DIY attempts.

Sears Outlet does offer additional protection for three or five years, for an additional cost of $229.99 and $359.99 respectively. These plans have vastly superior coverage, including: food loss reimbursement, cosmetic defects, consumable parts discount and power surge protection, among others.

Sale
Kenmore 4673025 26.1 cu. ft. Non-Dispense French Door Refrigerator in...
  • Item includes room of choice delivery, unboxing, item hook-up (including required parts) and free optional haul-away at...
  • 26.1 cubic foot refrigerator has dual evaporators that cool the refrigerator and freezer separately to keep each section...
  • Gallon-sized door bins give you space for gallon containers of juice and milk and taller items.Depth w/ Handle (inches)...

The Kenmore 73025 is a French door refrigerator measuring 26.1 cubic feet in volume and 36 inches in width. The exterior is stainless steel, and the interior has a similar arrangement to the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM, though there are four shelves on the interior doors compared to the Whirlpool’s three.

This appliance was favorably reviewed by most contributing customers. The storage arrangement is spacious and allows for some customization. There were no complaints about the quality of the shelves or drawers, and the advertised “fingerprint resistant” stainless steel appears to be so. One customer noted that the fridge is very quiet, and the color is well-represented by the site’s photos. The only complaint among the reviews is that the ice maker is a little slow and produces small ice cubes.

This brand also has a fairly straight-forward installation process, including connecting to the water line. Door and drawer removal and reassembly require only a few steps and no special tools beyond a Phillips head screwdriver. This is a plus, since damage to or incorrect reassembly of doors can lead to an ineffective seal, which can make your fridge less efficient. Overall, the Kenmore 73025 is a solid choice, especially for people looking to install this item themselves.

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Build Quality

  • Smart Cooling Plus technology helps keep food fresher, longer
  • Humidity-controlled crispers keep food fresh
  • Organize contents with ease
  • Customize door bin size to use space efficiently
  • Plenty of space to organize frozen food

PRICE $1,799.99

The LG LFC22770ST is a French door refrigerator measuring 21.8 cubic feet in volume and 30 inches in width. Though the exterior is metal gray, it’s not advertised as stainless steel, and one reviewer believes it to be aluminum, as magnets don’t stick to it. The interior is identical to the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM.

Assembly for this appliance is somewhat complicated, and instructions to connect the water line include drilling, which means power tools are necessary. This can be avoided by paying for installation through Sears Outlet, but since this fridge is nearly $1000.00, the extra installation cost can possibly put it out of budget for some.

There are several complaints in customer reviews, including lack of adjustable shelving. Although the photos make it appear as though adjustments are possible due to evenly spaced grooves along the interior, buyers claim this isn’t functional. Other customers complained that the dimensions of the fridge make it difficult to use. Since this fridge is about as deep as it is wide, the storage space is narrow. However, if you have a smaller space in which to fit a full refrigerator and freezer, the dimensions may work in your favor.

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Build Quality

Samsung RF260BEAEBC
  • High-Efficiency LED Lighting
  • Twin Cooling Plus�
  • Filtered Water
  • Sleek on the Outside, Roomy on the Inside
  • CoolSelect Pantry� 

The Samsung RF260BEAEBC is a French door refrigerator in stainless steel. It’s nearly 36 inches wide and has a volume of 25.5 cubic feet. Its interior is identical to the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM.

This model has a humidity-controlled crisper, but product reviews mentioned an issue with water accumulating in the bottom of the drawer. There was also mention of trouble with the icemaker, though the review didn’t go into detail. Yet another review stated the freezer has a tendency to accumulate frost, although this comes and goes. While not immediate deal-breakers to some consumers, these are certainly concerning problems.

Overall, buyers seemed satisfied, if not wowed, by the appliance. Those who didn’t have significant problems with ice or frost appreciated the spacial arrangement of the fridge, and liked its door alarm, which will beep if the doors have been left open for a certain length of time.

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Build Quality

What Are the Pros and Cons?

When it boils down to it, does the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM offer more benefits than problems? After scouring consumer reports and online reviews, here’s what we found.

Pros

  • excellent deal for its size
  • adaptive defrost and high energy efficiency
  • adjustable shelving

Cons

  • no external water or ice dispenser
  • inferior steel alloy has been used
  • loud compressor
  • no water filter
  • lack of a clunky dispenser 



Conclusion

Ultimately, we give the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM 2.5 out of 5 stars. While many customers seem to be very happy with the volume and arrangement of the fridge, there are some major concerns that are tough to ignore. It’s especially suspicious that Whirlpool has apparently discontinued this particular model. Customers who tried to keep their fridge in good condition by following Whirlpool user instructions feel they were lied to by the company—after all, when a product claims to be stainless steel, most people don’t expect it to rust.

The loud fans were also a major issue, to the point that the noise disrupted people’s lives, driving them from their kitchens altogether. A few individuals had their refrigerators serviced to fix the issue, only to be told by the repairmen that the fridge was functioning as intended, and the noise was just a result of design. It appears, then, that whether or not one receives a loud fan is left entirely to chance.

That said, the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM is extremely affordable, and offers a great deal of space for a smaller fridge. Reviews for the service at Sears Outlet are favorable, so if you encounter a problem with your appliance, there’s support available.

Our final advice: if you’re in need of a cheap refrigerator and don’t care about special features or digital extras, the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM is a reasonable choice. But if you can stretch your budget by and extra fifty or a hundred dollars more, you’re better off going with another brand.

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