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Appliances: Uncommon Cold

In 1945, two years after he built the first freestanding freezer in the basement of his Madison, Wis., home, Westye Bakke launched the Sub-Zero Freezer Co. Sixty years later, the Madison-based kitchen appliances business, under the direction of Bakke’s grandson James, continues to advance the science and style of food preservation. Its new Pro 48 refrigerator/freezer ($12,000), Sub-Zero’s largest and most advanced combination model to date, is a sleek, stainless steel monolith that weighs more than 800 pounds, uses less energy than a 100-watt lightbulb, and elevates home refrigeration to a decidedly professional level.


Sub-Zero created the Pro 48, says corporate marketing manager Paul Leuthe, after sister company Wolf received such a positive response to its recently introduced Wolf Dual Fuel Range, a professional-style stove. “The customers saw industrial quality being offered at the consumer level and said, ‘I really enjoy cooking, so I’m going to get the best equipment,’ ” says Leuthe. “People seem to like this kind of commercial look and feel for their home kitchens.”

Premium features abound in the Pro 48, which has refrigerator and freezer sections that measure 18.4 cubic feet and 11.4 cubic feet, respectively—enough space for a family of four to chill and freeze at least two weeks’ worth of groceries. The refrigerator/freezer is, according to Leuthe, the first such appliance with two compressors and three evaporators—a combination that increases the appliance’s efficiency and its convenience. (A typical fridge/freezer has one compressor for the entire appliance, one evaporator for the fridge, and one for the freezer.) Separate compressors ensure that air does not circulate between the two units: Cold, dry air stays in the freezer, while cooler moisture remains in the refrigerator. The extra evaporator creates two independent temperature zones within the refrigerator, enabling you, for example, to keep liquid refreshments colder than vegetables.

The unit also has an exterior temperature display; top and sidewall LED lights; removable, oven-safe refrigerator bins; and sensors that monitor usage patterns (such as how often the refrigerator door is opened) and adjust settings accordingly.

Considering the company’s heritage, future refrigerator/ freezer innovations likely are on the horizon, and, like those that the Pro 48 features, they will serve a practical purpose. “When our engineers say they can do something, like putting three evaporators in a single unit, we always insist that it be a salient feature,” says Leuthe. “It has to be a meaningful innovation.”

Two temperature zones within the fridge of the Pro 48 allow you to keep items such as beverages and vegetables at differing degrees of cold.




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