Pros and Cons of a Refrigerator Water Dispenser
Mariette Mifflin is a product tester and expert in housewares and appliances. A writer on home products for The Spruce for over 10 years, her expertise is also featured in “HomeLife,” “House & Garden,” and the Chicago Sun-Times.
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Updated on 04/28/21
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When buying a new refrigerator, you might think that it goes without saying that you’ll buy a model with a built-in water and ice cube dispenser. But it might also surprise you to learn that there are reasons why you might not want to pay the extra money for these features.
How Refrigerator Water Dispensers Work
A refrigerator equipped with an automatic ice maker and an external water dispenser mounted in the door operates by tapping into a cold water supply pipe somewhere in the near vicinity of the refrigerator. Whether the pipe is located under the floor, in the wall, or several feet away somewhere else in the kitchen, the connection is made via a small copper or plastic supply tube. One end of the tube is connected to a water fitting on the back of the refrigerator, while the other end is connected to a cold water pipe by means of a fixture shutoff valve. The shutoff valve is essential, as it allows the water tube to be shut off whenever the refrigerator needs to be serviced or replaced.
Inside, the refrigerator’s inner plumbing transports the water first to a small water filter that screens out particles and some basic contaminants and then to an automatic ice maker and door-mounted water dispenser.
Refrigerators began offering these features in the 1980s, first with simple automatic ice makers and then with mechanisms in the door that dispensed both ice and drinking water. Initial reviews were not all that good since the water was just ordinary tap water at room temperature. Within 10 years or so, however, refrigerators were offering drinking water that was both chilled and filtered. Today, half of all refrigerators sold feature in-door water dispensers.
So what are the pros and cons of having a water and ice dispenser in your refrigerator?
Advantages of a Refrigerator Water Dispenser
There are really just three advantages to having a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser in the door, but they are big ones.
It’s undeniable that ice and water dispensers offer a lot of convenience when added to a refrigerator. Being able to fill a glass with cubed or crushed ice and then immediately fill it with drinking water makes it very easy to prepare family meals or entertain guests. The easy access makes it more likely that your family will drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. Some manufacturers design the water dispenser so that pitchers and other tall containers can be easily filled. And because the ice maker works automatically, you’re no longer required to monitor the ice supply and fill ice trays manually every day or two. In the most up-to-date refrigerator models, you can add carbon dioxide to make sparkling water or pour hot water for instant drinks.
Second, because most refrigerators are now equipped with an interior water filter, the ice and drinking water is often better tasting and more healthful than the water that emerges from your sink faucet. Some regions have drinking water that is quite good, but, in other regions, the simple filter found in the refrigerator is all it takes to make water and ice taste much better. While these aren’t terribly sophisticated filter systems, refrigerator filters do generally capture some dangerous contaminants, such as lead and mercury.
If you are selling your home, a newer refrigerator featuring all the bells and whistles may be an attractive selling point for prospective buyers. Newer, full-featured appliances rarely add actual real estate value to a property, but they just might coax a shopper into making a bid.
Disadvantages of a Refrigerator Water Dispenser
There are, however, some disadvantages to a refrigerator with these features.
First, automatic ice makers and water dispensers add at least $200 to the cost of the appliance and possibly a lot more if you opt for sparkling or hot water options. Operating costs are also higher—at least $25 per year for extra electricity and $50 to $100 yearly for replacement filters. You may also need to hire a plumber to make the water hookups because these refrigerators are harder for DIYers to install.
Refrigerators with water and ice dispensers require more user maintenance. Unless you change the filters regularly, the water and ice will lose their fresh taste. And some homeowners find that it’s necessary to shut off the refrigerator and thaw the water lines occasionally if they become frozen.
Refrigerators with ice and water dispensers tend to break down a lot, so you will likely be faced with some repair bills from time to time. You may well want to invest in an appliance repair service contract if you own one of these refrigerators, as chances are good the service plan will pay for itself.
If your water supply is especially bad-tasting, you might be disappointed at the modest improvement brought about by the fairly basic filtration system in a refrigerator. Refrigerator filters are usually simple single-stage filters that don’t improve water in the same way as multi-stage filtration systems mounted under the kitchen sink. You may find that it’s necessary to add additional filtration—possibly a whole-house system—to really improve the taste and smell of your drinking water.
Finally, storage capacity is always somewhat reduced in refrigerators with ice and water dispensers, since the mechanism must fit into an extra-thick door that encroaches on the space of the freezer or fridge compartment.
|Pros and Cons of a Refrigerator Water Dispenser|
|Convenience||Higher initial appliance cost|
|May improve taste and smell of ice and water||Higher annual operating cost|
|May be appealing to home buyers||More routine maintenance required|
|Filtering effectiveness is very basic|
|Mechanical breakdown is common|
|Reduces storage capacity|
A water and ice dispenser is a very convenient feature, but make sure you understand the limitations and drawbacks before you spend hundreds of dollars more on your new refrigerator.
What Every Shopper Should Know about Refrigerator Dispensers
Once all other refrigerator features have been researched, it’s time to take a moment to think about a water and ice dispenser. While they may seem like a convenient perk, dispensers come with a unique set of considerations that are either practical or unnecessary depending on the household.
Follow along in this series to learn about the pros and cons of water dispensers, which refrigerator styles to find them on, as well as innovative dispensers that may be just what your kitchen is missing.
Which Refrigerators Use Dispensers?
First and foremost, shoppers who have high hopes of purchasing a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser will need to know that not all refrigerator styles come with the option. Water dispenser refrigerators come mainly in side-by-side and French door configurations. The former is the most popular style, while the latter has more options thanks to the vertical layout of the freezer which allows more room for an ice-maker.
Although some top-mount and bottom-mount refrigerators might feature an internal dispenser, it’s rare, while neither come with the option of an external water and ice dispenser.
However, both styles often come with the option to include an ice-maker, though buyers should be aware that this will take up some space in the freezer. What’s more, while these base models are relatively affordable, the cost of a dispenser fridge can shoot up considerably due to the styles that carry the feature and — and even that can vary between internal dispensers and external dispenser models.
Internal Water and Ice Dispensers
Before thinking a water and ice dispenser doesn’t work in minimalist kitchen aesthetics, let us plead the case for internal water dispensers. Rather than being installed into the door, internal dispensers fit discreetly on a refrigerator wall, while the ice-maker is located inside the freezer.
Internal Water Dispenser Pros
✓ Placing the dispenser within the fridge prevents water spills on the refrigerator surface, meaning hard-to-clean water stains are virtually non-existent.
✓ Internal dispensers allow the ice-maker to be relocated in the freezer, freeing up more space in the refrigerator compartment.
✓ An internal water dispensers provides a clean appearance of a solid refrigerator front.
Internal Water Dispenser Cons
✗ In order to access water, users need to open the fridge, which lets out cold air.
✗ Opening the refrigerator for water might be cumbersome for some users.
We’re particularly fans of the Beko 19.86 Cu. Ft. Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator (BFFD3624SS) with an internal water dispenser. The exterior with designer handles and a fingerprint-resistant stainless-steel finish showcases impeccably thanks to the intelligent design of an internal water dispenser. What’s better, this three-door Beko refrigerator delivers performance with a Turbo Ice Maker capable of making 11 pounds of ice in 24 hours.
External Water and Ice Dispensers
On the other hand, busy households who value water and ice in even greater demand might enjoy the easy access of an external water and ice dispenser. On top of convenience, many refrigerators with external water dispensers have been designed to maximize user experience by including features like a second ice maker or LG’s Craft Ice Series refrigerators that make clear ice spheres.
In order to maximize refrigerator capacity, many refrigerator brands relocate the ice-maker from the refrigerator compartment to inside the door.
Take a look at how the following examples make good use of this innovative configuration.
LG wants to keep the party going with dual ice makers on select models. This LG Counter-Depth French Door refrigerator (LFXC22526S) comes with two ice-makers — one in the door and another in the freezer — for enough ice to quench large crowds from family to parties.
Like LG, GE Profile also carries a list of refrigerators with double ice-makers. As an added perk, this GE Profile Counter-Depth French Door fridge (PYE22KYNFS) features a water dispenser capable of hands-free autofill for even easier dispensing.
External Water Dispenser Pros
✓ Outside access to water and ice help to retain cold temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer.
✓ External water and ice dispensers are easier to use.
External Water Dispenser Cons
✗ External water dispensers don’t provide a truly seamless look.
✗ External water dispensers are subject to more bacteria and germ exposure.
✗ Side-by-side refrigerators with external water and ice dispensers typically have less usable freezer space.
Specialty Refrigerator Dispensers
While features such as hands-free autofill on select GE Profile refrigerators are especially handy, refrigerator brands are continuously developing innovative ideas for other jobs around the kitchen.
Take GE Café refrigerators, for example. This lineup of high-end fridges isn’t only modern in looks, but in function, too. On top of regular water and ice dispensing, select models also come with a hot water option and Keurig dispenser.
By including hot water on tap, users are able to enjoy hot water for tea, coffee, or hot chocolate without having to boil water on a cooktop or inside a microwave.
And with a compact footprint that fits right in the door of the refrigerator, the Keurig dispenser is a smart way to include the convenience of a Keurig machine without the space required on a countertop.
Dependable Refrigerators Near You
Whether you’re shopping in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, or Iowa, Grand Appliance and TV is the number one destination for reliable refrigerators with the latest features. With 25 locations, we carry a large inventory of in-stock appliances to meet your design needs and expectations. Shop online or in-store today!
Dispenser in the refrigerator, what is it? Purpose, types
Most of all modern refrigerators are equipped with various useful functions. One of these options is the built-in water dispenser. For the first time, such an opportunity was built into the Soviet refrigerators Oka-6 and Oka-6M. Today, some manufacturers offer not just a dispenser, but also an innovative device for generating ice. Moreover, you can fill the tank not only with drinking water, but with carbonated drinks. In this article, we will tell you more about the benefits of dispenser refrigerators.
What is a refrigerator dispenser?
The dispenser in the refrigerator is an additional device mounted, as a rule, in the door body, its main task is to pour cold drinking water and generate ice.
If you have not come across such models of refrigeration units before, then before buying it is worth studying what types of dispensers exist.
Dispensers are required for pouring water or other drinks, including ice generation. About 2-3 years ago, innovative models of refrigerators appeared that are capable of producing carbonated drinks on their own. To accomplish this task, a cylinder with compressed carbon dioxide is installed in its body.
Important! After buying a refrigerator, you should carefully study the user manual. Since not all dispensers are designed for drinks, some types are only able to pump drinking water. If you pour different drinks into a dispenser designed for water, then it will quickly fail.
- Filled. This design assumes that the user will fill the tank himself. As practice shows, such dispensers are less likely to fail, because the owner has the possibility of self-cleaning. The liquid is pumped using a small electric pump. If it fails, it will not affect the performance of the entire device. And the pump can be replaced with your own hands, it is not so expensive.
- Integrated with water supply. For the installation of such a refrigerator, it is best to call a specialist. If the connection is made by the master, then this will not affect the current warranty in any way. The water supply must be connected to a carbon water purification system, in which case the dispenser will work for a long time.
The built-in filter needs to be replaced on average every 1.5-2 years.
Pros and cons of refrigerators with a dispenser
- Quick access to cold or sparkling water.
- Many dispensers have the ability to make ice, so you get water with crushed ice.
- Complete protection of water and ice from foreign odours. Many people know that if you put a strong-smelling product in the freezer, then ice can take this aroma into itself. Therefore, it is no longer so desirable to use it in the preparation of delicious cocktails. In dispensers, the liquid reservoir is completely isolated from the refrigerator chambers, so this situation does not threaten you.
- The compressor is protected from high load. After all, if you need chilled water in a bottle, then you will have to periodically take it out and then put it back in the refrigerator. From this, warm air enters the chamber, so the compressor has to work to maintain the set temperature.
With a dispenser, the situation is different, because it is enough to press the water supply lever, and the chilled clean water is already in your glass.
- Water is filtered with charcoal and antibacterial filters before reaching your glass.
- High cost refrigerator with dispensers.
- Usually people need chilled water only during the warm season, and this is 3-4 months at the most. The rest of the time, these options are practically not used. If you live in cold regions, then you do not need such a device at all.
How to choose a refrigerator with a dispenser?
- If you are more interested in a refrigerator with a filling dispenser, then choose the model where the filling reservoir is larger. This way you won’t have to refill it often.
- Carefully inspect the dispenser area, it should look aesthetically pleasing, and the cup insertion chamber should be large. In this case, you can put a mug of any size.
- Particular attention should be paid to the type of filter installed. If only the marking is indicated, then it can be easily found on the Internet. The carbon filter with several stages of purification perfectly removes all harmful impurities from the water. Well, if you find a filter with an antibacterial coating of silver ions, then you can safely buy this refrigerator.
- Don’t forget to inspect the lid that closes the water container. It should not stagger, and there should be a sealing element around the perimeter, in which case foreign odors will not enter the water.
We hope you found this article helpful and informative. We wish you all the best!
Refrigerator dispenser: purpose and types
- Types of dispensers
- Advantages and disadvantages of dispensers
- Complexity of repair
Almost all modern refrigerators are equipped with a number of useful options. The dispenser is one of them. This device is designed to generate ice and chilled clean water. Most often, the dispenser is installed directly on the side-by-side refrigerator door.
Types of dispensers
Devices of this type involve manual filling of water into a special container. Fill dispensers fail much less often, as they are less “capricious” to clean and connect. Purified and chilled water enters the glass through the operation of a small pump (the only weak spot in the filling dispensers). Failure of the pump leads to dysfunction of the device, but does not affect the operation of the refrigerator itself.
·Dispensers integrated with plumbing
These devices require a professional plumbing connection. If you doubt that you are able to connect the dispenser on your own and without errors, we advise you to call a refrigerator repairman to your home. This will save your unit from premature failure.
Since the quality of water from the mains leaves much to be desired, dispensers connected to the water supply are equipped with carbon filters. The service life of the filter is no more than one and a half years. Do not forget to change the dispenser filter in time, take care of your health!
Advantages and disadvantages of dispensers
The advantages of dispensers are obvious, as they follow from the purpose of the device: pure chilled sparkling water with a pleasant taste is a pleasant and healthy pleasure.
The disadvantages of dispensers include:
high cost of refrigerators equipped with this function;
Not all consumers are ready to overpay for this option. In most cases, side-by-side and French Door multi-door refrigerators are equipped with dispensers. These units are much more expensive than typical two-chamber refrigerators.
Dispensers in Russian latitudes are actively used for 3 months at the most. The rest of the time, consumers do not have an urgent need for chilled water.
Difficulty of repair
Finding a decent repairman for refrigerators equipped with a dispenser, such as the Maytag brand, is not so easy.