The first refrigerator to dispense hot water has just nabbed a spot on Consumer Reports' recommended list of French-door bottom-freezers. The new GE Café CFE29TSDSS French-door fridge rode excellent temperature control and energy efficiency into our winner's circle. But it's the 36-inch-wide refrigerator's innovative dispenser that truly sets it apart from the pack.
Through-the-door ice and water dispensers have been improving for some time. Kenmore and LG recently came out with extra-tall housings that make it easy to fill pitchers and other outsized containers. GE adopted that innovation as well for its latest line of French-door refrigerators, but then broke new ground by incorporating hot water into the Cafe model. The dispenser can heat up to 10 ounces of water in minutes. You can choose from four pre-programmed temperature settings, ranging from lukewarm for baby's bottle to piping hot for tea, oatmeal, or soup.
The 29 claimed-cubic-foot fridge also features a slim in-door icemaker, which frees up the top shelf for food storage. Adjustable shelves, gallon door storage, and a full-width temperature-controlled drawer also help keep food organized. And the showcase LED lights let you find what you're looking for fast.
GE's new Café French-door hot-water refrigerator sells for around $3,000 at national retailers, including Best Buy and Lowe's, as well as local appliance stores.
For about half that, consider one of the three French-door refrigerators that we named CR Best Buys, two of which out-performed the GE. The Kenmore 7160, $1,700, is one of the most energy-efficient models in its category, though that's partially due to the fact that it lacks through-the-door ice and water dispensers. The Whirlpool Gold GX5FHTXV[Q], also $1,700, also boasts excellent energy efficiency but was a bit noisier than other top-rated French-door models. The Kenmore 7201, at $1,550 the most affordable of the three, has superb temperature control and exceptional energy efficiency. It's also fairly quiet.