272015Jan

This tough garage fridge is built to chill under trying conditions


The Whirlpool Gladiator Chillerator is a fridge built to live in your garage.
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

LAS VEGAS — For many the humble home garage also doubles as a manly sanctuary, a secluded spot for reflection and project planning. It’s also an excellent place for stockpiling food and beverages for long-term storage. Appliance maker Whirlpool suggests you bring both worlds together with its $1,300 Gladiator Chillerator.

Essentially a souped-up, ruggedized refrigerator, according to Whirlpool the Chillerator will run rings around the ordinary legacy units people typically toss next to the workbench. Unlike aging ice boxes, this fridge was designed to operate efficiently no matter how hot, cold, or humid the inside of your garage tends to be.

Design

On the surface the Gladiator Chillerator does its best to live up to its fearsome moniker. The icebox is clad in a skin of stainless steel complete with tough-looking tread marks. On the bottom of the large machine (72.7 by 29.8 by 32.3 inches), you’ll find a set of four-wheeled casters. They’re designed to make the Chillerator a cinch to move across rough surfaces and irregular floors.


On the inside the Chillerator looks like an ordinary old-school fridge.
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Like countless generations of fridges which have come before it, the Chillerator uses a classic two-door split design. Up top is a freezer section, while down below sits the larger refrigerator area. I admit when I took a look inside both portions of the appliance, I was a bit underwhelmed. In contrast to its rough and tumble facade, the Chillerator’s all-white shelving, crispers, and bays (heck there’s even a butter pantry) struck me as pretty plain, even pedestrian.


Watch out, this fridge has wheels.
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Cool under pressure

Don’t judge this electric cooler too quickly, however, Whirlpool company reps cautioned me, since much of this fridge’s real prowess lies hidden beneath the surface. Yes the Gladiator Chillerator may appear to be an ordinary refrigerator on the inside but, say Whirlpool, looks are deceiving. Apparently the big appliance relies on a “double pass heat loop” which is supposed to cut down on external condensation when operating under hot, humid conditions.

Similarly Whirlpool claims that a self-monitoring defrost mode will keep tabs on how long both the compressor and evaporator heater engage. The point of this system is to limit the number of defrosts so energy use is held in check and ice crystals never get a chance to form.

Outlook

Whether or not the Whirlpool Gladiator Chillerator performs as advertised remains a mystery until we get our hands on it and put the appliance to the test. Still, for $1,300 it had better impress. After all, aside from some adjustable shelving and an old-school ice maker, the Chillerator lacks any creature comforts to speak of. For example you won’t find any slick water and ice stations here, nor are there any fancy French doors or computerized controls.

That said, the folks behind this machine admitted a slew of fresh enhancements are on the drawing board. Conceivably we could see an app-connected Chillerator sometime down the road as well as color-changing LED lights for extra customization options. Frankly I’d be completely satisfied if it, or any fridge, could dispense cocktail-caliber chunks of ice on demand. Interested in securing a Chillerator of your very own? Check out Whirlpool’s Chillerator site for more details.

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