The Summit itself is similarly difficult to gauge. On one hand, it looks like a stretched out mini fridge, with a cheap external finish and cramped interiors. Calibration is difficult, and the crisper drawers are the worst we've ever seen. On the other hand... wait a minute. There is no other hand! Energy efficiency is decent, as is modestly reliable temperature output, but this Summit did no better in those regards than some larger and cheaper fridges that we've tested.
A compact that feels like a mini.
We've seen Summit products that place a lot of emphasis on style. The FF1074SS is arguably not one of them. It looks suspiciously like a taller, slightly higher-end version of one of those dorm fridges you see piled up at discount stores in late August: the maybe-stainless exterior, the cheap-feeling shelf materials, even the poor internal visibility. The humidity control slider popped off the first time we tried to move it, and the finish on the doors is so soft that just a bump from our elbows during movement caused it to dimple. The small indents were made all the more prominent as a result of its highly reflective finish which picks up every smudge and smear.
Our sight wasn't the only sense to be assaulted by this fridge. Most of the products we test inevitably give off an ambient noise that blends in with the workings of our labs. This particular model was loud enough to be noticeable, though, with a prominent hum that pierced through the white noise of other appliances. If you're in a small apartment the size of which this fridge was likely designed for, be prepared to either steel yourself to get used to it or slowly go mad.
On the plus side, the small number of shelves are mostly adjustable, with lots of flexibility. Two of the three fridge shelves can each be placed into one of the ten available slots, while the freezer shelf—usually a non-adjustable element in fridges this cheap—gets three slots to choose from. Even some of the door shelves, most of which are made of plastic that sport a dark and smokey tint, have a small degree of flexibility.
Aside from the small ice tray and the single, full-width crisper drawer, there aren't any features here to speak of. We did, however, want to bring your attention to one element of this fridge that doesn't usually merit acknowledgement: the back. This fridge sports black, external coils which got very warm over time, more so than is typical for a fridge back. You'll want to keep them clean just to be safe, which may require moving the fridge around every few weeks.
A painfully wide temperature spread.
The performance of the Summit smacked of mini fridge quality even more so than its design. We had to use external thermometers to calibrate the fridge since it lacked any recommended control setting. At its best, the fridge displayed a seven degree shift from top to bottom... and it's not that big of a fridge. We never could quite get it to produce the ideal temperature of 37ºF, either: the closest we could get was just over 38ºF at its coldest. The ironic thing is that this fridge was actually pretty consistent. If the calibration process were easier or more accurate, the Summit could have been pretty good.
The freezer did a bit better when it came to temperature spread, but it was worse with consistency. Again, despite turning the control down to a cooler setting, it never officially hit 0ºF. It also fluctuated nearly a full degree over time. That combination of too much warmth and too little stability will generate freezer burn, resulting in spoiled food and wasted money over time. The fridge was only moderately efficient, too, so it's not like you'll be saving money on your electric bill to make up for wasted food.
To add insult to injury, the crisper drawer proved to be absolutely atrocious. Despite completely closing the slots that "regulate" moisture loss, our test materials lost almost four times as much moisture as any average fridge. The crisper might as well not have even been there for all the good it did, and you should treat it as such when purchasing any produce.
A Summit that's far from the pinnacle of quality.
Fridges this size are definitely niche products, and the Summit is nowhere near the peak of the bunch. If space is more of an issue than money, there are a number of higher-end models roughly the same size. Should budget be a bigger restriction than floor space, we've encountered many larger and cheaper models that do better than this tiny one. If both space and money are bogging you down, well... there are number of similarly sized models on the market that may not be exponentially superior, but should cost you much less. Regardless of your limitation, the conclusion is clear: there's really no reason to buy this Summit.
Much like certain elements of its appearance, there are a few aspects of the Summit's performance that really make this fridge stand out. Unfortunately, they're mostly negative talking points. After putting the Summit through our testing gamut, the results we saw were sadly disappointing.
If only it had better controls.
The fridge and freezer compartments experienced an inverse pair of problems, as well as shared calibration issues. First, the fridge exhibited poor temperature output throughout the interior while maintaining fairly strong levels of long-term consistency. While the average temperatures were all too high—38.17ºF on top, 41.73ºF in the middle, and 45.33ºF on the bottom—they were fairly regular. The average degree shift throughout was just 0.33 degrees, pretty standard for a low-cost fridge. You may have noticed the large gap in degree from top to bottom, though: a span of 7.16 degrees. This fridge isn't all that tall, and a temperature gap that wide is usually indicative of poor air circulation.
The freezer, on the other hand, was somewhat more consistent with its overall temperature output, though substantially worse over the long run. It suffered similar issues with general cooling: the top averaged a balmy 5.19ºF, cooling down to just 2.99ºF near the bottom. While the Summit's failure to produce 0ºF temperatures is a big issue on its own, it did manage to be much more concise with its temperature gap: just 2.2 degrees. That said, the freezer fluctuated anywhere from 0.59 degrees at the most accurate all the way up to 0.96 degrees. So much shift combined with the already-too-warm temperatures is a perfect recipe for freezer burn and spoiled food.
The killer tomatoes would have been terrified.
We'd be hard pressed to come up with a more inferior crisper drawer than the one found inside this Summit. We had a feeling we were off to a bad start when the sliding control came off as we went to set it to maximum moisture retention, but we didn't know just how bad. After three days of testing, our materials had lost an average of 0.47 grams of moisture per hour. To give you some context, an average crisper will lose anywhere from 0.13 to 0.18 grams of moisture per hour. That puts the Summit at about three to four times worse than your average appliance in this category. You might as well leave your produce on a shelf for all the good this designated compartment will do.
While the final amount of chilliness was disappointing, the Summit's freezer managed to get things there quickly. In one hour and 31 minutes, our room-temperature test materials were officially frozen. While we prefer to see it take slightly less time, one hour and 31 minutes is actually somewhat faster than average.
On the other end of things, the insulation built into the Summit's freezer managed to retain most of its chill temperatures even without power. At the end of our 36-hour power outage simulation test, nothing inside the freezer had crossed the 32ºF barrier to become officially thawed.
A tiny fridge for tiny kitchens.
There's no way other way to say it: this Summit is tiny... at least, compared to full-sized fridges. As a compact model, it's too big to really be full-sized, but it's definitely larger than a true mini fridge. The fridge proper is made up of three shelves—two of which are adjustable—as well as the bottom drawer. The door adds an additional pair of adjustable half-width shelves as well as a fixed full-width shelf and a designated dairy bin. All told, the fridge has a usable amount of space totaling 5.78 cubic feet, roughly the amount of space found in a full-sized freezer.
The freezer itself is quite simple: a lone wire shelf splits the main compartment into an upper and lower section. One actual shelf is found on the door set underneath a curved section that seems to be ideally shaped for storing cans and other round objects. All told, it offers up 2.08 cubic feet of usable storage.
Despite its small size, the Summit actually takes a bit more power to run than we expected. We use a fixed rate of $0.09 per kWh to calculate a fridge's annual cost; in this case, it totals $28.73. That in and of itself isn't very much, but we've seen much larger budget fridges cost about the same. Spreading the used power across the limited storage space reveals that each usable cubic foot requires 0.11 kWh to cool. That puts this fridge on the low end of average as far as energy efficiency is concerned for fridges in its price bracket.
Meet the testers
Logistics Manager & Staff Writer@ReviewedHome
Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.See all of Matthew Zahnzinger's reviews
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