True Refrigerator Review (2021)

True Refrigerator Review (2021)

A True refrigerator might sound new to you, but the brand is much more familiar than you might realize.

True refrigerators keep food and drinks cool in nearly every grocery store and many restaurant kitchens. You know those glass sliding-door and sliding-top coolers for drinks and ice cream at gas stations? Yep, True makes those, too.

As a result, the company has nearly a century of experience manufacturing appliances that look and feel sturdy and meet chef’s high standards. True incorporates all that know-how into its residential refrigerator line.

Made in the USA, these fridges have all the features they need to run well for a long time, and no unnecessary bells and whistles.

True refrigerators also have a unique style. Choose one, and your kitchen definitely won’t look like your neighbor’s. You can also add a dash of personality by choosing one in a custom color.

These are just a few reasons why you might consider a residential True fridge over one of the other best refrigerator brands. Read on, and we’ll tell you what makes True’s offerings great (along with a few drawbacks), and how much they cost.

True refrigerator columns
A True refrigerator, freezer, and wine columns in the custom color “Antique White” with gold hardware.

12 Reasons to Love a True Refrigerator

These products have a lot going from them, from their statement style to their proven technology. Let’s dive in.

1. Many Models and Sizes to Choose From

True makes a variety of built in refrigerator models, from classic side by side fridges and slim columns that you can combine to small under-counter beverage coolers and wine fridges. It also produces the largest capacity fridge and freezer drawers on the market, as well as one of the top icemakers. See below for details on all the different options.

True refrigerator lineup
True refrigerator lineup

2. All Stainless Steel Construction

The company uses only high-quality solid stainless steel to build its fridges. That means the entire fridge—including the interior lining, the interior floor, the buttons on the control panel, and accessories like the door pan kit—is made of solid steel. This not only gives them a premium look, but makes them easy to clean and incredibly durable. The material also has pros for performance: It acts as a thermal mask that helps True products cool faster.

The only parts that aren’t steel are doors and shelves on some models, which can be glass, and the drawer and bin fronts inside, which can be clear polycarbonate or wood.

True refrigerator, wine fridge, and icemaker
A side-by-side True fridge, under-counter wine fridge, and icemaker, all in classic stainless steel.
True refrigerator stainless steel interior
Stainless Steel Interior

3. Expert Food Preservation

All of True’s refrigeration products come with a high-performance forced-air refrigeration system. There’s a strong fan at the back of every unit that functions like a convection fan. True says this feature keeps a more even temperature inside the fridge and helps it chill your food and drinks faster.

The side-by-side models have dual compressors and dual evaporators. That means the refrigerator and freezer each have their own dedicated compressor. This provides better temperature and humidity control. It also puts less strain on the compressor so it lasts longer.

Since there’s no airflow between the refrigerator and the freezer, the fresh food in the refrigerator stays fresh for longer, and the food in the freezer is less likely to get freezer burn.

According to True, its fridges don’t need air filtration because stainless steel doesn’t absorb odors the way plastic does.

True refrigerator interior
A True fridge’s sturdy, full-extension drawers have stainless steel frames and clear plastic fronts. The shelves above are made of steel and glass.

4. Commercial Kitchen Inspired Look

With its clean lines and visible grilles and hinges, a True residential refrigerator gives your kitchen the flair of one in a high-end, five-star restaurant. You’ll also appreciate the bright lighting, extra storage room, and sturdy drawers and shelves that chefs enjoy every day. Do note that True products don’t fit fully flush with your cabinetry—they stick out a little bit.

True refrigerator column and refrigerator and freezer drawers
Many people opt to combine a refrigerator column with freezer and/or fridge drawers, according to True. Its drawers pack more capacity into the same footprint as Sub-Zero’s.

5. User-Friendly Conveniences

The doors can open at an extra-wide, 120-degree angle for easy access, and have nice-looking tubular handles.

The interior shelves are fully extendable, adjustable, and removable.

The TruLumina Lighting system, available on most True refrigerator types, lets you illuminate the interior in your choice of 14 designer color options.

6. Rich Custom Colors

In addition to classic stainless steel, you can choose from nine colors and five hardware finishes to match or contrast. The color is a powder-coated finish that’s durable and chip resistant; the work is done in True’s own facilities.

Custom colors cost about $1,000 extra and add about a month to the lead time for your order, according to True.

They’re also very popular. True says that about 60 percent of its orders for full-size products specify a color.

In 2021, True introduced Juniper, a deep blue-green, as its color of the year.

Thinking of something completely custom? True can handle that as well.

True refrigerator custom color in Saffron
This bright yellow, called Saffron, is one of True Residential’s nine custom color options. This beverage center, fridge drawers, and icemaker pair it with Chrome hardware.

7. Easy Installation

As we mentioned above, True units don’t fit fully flush, so they’re easier to install than ones that do. You probably won’t need to make as many adjustments to your cabinetry since you can adjust the fit until it’s perfect with the leveling legs.

8. Excellent Customer Service

True has high standards. It describes its customer support as “one call resolved.” When you call for help, you’ll speak to a member of True’s support staff in Missouri. If needed, they’ll arrange for a third-party technician to come to you, and ensure they have all the parts and information needed to resolve your problem in a single visit.

9. All Units Are Front Serviceable

If and when an issue crops up, there’s no need to pull out a True fridge to resolve it. That saves you a lot of trouble since you can easily damage your cabinets and floors when you do that. Full size or under counter, True products are designed so that all the parts that might require service are accessible from the front.

True freezer column and under-counter wine fridge
Matte Black is another popular custom color from True, as seen on this freezer column and under-counter wine fridge.

10. Industry Leading Warranty

True refrigerators come with one of the best warranties on the market. You get a three-year complete warranty and a six-year warranty on parts and labor in sealed systems, which can be bumped up to a 12-year warranty on parts in sealed systems by registering your appliance.

11. Made in the USA

True is family-owned, vertically integrated, and headquartered in Missouri, so it isn’t as susceptible to the major supply chain issues (and related delays) as other manufacturers who buy from third parties and/or spread out production. True takes pride in the fact that it makes all the parts for all its products in its own facilities in the USA—down to the packaging that they ship in. That gives it an edge on availability and durability.

True refrigerator has easy to use controls
Easy to use controls

12. Matching Undercounter and Outdoor Appliances

As we mentioned above, True makes a wide range of indoor and outdoor appliances. If you’re the kind of person who loves it when things match, you can definitely do that with True refrigeration.

True under-counter wine fridge and icemaker
Ideal for a party: a True under-counter wine fridge and icemaker in Matte White.

5 Reasons You Might Not Love a True Refrigerator

Before you buy one, you should be aware of its potential disadvantages. Depending on your preferences, some of these could be deal-breakers.

1. No Wi-Fi

Are you looking for a refrigerator that’s Wi-Fi connected? Unfortunately, True isn’t for you. The company is focused on build quality, performance, and durability, and likely won’t ever add Wi-Fi or an app.

2. No Full-Size Panel Ready Refrigerators

True doesn’t make full-size fridges that you can cover with a cabinetry panel to match the rest of your kitchen. True makes only panel-ready under counter units. Its fridges tend to make a statement rather than blend in.

3. Not Fully Flush

True’s “flush” install is not what everybody would consider full flush. The door and hinges stick out from the cabinetry, as shown below. If you’re looking for a truly seamless fit, consider other brands.

True installation
True fridges don’t fit fully flush; note how the front edge of the door and hinges stick out past the cabinetry.
Difference between flush vs non-flush fridges
Difference between flush vs non-flush fridges

4. No Integrated Icemaker

Current True fridges don’t have an icemaker in the freezer compartment. If you like the convenience of an integrated icemaker, be aware that these products don’t have them. True makes a separate clear ice machine for this purpose.

TruLumina lighting system
True’s TruLumina Lighting system lets you illuminate your fridge’s contents in one of 14 different colors of light to match your team on game day or celebrate the holidays.

5. All Your Kitchen Appliances Can’t Match

If you want all of your kitchen appliances—gas range, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, etc.—to be from the same brand, with the exact same handles, finishes, and logos, you can’t have that with True. The company makes only refrigeration. If you’re looking for a high-end kitchen appliance package deal, you might consider a Thermador refrigerator.

True Residential vs. True Commercial
Time for a little history: True is a family-owned company based in Missouri that has been around since 1945, when the Trulaske family founders introduced the first commercial roll-top refrigerator.

From then until 2008, it made commercial products and restaurant equipment only. That’s when True entered the residential market with the debut of its under-counter refrigerator line, which is quiet enough for a home kitchen or bar setting. After that, the company introduced built-in side-by-side fridges for homes. True recently added column refrigerators, freezers, beverage centers, and wine fridges, and says that additional popular configurations are on the way.

True drew on its decades of experience making commercial refrigeration equipment like reach-ins to design its residential fridges. You’ll see that reflected in their ultra-solid construction and quality materials. True’s accustomed to providing mission-critical equipment to restaurants and food stores; its fridges won’t fail you, either.

So what is the difference between True commercial and residential fridges? The main thing is size, but commercial fridges are also much noisier. They have more stainless steel, glass, and wire shelves inside too—those are usually edited down in residential products.

True has some commercial products, like the 24- or 36-inch slide-top beverage refrigerator, that can be used in a home environment like a garage or pool cabana, but it doesn’t recommend those for your indoor kitchen.

How to Shop for a Refrigerator

Before you shortlist anything, make sure that it meets our good refrigerator criteria.

Narrow Down Your Style

Decide whether a regular refrigerator, counter depth refrigerator, or built-in refrigerator will work best in your space. Then pick the configuration: a top or bottom freezer refrigerator, a side-by-side refrigerator, a French door refrigerator, or perhaps separate columns.

Double Check the Measurements

Here’s the most important—and most frequently messed up—step. Confirm the exact amount of space you have where you want to put the refrigerator by measuring the dimensions and noting them down, then double-check any potential options against those dimensions. These include height, width, and depth; pay special attention to the depth. Also: Be sure of how much clearance you need for the door or doors to open and the drawers to slide out.

Consider the Interior

Refrigerators come with a lot of different storage options: door bins, drawers, and shelves in various configurations and levels. Adjustable shelving is common; folding and sliding shelves are less so, but very convenient. Some have extra snack or produce drawers you can set to just the right temperature and humidity—or they might set it for you, with sensors. Think about how you shop and what would really be useful for your family.

Think about Water and Ice

Don’t take for granted that every fridge has an ice maker. Many high-end products do not, since they assume you may be buying a separate clear ice maker for your home. If an ice maker’s important to you, ask about it—and ask how noisy it is. You may also like the convenience of having a filtered water dispenser in your fridge. We prefer the more modern look of an interior water dispenser, but plenty of refrigerators, especially side-by-side models, still have a water dispenser on the exterior. Some fridges even have an auto-refilling filtered water pitcher inside.

Look into The Noise

Scan online customer reviews about how loud a fridge is before you buy it. Some fridges make a lot of noise anytime the compressor kicks on whereas others are very quiet. Newer inverter compressor residential products barely make any discernible noise.

How Quiet Are True Residential Refrigerators?

Commercial fridges typically make a lot of noise. Their sound levels range from 42 to 68 decibels (dB), which is as loud as normal conversation gets and can be disturbing. In a noisy commercial kitchen that may not be an issue, but in a home, it definitely is.

True designs its residential refrigerators to run at between 42 and 48 dB, even when the compressor is running full blast.

Investigate the Climate Control Features (It’s More Than Cold Air!)

Temperature control and humidity in the refrigerator and freezer are both important. Check whether your shortlisted product has individual controls for various sections and compartments to keep your food fresh and in optimum condition. The very best fridges have dual compressors and dual evaporators.

Factor in Smart Technology

Would you like your refrigerator to be Wi-Fi enabled? Many are. While the technology isn’t fully living up to its potential—yet—we think it’s convenient to at least get a notification when you accidentally leave the door open. Remote diagnostics when you have an issue is another bonus.

Find Out How Efficiently It Runs

Certification by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy’s Energy Star program rating may be a deciding factor in your choice. A higher rating means your appliance will use less electricity. Over time, lower electric bills can help offset a higher sticker price.

True Refrigerator Models

True focuses on the most popular configurations and dimensions for its full-size products. (You won’t find a funky five-door model here.) You can, however, mix and max them with under-counter fridges and fridge and freezer drawers to get the exact storage space you need.

True Side-by-Side Refrigerator and Freezer

42-inch width – 24.44 cu. ft. capacity
48-inch width – 29.44 cu. ft. capacity

True Built In Refrigerators

These classic refrigerators can come with two solid stainless steel doors, or with a glass door framed in stainless steel for the refrigerator compartment. The only other difference between them is that the glass door won’t have bins on the interior. You can choose a classic stainless steel exterior or one of the nine custom colors and five other hardware finishes.

Inside, the shelves are glass framed in stainless steel, and the door bins and drawers are steel with clear polycarbonate fronts. The full-extension drawers are capacious and slide all the way out and in easily; they’re also designed to be easy to clean.

Very often water dispensers and ice makers in the refrigerator cause problems. True eliminated this pain point by eliminating them. You can, however, get a separate True clear icemaker.

True Column Refrigerator, Freezer, Wine Fridge, and Beverage Center

30-inch width – refrigerator with a glass or solid stainless steel door; freezer, beverage center, wine cooler
36-inch width – refrigerator or freezer, solid stainless steel or glass door

True Column Refrigerators

These are single-door models available as a full refrigerator, freezer, beverage center, or wine cooler. The fridge option has an identical arrangement of shelves and storage as the refrigerator section of the side-by-side model. These are all also available in classic stainless steel or a custom color, but cannot be fitted with custom cabinetry panels.

The beverage center has electropolished coated wire shelves that allow bottles to slide in easily. It also has a convenient upright storage rack at the bottom to hold and organize mixers.

You may want to buy any of these if you do a lot of entertaining or if you want a dedicated beverage center and/or wine cooler. They give you more room than a side-by-side fridge. The beverage center gets quite cold, so it is not an option for red wine, but you can use it for white wine and other drinks.

The wine cooler can hold 150 bottles. It has a dual cooling zone, and its shelves have nicer shelves with wood fronts. We love how the TruLumina lighting system lets you highlight your bottles. You can turn it green for St. Patrick’s Day, or match it to your favorite sports team’s colors when they’re playing.

Design Tip: One of the main benefits of any True residential refrigerator is that you can add side panels to any of the models to allow it to be freestanding rather than built-in. This is a good option if one side of your refrigerator is exposed, for example. The brand sells well-made side panels that give your refrigerator a luxurious look.

True Under-Counter Refrigeration

True makes a large number of under-counter refrigerators that can be installed indoors or outdoors. They’re all UL-rated for outdoor use. All you would need to do is add the proper insulation and winterize the icemaker.

These refrigerators come with solid stainless, stainless and glass, or panel-ready doors that you can cover to match your cabinets. You can choose from all the custom finishes available for True’s full-size refrigerators.

True Under-Counter Refrigerator

15-inch width – 3.2 cu. ft. capacity
20-inch width – 5.6 cu. ft. capacity

Opt for a right or left door hinge, then choose from a range of custom colors. The door can be solid stainless, stainless and glass, or panel ready.

True Under-Counter Beverage Center

24-inch width – 5.6 cu. ft. capacity

This unit has a glass door framed with stainless steel, or you can select one that is stainless and glass or panel ready. TruLumina lighting lets you customize the interior lighting in one of 14 colors. We like the included rack for organizing drinks and wine bottles. Another plus point of this unit is that it can also be used as a refrigerator thanks to its flexible shelving.

True Under-Counter Wine Cabinet

15-inch width – 3.1 cu. ft. capacity
24-inch width – 5.52 cu. ft. capacity

Either size gives you a versatile wine storage system with a single- or dual-zone temperature control.

True Refrigerator Drawer

24-inch width – 5.4 cu. ft. capacity

If you need additional room to chill, this under-counter drawer is a great choice. It has the same dimensions as a Sub Zero refrigerator drawer, but more room inside; a Sub Zero fridge drawer is 36 inches wide, but has only a 5.2 cu. ft. capacity. It comes in solid stainless steel or with a panel-ready front. We especially like that the drawer is tall enough that you can stand up wine or other bottles under 12 inches tall inside.

True Freezer Drawer

24-inch width – 4.2 cu. ft. capacity

This convenient drawer may be right up your alley if you don’t need an entire freezer. With a 4.2 cu. ft. capacity, it can hold everything from ice cream to trays of lasagna. Just note that it doesn’t have a built-in ice maker. According to True, many people choose to to install a refrigerator column and a freezer drawer or two.

True Beverage Dispenser

15-inch width
24-inch width

If you want to keep your favorite lager or IPA on tap, then this beverage dispenser is for you. It comes in two sizes that fit under your counter. Both can fit different size kegs. You can convert it to a beverage center, wine cabinet, or even use it as a refrigerator, so it is truly versatile. Pro Tip: Pair it with a freezer drawer nearby so you can have frosty mugs.

True Clear Ice Machine

15-inch width

This is True’s signature product. It’s the only brand that builds its icemaker in-house and doesn’t outsource the manufacturing to another company. This product can be installed indoors or outdoors, and makes clear, top-hat ice, which mixologists love because it melts more slowly than regular cubes and won’t dilute your drink as quickly.

The True icemaker comes with a pump, a built-in water filter, and an integrated ice scoop. It can make up to 70 lb. of ice a day at 70 degrees F, or 55 lb. at 95 degrees F or higher, and has a storage capacity of 28 lb. Compare that with machines from competitors that can make only 55 lbs. in 24 hours. For that reason, a True icemaker is a fantastic choice for your outdoor bar if you live in a hot climate.

This ice machine is also quiet. The only noise you are likely to hear is when the ice kicks out.

You do have to clean it periodically, as you do any icemaker. True has a video on its website to walk you through the process using a descaler or vinegar and diluted bleach.

True ADA Refrigeration

True recently launched an ADA refrigerator unit, refrigerator drawer, wine cabinet, and beverage center. Since ADA counters are lower, a regular under-counter unit won’t fit in the space. These are intended for commercial use (such as in hospitality applications) and residential use.

While these units are substantially cheaper than other True under-counter units, they may not offer the same versatility and are smaller in size. However, if you have a low countertop, they may be ideal for you. There are some design differences from the standard units. For instance, the top control panel is cleverly hidden in the toe kick to add to the interior capacity. ADA units have a black-painted aluminum interior and vinyl-coated wire shelves instead of solid stainless steel. They also have a strip of white lights instead of customizable display lighting.

True Slide Top Beverage Center

24-inch width

This is one True commercial product that’s great for residential use in an outdoor kitchen or pool cabana. Available in custom colors, its retro look can add to your décor. We also love that it’s under $2,000.

True Refrigerator Price – Is It Worth It?

A True refrigerator is on the expensive side. The most affordable units are the ADA-compatible under-counter units, which range from $2,799 to $3,399. Standard height under-counter units cost between $3,649 and $4,899. Columns cost between $9,879 and $10,999, and side by side fridges cost $16,849 to $18,819. Note: This is before any customization.

However, True refrigerators last longer than many competitive models and are more available. They also promise quick, easy repairs and readily accessible spare parts. True’s a great high-end option for people who love its specific aesthetic and want a professional-looking kitchen.

Conclusion

True is a homegrown, family-owned brand that makes all of its refrigerators, from the smallest parts to the final assembly (including the shipping materials), in its own facilities in the USA. Its refrigeration solutions are built with thought and experience. It is a customer-friendly brand, offering a number of customizations that you can use to personalize your appliance and make your kitchen look unique. As for cooling, you can’t go wrong with this brand since it has been in the commercial space for nearly a century. If the pros trust it, you can too.


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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on October 7, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.

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