About Kelvinator refrigerators

kelvinatorKelvinator received a 4-star rating for customer satisfaction in Canstar Blue’s 2014 survey. We examine why Australians customers were so satisfied with their Kelvinator fridges.

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The people behind the name

Young engineer Nathaniel Wales had an idea for a practical electric refrigeration unit for the home, but no way to make it on his own. He took the idea to Edmund Copeland and Arnold Goss, who was the secretary of Buick Automobiles at the time. Copeland and Goss recognised the brilliance of Wales’s idea and got right to work on building and distributing it.

They founded the company in 1914 in Detroit as “Electro-Automatic Refrigerating Company” and were among the first companies to make and sell refrigerators in the United States. They were so successful that two years later, they renamed their company “Kelvinator” in honour of the British mathematical physicist and engineer, William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin. It seemed appropriate that a fridge and freezer company should be named after the man who developed the concept of absolute zero and after whom the ‘Kelvin’ temperature scale is named.

They acquired Grand Rapids Refrigerator Company’s porcelain-lined “Leonard Cleanable” ice cabinets and put their own refrigerators inside the porcelain frames. The American public loved these so much that by 1923, Kelvinator held 80% market share for electric fridges.

In the London branch during World War II, Kelvinator engineers contributed to field testing airplane components at ultra-low temperatures and testing instruments under high altitude conditions. This research is credited with saving the lives of many Allied air crews.

Kelvinator has been present in Australia since 1921 and has sold more than 5 million refrigerators here since then.

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 Canstar Blue refrigerator customer satisfaction survey

Some of Kelvinator’s refrigerator innovations

Kelvinator’s range of fridges varies in size from 210 litres up to 600 litres. All Kelvinator fridges come with Spillsafe™ glass shelves that can hold up to a litre of spilled liquid to keep it from dripping onto lower shelves. They also come with adjustable storage, humidity controlled crispers and separate controls for the fridge and freezer.

Kelvinator is also responsible with many “firsts” in refrigerator technology.

1918: The first fridge to come with an automatic temperature control.

1925: The industry’s first self-contained refrigeration unit that has the cooling system, compressor and condenser all together in one cabinet.

1934: The world’s first two-door household refrigerator.

1939: The first across-the-top freezer that was connected to the refrigerator, not separate.

1947: The first two-door refrigerator with two separate cold zones.

1955: The first side-by-side refrigerator, called the “Foodarama”. You can watch the historical TV ad for the Kelvinator “Foodarama” on YouTube.

1960: The first foamed-in-place refrigerator.

1966: Illuminated ice cream cabinet is introduced.

2001: Home Smart Refrigerators are introduced, a totally re-designed and engineered line of refrigerators.

2004: Introduction of a line of 60cm-deep built-in refrigerators and the “BIG FAMILY Pair”, a fridge and upright freezer pair that together had 946 litres of storage capacity.

2006: A 390 litre Frost Free Chest Freezer is introduced.

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Other refrigerator brands we rated

Canstar Blue commissions Colmar Brunton to regularly survey 3,000 Australian consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used a fridge in the last three years – in this case, 776 Australians.

The other refrigerator brands in this year’s survey are:

  • Electrolux
  • Fisher & Paykel
  • LG
  • Samsung
  • Westinghouse
  • Whirlpool

You can view the refrigerator survey results here.

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