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Haier plans to conquer U.S., starting with this fridge



There are several variations of the Haier HRT18F2APE. These include the Haier HRT18F2APP and Haier HRT18F2APS. They are very similar to the Haier HRT18F2APE in most respects.

Until now, the Chinese appliance giant Haier has made its name in the U.S. market by building dorm fridges and wine chillers. But that may be about to change. With a refrigerator factory in South Carolina, a new research and development center in Indiana, and plans for an expanded lineup, Haier seems to have set its sights on expanding its presence in America.

But can this Haier take the company’s refrigerator game… higher? Well, we were hired to provide the answer to this very question, so we’ll stop the homonyms and get straight to the point: The 18 cu.-ft. Haier HRT18F2APE top freezer refrigerator (MSRP $819) appears to be a great budget top-freezer. It has great energy efficiency, and at 66-inches high by 29-inches wide it’s just the right size for smaller kitchens.

This model’s refrigerator compartment is pretty good at regulating temperature, but the freezer struggles with temperature consistency over time. Both compartments do offer a lot of storage space given the size of the refrigerator, so if you rely heavily on your refrigerator section and don’t do a lot of long-term freezing, the HRT18F2APE is a good option.

As far as value is concerned, we’ll have to wait until the HRT18F2APE hits stores to see how low its sale price can go. But compared to the competition from the likes of better-known manufacturers like Frigidaire and GE, we’re hoping to see a number below $650.

Design & Usability

Deceptively roomy

On the outside, this Haier is an ordinary top freezer with a black, reflective finish that’s prone to smudging. A small Haier logo adorns the front of the refrigerator, and both the fridge and freezer compartments can be tugged open with sturdy, reversible plastic handles.

Inside the compartments, Haier keeps the design familiar. Spill-proof glass shelves are clear with white trim, and many are height-adjustable. It’s a nice layout for a top-freezer. Similarly, the bright LEDs that illuminate both fridge and freezer are a nice touch at this price point—although the large light fixtures make it clear that LED bulbs have simply been substituted for incandescent counterparts at the factory, so the smaller bulbs don’t offer any space savings.

Control dials can be turned to adjust temperature in both the fridge and freezer. While they appear simple enough, the dials proved stiff and were not labeled with any sort of helpful increments. Setting the refrigerator dial to the user manual’s recommended “one o’clock” position was needlessly complicated. Fridge controls are set at the front of the compartment, but you’ll have to access the back wall of your freezer in order to bump the freezer’s temperature up or down.

Inside the refrigerator’s main compartment, you’ll find a deli drawer and two humidity-adjustable crisper drawers, which glide open and shut with surprising ease for a budget fridge. The freezer houses a standard ice maker and plastic tray on the left side of its top shelf.

Performance & Features

The freezer struggles to keep its cool

Temperatures in the main compartment averaged a few degrees too warm, so we’d suggest using a colder setting than the manual recommends. Temperatures in this compartment also fluctuate a little bit over time, but not much, making the fridge fairly reliable for delicate items (soft cheeses, etc.).

On the flip side, the crisper drawers do little to prevent your food from drying out, failing to retain much moisture at their highest humidity setting. Additionally, the freezer compartment won’t keep your food safe from freezer burn unless you turn the temperature dial down quite a bit. Temperatures also fluctuated more than we like to see over time, and the top was notably warmer than the bottom.

Finally, the ice maker was a bit overzealous when it came to cube production, overflowing the plastic tray and blocking its own controls with a mound of extra ice. This is the sort of initial quality issue that might make consumers wary of buying a major appliance from a less-familiar brand.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Warranty

Haier’s limited warranty covers mechanical and electrical parts and labor for defects of material or workmanship of the product found within a year after purchase. There’s also a 5-year warranty for the refrigerator’s sealed system.

Before You Buy

Not bad

Haier HRT18F2APE refrigerator

Credit:

Reviewed.com / Kori Perten

The Haier HRT18F2APE refrigerator

It’s easy to recommend a great fridge or dismiss a terrible one, but most refrigerators fall somewhere in the middle. The Haier HRT18F2APE is one of those fridges. For a company that’s just establishing itself in the U.S. major appliance market, an unremarkable product is a good sign.

Here’s the good news: This top freezer has a solid refrigerator compartment that should keep your food consistently cold as long as you turn down the control knobs. It’s also energy efficient, saving some money on running costs.

The downsides are these: Freezer temperatures are a few degrees too warm and fluctuate both over time and between the top and bottom of the compartment, and this kind of temperature variation promotes freezer burn. Significant moisture loss in the crisper drawers also means your vegetables may not last as long as you’d like.

That’s a a lot of pros and cons, but when it comes down to it, this is a solid refrigerator whose success will largely depend on its sale price. The similarly-sized Frigidaire FFTR1814QW lacks the Haier’s glass shelves and icemaker, but scored similarly in our performance tests and carries an MSRP of just $629. Haier will have to price the HRT18F2APE aggressively to make it a good value.



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