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emily_g

Northstar vs. Big Chill

emily_g
15 years ago

I am remodeling a kitchen and I am thinking of including a retro fridge so it is a little more fun and less "stiff". I've been looking at Northstar, Big Chill, and Smeg. Smeg is a little too small for my space, but the Big Chill and Northstar would work. I've finally learned what kind of refrigerators these are and did a little research:

Elmira/Northstar uses an Amana Model ABB1922FEB for the 1950 model refrigerator (freezer on bottom). They use a Whirlpool Model ET8FTEXSQ for their 1952 model refrigerator (freezer on top). Big Chill uses the Whirlpool ET1FTEXSQ for their original model.

So, CR says the Amana is GREAT, but the reviews are AWFUL. The Big Chill using the Whirlpool is also a best buy per CR, but only one review.

Does anyone out there have any history with either of these? I need to buy in the next 3-4 weeks?

Comments (50)

  • farmhousebound
    14 years ago

    I am considering purchasing one of these two refrigerators - did you decide to go with one of these? If so, how do you like it? I can't seem to find a whole lof of reviews on either. Thanks!

  • gsciencechick
    14 years ago

    Also would like more info.

    There are some new Amana fridges available in bright colors that are very reasonably priced, but they are pretty small, 17.6 cu. ft. I emailed them, and there are no plans to make them in a bigger size. We have 18 cu. ft. now, and we really need something a little bigger.

    Do you plan to order from them directly, or are you close to a showroom? With our current remodel, a retro fridge would just look so awesome.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Amana color refrigerators

  • farmhousebound
    14 years ago

    Right now I'm just in the research phase and am leaning toward the Big Chill. I would have to order directly as there are no dealers in Georgia, but would love to see one up close before putting that much down on an appliance.

  • gsciencechick
    14 years ago

    Same thing here. I'm in Charlotte, but the only Big Chill dealers are about 3 hours away in Raleigh and Asheville. I want to see one in person, too. We have some time, but our current fridge is from mid-90's and with its horrible putty color now looks awful in a blue and white kitchen.

    DH is not thrilled about the price, either. If the economy were better and more stable, I think we'd have one on order. Of course, the Northstar are even more expensive than the Big Chill.

    I have had no luck at all with CL or Ebay.

  • farmhousebound
    14 years ago

    Looked there, too, and didn't see any and there doesn't seem to be much (if at all) variation on price on any of the sites that I have visited. I can take some time looking as I have a 1951 GE that I had reconditioned and it looks great and keeps things cold . . . but I didn't count on having to defrost it. We have just had hardwood floors layed in our renovation and I don't want to even take a chance on ruining them after seeing how you have to defrost (guess I'm spoiled--all the fridges I've been around and have had have been frost free). DH thinks I'm absolutely crazy even thinking about getting another after what I had to pay to get this one done. I will see how the one I have works in new kitchen and start saving pennies for down the road!

    If you get a chance to see one in person, let me know what you think and whethe or not you think it's worth the $.

  • gsciencechick
    14 years ago

    That sounds gorgeous! I have wonderful memories of helping Mom defrost the freezer, and even in my first apartment by myself the fridge was not frost free thought it wasn't old, just budget. Like a non-self cleaning oven, it's a huge messy job, but it has to be done.

    We hope to take a day to go up to the Biltmore soon, so perhaps we can stop off at the place in Asheville. But we still have to have the cabinet doors finished with paint and then reattached, then put the kitchen back together!

    Seriously, I'm willing to give up a lot (vacation, whatever) to get the Big Chill.

  • farmhousebound
    14 years ago

    If you like defrosting, maybe I should sell you mine then that would help me to get the Big Chill! (LOL) Please let me know if you make it up on your vacation to Biltmore/Asheville and what you think of the fridge--maybe they would give us a deal if we both bought one.

  • guadalupe
    14 years ago

    North Star made by GE, Big Chill made by Whirlpool

  • farmhousebound
    14 years ago

    Decided to call Big Chill during a break here at work - very nice to talk to! Differences between Big Chill & Northstar appear to be: (1) manufacture - Big Chill uses Whirlpool and he advised you can check out any of the 20.9 cf line as they all use the same compressor to get reviews; (2) metal (Big Chill) versus powder-baked fiberglass (Northstar); and (3) price (seems Northstar is out of Canada which results in the higher pricing).

    Other info on Big Chill: 1 year warranty on parts & labor, 5 year warranty on the compressor. I asked about how long to expect to receive after ordering and he advised about 3 weeks. Pricing on their website is current.

  • gsciencechick
    14 years ago

    Wow, thanks for the info. So, do you think you will order soon?

    I wonder if there is any advantage to ordering from a dealer or Big Chill directly since the dealers are not local. But if the components are Whirlpool, then it could be serviced locally if it ever needed anything.

  • farmhousebound
    14 years ago

    Probably will not be ordering soon as DH and I are trying to come up with a solution to any possible water leakage when defrosting my current GE and I promised him I would give it a try (and not spend any more money right now); however, I am starting a slush fund for down the road! Since there are no dealers around here, I would order from them directly--they seemed very responsive and appear to have been in business for some time, and as I mentioned there does not seem to be a break in price with any other dealers.

  • gsciencechick
    14 years ago

    Right, they probably mandate uniform pricing throughout their dealer network.

    What color are you interested in? We want the light blue. They told me that's what they have in the Raleigh showroom.

    Was the GE brought up to today's energy standards?

  • farmhousebound
    14 years ago

    Would go with basic white--my Chambers stove and farmhouse sink are white.

    Not sure whether or not my older fridge brought up to today's standards. I do know the fridge keeps things cold, the freezer freezes . . . and it has to be defrosted.

  • ebaymailgirl_yahoo_com
    13 years ago

    My husband and I are considering a Big Chill. We saw a Northstar and did not like that it looked like it just had a retro front over a refrigerator. Is the Big Chill like this?
    We will have to take a look at a Big Chill but the closest dealer is about 3 hours away!

  • maryannechappel_comcast_net
    12 years ago

    Hi! I can't comment on Northstar, and we've only had our Big Chill for about a week now. But I can tell you that I absolutely love it. I noticed the comment about the icemaker, and I can't say that we've found that to be the case (we have the full-size, not the studio version, but the freezer has tons of space). We were fortunate to have a dealer (Sozio appliances) close by, so we were able to see it in person before ordering. It took about a month to arrive after ordering.

  • retro_fan
    12 years ago

    My family and I LOVE our Big Chill fridge. We designed our basement remodel around it and in fact, will have to leave the fridge with the house when we decide to sell (and will be in the market for a new BC at that time). It provides ample space for our needs in both the freezer and fridge sections, and we use it not only in our bar area but as an overflow on items that we use frequently. I've found it keeps my food and party trays colder than our kitchen fridge. We've had it for about three years and have had zero issues, only compliments. Highly recommend the Big Chill.

    Here is a link that might be useful: big chill fridge

  • amanda_redmond_neal_gmail_com
    12 years ago

    I'm trying to make this decision myself, and I'm awfully glad that I ran into these two sets of reviews today, because I had previously been leaning Northstar. I was already starting to get frustrated with Elmira's three (3) failures to return a voicemail or email, and here I see confirmation that this is par for the course. How I wish that one could just buy the Northstar door and/or casing to fit out a normal, reasonably priced fridge.

    http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/northstar-refrigerators--1950-retro-contemporary-and-modern-kitchen-appliances

    (way at the bottom)
    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/boston/good-questions/sources-for-retro-style-refrigerators-good-questions-105698

  • daphjerr
    12 years ago

    I have a question for those comparison shoppers out there: Is the color "buttercup yellow" exactly the same paint on both Elmira and Big Chill? It looks the same, but I'd hate to order the fridge from one company and a stove from the other and not have the colors match.

  • Thedanman
    12 years ago

    To any concerned parties out there that are shopping Big Chill Stove/Ovens, I won a Brand spankin new BC stove/oven on a game show. Still in the box. If you have been pricing this item then you know what quality means. Today is your lucky day!! I have this unit in the Retro Green Color I live in California and can be reached @ my email michaelmallers@gmail.com......Thanks

  • AbSage
    11 years ago

    I have a Big Chill refrigerator that is just over one year old. Bottom Line: The concept is great and the fridge looks fantastic, but once the fridge is paid for and leaves the plant, you're on your own. Just hope your delivery goes smoothly and pray you don't need warranty service.

    My dealings with Brian were great during my shopping/pre-purchase period. But the shipping experience was a complete nightmare. I don't know where he found the freight company he used for my area (Pittsburgh), but they were terrible. Long story short, scheduling delivery was to THEIR convenience, not mine. I took off work, and they stood me up...twice...with no phone call, apology, or explanation. They called me a couple days later that they "put me on the schedule" (didn't ask me if the date was OK). Since they had to cancel me twice (without letting me know they were canceling me) I got bumped to the bottom of their schedule twice, leaving me with no refrigerator for 10 days. No apology, no money off shipping, no satisfaction from Big Chill or Shipping Company.

    Fast forward 3 or 4 weeks: Fridge is in, shipping issues are now a distant memory. It is June in Pittsburgh, and the freezer starts to look like a block of frosty ice with some food sticking out. I must now call Brian for Warranty Service. Again, I don't know where they dug up the service person, but he was a complete moron. After 4 trips to my home (one of which involved stuffing a paper towel into the gasket as a solution), the issue still wasn't resolved. After talking to Brian, he finally allowed me to choose my own repair person to look at the freezer. However, instead of allowing this guy to do his job, Brian instructed this service person, via telephone, what he should do. The guy did as Brian told him, but, having 30 years experience fixing refrigerators, he expressed doubt that it would work. But by now it's February, which means it's cold in Pittsburgh...no humidity to build up in the freezer. I told Brian I would need to wait till summer again, to see if the solution really worked. So now, June 2012 arrives, it's very hot and humid in Pittsburgh, and frost again builds up in the freezer (not as bad, but more than should be in there). I contact Brian, he never gets back to me. I suppose he figures that this fridge is now out of it's 1-year warranty and he is off the hook. But because of the incompetent people he sent, this ongoing problem was never resolved during the warranty period.

    I would not recommend or buy from Big Chill again. However, I do love the look, so I will end up having it fixed and having to pay for it myself. So, if you can't resist the wonderful look of Big Chill you must be willing to gamble on the delivery and service that go with it. I hope your luck is better than mine.

  • ajryland
    10 years ago

    I would love to be able to provide a review of my Big Chill gas range and hood. But they would have to get here first. After doing my research, I called to place an order several weeks ago and was told they had a 6-8 week delivery window (when I had called several weeks before it was 4 weeks). So I told them this wouldn't work for my time frame as we had a drop dead delivery date that we needed to make work, thanked them for their time and hung up. I was in the process of placing an order for my second choice when the rep from Big Chill called me back. She said she had talked with the owner and plant manager and they all agreed they could absolutely meet my deadline and I should place the order. So I did.
    Fast forward several weeks, lots of follow up on my part, lots of changing answers, and I still don't have them. After many calls and emails Big Chill did agree to refund my shipping fee. But despite the rep insisting she had made many calls and done all she could do, whenever I check the story it doesn't hold up. She insisted she spoke with the freight companies to let them know our situation and she had done all she could do. When I spoke with the freight company they say no such conversation took place. I am hopeful I will like the product (given the expense and trouble to get it) but the customer service leaves a lot to be desired. They said what they had to say to make the sale, but failed to deliver on their word.

  • jxa44
    9 years ago

    Any new information on Northstar? I'm planning my kitchen, and wouldn't you know it, I'm looking at Northstar and Big Chill. After reading your comments, Big Chill is out. But I'm wonderin if it would be a similar gamble to choose Northstar???

  • straubwilliams
    9 years ago

    I have been looking at Northstar and Big Chill, but also the GE Artistry brand. The GE Artistry brand is much less expensive and because it is GE, I don't anticipate the same sort of delivery issues. But it doesn't look quite as cooly retro as the other two. Any thoughts?

  • julkane
    8 years ago

    I have an apartment-size Big Chill that is about 5 or 6 years old. It is beautiful and very roomy for its size, but last year at this time and this year, too, the refrigerator section began warming up to room temperature, and the freezer section got way too cold, with ice buildup. I had to wait a month until a Sears repairman could come (the only appliance repair option in my small town) and then pay hundreds of dollars for him to defrost my supposedly "frost-free" refrigerator. Now, one year later, the same thing has happened again--I had to throw out most of my cold items, and I am subsisting out of a dorm-sized cube refrigerator while I get up the time and nerve to try to defrost the Big Chill myself. I have had many compliments on its beauty, but I would not buy one again.


  • straubwilliams
    8 years ago

    Thanks, Julkane. I appreciate the information. We ended up buying the Artistry Brand applicances, mainly due to cost. It has only been one month, but so far, so good, with the exception of the icemaker, which doesn't seem to work. Repairman is coming this week, so hopefully that will get fixed.

  • stdolza
    8 years ago

    No one mentioned Heartland Appliances. We have had them, fridge, wall oven and gas range for over 22 years. They were always good to deal with. Made in Canada.



  • krisfetz
    8 years ago

    We own the Big Chill fridge, stove/hood, and dishwasher. I have been happy with the fridge and stove but the dishwasher sucks. We purchased all 3 appliances 5 years ago and the dishwasher worked for about 2 years and we have had problems ever since. It doesn't get the dishes clean and the entire cavity is caked with residue. We have tried everything! We initially contacted the store where we purchased the appliance and they sent out a repairman, which we paid for, and he sold us a cleaning kit and instructed us to run the machine with this chemical through a cycle. This didn't work. We have tried running vinegar through the machine and also manually cleaning the unit. We researched the best soap to use in our machine and that didn't make a difference. Now we are looking for a new dishwasher. Bottom line DON'T BUY THE DISHWASHER. One other issue we've had is with the oven hood, it seems to build up grease and it sometimes drips on the stove. We don't eat a lot of fried foods and we have cleaned the hood but the grease has managed to get up inside and when it gets hot it sometimes drips on the stove. This isn't a deal-breaker for me. I love the look of my kitchen. And this is also my first hood and wasn't sure if this is normal.

  • makeupbywendy
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    We opted for GE Artistry in white. We prefer look of SMEG & The Big Chill, but can't get solid reviews on those two. GE seems solid in reviews, service, quality AND more than half the price! Home run would've been if GE Artistry would offer colors besides only black or white.

  • christine_walker333
    7 years ago

    I have had a Big Chill fridge since 2008. I love it - there have been zero problems with it what so ever. Easy to clean behind, easy to keep clean inside and looks beautiful The crowning glory is when we entertain, everyone loves this fridge. We remodeled our kitchen around our O'Keefe & Merritt stove. However, the focal point for guests has become the Big Chill fridge. You will not regret this purchase!

  • Amanda Jo Couture
    7 years ago

    We bought a microwave and two dishwasher PANELS in the summer (it's feb now) o needed pink.

    just needed it. It took a long time for them to come. We live in Canada. I wasn't too concerned. I went to the loca appliance store and bought the panel ready dishwashers from them and used them without the panels for about a month which was kind of a pain becomes they are very hard to open without a panel. They are kitchen aid dishwashers. I paid about 1200 for each. They worked great but our older four kids load them and I'm pretty sure they think there is a garborator in there so my husband has to clean out the filters all the time and blow out the spinny thing with the air compressor. They are so beautiful. I seriously love them to death. I'm looking to get two of the fridges and a stove next. It's a massive burn on the shipping with that. Put it this way. the panes were around 500 usd each and the microwave the same ish. To ship them to Calgary from Denver was 450 usd. Plus 250 cad at the border. Plus the cost of the actual dishwasher. They are lagit a luxury item. the only other choice is powder coating regular appliances at your local paint guy place. I don't know how easy or nice it would look. I'm super happy with my panels and microwave

    if anyone has anything to say about the 48 inch stove I'd love to hear.


  • Tammy Meylan Kasony
    7 years ago

    Well, we are buying a old general store w/ attached house and I planned on buying some retro appliances. After reading the reviews I think I'll look into KitchenAid colored appliances instead. Too bad because I really wanted the retro look but with the money involved I'm not going to risk it on faulty appliances.


  • o_shamrock
    7 years ago

    Run away from Big Chill. Actually slap yourself for even considering buying a Big Chill product. The products look great, but the company is absolutely has the worst customer service and does not standby their products. We bought the refrigerator, stove, hood and dishwasher panel 2 1/2 years ago. We have had no problems with the dishwasher panel as I placed that upon a locally purchased dishwasher. The stove hood fan sounds like a 747, there is no space for filters, and 3 weeks ago the Big Chill logo started popping off when our front burners were on. The trick is that there is no way to fix it and the company rep was only able offer "sorry" without any viable advice to DIY fix it. Also, about 3 weeks ago one of the front burners' gas ignitions went out. The company has failed to give me the stove model number so I can order the correct part and replace it. They gave me a stove model number, but a search gives me nothing. Two days ago the refrigerator stopped cooling (I knew the old beer fridge in the basement would come in handy). Again, the Big Chill rep gave me the same run-a-round saying that they use dependable Whirlpool products. After they OVER EXPLAINED that the warranty was expired, they were trying everything they could to hang up on me. Finally, they gave me a bogus Fridge model number (that I was going to use to troubleshoot my problem). After a search produced nothing I called a local appliance repair shop and they told me that the model number was bogus. I called Big Chill back, but they did not answer - I am sure that clown recognized my number. However, they did answer an email, in which they stated "it's the model number". So, tomorrow it's going to cost at least $300 just to have a guy come out to the house plus parts and other costs to fix a second rate fridge. My guess is that Big Chill does not use Whirlpool products and quite possibly use repaired appliances. This would explain their failure to produce reliable model numbers. Like I said before, RUN AWAY FROM Big Chill products!!!!

  • lswan21
    6 years ago

    running. thanks

  • HU-551714914
    5 years ago

    I recently bought a new set of appliances from Elmira- stove, fridge, dishwasher panel, microwave, and hood.

    I first tried to deal with Big Chill, as they are much closer, and had a generally terrible experience. I even went to their "showroom" in Boulder to try to see the appliances in person, and they could not have been more lackadaisical and unresponsive, including being unable to answer basic function questions about the appliances. (Speaking of function, the oven is so basic it doesn't even have a timer, and there's a ton of wasted space in the bottom in the form of a fakey panel, instead of a pot storage or warming drawer.) Both my friend and I left very annoyed at the attitude we encountered. If that was how Big Chill behaved from the sales end, I couldn't imagine how bad it would be if I actually bought their products and had an issue down the road.


    When I found Elmira, I was THRILLED. Not only are the designs fabulous, the oven functions are very complete and fully modern without sacrificing any design appeal. I had a great experience dealing with them on the phone (Liz!), although I will say the email responses from sales were at times a bit slow, and it took *forever* to get a color sample (pro tip: Elmira Robin's Egg Blue and Big Chill Turquoise are identical). However, the appliances are spectacular, the local delivery service guys were great, and Liz was very helpful and friendly on the phone and via email in figuring out the dimensions on the back of the stove so I could configure my gas line correctly. If something does go wrong down the road (knock on wood), I feel that they'll offer good support.


    Night and day experiences for me! I'd recommend Elmira over Big Chill in a heartbeat.

  • Marian Hall
    4 years ago

    My 4 year old Big Chill Refrigerator (frostfree) has been lovely UNTIL 4 months ago. I must now defrost it manually, just about monthly now. Two repairmen and no change. I did buy it used from an original owner. I am so disappointed. I love my jade green fridge, but hate having to defrost.

  • PRO
    Craftsman Construction
    3 years ago

    Big Chill is a basic whirlpool reskinned to look retro. Very disappointed, but it is the only option I could find. I am now the proud owner of a fancy looking $500 refrigerator. Scam!

  • Debra Compton
    3 years ago

    We bought the Northstar refrigerator for a little rental cottage but then something went wrong and it stopped cooling. We had a repairman out and he wouldn’t work on it because it had some type of flammable gas as a coolant.

  • HU-832592411
    3 years ago

    Bought Northstar Range/Fridge/Vent hood and the overall quality is poor with the final straw for me being rust blisters appearing under the paint and one exposed area of 4"x6" where the paint is gone. Northstar says they have only seen that one time before and blame me for living on the coast of BC and the salt air environment. Never seen that on any other appliance so its obviously a quality issue that they refuse to deal with-$15,000 in appliances 8 years old!!

  • Haleh Niazmand
    3 years ago

    We have a Big Chil fridge (whirlpool), Amana Stove, and Big Chill Dishwasher (Kitchen Aid) in a restored 1950s kitchen. All appliances perform flawlessly.


  • HU-832592411
    3 years ago

    As a owner of these $15,000 appliances, never again! Rust bubbles erupting on the paint surfaces and numerous other quality issues. No help from Manufacture other then to say its my fault for living on the coast. Now in for servicing and repair depot say these are very poor quality and the manufacture is only interested is the sale ,not the long term customer satisfaction. Stay away!!

  • pippipal
    2 years ago
  • ccook23
    2 years ago

    I've had the WORST experience with Big Chill. I ordered the Retropolitan Fridge in CORAL on April 8. Understanding that there are delays due to Covid, etc. I was originally quoted ship date of 6/30. 6/30 came and went and I reached out for an update. After sending 5/6 messages via phone and email someone finally responded a week later and told me that now it would ship "between 8/15 and 9/15, could be sooner, could be later". Finally shipped 8/26. Scheduled delivery for 9/17. Fridge is brought into the house and is RED. I refused delivery and frantically reached out to Big Chill to find out what was happening. Took another 5-6 emails/calls to finally get an answer from someone in Shipping who was able to tell me it was a computer glitch that spit out "Red Coral" rather than Coral and I'm not the only person this happened to. She says someone will call me in the next 2 days to confirm when my correct fridge will ship. A week goes by, again I send 5-6 emails/calls and someone finally gets back to me to tell me they'll get back to me with a new shipping date. In the meanwhile a friend told me someone she knew was dealing with the exact same issue, wrong color delivered and having issues getting the right one. I decided to cancel the order as this was just so unbelievable to me and customer service was barely apologetic. I literally designed my whole kitchen around this fridge and I WANTED this fridge. I am so disappointed in having to cancel but I don't trust a company that doesn't even double check the color that you ordered or respond to calls/emails without being harassed. I requested a full refund on Monday 9/20 and still waiting for the credit to come through. Hoping this will help someone else avoid the frustration I've dealt with for the past almost 6 months.

  • pippipal
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    So sad to see that customer service at Big Chill still sucks. I bought a range from them about ten years ago, and they just don't care once they have your money. The fact is, there's a long line of customers behind every disappointed one, so it doesn't matter to them. I wish more appliance manufacturers would do retro-look appliances so that we weren't stuck with only Big Chill or Northstar.

  • Susan Diamond
    last year

    I would not go with Big Chill. Trying to get my money back as I have not gotten my refrigerator after 5 months. Having a horrible shipping experience. Shippers didn't show up and no one returning my call/e-mails, either Big Chill or shipping company. Called shipping company multiple times and they could not tell me what the problem was. Finally found an obscure phone number (corporate office?). I found out my fridge was damaged in shipping and they were working on ordering a new one! Without my permission. I have no interest in waiting another 5 months for a refrigerator. Long story short, I am still without my refrigerator and without my $5000!

  • Karen Mahardy
    last year

    We purchased a refrigerator from Big Chill in March of 2021. Due to supply chain delays, it was delivered in January to f 2022 and we installed it in early March of 2022. The refrigerator worked for a total of 2 days then the compressor failed. We called Big Chill service and were given the runaround for 6 weeks, one call after another by us with the same response from service that they needed to call us back the next day. This happened repeatedly before finally they said it would be faster to send us a new refrigerator than to repair the defective one. We were told they would return our call with a delivery timeline. They did didn’t call. After several emails and calls you finally spoke to someone and they said a new refrigerator would be delivered by June 22nd and we would receive a call to schedule a delivery. I emailed again, and for the millionth time I ask that they work on their communication. We received a call a few days later to schedule a delivery, which we did. Then the delivery truck broke down, so delivery was rescheduled for the following week. A refrigerator was delivered today but it’s the wrong color and opens on the wrong side, so the saga continues. I’ve emailed them again asking that they communicate a plan for another refrigerator to be delivered that is correct and working. I have zero confidence that this will happen.

  • opensky01
    last year

    Is the North Star quiet?

  • HU-9761571
    16 days ago

    I just found this - after purchasing Fridge and stove an hour ago from Big Chill, Any positive about them????

  • Dena Land
    7 days ago

    Yeah, cancel the order

  • Dena Land
    7 days ago

    I bought a full set of Big Chill appliances for my condo, and the fridge started to fall apart almost immediately. The stove worked well, and the dishwasher was just ok. Not worth the $$