Environmentally-friendly Refrigeration or How to Buy a ConServ Fridge in Ottawa

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When we bought our house several years ago it came with a set of matching black kitchen appliances. While this meant we didn’t have to buy any appliances when transitioning from renting an apartment to home ownership, it meant we ended up with appliances we wouldn’t have chosen ourselves. Of all the appliances, the fridge was the one that suited us the least. When we sold our car last December we decided to use some of the proceeds to buy a more environmentally-friendly fridge.

To begin with, the old fridge was too big for a household of two adults plus a dog. If you ever travel in Europe and get to see the fridges that the locals use, you will realise that we are over-fridged here in North America. The one we got with our house was around 24 cubic feet and quite deep so things were always getting hidden behind other things and going bad. The freezer, though large on paper, wasn’t all that useful because a third of it was filled with an ice-maker. I’m not a big fan of ice-makers.  There is no insulation between an ice-maker (and consequently the freezer) and your house, which means a great deal of energy loss. And one peek inside it was enough to turn me off of ever using it.  Yellow gunk used to build up in it all the time.  Energy-wise it was a hog, rated at 850 kW hours per year by the Energy Star program.

Most fridges on the market now use less electricity than our old one did. However, as fridges last a long time (at least I hope they do) we wanted to get one that was as energy-efficient as possible. We also wanted one that was about half the size of our old model. Finally, we wanted one that was eco-friendly throughout its life-cycle from the extraction of the raw materials it is made from through its manufacture and the reuseability (or recyclability) of its components when it is no longer repairable.

In doing research into enviro-friendly fridges in Canada, I kept coming across references to the ConServ Refrigerator (sometimes referred to as the Eco-fridge). For example, the Ecology Action eco-renovation demonstration home in Halifax Nova Scotia has a ConServ Refrigerator, and The David Suzuki Foundation‘s report “Kyoto and Beyond” highlights the ConServ fridge as a tool to reduce carbon emissions.

The Eco-Fridge or ConServ Refrigerator was designed by a designer from Bang & Olufson and is made by Vestfrost in Denmark. Vestfrost was the first company to be awarded the Community Ecolabel from the European Union. The ConServ fridge was awarded an Ecolabel because it uses no ozone-depleting gases or materials in its manufacture or use, it is made out of recyclable materials, and it is highly energy efficient.

Equator Appliances imports ConServ fridges to North America. Equator’s Canadian distributor is Grand Chef, out of Montreal. I phoned up Montreal to inquire about buying a ConServ fridge in Ottawa and they were very helpful. So here’s the scoop…

To buy a ConServ Refrigerator (a.k.a Eco-Fridge) in Ottawa, one must go to Brault and Martineau across the river in Gatineau. Once in the home furnishings store one must find an appliance sales associate (this is the easiest step) and convince him (they were all hims when we went) that you can purchase a “CRF 1200-S” through his store (somewhat more challenging). Once he’s verified that you know what you’re talking about and you have filled out the appropriate paperwork and given over your credit card info the rest is easy.  The “S” stands for the stainless steel model which retailed in December of 2007 for about $1899, the fridge is also available in white for a few hundred dollars less. Our fridge was delivered to our door about a week after we bought it.

Why is it so difficult to buy this award-winning ecologically-friendly fridge? What I found out is that the ConServ Fridge is not certified for sale to residential customers in Canada. I have no idea why. Its got a great track record in Europe where it exceeds all requirements for safety and energy efficiency. But whatever the reasons, here in Canada it is sold as a industrial fridge and so it is only available through special order and there are no floor models to look at in Brault and Martineau. (to get a good “look” at the fridge go to the Oasis Montana website).

We’ve had our fridge for over half a year now and we’re very happy with it. It is about the most sophisticated looking thing we have in our house, very elegant design. (Incidentally, dwell magazine featured the ConServ fridge in its April 2007 enviro-issue.) The freezer is at the bottom and is fitted out with drawers so it’s easy to find things. The fridge section is tall and not that deep so you can see everything at a glance (nothing gets lost and smelly any more). And it runs very quietly. It is a little less than half the cubic footage of our old fridge, which is perhaps its best asset. We find that we hardly ever throw out food these days because we use up vegetables and left-overs before they spoil. Oh, and one last thing: Even brand new there was none of that plastic odour that is so over-powering in appliance stores these days. In fact, I suspect it is PVC-free.

Brault and Martineau, 500 De la Gappe Boulevard (facing the Promenades de l’Outaouais), Gatineau, PQ, (819) 561-5007

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14 thoughts on “Environmentally-friendly Refrigeration or How to Buy a ConServ Fridge in Ottawa

  • I know the ConServ is a bit pricey but I really couldn’t find a similar quality eco-friendly fridge available in North America for less. In Europe Ikea sells some great eco-friendly energy-efficient inexpensive fridges (see the UK site). Unfortunately they do not sell these fridges in North America.

  • Thanks for the info. Does it have any warranty when purchased through B&M? Will they ship across country?

    I found the same fridge marketed as the Summit CP171SS and distributed in Canada by http://www.europeanhri.com/about.html

    The price is quite a bit cheaper (~$1400 + shipping), but the vendor (Summit) doesn’t have much for warranty or service in Canada?

  • I don’t think Brault and Martineau ship outside of the Outaouais. However, you could try calling Grand Chef in Montreal to ask if they distribute or sell the ConServ through any retailers in your area.

    Good question about the warranty. We did get a warranty of some sort, and declined the usual extended warranty that so many stores now try to sell you. However, I can’t remember exactly what the warranty is. I’ll have to do some rummaging through files to get that answer for you.

  • While I do admire those trying to solve some of the issues , I’ve actually done something by Inventing a simple item to reduce specific eco-damage by 80% .
    I also filled a patent for another item to launch Globally as a Universal-Design product that runs at 50% of the Electrical loads for current similar products, and I made it to the Accessibility Codes and Modular to Reduce packaging by 25% and the weight by about 30% .

    I’m far too busy to do Commercials where I invade people’s homes via a B&E and then preach to them about their lack of effort to help save the Planet.
    Commercials and the Production to make them use vast amounts of GHG power sources
    for Lights and the Diesel Vehicle trucks for mobile Studios and Make-up trailers for the super-stars.

    I guess i could start a Non-Profit ECO scam to get funding to post a website about everyone else being poluters , but it’s better for me to keep up the fight to stop those Auto-races and AirShows in Toronto along with the Parades that have Diesel Trucks pulling the floats and Diesel truck driving generators to power the Concession Booth that sell water in Plastic Bottles while Toronto is right on the shore of Lake Ontario.

    Sorry folks, Ontario and Toronto want all of use in Buggies pulled by Hybrid robotic animals running on solar cells .
    The polution crisis is to fool people while the real plan is to make everyone poor except the White-Elites like Gore and Bill Gates .

  • Is your fridge still running well? Any need for that warranty?
    Because this is classified as a commercial unit here in Canada, is this fridge running louder than a regular residential fridge?

  • I’m wondering if the Summit WMV07 is comparable? Most of their products are made in NY, so it’s not transported very far. They just recently couldn’t meet demand with skilled workers so they set up operation in another US state, as well as Mexico, but they’ve also invested $300,000 into training their workers locally to step up their own manufacturing in NY, where they prefer to keep it.

  • Oops, sorry! That model is the Summit freezer. But in any case, their appliances are energy efficient. eg. They have listed: 317kWh/a fridge /freezer model: http://www.summitappliance.com/catalog/model/CP97R
    I am wanting confirmation that kWh/a rating is for both the fridge AND freezer, as it does seem quite low.

    However, I see from further reading, that Conserv and Vestfrost are exemplary in terms of using recycled parts for components.

    I can also, however, mention Liebherr has a good track record, having been the first company to go completely CFC free. However, our Liebherr CS1350 unit is estimated to use 2*439kWh/a = 878 kWh/a (half for the fridge, and half for the freezer).

    Now what I’d really like to do is get an electricity usage monitor and plug the fridge/freezer into it to verify…

  • Sorry for all the posts! I just wanted to add to David H’s post regarding the model being sold by Summit. Indeed, Summit mentions it on their website still currently (2011), as being made for them by Vestfrost of Denmark.

    http://www.summitappliance.com/catalog/model/cp171w

    A couple of online reviewers complain of knocking noises, however. I was wondering…could this have to do with the transport over a large distance? Although some people suggest that fridge/freezer on its back is okay, so long as you leave the unit upright for the same amount of time that it was laid on its back so that the oil can drain back into the compressor, AND some even go one step further and suggest that if you are laying it flat, then it’s better to lay it on its side, with the location where the compressor tube juts out at the topmost, it seems that I have also read accounts that it is highly preferable to keep it upright, and even if you have to put it on a handcart, with a slight tilt, then do so only with one particular side tilted higher.

    It has to do with the way the compressor tubes are mounted, and so I wonder if this could apply to this model, and improper transportation could have resulted in the knocking noise:

    http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Move-a-Fridge-Effectively&id=4694799

    Or perhaps these people didn’t leave it upright for some time before plugging it in??

  • would you know by any chance what is the part number or what kind of light bulb the conserv refrigerator takes. I took it out and somehow misplaced the bulb and now do not know how to get another one. Thank you

  • My unit has had a knocking sound on and off since I purchased the unit. Although it did not do it very often, it did it just enough to cause the compressor to go out. This will end up costing me about $750.00. I bought the unit new for under $1000. It has been a dependable unit and cools very well. This was the only complaint from me and I now wonder if the unit was bad or it might have been caused when it was shipped to me. They DO NOT ship this unit with enough packaging to keep it from being damaged during delivery. I had to have two different units delivered to me before I finally got one that was not damaged during shipping. My friend also had the same problem and had to have two units delivered to him because of damage during shipping. That cost someone a pretty penny. Other than these minor maladies, I believe the is a good unit.

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