Keurig coffee system built into new GE refrigerator made at Louisville's Appliance Park
The $3,300 refrigerator will be made at Louisville's Appliance Park beginning in the summer. GE officials declined to say how many they plan to make.
GE demonstrated the product for reporters at Appliance Park on Wednesday. One the biggest perks, officials said, is that it saves space by removing coffee makers from kitchen countertops.
Despite its ability to heat water to 190 degrees in close proximity to the refrigerated compartments, the product will still earn the U.S. government's Energy Star rating, GE officials said.
The appliance does not keep water hot around the clock – only when the user wants to brew a cup of coffee or tea, said Nick Gilkey, a University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering graduate who is GE's design engineer for the Keurig refrigerator.
Through a smartphone app, owners can program the refrigerator to heat up water around the same time they get up in the morning.
“If we allow the consumer or the user to schedule it on their phone when they are going to be there in the mornings or they use it on demand as they walk up to the unit, we can use much less energy because we are not trying to keep that water hot all the time,” Gilkey said.
GE already has a line of French door refrigerators that heat water, and the built-in Keurig system adds about $200 to the price of that model, said Dan Goldstein, marketing manager for GE's refrigeration unit.
But the refrigerators' users would have to get all their coffee or tea in Keurig-brand disposable plastic cups. Unlike countertop Keurig machines, the refrigerator cannot accommodate a reusable coffee pod. That means users can't avoid the daily plastic waste or brew beans that don't come in prepackaged cups, such as from a local coffee shop.
More than 60 brands and 400 beverage varieties come in the disposable cups, according to GE's press release.
Users also need a smartphone to set the water to heat up a pre-determined time; the refrigerator can't be programmed from its built-in interface, Gilkey said.
Ben Yoder, director of strategic partnerships at Keurig Green Mountain, declined to say if Keurig systems could be incorporated into refrigerators not made by GE, or to disclose other aspects of the deal between the companies.
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