Whirlpool® MicroEtch™ Shelving
Given how everything these days is branded with some catchy name, it’s easy to get lost in the vast array of trademarked terms that manufacturers use to refer to their innovations (and sometimes not-so-innovations). Whether it’s something as mundane as a special way to say “gray”, or something completely awesome like Door-In-Door, you can be sure that just about every feature of note on a refrigerator has different trademarked names from several different brands.
At FridgeDimensions.com we see hundreds of these trademarked names, and try to cut through to the actual details whenever we can. Today we’re looking at Whirlpool® MicroEtch™ shelves.
Whirlpool’s refrigerators come with a wide variety of styles of shelves in the fresh food and freezer compartments. Basic wire or tempered glass shelves are common on their less expensive models. On higher end models, such as their Gold® line of refrigerators, Whirlpool offers MicroEtch™ glass shelves. What is MicroEtch™ and should we care?
Here is a short video that highlights some of the features of MicroEtch™ shelves.
Highlights of Whirlpool’s MicroEtch™ Shelves
How MicroEtch™ Contains Spills
The way that MicroEtch™ helps to control liquid spills is by disrupting the flow of the liquid. On a smooth surface, liquid can travel without impedment, but on a rough surface the interaction between the varied pits and edges disrupts the flow.
Of course one of the reasons why tempered glass shelves are so popular is how the smooth, clear surface helps to increase visibility in the recesses of the the refrigerator. It’s easy to see the old jar of pickles stuck in the back on the bottom shelf, without having to kneel down and pull everything out first to see it.
MicroEtch™ gives the best of both worlds by etching only along the edges of the shelves, and doing so in a uniform fashion which gives it a clean and consistent look. You could almost view the look as a feature itself. The majority of the shelves are still transparent, and those portions which are etched would generally have been covered with metal supports or edges anyways. Because of this, the visibility in the fridge isn’t affected much at all.
Other Aspects of MicroEtch™ Glass Shelves
Because the etching helps contain spills, other types of edges often found on tempered glass shelves aren’t necessary with MicroEtch™. At least not to contain small spills. However, be aware that MicroEtch™ is not going to contain large spills, or spills with a lot of momentum. Also, if the etchings fill in with dirt and grime their ability to contain spills will be eroded. So keep your refrigerator shelves clean.
Because of the ability of the etching itself to contain spills, Whirlpool has elected to do away with raised edges on the sides of MicroEtch™ shelves. This allows for more useable storage space, since there are no raised edges to interfere with the bottoms of containers. For fluted or rounded containers this won’t make a lot of difference, but for cans and jars with minimal rounding on the bottom, it can make a big difference. As mentioned in the video, it allows for 12 extra cans of pop on a full width shelf!
The strength of the shelves was buffed up to accommodate this increased capacity. MicroEtch™ shelves can hold up to 75lbs or more.
My Take Is …
MicroEtch™ shelves from Whirlpool have a lot going for them. They allow you to better use the capacity of your refrigerator, help contain spills, and are stronger than the average shelves you’ll find. Overall they represent one of the better types of shelves you can find on a refrigerator today.
However I think it was a mistake to do away with raised edges on the sides altogether. A thin ridge could allow for larger spills to be contained without liquids being able to flow down the sides of the interior of the fridge. Designed properly, these raised edges wouldn’t interfere with the shelf capacity much if at all. Because of this oversight, what could have been the perfect shelf is just relegated to one of the better one’s I’ve seen.