MONITOR TOP REFRIGERATORS
History of the General Electric Monitor Top Refrigerator
most recognized of vintage refrigerators
The GE Monitor top refrigerator is perhaps
the most recognized of vintage refrigerators. Built on
the principal of a French industrialist concept for a hermetically
sealed refrigeration system, the first models available to
the general public, for residential use, were introduced in
1927. General Electric committed $18 million dollars
to the manufacturing of these units and another million dollars
to advertise them to the public.
first affordable refrigerators
With a price tag of only $300, these first
models were considered “the first affordable refrigeration
units” for the average family. Many utility companies
offered the GE Monitor Top refrigerator to their customers
for as little as $10 a month, simply added to their monthly
Although a few minor features were added
along the way, such as enclosed condenser coils and slide
out shelves, the basic design of the Monitor Top remained
the same from 1927 until 1936. All of these models were
cooled with one of two refrigerants used during this time,
sulfur dioxide or methyl formate.
single and multi-door Monitor Tops
The most popular model of the Monitor Top
was the standard single door unit, offering the customer 5
to 7 cubic feet of food storage. In addition, GE did
produce a larger two door and an even bigger three door unit.
The "Globe Top" Monitor Top
In the early 1930's, an altered
version of the typical Monitor Top was introduced, known as
a “Globe Top”. These units featured a round,
“basketball like” top that housed the completely
enclosed mechanical assembly. The idea was to offer the
house keeper an easier to clean refrigerator. The unit
was available in three sizes, the X-3, X-4, and X-5.
In late 1936, the new 1937 Monitor Top was
unveiled. Known as the "Flat Top", this new model
featured a new smaller compressor with a condenser fan motor,
all mounted on the top of the original style cabinet, but
now covered with a large, square, flat top casing. After World
War II, General Electric "discontinued" the use
of sulfur dioxide and methal formate and began using
R-12, freon, a refrigerant that was widely accepted and used
in most every refrigerator manufactured until 1993.
how much is my Monitor Top worth?
Single door Monitor Tops, in good, working
condition, are worth an average of $250 to $400 in “as
is” condition. The rarer two door and three door
units are worth what you are willing to pay for them. Completely
restored single door models sell for $3400 to $3900, and (you
guessed it!) restored two and three door models sell for what
ever the buyer is willing to pay!
Hermetically sealed and permanently lubricated,
the GE Monitor Top refrigerator remains the most recognized
and most dependable refrigerator ever built. Hundreds,
if not thousands, of these units remain in service today,
offering their owners “quiet”, “dependable”
and “service free” refrigeration.
of the Monitor Top cabinets were fitted with a foot pedal
that would let you open the door with a touch of the foot. This
came in really handy when you had just come from the hen house
with your arms loaded with fresh eggs! Just a touch of
your foot and the door popped open (usually busting your knee
in the process). For this reason, we refer to this nifty
contraption as a "knee buster".