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Refrigerators

GE's new fridges always have a fresh pitcher of water on hand

The "Autofill Pitcher" automatically refills with fresh water when you place it in its dock inside the refrigerator.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Autofill Pitcher in action.

GE

If you're thirsty for fridge features, or just thirsty, then you've come to the right news post. The Autofill Pitcher, which does exactly what it sounds like it does and automatically fills itself with fresh water whenever you put it in the fridge, is now available in select GE refrigerators.

Originally a product of FirstBuild, GE's attempt at a crowdsourced R&D department, the 74-ounce Autofill Pitcher was initially conceived as a retrofit kit that DIY-minded consumers could hack into their existing refrigerators.

"We hypothesized that people in the maker movement would be willing to take a refrigerator and drill a hole, tag on our electronics and add this feature," GE Appliances Director of Research and Development Natarajan Venkatakrishnan told me last year, when I interviewed him at FirstBuild's Louisville, Kentucky facility for a piece in CNET Magazine.

"It didn't go so well," he added. "We made about fifteen, and we sold about four."

You'll find the Autofill Pitcher in this $1,000 GE top freezer fridge.

GE

GE clearly didn't give up on the idea, though. Now, you'll find the Autofill Pitcher preinstalled in two of the manufacturer's top freezer models, the $900 GAS18PGJWW, and the stainless-steel version of the same fridge, which sells for $1,000. No drilling or rewiring necessary.

"The development of the original Autofill Pitcher as a DIY add-on aftermarket accessory allowed us to perfect the design on a small scale, before scaling it to mass manufacturing," said Jason May, top freezer product manager for GE Appliances.

It seems like a smart approach. GE's team has impressed us in the past with the clever ways they've put the water line in your refrigerator to work. The company's high-end Profile Series French door refrigerator has an AutoFill feature of its own built into the door's water dispenser -- it'll automatically fill your glass, pitcher, or pot, or dispense a preselected quantity of water. Another variation of the same fridge called the Cafe Series will dispense heated water for tea or soups. The newest version of that fridge even has a Keurig K-Cup coffeemaker built directly into the door.

As appealing as those kinds of features are, they all come in fridges that cost thousands of dollars. Putting a similar sort of feature into a fridge that's a lot more basic and affordable is an interesting tack for GE to take. After all, it's a bit uncommon to see a slick new feature in a plain, old top freezer.

Both fridges should be arriving in retail outlets in time for summer. We'll pencil them in for a review as soon as we can get our hands on one.

GE Profile Series 27.7 cubic foot French Door Refrigerator