Side-by-Side Refrigerator Review
Why Buy a Side-by-Side Refrigerator?
The top performers in our review are Electrolux with IQ-Touch, the Gold Award winner; Frigidaire Gallery, the Silver Award winner; and Kenmore Elite, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a product to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
Side-by-side refrigerators offer several advantages over traditional freezer-on-top fridges, including easier access to your food. By having the freezer to the side of the fridge, you can more easily organize your food to have commonly used items within arm's reach or at eye level. A feature that all of the fridges on our lineup offer is an ice and filtered-water dispenser in the freezer door.
There are other alternatives to freezer-on-top fridges. To explore one such option, check out our French Door Refrigerator reviews. We also have reviews on wine coolers and fridges. If you want to go smaller, you can read our write-ups on mini-fridges.
We looked at side-by-side refrigerators from the most popular appliance manufacturers and identified the top models from each one. The models in our reviews include a variety of interior capacities, adaptable storage and filtered water dispensers, among other useful features. You can learn more about side-by-side refrigerators in our learning center articles.
Side-by-Side Refrigerators: What We Looked for, What We Found
When considering side-by-side refrigerators, we looked for features and options that should be standard in every model, such as adjustable shelves and a water and ice dispenser. We also examined some features that are useful bonuses, such as temperature- or humidity-controlled drawers and space-saving icemakers.
One of the most important considerations for any refrigerator is how much food it holds. Side-by-side refrigerators come in a variety of capacities, and the models we looked at for our reviews ranged from approximately 21.5 to 28 cubic feet of interior space. The refrigerated portion takes up the majority of the interior space.
We also checked the flexibility that you get from the refrigerator's design and the adaptability of the interior space. Although there is always a set amount of space in each refrigerator, its capacity can be expanded in a sense if you get a number of adjustable shelves and different-sized bins.
Two refrigerators with the same interior space could end up holding different amounts of food. The best lets you reconfigure the inside to accommodate tall pitchers and big items, like an Easter ham or leftover turkey during the holidays, and then later change things around to stock up sale items you find at the grocery store or to accommodate mountains of produce from a wildly productive garden.
Adjustable shelves are important so you can accommodate large and tall containers. Many models include humidity-controlled crisper drawers, and some include temperature-controlled drawers. In addition, some side-by-side refrigerators also include a deli or snack drawer for smaller items, and a few models include a can or wine rack for beverages.
For in-door storage, all models include some combination of door bins. Some are gallon sized for large milk or juice jugs, while others are liter-sized bins, and many models include a small door-bin dairy compartment.
Since any fridge is operating night and day, seven days a week, energy use is a big factor in deciding which new refrigerator you buy. The best side-by-side refrigerators are Energy Star compliant, which means they meet certain requirements that make them energy efficient and therefore, less costly to operate. The annual cost of running the fridges on our lineup ranges from $54 to $89.
Only four models in our lineup are Energy Star compliant, and this could make a difference in your electricity bill. This might seem small at first, but since you will probably keep a refrigerator for years, the energy efficiency differences add up quickly.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else Is Important to Look for in Side-by-Side Refrigerators?
Certain less crucial items might seem like a luxury to one person but could be a deal-breaker for another. Among other things, we examined these features:
The water and ice dispenser is a helpful feature. All the models in our lineup include one mounted on the exterior of the freezer door, providing crushed or cubed ice as well as filtered water. On the inside, the icemaker may be mounted above the shelving area, which means it extends into the freezer compartment and uses up some of that storage space. Conversely, it could be contained in the door, which gives you more freezer storage space. In addition, we looked for such things as if a refrigerator includes a door-ajar alarm to warn you if you forget to close the doors, if there is a quick-cool feature to pump extra cold air when it is needed and if you get spill-proof shelves that are easy to clean.
Warranty & Support
All manufacturers offer a warranty on their appliances, but not all warranties are created equal. The bare minimum in warranties covers parts and labor for one year. Many manufacturers offer an additional warranty on the sealed system, including the compressor. Five- to seven-year warranties are common, and a 10-year warranty on the sealed system is superior.
Refrigerators are not generally appliances you need much help with, but it is good to know that the manufacturer offers support when you need it. Online access to a user guide and knowledgebase or FAQs page is helpful when you have questions. Every company has a telephone or email options so you can contact customer service, and some have live text chat.
The top product in our lineup, the Electrolux with IQ-Touch EI26SS30JS, uses less energy and costs less to operate than any of the other side-by-side refrigerators we reviewed. It offers a high number of shelves, bins and drawers, which gives you plenty of flexibility in organizing your groceries and making the best use of the space inside.
The Frigidaire Gallery FGHS2631PF is our second-highest ranked refrigerator and features Energy Star compliance so your energy bills will be modest. Its numerous storage options in the refrigerator and freezer compartments and a choice of three colors for the exterior help round out its positive features.
Our third-highest ranked refrigerator, the Kenmore Elite 51173, presents more interior space than any other in our product lineup and is ideal for large families or anyone who wants to keep plenty of food on hand. Among other things, it offers the biggest freezer of the side-by-side refrigerators we reviewed.
The convenient layout of side-by-side refrigerators keeps all of your food within easy reach, with the bonus of a water and ice dispenser. From there, you have a number of features and options to choose from to find the best side-by-side refrigerator to buy for your kitchen.