- 1 Guide to Side-by-Side Refrigerators
- 2 Reviews of The Best Side-by-Side Refrigerators in 2020
- 2.1 1. Frigidaire FFSS2615TS Side-by Side Refrigerator – Best to Buy
- 2.2 2. GE GSE25HSHSS Side-by-Side Refrigerator – Best Rated
- 2.3 3. Whirlpool WRS321SDHB – Best 33 Inch Side-by-Side Refrigerator
- 2.4 4. LG LSXS26366S Door-in-Door – 36 Inch Best Capacity
- 2.5 5. Avanti 31 Inch Side-by-Side Refrigerator – Best Small Sized
- 2.6 Comparison Table for The Best Side-by-Side Refrigerators in 2020
- 2.7 The Best Style and The Least Hassle : Two Worthy Mentions
- 2.8 Installing a Counter Depth Side-by-Side Refrigerator
- 2.9 Conclusion:
The first step to choosing the best refrigerator for your kitchen is the choice between freezer on the top, or freezer on the bottom. Neither of these are the perfect ideal, but a side-by-side refrigerator gives equal importance and access to both units. Often overlooked as a first choice, the best side-by-side refrigerator can also give you the best built-in look for your kitchen. And, although not as fancy nor as expensive as a French door refrigerator, they are often a more suitable choice.
Guide to Side-by-Side Refrigerators
With numerous choices available when it comes to choosing the best refrigerator for your kitchen, here are a few things worth knowing about side-by-side refrigerators:
What Is a Side-by-Side refrigerator?
A side-by-side refrigerator, as the name suggests, has full vertical length refrigerator and freezer units situated next to each other, side by side. The doors open independently and their width is significantly shorter than a traditional single door refrigerator. The refrigerator compartment will always be larger than the freezer compartment.
What Is The Advantage of a Side-by-Side Refrigerator?
Side-by-side refrigerators are a good fit for limited spaces because the door width is shorter, and they don’t have a pull out freezer draw. The freezer shelves stack like a typical refrigerator, so it’s easy to see, organize, and get at food.
Other advantages are aesthetics. Their sleek, full length doors are quite elegant. With no bottom pull out drawer you get a softer contour, and counter depth side-by-side refrigerators can give you the best built in look of any refrigerator— and at an affordable price.
Side-by-Side vs French Door Refrigerators
These two types of refrigerators look very similar, and people often wonder which one would be the better choice:
For side-by-sides, the right door will be a little bit wider than the average French door, but there’s no pull out drawer in the front. Side-by-sides tend to have more freezer space, whereas French doors have better capacity for the refrigerator. The average capacity is around 24 cu.ft., whereas French doors tend to have slightly more, often between 24 to 28 cu.ft.
A French door has much wider shelving, the shelves are fewer, but the space is more adaptable with split and rolling shelves. Side-by-sides are much better for storing tall objects and they have more large door bins. French doors are better for people who entertain a lot because they can hold larger dessert preparations and platters.
With a side-by-side, you have to bend over to get things from the refrigerator, but with a French door you don’t. Usually, the bottom two drawers are crisper drawers for fruits and vegetables.
French doors have more high spec freshness features such as adjustable temperature deli drawers, twin evaporators, rapid cool and freeze, and multi airflow systems.
Both types come with the added convenience of ice makers and through door water dispensers, although these two features are the biggest reasons for repair call outs and significantly increase the purchase price and energy costs.
Choose a side-by-side refrigerator if:
- You love your freezer as much as your refrigerator.
- You have a lot of packaged or bottled items convenient for large door bins.
- You need more space for taller items.
- You don’t mind bending over to get at fruits and vegetables.
- You want an aesthetic look that is more built in and cheaper than a French door.
Go here to see our reviews of the Best French Door Refrigerators in 2020.
Key Features to Look For in a Side-by-Side Refrigerator
Crisper drawers with independently adjustable humidity levels are standard features these days. Not all side-by-sides have two of these though, but two are better because you cannot mix fruits and vegetables in a crisper drawer.
Most models tend to have wire shelving in the freezer unit, but if you prefer glass these are more expensive. You also pay a little extra for spill proof shelves in the refrigerator. The maximum amount of refrigerator shelves is four, and usually less for the freezer. With fewer shelves there’s less you can do with the space, and unfortunately extra shelves are difficult to get or very expensive.
For the most part, you will not get twin evaporators with separate air circuits and condensers for the refrigerator and freezer, which prevent odors mixing. Also, while you might have a deli drawer for meats or dairy, this usually doesn’t have an adjustable temperature range, but circulates air in from the freezer unit.
Because most models come with a water filter, ice maker and dispenser, installation requires some DIY skill and a connection to a water source. If you don’t want the hassle of ice makers, extra installation costs and would prefer more door space— there are a few models without through door dispensers and some also have optional ice makers.
For information on counter depth side-by-side refrigerators and their installation, see our section at the end of the reviews.
Reviews of The Best Side-by-Side Refrigerators in 2020
We have researched and chosen five of the best side-by-side refrigerators. Our experts have examined technical details, consulted information from customer research organizations, and listened to what users have to say.
- GE Side-by-Side Refrigerator – Best to Buy
- Whirlpool Side-by-Side Refrigerator – Best 36 Inch Counter Depth
- Whirlpool Side-by-Side Refrigerator – Best Compact 33 Inch
- LG Door-in-Door – Best Capacity Side-by-Side Refrigerator
- Avanti 31 Inch Side-by-Side – Best 30 Inch Small Sized
Here are our top picks for the Best Side-by-Side Refrigerators in 2020
1. Frigidaire FFSS2615TS Side-by Side Refrigerator – Best to Buy
This refrigerator is sufficient in the space and shelving options it offers, and while it doesn’t have the kind of specs that come at a higher price, it makes up for it in other ways.
The total capacity of this refrigerator is 25.5 cubic feet which is average, and 9.0 cubic is given to the freezer unit. You have two large, clear plastic crisper boxes with humidity controls, but the compromise is the smaller deli drawer which doesn’t have thermostat control. In addition to the deli drawer, there’s a dairy hatch bin in the top of the door.
You only get two shelves, but they are good quality, frameless glass shelves, and there’s a pretty good adjustable range to make the most of the space you have. Likewise, the door bins are all gallon bins, but the bottom two are fixed and only the top two are adjustable.
For the price, the freezer is nothing fancy. There’s a full out box and three wire shelves which cannot be adjusted. To make up for this, there are a few nice extras. There’s a small ice cream compartment above the icemaker, the freezer door bins are tiling, and it has automatic defrost. Additionally, both units will go into auto energy save mode if not used for 24 hours, and the doors are soft closing.
You have a fairly good thermostat range with 9 degrees of adjustment for both units. There are also two dispenser paddles— one for water, and the other for crushed or cubed ice. The panel has lock controls and there’s also an automatic dispenser light.
Final Word:This Frigidair has good value for the price and it is well reviewed across forums. The storage options are a fair compromise and you get a few extras in return. The main issues to have come up with this refrigerator are the doors, which in some cases were stiff, or were not aligned properly.
|Overall Score||7.6||Space utilization||7|
2. GE GSE25HSHSS Side-by-Side Refrigerator – Best Rated
GE side-by-side refrigerators are among the best rated by the Consumer Reports organization who independently test products. This 36 inch model is consistently ranked within the best three models scoring high for efficiency and thermostat control, and is one of the few side-by-sides that has an additional Energy Star rating.
This side-by-side refrigerator has excellent freshness features at a reasonable price. It has ample shelving with a variety of door bins, and includes a deli drawer and two crispers. It’s good value for those who are happy to pay a little extra for better performance, energy efficiency and more storage convenience.
The crisper drawers guarantee better food preservation and in some models, the deli drawer has independent temperature control— so always check with your vendor to make sure which one you’re getting.
The compromise for price is that the freezer only has wire shelves— three of them— while the fridge has four adjustable glass spill proof shelves.
The fridge door shelving has a nice arrangement with three 1-gallon door bins, a bottom fixed shelf, an optional can caddy, and a dairy hatch bin right at the top. The large ventilation unit and water filter, however, take up a little too much space from the top shelf.
The 9.7 cu.ft. freezer has quite a large ice box, but there’s still sufficient space even if you only get three door bins. It can make 6 lbs of ice, the ice box has a convenient flip, and there are fewer reported issues on average with the ice maker.
Final Word: This is a well thought out refrigerator in terms of shelving options, although some good space is lost due to bulky inside units. It has key freshness features and energy efficiency at an affordable price. It also has a door alarm and a lock.
|Overall Score||7.7||Space utilization||7.5|
3. Whirlpool WRS321SDHB – Best 33 Inch Side-by-Side Refrigerator
View on Appliances Connection
In the small crowd of other 33 inch candidates, Whirlpool comes out with comparable features, but above all it’s very spacious. The refrigerator compartment has plenty of storage options so your space won’t go to waste, and it’s well priced.
For the price point, this model does well with freshness features to include two crisper drawers, a deli drawer, and the usual water filter. Although 33 inch models don’t have the best capacity, Whirlpool makes up for this in terms of its simple, straight forward space management.
There are three frameless glass shelves for the refrigerator and two for the freezer, so little space is wasted. The refrigerator door has three 1-gallon adjustable doors bins, a fixed door bin at the bottom, an upper hatch box, and a can caddy.
On the downside, the shelves for this refrigerator are not adjustable and the dispenser is not so well positioned because sometimes it splashes water if you’re not careful. The ice maker takes up a fair bit of freezer space, but it makes a decent quantity of ice and there are relatively few reported issues with it.
Final Word:This Whirlpool gives you all the space you need for a 33 inch side-by-side as well as key freshness features. It’s also the most affordable refrigerator in its class, and is generally well reviewed and liked by users.
|Overall Score||8||Space utilization||9|
4. LG LSXS26366S Door-in-Door – 36 Inch Best Capacity
View on Appliances Connection
This LG is one of the top best recommended side-by-side refrigerators. Apart from attributes such as a multi airflow system and door-in-door energy efficiency, its total capacity is 26 cubic feet. On top of this, you get some of the best shelving options in any side-by-side, and their ice makers are above average quality.
The capacity of this side-by-side rivals most French door refrigerators, but it’s larger than most other side-by-sides. The depth without the door is 28.5 inches and with the door the total is 35.75 inches.
Most people love the space, the adjustable shelves and the large drawers. The freezer compartment has two pull out drawers instead of the usual basket, and most people find this very convenient as well as the larger sized bins. Little space is wasted in the refrigerator because the compact ice maker is completely in the door.
The multi airflow system helps to maintain overall better humidity levels in the refrigerator, but for the price, many users feel that a temperature controlled deli drawer should have been included.
Although one of the best ranking side-by-side refrigerators, there are some flaws worth pointing out. Most people love the door-in-door convenience, but the in-door doesn’t shut so easily and in addition there’s no open door alarm. The in-door access does save on energy, but it tends to be a couple of degrees warmer so is not so suited for milk and dairy.
Earlier production models of this LG had flaws with the compressor and they tended to give in after 4 years. The new production models now carry a 10-year warranty on the improved compressors.
Final Word: If you’re sitting on the fence between a French door or a side-by-side, this is the model you should go with. While not without a few minor flaws, usable space is the key advantage as well as door-in-door convenience.
|Overall Score||7.6||Space utilization||8.5|
5. Avanti 31 Inch Side-by-Side Refrigerator – Best Small Sized
View on Appliances Connection
If you’re looking for a small sized side-by-side refrigerator, there’s not a lot to choose from, but Avanti has one of the best deals in this category. It’s an Energy Star counter depth refrigerator with a crisper box and nice adjustable shelving.
This small side-by-side has the same standard features you can expect from a full sized model, so it’s not just so it’s more than just a mini refrigerator. There’s a humidity controlled crisper drawer for storing produce, which is also very convenient for space management.
The 2-liter refrigerator door bins are very handy and are something you won’t get with other types of small side-by-sides. The freezer unit has two fixed shelves, and there’s an adjustable thermostat for the units located inside the refrigerator.
The other advantage of this refrigerator is that it can be used as a below counter appliance or it can be placed on a countertop, as some people like to do. It does, however, require 5 inches of clearance space.
Final Word: This is a true mini side-by-side refrigerator which also has a good amount of freezer space. It’s energy efficient, space wise and you also get a crisper drawer. Apart from small kitchens, people also use these in studio apartments, AirBB rentals, small offices or holiday homes.
|Overall Score||7.4||Space utilization||9|
Comparison Table for The Best Side-by-Side Refrigerators in 2020
Fridge / Freezer
|Shelving||Freshness & Extras|
|Ge 36 Inch||15.7 / 9.6||4 glass spill proof|
9 bins / 2 gal bins
|2 crispers Energy Star|
|Whirlpool Counter Depth||13.62 / 6.97||3 frameless glass x 2 |
8 bins / 3 gal bins
|Whirlpool 33 Inch||14.63 / 6.77||3 frameless glass|
9 bins / 3 gal bins
|LG Door-in-Door||16.8 / 9.2||4 spill proof glass / 1 fold up , 9 bins / 1 gal||2 crispers
|Avanti Mini 31 Inch||3.3 / 2.2||2 glass |
The Best Style and The Least Hassle : Two Worthy Mentions
We have two niche recommendations that some people might appreciate: A side-by-side for those who want to show off a little, and one for those who are happy to do without an ice maker and a water dispenser.
Blomberg counter depth side-by-side refrigerators usually sell as part of an appliances set, but they can be bought separately. These more high-end models have a smooth, stainless steel finish and they look very stylish on the inside as well. There are four high quality glass shelves and a chrome bottle rack, but no 1-gallon door bins.
They include freshness and performance features such as twin evaporators, two crispers which deploy blue light technology for longer food preservation, as well as a charcoal air filter and a negative ion generator.
Blomberg’s side-by-side is also Energy Star rated and manufactured with 85% recyclable components. For the value and style they offer, these refrigerators are also very reasonably priced, although a lot more expensive than the more everyday brands.
Whirlpool WRS315SNHM – Best Without an Ice Maker and Dispenser
There are a number of advantages to having a side-by-side without an ice maker and no water dispenser. These extras add to the price tag, cost more to run, and come with extra installation requirements for water connections. Ice makers also tend to be noisy, take up space, and are the number reason for repair callouts.
There isn’t a lot to choose from if you don’t want these two extras, but fortunately Whirlpool has a few select models with an optional icemaker. They’re very affordable and this model has 15.46 cu.ft. for the refrigerator and 9.61 cu.ft for the freezer.
The fridge has two crisper drawers, three spill proof glass shelves, three adjustable 1-gallon door bins, a fixed door bin on the bottom and a top hatch box. The freezer has five wire shelves and six door bins, so there’s a ton of available space in this side-by-side.
Installing a Counter Depth Side-by-Side Refrigerator
Before you choose your counter depth refrigerator, you will need to understand a few things about dimensions and standard measurements:
- Counter depth side-by-side refrigerators are all 36 inches wide.
- Most counter depth models will range between 28 to 31.25 inches measured from the back to the front handles. With door dimensions excluded, the refrigerator is usually 23 to 25 inches deep.
- The standard kitchen countertop depth is 25 inches which includes the overhang, although some overhangs may add a little more.
- If there’s a built-in backsplash on the wall behind your refrigerator space, this could reduce the depth by up to an inch.
- You need to keep an inch or so at the back of your refrigerator free for air circulation, piping and cabling.
Before you make your purchase, always check exactly how much depth you have from the back of your wall to the front of the adjoining counter overhang. Most online manuals or product spec sheets will list the various dimensions such as depth with handles, depth without handles and depth without door.
The most important depth is the depth without the door, but you also need to factor in how much free space you need to have behind the refrigerator. The doors will always need to stick out enough beyond the counter overhang in order for them to open properly.
In our selection of the best side-by-side refrigerators, we’ve tried to include models that have the best freshness features, are energy efficient, and maximize space at affordable price points for the value they offer. If you’d like to add anything, or would like to ask a question, please use the comment feature below. We are always here for you.