French Door Vs. Side-By-Side Refrigerators

French Door Vs. Side-By-Side Refrigerators

Home refrigerators have come quite a long way from a humble box that keeps items cold. There are now so many door and compartment configurations from which to choose. Two of the most popular styles available are "French Door" and "Side-by-Side." Deciding on which suits you depends on your needs and preferences. Let's take a look at their differences, their pros and cons, and a couple of examples from both categories.

French Door Banner

French door refrigerators, named for the architectural door style, are relatively new. They became widely available in the home market around 2005. Like the building feature for which it was named, its highlight is a top refrigerated compartment with two doors alongside each other and a drawered freezer on the bottom. The styling, especially when paired with stainless steel that's common with this design, imbues an industrial look reminiscent of professional kitchens.


  • No-stoop fridge - The refrigerated compartment generally gets much more use than the freezer. With a French door fridge, everything is at eye level. This eliminates the need for bending over to find what you hope you kept in the bottom shelves or crispers. The customizable shelf configuration option afforded with these refrigerators further increases ease of use.
  • Wider shelf space- The fridge being the entire top portion of the unit allows for double the shelf width as compared to the side-by-side. You can store large baking dishes, patters, etc. This also gives you better sightlines when scanning for what you need.
  • Temperature maintenance - With any other refrigerator model, when you open the fridge door, you completely let cold air escape. When opening each of the French doors, you're only exposing half of the fridge. This offers the twofold benefit of being energy efficient and preventing temperature fluctuation, keeping your foods fresher longer.


  • Temperature maintenance - The French door setup can be a double-edged sword. To take advantage of only partially opening the fridge means that you must remember which side you stored items. Not doing so eliminates any energy efficiency benefits and may cut into appliance longevity.
  • Cost - Because of construction overhead on French door refrigerators, there may be a considerable price difference in relation to other styles with similar functional offerings. French door fridges are also still considered the trendier preference, driving the price up even further. You may find yourself spending up to 50% more than on other fridge designs.
  • Freezer ergonomics - Though the French door design is a boon for ease of use when it comes to the refrigerator, it's the opposite for the freezer. Anyone with back problems might find it difficult to bend over to use a pull-out drawer so close to the floor. Also, limited space as compared to the column in the side-by-side makes storing bulkier items like frozen turkeys problematic.
Samsung RF263BEAESR 36 inch French Door Refrigerator

Samsung RF263BEAESR 36" French Door Refrigerator

This Samsung model is the epitome of the French door design. With a sleek 36" length, it can still boast a 24.6 cu ft overall capacity that can store up to 26 bags of groceries. The refrigerated compartment alone is a cavernous 16.6 cu ft. Both the fridge and freezer environments are controlled by the Twin Cooling Plus system. This maintains the ideal temperature and humidity in each section to extend the longevity and freshness of fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator while preventing freezer burn in the freezer. You also have the Power Freeze and Power Cool options to drop the temperature in the fridge or freezer to quickly chill or freeze items for use in minutes. The interior is elegantly illuminated by brilliant LED lighting that allows you to quickly spot whatever you need to find. Despite the wealth of features, this refrigerator has earned Energy Star's "Most Efficient" rating and will have a negligible effect or even lower your electricity bill. All this is how the Samsung RF263BEAESR earned JD Power's "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with French Door Refrigerators."

Side by Side Banner

Side-by-side refrigerators, as the name evinces, have the refrigerated and freezer compartments in columns next to each other. They were first developed in 1949 by Amana and subsequently popularized in an era of rapid evolution of modern conveniences in the home kitchen. The design's versatility ensconced its status as one of the most popular refrigerator styles for over half a century.


  • Capacity - The straightforward layout of a typical side-by-side refrigerator gives it up to a 20% edge in overall storage volume compared to a French door refrigerator with the same exterior dimensions. This makes it a perennial favorite for larger families.
  • Use of kitchen space - A side-by-side is preferable to a French door in a galley kitchen since it has a narrower profile. The half-width column doors don't splay themselves so far out into the room when opened. The common denominator with all side-by-sides across brands is that they're engineered specifically for the best use of limited space.
  • Cost - The side-by-side is the second-oldest refrigerator design after the top/bottom freezer/fridge setup. Thus, it has benefited from many more years of research and development in cost-saving measures. It is normally one of the least expensive refrigerator designs available.


  • Less refrigerator space - As is always the case with refrigerator design, if you add in one area, sacrifices need to be made in others. Though overall and freezer capacity is increased when compared to the French door, refrigerator volume suffers by as much as 25%.
  • Shelf space - The shelves in a side-by-side refrigerator are typically in a static configuration so what you see is what you get. The compartmentalized shelves make it a bit easier to keep everyday items organized than in a French door fridge, but it may not be ideal for large trays meant for entertaining.
  • Overall accessibility and visibility - With both the refrigerated and freezer columns having storage space that go from top to bottom, half their capacity is going to be waist-level or below. This, of course, means bending to look for half the food you store. This can be mitigated by a modicum of forethought by placing more commonly used items closer to the top, but stooping is still an inherent aspect of the side-by-side design.

GE GSE25HSHSS 36" Freestanding Side-by-Side Refrigerator

You'll find no better example of a side-by-side refrigerator than this GE model. Its copious 25.4 cu ft overall capacity encased in stainless steel will make it the perfect addition to your kitchen. All the food you'll be able to store within will be amply supported by the strong yet flexible integrated shelf system. Anticipating your hectic lifestyle, these shelves slide in and out and are spill proof, making cleanup fast and simple. Fresh food multi-layer drawers will provide the ideal environments for all your different fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. In the freezer, you'll find sturdy shelves of tempered glass for a high-end look. It also features a factory-installed water dispenser and Arctica icemaker. With the internal filtration system, you'll always have delicious fresh water and beautiful clear ice at your fingertips. The environmentally conscious will be happy to know that even with all these offered features, the GE refrigerator is Energy Star rated ensuring it only sips electricity.

GE GSE25HSHSS 36 inch Freestanding Side-by-Side Refrigerator
facebook pixel