Buying a refrigerator is a necessity for most homes. While most are content with the classic single door or two door fridge, those who want a more refined design either go for a side by side or a french door design. These two are the top-dogs in the refrigerator market, and both come loaded with the latest features. While they both look (mostly) alike, their differences are quite pronounced when examined closer. Which brings us to this question: what are the differences between a side by side vs. a french door refrigerator?
Simply put: a side by side refrigerator is split vertically into two parts: the left side most commonly being the freezer, and the right being the fridge. Meanwhile, most french door refrigerators are divided into quarters – the upper part being the fridge, and the lower part being the freezer.
In this article, we will flesh out the side by side vs. french door argument so that you will be better informed before buying a new refrigerator.
What are the difference between a side by side vs. a french door refrigerator?
All refrigerators, regardless if they are a side by side or a french door, have the same purpose: to cool and preserve food. While their function is the same, their differences in design will have implications on the way they do this job. Let’s hash it out further:
As stated earlier, a side by side refrigerator is split vertically into two parts: the left side being the fridge, and the right side being the freezer. Meanwhile, a french door is split into quarters: the bottom part being the freezer, and the top part being the fridge. These affects the ergonomics of each type in different ways.
More storage at eye-level
If you are looking for a refrigerator that will be easier on your back by saving from bending down to reach food, a side by side will be the better option.
Because the freezer and the fridge are located in either side of the side by side refrigerator, you have the option of storing your most used items at eye level. This will significantly reduce the time need to bend down to scrounge for items.
In contrast, you’ll often find yourself bending down to reach frozen goods in a french door refrigerator. This is due to its bottom-freezer design.
Winner: Side by side. It is easier on the back as you can place frozen goods at eye level.
Cold air retention
A french door refrigerator can hold on two cold air better than a side by side. This is because a french door has 4 small doors that can be opened independently from each other. This means that if you are going to open one side, you only need to open one door. This translates to fewer cold air escaping which helps you conserve energy in the long run.
While a side by side refrigerator’s doors can also open independently from each other, the size of its door will let a lot more cold air out.
Winner: French door. It’s 4 smaller and independently opening doors will let fewer cold air from escaping the fridge.
Most side by side and french door refrigerators come in big sizes. However, due to their difference in architecture, the sizes of the items they can store are quite different.
Since a french door has no center pillar, it can store wide items like a whole pizza or even a lechon de leche in the fridge section with no problems.
Meanwhile, a side by side has a thick center pillar to delineate the freezer from the fridge. This significantly reduces the width of the items that a side by side refrigerator will be able to store.
Winner: French door. Its lack of a central pillar allows it to store wider items.
While these two are most commonly the expensive and top-of-the-line models for refrigerator brands, french door models are typically more expensive compared to their side by side counterparts.
Side by side models typically start at the below ₱50,000 range, while french door models start from ₱60,000 and up.
Meanwhile, the features do not differ as much between a side by side and a french door. In fact, a side by side model can offer pretty much the same features that a french door model has only at a more affordable price point.
Winner: Side by side. It can offer the same features a french door has but at a more affordable price.
Which ever configuration you choose, a side by side and a french door refrigerator will be a big step up compared to a basic single door or two door refrigerator. Their sleek and premium look are a good fit for a cosmopolitan kitchen.
However, you should always weigh in the pros and cons of a side by side vs. a french door refrigerator. While they have similar features, their difference in price points can be significant.
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.