French Door Refrigerators vs Side-By-Side Refrigerators

Who knew that refrigerators would be such a hot topic on this site?! Not me.

Much like toilets (here, here and here)… you learn as you go. And I’m simply sharing what I’ve learned here on this site — so maybe others can benefit from this information.

One thing’s for sure (if you haven’t already figured this out)… any time I spend a good deal of time researching something that’s house-related, I almost always share that info here on this website. I figure, if it took a lot of my time to research & gather the info, then perhaps it will save someone else from having to put forth so much time researching the same thing. That, or maybe there will be one or two nuggets of info that will generally apply to everyone.

Anyhoo… here’s what I’ve learned about side-by-side vs french door refrigerators.



Side-By-Side vs French Door Refrigerators

One thing that I’ve recently had a change of heart about is my desire to have a refrigerator with french doors, rather than a side-by-side unit like we have now.

I had practically convinced myself (and my husband) that we needed a bottom-freezer unit with the french doors on top.

You see my biggest "complaints" about our side-by-side refrigerator are:

  • I can’t store enough food in the freezer.
  • Those 1 or 2 times a year that I want to store large platters or trays in the fridge, I can’t because the shelves aren’t wide enough.

See for yourself how much stuff people are storing in refrigerators of all shapes & sizes!


4 Reasons I Prefer Side-By-Side Refrigerators

After playing with all the different refrigerators in the stores the other day, I think I prefer a side-by-side unit for the following reasons:

#1 The door closes automatically (or easier, more naturally) on a side-by-side unit. With french doors, one door usually gets "hung-up" on the other and it simply pauses & won’t close all the way — not without an extra push. (Some french door units have an extra revolving door guard which helps the doors close and keeps out the air better. If I were to get a refrigerator with french doors, it would have to have this feature.)

#2 The long, thin plastic bins used for storing vegetables, the french door units seem flimsy — especially those which have an "auto-opening lid" (when you pull out the drawer, the lid automatically opens at the same time). Too much free-moving plastic just says "That’ll break!" to me.

#3 In the french door units, those pull-out drawers tend to be wider… yet they don’t have any better "glides" to help the longer & wider drawer pull out easier. I know in our current side-by-side unit, those plastic drawer bins tend to "catch" a bit when you’re pulling them out — rather than gliding perfectly. (It’s just the nature of sliding plastic on plastic.) So, trying to slide an even wider drawer would seem even more awkward (read: more likely to break, especially if you tug too hard in one direction when attempting to open or close the plastic drawer). Call me stereotypical… but just about every man and child that I know tends to be rough on things, and taking the time to pull out those drawers slowly and carefully (or sliding them back in without force)… is NOT likely to happen in this house!

#4 The freezer capacities on french door units are even less than the capacity in side-by-side units! Bummer. And just how often do I need to store long or wide items in the refrigerator?… Not often. So I think a side-by-side refrigerator meets our needs best after all.


Here is Good Housekeeping’s take on French Door refrigerators.

Lynnette Walczak

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusFlickr

Fun From Around the Web

  • M.L

    I hope you post this for people who have wasted probably thousands of dollars on fresh fruits and veggies going bad (the space in the fruit and veggie bins are never enough for me, but “ALL” food is a pain to get to) because of the dosey doh you have go through to move things around in a side-by-side (back to front to reach things). The shelves slide out but the food slides off,,,, so, after 12 years I finally came up with a solution, Plastic storage bins (approx. the size of a shoes box, For the most part you can line them up 2 by 2 and slide them in and out with all the items easy to reach!

  • J.B.

    I got taken in by the French Door bottom freezer is the way to go campaign. There is nothing wrong with French Door fridge except I don’t like it. I’m an organization freak and there is none with this. In my side-by-side, which lasted 20 years, each shelf had it’s specific type of food. I could tell anyone what shelf to look on and where on that shelf it would be. Now it’s chaos. Even with my penchant for order, it’s a tough one to do. The shelves aren’t adjustable enough to get my tall glass iced tea jar in. I get so frustrated with it and it’s not the fridge’s fault. If you regularly had large long trays of food, then great, this would be heaven. Now on to the freezer. It’s heavy to pull out, you have to bend over to rummage through everything to find anything and not nearly the amount of storage space of a side by side. Forget order. It won’t happen. But it does look great. Now will learn to cope. My neighbor loves hers but she gets a lot of take out food and doesn’t cook much. Good Luck and I hope whatever you opt for is the right one for you.

    • FunTimesGuide

      J.B. – those are EXCELLENT points! Things you wouldn’t know until you’ve actually lived with it for awhile. Thanks so much for sharing those points!

    • Jenni R

       I also bought a $2400. French Door Jenn Air. I always found the door ajar. The freezer is the worst part. We went back to the side by side (Samsung twin coil) and love it.  I wish I had read this before buying a French Door unit.

  • Mahwish007

    U r right: u and the comments on this page have saved me tons of time!!! Side-by-Side it is :)

  • Jenni R

    You are spot on.  I only wish we had read your comments before we bought out French Door refrig.  We just went back to a side by side and love it.  French Door is great for looks but the side by side is better for function.  Thank you for you comments. Jenni Randall

  • Jeffrey Fielhauer

    Funny. I agree that the french door concept is a bad one but for entirely different reasons. It’s not about the quality of the components (buy a more expensive model if that’s your problem).

    1. They’re more expensive: why pay like 25% more for something that does the same thing?

    2. Why have to open 2 doors? I have a french door refrigerator, and I’m always annoyed when I open one side and what I want is on the other side or I have something in one hand and can’t open the entire refrigerator with my one free hand. It’s stupid. 1 refrigerator space should require 1 door.

    3. The french door design gives you lots of width but limits height. Consequently, the drawers are usually quite short and fairly useless. I have one very wide drawer on the bottom, but almost nothing fits because it’s so short. Eggplant, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce – none of it fits.

    I have to disagree about the freezer, though. I love the freezer drawer. My freezer has a drawer within the drawer, and that’s just about perfect. It would be ideal if the top drawer were a little taller and the bottom a little shorter because things do tend to get lost in the bottom, but overall we just keep big things in the bottom, small things in the top and have no problem. Unlike a side-by-side refrigerator, things aren’t lost in the back of those little drawers that pull out halfway.

    My ideal refrigerator is a bottom drawer freezer and one big door on top. It’s sort of an older style in terms of looks, but sometimes things are actually done right the first time and there’s no reason to improve on them.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Great points, Jeffrey. Thanks for sharing! Some of those are things I would’ve never thought of. It’s nice to hear from someone who has some firsthand experience with this 😀

  • Frenchdoorrefrigerator Reviews

    Some reason for french door refrigerators.