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What are the Pros & Cons of a Side-by-Side Refrigerator?

When the time comes to buy a new refrigerator, some consumers are choosing to purchase a model that has the refrigerator and freezer sections side by side rather than the more traditional style with the freezer on top and refrigerator below. Many people say they prefer the way the side-by-side refrigerators look, but is that style always the right choice in terms of convenience, efficiency and accessibility? Understanding the pros and cons of the side by side refrigerator will help you determine if this style is right for you.

When compared with refrigerators that have the freezer on top, the side-by-side arrangement has some distinct advantages, such as:

Commonly used items can be placed at the level most convenient for you and your family.

If you have kids who are constantly opening the refrigerator to reach for snacks and drinks, having these items located within easy reach means less time holding the door open while trying to get what they want. Conversely, if there are foodstuffs or beverages that you prefer to keep out of reach of smaller children, you have the flexibility of placing them on a higher shelf.


Food in the freezer is less likely to be buried and lost.

Digging in the freezer to find a needed item or just trying to see what’s in the fridge can be frustrating. Having the freezer on the side offers significant shelf space, making everyone's selections easier to locate and reach. While some may wonder if they will lose their energy efficiency by making browsing in the freezer more appealing, it is likely that any potential losses will be recovered by having popular items easier to find and cutting down on discarded food due to freezer burn.

Doors need less room to swing open.

In kitchens where space is at a premium, having doors that require less sweep area is a definite bonus.


Water and ice can be dispensed through the door.

Perhaps the single most popular benefit of the side by side refrigerator is the ability to get water and ice on demand without opening the doors. Most consumers feel this added convenience alone makes the side by side the model of choice, especially when factoring in the cost savings from being able to leave the doors closed while dispensing.

Are There Disadvantages to Side by Side Refrigerators?

In spite of their many advantages, side by side refrigerators do have a few disadvantages that you should factor into any purchasing decision.

Ice and water dispensers require upkeep.

If you select a side by side appliance because you want the dispensers, the first consideration is making sure that the area where the refrigerator will be placed is plumbed for water. In some older homes or apartments, this could pose a problem. Also, water lines and filters need maintenance, so make sure you are prepared to replace filters or have water lines repaired if needed.


Side by side refrigerators are commonly wider than those with the freezer on top.

Although some models are small enough to fit into a narrow space, by choosing a smaller side by side refrigerator over the freezer on top style you could be giving up more refrigerator capacity. Measure carefully to ensure there is enough room for the model you want. If you decide that you need to remodel in order to have enough width for a larger refrigerator, consider what it would mean to lose counter space to make room for it.

Those large pans and platters may not fit.

While the side by side refrigerator has many benefits, one major complaint from consumers is the lack of space for larger items. Holiday dinners in particular pose a problem, when there is simply not enough room for the basting turkey or leftovers in the roasting pan. Sometimes shelves can be rearranged to increase capacity, but occasionally, large items simply will not fit. Even though most families do not need that kind of room on a daily basis, it bears keeping in mind for those times when space may become a problem.

When you invest in a new refrigerator, you expect to have that appliance in your home for many years to come. To ensure that you make the right buying decision, it pays to know the pros and cons of a side by side refrigerator before you have it delivered.