Things to Consider When Shopping for a Side-By-Side
There are five key factors that we use to evaluate refrigerators and you should keep in mind when doing your own shopping and comparisons: warranties, energy-efficiency, refrigerator door style, size, and, of course, price.
There doesn’t tend to be much variation when it comes to warranties for side-by-side refrigerators. Most refrigerators come with some variation on the following warranty structure: one-year warranty for parts and labor and a three to five-year warranty for the sealed system. There are, of course, variations on this basic structure. Some manufacturers offer longer warranties on the sealed system. Others offer other, sometimes longer, warranties on additional features that are unique to that particular refrigerator. It is important that you check the manufacturer’s product specification information to ensure you know what kind of warranty you can expect for each product.
While all of the refrigerators that we’ve tested offer some level of greater energy efficiency over standard refrigerators, they are not all created equal. Some, for instance, meet Energy Star standards. This simply means that Energy Star certified appliances are at least 9 percent more energy efficient than the industry standards. Just because an appliance doesn’t meet Energy Star standards doesn’t mean that the appliance isn’t energy-efficient though. It just means that it doesn’t quite reach this 9 percent threshold.
Side-By-Side vs. French Door
There are two general types of refrigerators on the market: side-by-side and French door. Each option has its benefits and downsides. Side-by-side refrigerators are a great option if you have limited space. As the name suggests, side-by-side fridges have a freezer compartment on the left and a refrigerator compartment on the right.
French door refrigerators, on the other hand, have two refrigerator doors that open away from each other and then a freezer drawer underneath the doors. French door styles tend to offer greater freezer storage space; however, this freezer space is usually less visible and easily organized than is the case with side-by-side doors.
Besides price, size is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping around for a new refrigerator. When comparing fridges, be sure to consider not only the overall capacity (measured in cubic feet) but also the capacity of the refrigerator compartment and the freezer compartment respectively. Some refrigerators boast very large overall capacity, but end up being quite limited in freezer space, for instance. There is obviously a trade-off here. If, for example, you already have a separate, stand-alone freezer, you won’t need a side-by-side with particularly large freezer storage capacity. If, however, you don’t have an alternative freezer solution, you’ll want to look at side-by-sides with greater freezer capacity.
Price is usually the biggest concern for most consumers. While there isn’t a wide range of prices you can expect from side-by-sides, the variation in price that does exist usually pertains to additional luxury or convenience features. Most side-by-sides are in the $1000 to $1500 range, with the higher-end models exceeding that range to some extent. These more expensive models tend to have a lot of additional features and/or greater storage capacity. You’ll simply have to weigh these luxury features and greater space against the higher asking prices.