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A man walks by a side-by-side refrigerator in a kitchen

Best Side-by-Side Refrigerators From Consumer Reports' Tests

Easy access to fresh-food and freezer compartments gives these top-performing models their appeal

When you're shopping for a new refrigerator, you'll see far more French-door models than side-by-sides.

It wasn't always that way. Side-by-sides were once the refrigerator style Americans aspired to own. But they have lost market share, dropping from 32 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2017. In fact, in Consumer Reports' 2017 spring survey, 60 percent of new refrigerators bought by CR members were French-door models.

But there are still plenty of good reasons to consider a side-by-side, with its two dedicated compartments—one for fresh food and one for frozen:

• Side-by-side refrigerators are typically less expensive than French-door models and still plenty stylish.
• Their narrow doors are easier to open in tight kitchens.
• And they often cost less to repair, with a median repair price of $176 vs. $204 for French-door fridges, according to our survey.

"I still prefer side-by-sides over French-door models,” says Joseph Pacella, who oversees Consumer Reports’ refrigerator tests and has a side-by-side at home. “I think they have better organization and make it easier to find what you want in each compartment."

How We Test Refrigerators
After a refrigerator gets wired up with temperature sensors, we monitor it for more than a month in a temperature-controlled chamber to evaluate thermostat control and temperature uniformity. CR’s test engineers collect more than 5.4 million temperature readings for each model to detect warm and cold spots and to determine which refrigerators will keep your food fresh longer.

The results have revealed that too many refrigerators simply don’t do well at their primary function, and that could mean more wasted food and bigger grocery bills.

We also measure usable storage capacity, which doesn’t always match what manufacturers claim, as well as energy efficiency, quietness, and how long food will stay frozen during a power outage. In addition, we use data from our annual CR member survey to score brands by refrigerator type on their predicted reliability and owner satisfaction, and then combine that with the performance data for one overall score.

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of five standout side-by-side refrigerators from CR's tests. All of the data appears in our refrigerator ratings of some 400 models, including bottom-freezers, built-ins, French-doors, top-freezers, and side-by-sides.