French Door vs Side-by-side Refrigerator

French Door Refrigerator

   PROS
  • Store larger items
  • Crisper drawers are at eye level
  • Energy-efficient
  • Frequently used items are on top and more convenient
  • More storage
  • Many additional features available
  CONS
  • More expensive
  • Freezer items have to be stacked
  • Have to bend down to get freezer items
$1,200 - $3,750

(24-cubic foot French door, installed)

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Side-by-side Refrigerator

   PROS
  • Less expensive
  • Freezer items are at eye level
  • More shelving options in the freezer section
  • Equal space for freezer and fresh food
  • Kids can access both sides easily
  CONS
  • Not suitable for large items
  • Not as much storage space for refrigerator food
  • Requires bending down to get items stored at the lower levels
$750 -$1,950

(24-cubic foot side-by-side, installed)

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A refrigerator is a must-have for every home, but there are many things to consider before deciding on the perfect option. Two popular choices are side-by-side and French door refrigerators. While both have their benefits, deciding which one suits you can be difficult. Here are points to consider before your purchase.

Appearance

The biggest visual difference between these refrigerators is the placement of the freezer. Most French door options have at least one lower drawer that stores frozen items. Some models have multiple drawers below the fridge that are temperature controlled, from chilled to frozen. The side-by-side refrigerators have vertical fridge and freezer space with shelving.

Both types of refrigerators are readily available in black, white, and stainless steel. The rising popularity of French door refrigerators has given them the added benefit of being available in many finishes, such as slate 1, bisque, and black stainless steel. For an additional cost, both refrigerators can be built into cabinets.

Storage and Usability

French door refrigerators offer ample storage space with flexible options. Without a vertical divider in the fridge, you can store larger items like party trays and pizza boxes. There are additional storage bins and drawers to arrange food neatly.

With the crisper drawer at eye level and more visible, it is likely that you will use produce instead of letting it grow mold as it sits in the bottom of the fridge. More of the daily items you use are easily accessible with French door refrigerators.

However, this means that your freezer items are in the drawer below, stacked on top of each other, and hard to access. This is a potential problem for anyone who frequently uses their freezer. Side-by-side options not only have freezers at eye level, but they also have shelving, making frozen foods more accessible.

Installation

We recommend using a professional to install either refrigerator, especially if there is not an existing water line. If there is an available water line, installation involves connecting the water supply, leveling or adjusting the doors, and removing the shipping materials. ​

Costs

The installation for both refrigerators is the same and costs around $150. If the refrigerator has an ice maker or water dispenser, then a dedicated water line is necessary. Installing that will add an average of $140.

French door refrigerators range in price from $1,050 for a basic unit to $3,600 for more advanced models. The price depends on features like touch screens and carbon water filter systems. The total cost for a 24-cubic foot stainless steel French door refrigerator ranges from $1,200 to $3,750 installed. Adding a water line increases the range to $1,340 and $3,890.

Side-by-side refrigerators range from $600 to $1,800. Features vary from see-through doors to advanced water filtration systems. An installed 24-cubic foot stainless steel side-by-side refrigerator costs between $750 to $1,950. Adding a water line increases the range to $890 and $2,090.

Energy-efficiency

French door refrigerators are more energy-efficient primarily due to their design. Since you open one side at a time, only one side needs to cool back down instead of the entire fridge. The effect is that less energy is needed to keep the refrigerator cool on a daily basis.

Bending problems

With the freezer placed on the bottom of French door refrigerators, problems may occur for those suffering from back pain. Having to bend down every time you need to get to the freezer can agitate existing issues and even cause pain for those who do not normally have problems. Side-by-side options keep both the fridge and freezer at eye level making it easy for anyone to access.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Slate: A fine-grained rock, typically bluish-gray in color, that can easily be split into thin layers and is commonly used as a roofing material

Cost to install a french door or a side-by-side refrigerator varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Attalla, AL
-27%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Baton Rouge, LA
+19%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Carlsbad, CA
+13%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Concord, CA
+30%
Dacula, GA
+1%
Daly City, CA
+51%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Dearborn, MI
+16%
Detroit, MI
+16%
Easton, PA
+13%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Grand Rapids, MI
+7%
Hemet, CA
-6%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Jersey City, NJ
+23%
Kalamazoo, MI
+2%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Katy, TX
+63%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Lawrenceville, GA
+16%
Lawton, OK
-38%
Lincoln, NE
-13%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Madison, WI
+13%
Manassas, VA
+12%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milpitas, CA
+33%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Mobile, AL
-8%
Naperville, IL
+47%
New Orleans, LA
+35%
Norristown, PA
+44%
Oakland, CA
+36%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Pompano Beach, FL
+2%
Portland, OR
+11%
Provo, UT
-18%

Labor cost in your zip code

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