Before we talk about the differences between a French door refrigerator and a side by side refrigerator, we need to define what these names of refrigerators mean.
French door refrigerator
A French door refrigerator is a refrigerator that has a side by side top and a freezer at the bottom of the unit.
The expression French door means a door with a panel that extends through its entire length.
The history of the expression traces back to the Renaissance time. The focus of the Renaissance style was on proportions, symmetry and light. Because of Renaissance influence, the French started using doors and windows with glass panels extending through their lengths and which is why the name for this style of doors and windows in the English language today refers to France.
Side by side refrigerator
A side by side refrigerator is a refrigerator that has two side by side doors through the entire length of the fridge.
Side by side refrigerator or French door refrigerator: which one is better?
While French door refrigerators are the most popular type of the refrigerator available on the market today, side by side refrigerators have their own advantages. For this reason, you want to decide what is important to you and then choose a refrigerator that suits your needs.
French door refrigerators: advantages
More refrigerated items at eye level
French door refrigerators have all the space on top dedicated to the refrigerator section and the bottom is the freezer section. Because of this, you can keep all your fresh foods and foods that you eat often, such as milk, juices and fresh vegetables, on the eye level.
Because of the popularity of French refrigerators, this type of the appliance is where a lot of manufacturers spend a lot of money when it comes to research and innovation.
For example, some units in the French door fridge category now have not three, but four separate doors. One of such models is Samsung RF34H996OS4. This refrigerator has two compressors, four separate temperature zones and three evaporators. You can use the bottom-right section as a freezer or as a fresh food refrigerator. There is also a built-in sparking water system that uses CO2 cartridges.
Other French door units have other kinds of innovation, such as hands-free dispensers, color LCD controls, built-in coffee makers and more.
More freezer space
French refrigerators typically have one large door for the freezer compartment. This means that the compartment it more suitable for storage of items that have large surfaces, such as frozen pizza pies.
French door refrigerator: disadvantages
The biggest disadvantage of a French door refrigerator is inconvenient access to the freezer section. Because the section is located at the bottom, you will have to bend your back to get to it. This may pose a challenge if you have back issues and would prefer to have access to both frozen and refrigerated food without having a need to bend down.
This issue also makes French refrigerators not optimal if you eat a lot of frozen foods and need to move a lot of frozen foods into the refrigerator section. In this case a side by side refrigerator may be a better choice for you because all you have to do to move a frozen food to the fridge for defrosting in a side by side fridge is open and close one door, and then open and close another door, no bending involved.
Side by side refrigerators: advantages
Eye-level location of both frozen and refrigerated foods
In a side by side refrigerator, frozen and fridge sections both occupy full height length of a unit, which means that you can keep both frozen and refrigerated items on an eye-level next to each other. This may be convenient if you buy a lot of frozen vegetables or frozen dinners and you eat them often because in this case you can place them at an eye level and have easy access to them.
More shelving in the freezer section
Another benefit of side by side fridges is more shelving in the freezer section. Because the section goes from top to bottom of the unit, it has more shelving and is easier to organize and find frozen items.
Side by side refrigerators: disadvantages
Less space for refrigerated items at eye level
Compared to French refrigerators, side by side models have less space for fridge items at an eye level. However, this is not necessarily a disadvantage because it also offers more space at eye level for frozen foods. Therefore, it is a matter of personal preference and choice.
May not be suitable for large frozen items
French door fridges have a freezer section that occupies the entire bottom part the fridge, which is why they are great for storing frozen pizzas and other frozen items that come in large or bulky boxes or packages. If those are the items that you use a lot, a side by side fridge may not work for you.
French refrigerators are more popular than side by side models because they offer more room for refrigerated foods at eye level. Because of their popularity, they can also have more innovative features such as carbonated water dispenser, no-touch dispenser and so on. However, if you eat a lot of frozen foods and move foods often between the fridge and the frozen sections, a side by side refrigerator may be a better option for you.