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Side by Side vs. French Door Counter Depth Refrigerators (Reviews/Ratings/Prices)

In terms of improving the look of your kitchen for the least amount of money, counter depth refrigerators (along with slide-in ranges) are the best choice. So before you pour tons of money into a new kitchen, look at counter depths as a simpler solution.

A counter depth refrigerator is 24 inches deep for the refrigerator body. Counter depth has become the refrigerator of choice in remodeling, because it looks much better than looking at the black textured sides of a standard refrigerator

One of the first decisions you will have to make when buying a new fridge will be what size is best for you?

Many customers who are remodeling their kitchen are opting for counter depth fridges. Most openings for this type of fridge are 36” in width and about 72” tall. Generally the cubic capacity is about 20 – 22 cubic foot for counter depth refrigerators.

When purchasing your new fridge consider what is important to you for everyday use.

Short on time? Get our free Counter Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide with features and comparisons of all the best brands »

What is a Counter Depth Refrigerator?

A counter depth refrigerator is 24 inches deep for the refrigerator body. Counter depth has become the refrigerator of choice in remodeling because it looks much better than looking at the textured sides of a standard depth refrigerator.

counter-depth-french-door-and-side-by-side-display.jpg

Most openings for this type of fridge are 36” in width and about 70”-72” tall. 36" is the most common cabinet size.

You would be better served with a top or bottom freezer in the smaller cabinet widths of 24" or 30" as side by side and French doors will be small for that size.

French Door Refrigerators

French door has become the most popular style in refrigeration.

A French door by definition is a side by side top with a bottom freezer. This style is better than a side by side for the refrigerator, because you will be eye level with most of the foods, shelves, and crisper drawers. Accessing the fridge will be much easier and it will be full width unlike the side by side.

Although the freezer is also full width with a more accessible pull out drawer, it is the compromise of a French door refrigerator. Frozen foods have to be stacked on top of each other unlike the more organized side by side.

I will use Jenn-air models for this blog because they are currently the most popular especially in packages. Let’s take the Jenn-Air JFC2089BEM model above normally priced at $2,499.99 (but rebates can vary up to $350) is an energy efficient fridge with an icemaker in the freezer below with a filtered water dispenser inside.

Side By Side Refrigerators

Any upscale house from the 70s, 80s and 90s with a counter depth refrigerator invariably will have a side by side. Side by sides offer easy access for the fridge and freezer section with proportionally more freezer space than a French door.

There are some advantages to this configuration.

There is much easier access to the freezer section with much more segmented and organized storage in both sections. The through-the-door ice dispenser also uses much less useable space in a side by side than a French door.

The Jenn-Air model JSC23C9EEM (above) is our most commonly sold side by side. It is an energy efficient model with a nice sleek clean look on the outside. Right now this fridge is priced at $3,299 before the $350 rebate.

Another benefit to a side by side counter depth is price. Frigidaire for example will offer a side by side counter between $1,099-$1,399, but French doors will be $1,799-$1,999 for the least expensive options.

French Door vs Side by Side Refrigerators

First, if you are shopping on just price, then side by sides would be a winner at up to $500 cheaper depending on the brand.

However, French door seems to be the most preferred with almost 3 cubic feet more in the refrigerator at eye level with more lateral width storage. Of course, it is offset by a less convenient, smaller freezer.

So, it depends, if you use the refrigerator or freezer more.

  • Lateral space is better in a French door with more refrigerator room
  • Price is better in a side by side
  • More organized space in a side by side
  • More freezer space in a side by side

Additional Resources

Need more information on counter depth refrigerators? Get the Yale Counter Depth Refrigerator Guide with features, specs and detailed profiles on all the major brands like Sub-Zero, Viking, Jenn-Air, Thermador, KitchenAid and more. Well over 135,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

View our counter depth refrigerator buying guide

Even More Resources:

Topics: Jenn-Air, Bosch, Counter Depth Refrigerators, French Door Refrigerators

About The Author

John Ramsay V

John Ramsay V has been in major kitchen appliance sales for over 17 years. John enjoys Theology, politics and sometimes gets into trouble because of it!

Read more about John here.

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A note about pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing.


Please call the store for most accurate price.