At a Glance:
- What Is a Counter Depth Refrigerator?
- French Door vs. Side-By-Side Counter
- French Door Counter Depth
- Side-By-Side Counter Depth
- Features of Both Side-By-Side and French
Door Counter Depth Refrigerators
- Differences Between French Door
and Side-By-Side Counter Depth
- Which Counter Depth Refrigerator
Should You Buy?
We originally wrote this article comparing side-by-side versus French door refrigerators in 2016.
Back then, French door refrigerators were becoming far more popular than side-by-sides.
In 2020, the ratio of people buying side-by-sides increased dramatically, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In this article, you will learn the features, performance, and prices of both side-by-side refrigerators and French door refrigerators.
But first, let’s define what a counter-depth refrigerator is because there are three different types.
What Is a Counter Depth Refrigerator?
Counter-depth refrigerators look better in the kitchen because they do not protrude into your kitchen.
You won’t see the unfinished side of your refrigerator like you would on a regular refrigerator.
There are three different types of counter depth refrigerators, all available in side-by-side or French door styles.
- Regular Counter Depth Refrigerator - A standard refrigerator with a shallow depth
- Professional (Pro) Counter Depth Refrigerator - A restaurant or commercial-style refrigerator with a compressor on the top
- Integrated Counter Depth Refrigerator - Integrated refrigerators fit within a 24-inch cabinet and are seamless to the cabinet.
The regular and professional refrigerator doors will slightly protrude past your cabinet, whereas integrated refrigerators will not. However, you lose cubic footage with an integrated style.
French Door Vs. Side-By-Side Counter Depth Refrigerators
First, you should know the different styles.Short on time? Get our free Counter Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide
French Door Counter Depth Refrigerators
The original French door counter depth refrigerator was two doors split in the middle with a bottom freezer. Sizes are available in counter depth up to about 23 cubic and regular to nearly 30 cubic feet.
Now, they are available in different styles. Have a look:
French Door With a Drawer - This style has a drawer at the bottom of the refrigerator. For some manufacturers, that drawer can also be a freezer or refrigerator.
4-Door French Door - Four-door refrigerators are a newer French door. The bottom right freezer can be a refrigerator or freezer in certain manufacturers.
5-Door French Door - KitchenAid only has the most doors for different foods in regular depth.
Read More: Best Counter Depth Refrigerators
Side-by-Side Counter Depth Refrigerators
Side-by-sides are available in counter depth as well as regular as well in one basic style.
Features of Both Side-By-Side and French Door Counter Depth Refrigerators
Illuminated Glass Panel
Tap the glass panel to see what is inside. LG carries this feature known as their InstaView Door.
Smart Tablet On Refrigerator Door
Available in multiple configurations. You can also run Ring through it to see who is at your door on your refrigerator. Samsung carries this feature in their smart series Family Hub refrigerators.
Wi-Fi is now available in many brands like GE, LG, KitchenAid, and Samsung. You can adjust the temperature right from an app on your phone.
Door-In-Door - Available in multiple brands, a Door-In-Door or a Door Within A Door is a second door off your refrigerator to more easily access milk, juice, and condiments.
Dual zones to keep the warmer, moister air of the refrigerator separate from the colder, drier air of the freezer. Both types have brands offering the dual-zone.
Learn More: Counter Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide
Differences Between French Door and Side-By-Side Counter Depth Refrigerators
Side-by-side refrigerators are $200 to $800 cheaper for the same cubic footage for regular depth. In counter depth, the difference becomes much larger, around $800-$1,200.
French door refrigerators have more refrigerator capacity by about 12%. Correspondingly, side-by-sides have more freezer space.
French doors have more lateral space for storage, whereas side-by-sides have more organized space.
If you have more platters, you are better with a French door. However, for smaller items, side-by-sides are better with more shelving.
French doors will keep temperature better, especially in the freezer. There are different review sites with thermometers on both.
However, if you don’t have a lot of items in your freezer, cold air will spill out every time you open your freezer door.
The bottom freezer of a French door like a chest freezer is more efficient for keeping your food cold.
We calculate reliability based on our service calls divided by sales for a service percentage during the first year.
For this particular article, we're looking at our service calls and sales for January 2020 to September 2020.
French Door Counter Depth Reliability From January 2020 to September 2020
|Service Qty||Shipped Qty||Service Ratio|
|Signature Kitchen Suite||2||3||66.67 %|
|LG Electronics||7||14||50.00 %|
|Cafe Appliances||11||37||29.73 %|
|Café Appliances||18||71||25.35 %|
|Fisher & Paykel||23||107||21.50 %|
|Bosch Appliances||155||782||19.82 %|
|GE Profile||22||114||19.30 %|
|GE Appliances||14||87||16.09 %|
|Beko Appliance||17||121||14.05 %|
|Grand Total||662||2483||26.66 %|
Side-By-Side Counter Depth Refrigerator Reliability From January 2020 to September 2020
|Service Qty||Shipped Qty||Service Ratio|
|LG Electronics||2||2||100.00 %|
|GE Appliances||2||3||66.67 %|
|GE Profile||8||15||53.33 %|
|Bosch Appliances||17||41||41.46 %|
|Beko Appliance||2||9||22.22 %|
|Café Appliances||1||5||20.00 %|
|Grand Total||73||194||37.63 %|
The side-by-side reliability is typically better because the ice cube is sent through the freezer compared to the refrigerator of the French door.
Sending a frozen cube through a warmer refrigerator can cause leaks.
At least that's what I thought. The numbers proved otherwise. Side-by-side's have similar problems with ice-makers and dispensers. Add to that misaligned doors on side-by-sides, so it is actually less reliable.
Most of these problems are ice-maker relate, not more problematic compressor issues.
Side-By-Side vs. French Door Counter Depth Refrigerators: Which Should You Buy?
You certainly have more options on a French door. Side-by-sides will always be less expensive.
It depends on what and how you store your food. Do you meal prep, cook every day, or host guests a lot?
French door counter depth refrigerators are better for lateral storage like platters and casserole dishes with more refrigerator space.
Side-by-side counter depth refrigerators are more organized for smaller items. Side-by-sides have larger freezers than French doors.
Which do you like?
Download the Yale Counter Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide with features, specs, and inside buying tips for regular, pro, and integrated counter depth refrigerators. Well over 580,000 people have read a Yale Guide.
Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.
Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.
A Note About Pricing