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French Door vs. Side-By-Side Counter Depth Refrigerators

October 13th, 2020 | 4 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

Learn how to find the perfect refrigeration products with our Counter-Depth Refrigerator Buying Guide
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French Door vs. Side-By-Side Counter Depth Refrigerators

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.

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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.

  1. Regular Counter Depth Refrigerator - A standard refrigerator with a shallow depth
  2. Professional (Pro) Counter Depth Refrigerator - A restaurant or commercial-style refrigerator with a compressor on the top
  3. 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.

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.

Read More: Best Side-By-Side Counter Depth Refrigerators

Features of Both Side-By-Side and French Door Counter Depth Refrigerators

Illuminated Glass Panel

LG Instaview Refrigerator

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.

Twin Evaporators 

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 %
Jenn-Air 177 330 53.64 %
Liebherr 1 2 50.00 %
LG Electronics 7 14 50.00 %
Cafe Appliances 11 37 29.73 %
Samsung 154 583 26.42 %
Café Appliances 18 71 25.35 %
Fisher & Paykel 23 107 21.50 %
KitchenAid 54 255 21.18 %
Bosch Appliances 155 782 19.82 %
GE Profile 22 114 19.30 %
Miele 1 6 16.67 %
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 %
Whirlpool 4 12 33.33 %
KitchenAid 12 37 32.43 %
Samsung 19 71 26.76 %
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.

Read More: Most Reliable Counter Depth French Door Refrigerators

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?

Additional Resources

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.

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Why Should You Trust Us?

It seems that every appliance review has nothing but glowing comments about almost every product, yet you read customer reviews and they are almost universally bad.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll give you the best features, and the drawbacks as well, including reliability based on over 37,000 calls performed by our service team just last year. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve Sheinkopf is the third-generation CEO of Yale Appliance and a lifelong Bostonian. He has over 38 years of experience in the appliance industry, and he is a trusted source of information for consumers on how to buy and repair appliances.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications, including 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.

Steve is passionate about helping consumers find the best appliances for their needs, and he is always happy to answer questions and provide advice. He is a valuable resource for consumers who are looking for information on appliance buying, repair, and maintenance.

Despite being the worst goalie in history, Steve is a fan of the Bruins and college hockey, loves to read, and is a Peloton biker. The love of his life is his daughter, Sophie.

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 stores for most accurate price.