Side-by-side fridge purchasing advice: how to choose the right product
- The most important facts in brief
- Side-by-side refrigerators owe their name to the design of classic American refrigerators, in which the freezer and refrigerator are arranged side by side.
- Side-by-side refrigerators often come with luxury features. Extras such as a minibar compartment, door-in-door function or WLAN functions are included in some appliances.
- The total capacity of XXL refrigerators is on average about 600 litres. This makes them ideal for households with four or more people.
- The refrigerator giants consume a lot of electricity. For many households, an appliance from the upper energy efficiency class is recommended, which has various energy-saving functions.
What is a side-by-side refrigerator?
It is a stylish eye-catcher in the kitchen, stands for comfort and American lifestyle and it loves the big, roomy appearance: the side-by-side refrigerator. The double-door XXL refrigerators in stainless steel look are increasingly conquering European kitchens with their space and extra functions.
The term side-by-side refers to the arrangement of the refrigerator and freezer sections. In this type of refrigerator, they are – as the name suggests – side by side. The situation is different with classic fridge-freezers. There, these components are arranged one above the other: the refrigerator section on top and the freezer section below.
Side-by-side fridges, also known as American fridges, are about 170 to 205 centimetres high, the same as standard fridge-freezers. In width, however, they have more to offer at around 90 to 120 centimetres. By way of comparison, a standard single-door refrigerator is about 50 to 60 cm wide. So the refrigerators with hinged doors offer much more space. Their total usable capacity is around 400 to 600 litres. Refrigerators and fridge-freezers, on the other hand, only have a total capacity of about 200 to 300 litres. However, consumers must also expect higher electricity consumption due to the appliance size.
Most side-by-side refrigerators have two separate cooling circuits. Therefore, the user can set the temperature for the refrigerator and freezer sections separately. Some models offer a holiday mode that allows the user to switch off the refrigerator compartment during longer absences. The freezer section continues to operate normally during this time.
- Plenty of space for chilled and frozen foods
- Innovative additional functions
- Modern cooling functions such as No-Frost and Multi-Air-Flow
- High user comfort (enough space to store and retrieve food)
- Holiday mode thanks to separate cooling circuits
- Special fresh food compartments for fruit and vegetables
- Extensive construction
- High energy consumption
- A water connection may be necessary
The different designs of side-by-side refrigerators
If you are thinking of getting such a side-by-side fridge-freezer combination for your kitchen, it is essential to consider the space available. Such a giant refrigerator needs space. In addition, the special dimensions often differ significantly from those of conventional fridge-freezers. However, the market offers a small selection of different appliance variants.
American, European, or French?
There are three different designs of refrigerators with hinged doors: American, European and French (French-door).
American side-by-side refrigerator
The classic is the American version. This is a single large appliance. On the left side is the freezer section, on the right is the refrigerator section. The freezer is usually somewhat narrower. It comprises about one third of the total volume of use. In some models, an ice cube or water dispenser is built into the slightly narrower door of the freezer section. The shelves in the long door of the refrigerator section offer plenty of storage space for large food items. Because the freezer and refrigerator components are arranged side by side, there are eye-level storage compartments for each area.
- Eye-level refrigerator and freezer shelves
- Plenty of storage space
- Storage shelves in the doors offer space for long and large food items
- Narrow shelves in the freezer section
- Fruit and vegetable compartments not at eye level
French-style side-by-side refrigerator
The French design is reminiscent of a fridge-freezer combination, because the refrigerator and freezer sections are arranged one above the other in these appliances. The refrigerator section is on top and has a double door. The freezer section below can be closed with a separate door, or it consists of drawers. Separate cooling circuits are also present in this design. French-door refrigerators are usually not quite as wide as American and European side-by-side appliances. They are therefore more suitable for kitchens with limited space. Users who fancy an American-style refrigerator but cannot take advantage of the large volume will also find a compromise in the French-door variant. The consumer does not have to do without extras such as an ice cube dispenser. Despite the smaller doors, there are also models that offer this feature.
- Refrigerator compartment completely at eye level
- Spacious freezer drawers
- Takes up relatively little space
- Shelves in the doors offer little space for long food items
- Freezer compartment not at eye level
- Fewer shelves overall
Side-by-side refrigerators in European design
The European version of the two-door refrigerator consists of two appliances standing side by side. A connecting set in the middle ensures that the two individual appliances look like one large refrigerator. The doors are mounted so that they open like hinged doors. Unlike the American-design side-by-side refrigerator, the two sides of these models are the same size. The freezer section usually consists of several drawer compartments.
- Plenty of storage space
- Eye-level fridge and freezer compartments
- Very wide
- No shelves in the freezer section
Free-standing or built-in?
Due to their dimensions, side-by-side refrigerators are mainly freestanding models. Built-in models are rather a rarity in this appliance class. The look of the doors can hardly be matched to the rest of the kitchen furnishings. This is partly due to the extra functions that are integrated into the doors of many side-by-side refrigerators. If you want to fit the double-door refrigerator into your interior, it is best to consult a professional.
What to look for when buying a side-by-side refrigerator
When buying a side-by-side refrigerator, there are a number of factors to consider. For example, the space available and the furnishings of the kitchen (keyword: water connection), the food you want to store in it, as well as the equipment with necessary and additionally desired functions. In the following, we would like to give you some tips to help you find the best side-by-side refrigerator for you.
What type of construction should the side-by-side refrigerator have?
How should your new giant fridge be built? Classic American with two hinged doors and side-by-side freezer and refrigerator sections, or would you prefer the space-saving French door design? The third option is the European design with its equally large refrigerator and freezer sections. The choice is yours.
With or without water connection?
You also have to decide whether you want a side-by-side refrigerator with an ice cube dispenser. If the appliance of your choice has this feature, a water connection may be required. If this is not possible at the installation site, you can also choose a side-by-side refrigerator without a fixed water connection. Water is then supplied via a water tank. The disadvantage: the amount of water is limited. In addition, a tank requires maintenance. You have to change the water and clean the tank regularly.
Size and volume of the appliance
Side-by-side refrigerators are recommended for large households where four or more people live. Their total usable capacity (refrigerator and freezer sections together) is between 500 and 600 litres. By way of comparison, a conventional fridge-freezer combination has a total usable capacity of 350 litres on average.
In terms of height, side-by-side refrigerators do not differ from normal refrigerators. However, they are significantly wider and deeper.
|Side-by-side refrigerator||Fridge-freezer combination|
|Total net capacity (ø)||600 litres||350 litres|
|Useful capacity refrigerator section (ø)||400 litres||260 litres|
|Useful capacity freezer compartment (ø)||200 litres||90 litres|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||180 cm x 91 cm x 74 cm||180 cm x 60 cm x 65 cm|
So side-by-side refrigerators offer a lot of space in every respect. Consumers can store significantly more food in such an appliance than in a conventional fridge-freezer combination.
Tip:How to determine the suitable refrigerator capacity for your household
In the refrigerator section, calculate with about 50 to 70 litres of usable capacity per person. In the freezer section, 50 litres of usable capacity per person is also a good average. If you buy and freeze a lot of supplies, you’d better count on twice as much space.
The energy consumption of the hinged-door refrigerator
The capacity of the refrigerator is also important for the energy efficiency class. For this reason, you will find this information on the EU energy label. This label, which has been emblazoned on various household appliances throughout Europe since 1998, was introduced to help consumers compare household appliances. It also contains other information about performance and energy consumption that is important for assessing energy efficiency. This includes for example
- the annual electricity consumption,
- the energy efficiency class and
- the noise level.
It is also advisable to take a look at this information when making a purchase decision and comparing several appliances. After all, the large refrigerator that is in operation around the clock every day should not be an electricity guzzler that unnecessarily drives up energy costs.
The annual electricity consumption
Electricity consumption is calculated in kilowatt hours (kWh). The value on the EU energy label indicates the consumption for one year. The smaller the figure, the lower the electricity costs of the appliance. Please note, however, that the figure is only a guide value. The actual consumption may differ due to the location or the usage behaviour. Usage behaviour includes, for example, the temperature set or how often and for how long the door is opened.
An example calculation:
A two-door refrigerator consumes an average of 400 kWh per year. At an electricity price of 28 cents per kilowatt hour, this results in annual electricity costs of around 112 euros.
The noise level of the American refrigerator
A humming refrigerator can quickly become a nuisance, especially if it is placed in an open kitchen. A side-by-side appliance with a noise emission of about 40 decibels (dB) is a very quiet refrigerator. The normal value for these household appliances is 45 dB. This may well be a significant source of noise if the compressor starts frequently.
In any case, the appliance should not exceed 50dB. This sound level corresponds approximately to the volume of a normal conversation.
The climate class
Energy-conscious users should also pay attention to the climate class of the giant refrigerator. You will not find this information on the EU energy label, but in the product description and in the data sheet for the appliance. The climate class plays a role in the selection of the appliance location. A distinction is made between four classes:
|Abbreviation||Climate class||Ambient temperature|
|SN||Subnormal||10 °C to 32 °C|
|N||Normal||16 °C to32 °C|
|ST||Subtropical||16 °C to38 °C|
|T||Tropical||16 °C to43 °C|
In our climate zone, class N is the standard. You can place these appliances in a heated room such as the kitchen. If the refrigerator is to be placed in an unheated basement or storage room, a model with climate class SN is the better recommendation.
Note: Appliances labelled “SN-T” are universal. They can cope with any ambient temperature. These include, for example, most models from the manufacturer Hanseatic.
Functions and features of a double-door refrigerator
Side-by-side refrigerators are among the most modern fridge-freezers currently on the market and are also eye-catchers in the kitchen. In the following, we present the characteristic features and functions of the top double-door appliances. However, not every one of these functions comes as standard.
Ice cube dispenser and water dispenser
The ice cube dispenser is probably the most striking feature, apart from the stainless steel hinged doors. It adds convenience to the appliance and brings the bar feeling into the kitchen.
The water and/or ice cube dispenser is integrated into the door of the freezer section. At the touch of a button, you draw chilled water from it or fill your drink with crushed ice.
With some side-by-side refrigerators, the water dispenser works through a water tank. Others require a water connection for this function. Take this special feature into account when making your purchase decision.
Some side-by-side refrigerators in American design are equipped with a mini-bar compartment or home bar. This is a small door in the door. This can be opened separately so that you can access the drinks that are on the door shelf. The advantage: you do not have to open the large refrigerator door every time you take a drink. This means less cold air escapes, which in turn saves energy. The bar compartment is suitable as a mini-bar for chilled cocktail ingredients at parties.
The manufacturer LG has equipped its refrigerator models with a mirrored glass window. The highlight: after knocking twice, it becomes clear and reveals the view of the food in the door shelf. So you can look into the refrigerator without opening the door. This reduces cold loss and saves energy. Similar to the bar compartment, you can also open the part to access the food in the door storage shelf. There you can store refrigerated products that you take out of the fridge several times a day, such as butter, milk or jam.
This function is a standard feature of modern refrigerators. It ensures that the humidity in the freezer compartment remains low. This prevents ice from forming in the refrigerator and freezer compartments. It is therefore no longer necessary to defrost the large refrigerator.
A fan or ventilator distributes the cold air evenly in the refrigerator compartment. This also prevents the formation of ice layers in the refrigerator and ensures that the user does not have to defrost the side-by-side refrigerator. Depending on the manufacturer, this function is called “Multi-Airflow System” (Bosch), “DynaCool” or “Power Cooling”.
Twin cooling means that the freezer compartment and the refrigerator compartment each have their own cooling circuit. Thanks to this technology, the temperature in each appliance section can be optimally adjusted. In addition, the dry, cold air from the freezer section does not enter the refrigerator section. This maintains the optimum humidity for the refrigerated storage of food. Another advantage is that there is no air exchange between the refrigerator and freezer sections. There are no changes in odour or taste. In addition, you have the option of switching off the refrigerator section during longer absences, but allowing the freezer to continue working normally.
The European Food Information Centre (EUFIC) recommends keeping the refrigerator temperature below 5 °C. In the freezer section it should be below 5 °C. In the freezer section, it should be below -18 °C.
Cold storage compartments
Meat and dairy products stay fresh longer with low humidity. For this reason, manufacturers such as Siemens, Liebherr and Beko have integrated special drawers in which the food is constantly cooled at a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius. Depending on the manufacturer, this feature is also called a “0-degree zone”, “BioFresh” or “PerfectFresh”.
Fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, are in good hands in special fresh food compartments that offer more humidity. The fresh food compartments regulate the humidity so that the food does not dry out so quickly. Fruit and vegetables therefore stay fresh longer. Depending on the model and manufacturer, this process is called “Moist-Balance-Crisper” (LG), “FreshZone” (Gorenje) or simply a fresh food drawer.
A typical feature of side-by-side refrigerators is the stainless steel surface. This look is stylish, but has the disadvantage that after a while many fingerprints can be seen on it. Then the American refrigerator no longer looks so nice. Some manufacturers have therefore provided their refrigerator models with a no-fingerprint coating.
Digital innovation in the refrigerator
Some side-by-side refrigerators from the higher price segment are equipped with numerous “cool” extras that turn the refrigerator into a smart appliance.
Samsung has already launched French-door refrigerators and American fridge-freezers with digital displays. The display serves as a screen for streaming content or apps. A food cam sends images from inside the fridge to an app when needed. This allows the user to see what is in the fridge via the smartphone. This is practical when you are in the supermarket and no longer know what you still have in stock at home.
LG is also focusing on digital innovation with Smart ThinQTM and equipping some refrigerator models with WiFi functions. The user can control the refrigerator via the smartphone and, for example, adjust the temperature or carry out a fault diagnosis.
Energy-saving functions of the side-by-side refrigerator
The energy demand of double-door refrigerators is quite high. The following functions help to keep energy consumption at a moderate level.
The Eco function ensures lower energy consumption. In the case of Samsung, this works via special temperature sensors that regulate the performance of the appliance depending on the ambient temperature and usage behaviour (for example, the frequency of opening). Bosch’s appliances, on the other hand, operate at the push of a button with an appropriate, energy-efficient cooling capacity.
Quick freeze function
This function regulates the temperature in the freezer area sharply downwards for a few hours. This means that food is frozen more quickly. Fast freezing is an advantage especially for fruit and vegetables, i.e. foods that contain a lot of water. The faster they are frozen, the better their quality when they are defrosted again. This function is also suitable for storing bulk purchases quickly.
It may happen that the user has not closed the door of the refrigerator properly. Putting away the groceries and supplies can also take a little more time, leaving the large doors open for several minutes. This is where the door alarm comes in: an acoustic signal alerts you that the door is not closed and the temperature inside is already rising.
If you travel a lot and for a long time, you can save electricity. The holiday mode puts the cooling area of the side-by-side refrigerator into an energy-saving mode. The interior temperature is then around 15 °C. The freezer section, on the other hand, continues to operate unchanged. So you do not have to switch off the fridge-freezer combination completely during a longer absence. The advantages: The frozen provisions remain optimally stored, and the existing air circulation prevents odours or mould from developing in the interior of the refrigerator.
Tips on the use and maintenance of side-by-side refrigerators.
In addition to a very good energy efficiency class, various energy-saving functions and the right climate class, there are other factors to consider to ensure that the double-door refrigerator works efficiently and saves energy.
Finding the right location in the kitchen
The location is a decisive factor for the energy consumption of the American refrigerator. The warmer the ambient temperature, the more energy the appliance has to use to maintain the cold temperature.
The following locations are therefore unsuitable for a fridge-freezer combination:
- next to the cooker
- next to the heating
- next to the window (especially in summer)
Important! When choosing a location, also consider the distance to the wall. The refrigerator should be at least 5 centimetres away from it. Then the warm air produced by the refrigerator on the back wall will be released into the room without any problems and there will be no build-up of heat.
Energy-conscious use of the refrigerator
Every time the door is opened, warm air enters the refrigerator. The appliance has to cool this down, using a lot of energy. Functions such as Door-in-Door or the bar compartment ensure that this air exchange is kept to a minimum. Otherwise, it is advisable not to open the door unnecessarily often and only briefly.
A well-filled refrigerator also consumes less energy. Why? Food consists largely of water. This stores the cold better than air. A filled refrigerator therefore needs less energy to cool down again after opening the door.
If you want to store cooked food in the refrigerator, let it cool down first. If you put warm or hot food in the refrigerator, the power consumption of the appliance increases because a lot of energy is needed to cool the food and drinks.
How to properly connect a side-by-side refrigerator with a fixed water connection
Once you have decided on a side-by-side refrigerator with a fixed water connection, the question usually comes up quickly: What do I need to connect the appliance to the water connection?
The following must absolutely be available:
- a water connection near the refrigerator
- a 230-volt socket near the refrigerator
- a water inlet hose
- a hose connection
- a union nut
The following utensils could be important for the installation, for example, if several kitchen appliances are connected to the water pipe, if the water tap does not comply with the standard or in case the supply hose has to be extended and laid around a corner.
- a Y-distributor (for the water tap)
- a reducer (for the tap)
- an elbow (for the supply hose)
Experts recommend keeping the distance between the side-by-side fridge and the tap as short as possible. This prevents water from standing in the hose and later ending up in the cup when tapping. Unlike washing machines or dishwashers, manufacturers only install simple hoses without a protective mechanism in refrigerators. If the hose bursts, water damage can quickly occur. This danger is much greater with long or extended inlet hoses.
The water inlet hose and mounting accessories such as a union nut and rubber sealing ring are usually included with the side-by-side refrigerator.
To connect the refrigerator to the fixed water connection
- Turn off the main water tap. This is usually located near the water meter.
- If you do not have a separate water tap for the side-by-side refrigerator, you must screw the Y-distributor (double tap, 2-way distributor) to the water connection under the sink. The connector allows you to connect two appliances to the connection
- If the hose connection of the refrigerator is smaller than the tap or the manifold connection, you must fit a reducer. Remember to take care of the rubber seal. If the connector fits, skip this step.
- Now attach the hose connection to the manifold. Here, too, it is important to seal it with a rubber ring. Also make sure that you screw the connection securely. Otherwise there is a risk that the hose will come loose from the water connection.
- Now connect the inlet hose to the water connection.
- Then fasten the inlet hose to the water valve of the refrigerator using the union nut. The water connection is usually located in the bottom right-hand corner at the back of the appliance.
- Now insert the mains plug of the refrigerator into the socket.
- Open the main water connection again and carry out a test run. Check that everything is tight. If water is still dripping out of the connectors, tighten the screws.
Some manufacturers also include an external water filter. This is attached between the refrigerator and the inlet hose.
If you do not have the confidence to connect the new refrigerator to the water supply yourself, it is best to hire a professional. It is better to invest a little money in reliable installation than to risk water damage.
How to put the refrigerator away properly
Although a double-door refrigerator offers a lot of space, it is advisable to store it according to a certain system.
Since heat rises from the bottom to the top, there are different temperature zones in the refrigerator. The lower compartments are the coldest, while the upper ones are a few degrees warmer. For this reason, there are recommendations as to which food should be stored where.
|Refrigerator compartment||Temperature||Recommended storage location for:|
|Top compartment||Approximately 5 to 7 degrees Celsius||jam, cooked dishes, packaged cheese, opened canned goods.|
|Middle compartment 1||About 4 to 5 degrees Celsius||Cheese, yoghurt, cream, milk, cream cheese|
|Middle compartment 2||About 2 to 3 degrees Celsius||Sausage, meat, fish, smoked products, perishable foods|
|Bottom shelf||0 degrees Celsius||Vegetables, lettuce, herbs, cabbage, mushrooms|
|Upper door shelf||About 5 to 7 degrees Celsius||Eggs, butter, margarine|
|Middle door shelf||Approx. 4 to 5 degrees Celsius||Sauces, mustard, ketchup, dressings, partially jarred preserves|
|Bottom door shelf||About 2 to 3 degrees Celsius||Setting compartment for bottles, started beverage bottles, drinks, sparkling wine, wine|
|Freezer||In each shelf the temperature is well below 0 degrees Celsius||Purchased frozen foods, bread and cakes for longer shelf life, fresh fish, fresh meat, freshly harvested fruit and vegetables|
Which foods do not belong in the refrigerator?
Some fruits and vegetables have no place in the refrigerator. These include tomatoes, bananas, apples, pears and potatoes. It is better to store these foods in a cool, light-protected place in the kitchen.
If your side-by-side refrigerator has a bar compartment, you can store cold drinks there. Then you don’t need to open the whole door when removing the bottles. This is convenient and saves energy at the same time.
Tips for cleaning the side-by-side refrigerator
Regular cleaning is very important for the refrigerator. After all, food is stored in it and everyone wants to keep their food hygienic and clean.
To clean the inside of the refrigerator and freezer, proceed as follows:
- Switch off the refrigerator.
- Clear all food and frozen food out of the appliance.
- Wipe out the refrigerator with a soft cloth and lukewarm water. If necessary, add a splash of vinegar, some baking soda or a special refrigerator cleaner to the water. These agents prevent the formation of odours, germs and mould.
- Wipe the appliance dry with a soft cloth.
- Put the food back in and switch the appliance back on.
The lengthy defrosting process is no longer necessary with modern side-by-side refrigerators with no-frost function. This means cleaning and maintenance of the side-by-side refrigerator takes much less time. If necessary, wipe the outside of the refrigerator with a damp cloth.
Extra maintenance is needed for a side-by-side refrigerator with a water tank. With such a model, you should clean the tank regularly and change the water. This also applies to the ice cube tray. You should also dry it well after cleaning so that the ice cubes do not freeze in it.