As household appliances go, your refrigerator is one of the most important in your home. It’s also one of the most expensive purchases you have to make when it’s time for a replacement. Sometimes you can see the need for a new refrigerator looming on the horizon, so you have time to save up. Other times, your fridge just dies on you and you have to make an immediate decision. You may not have time to do the extensive research that you’d like to do. This guide can help.
Many consumers opt for white appliances because the clean, neutral finish coordinates well with most décor types. Even if your other pieces are black, stainless or another color, white can still work. If you move from one residence to another, chances are good that your white refrigerator will still look fine at the new place. White is also aesthetically pleasing, and it brightens up your living space with light. Fingerprints and smudges are less obvious on white than on stainless steel, so it’s easier to keep your kitchen looking clean.
Besides choosing a color, you’ll also need to decide whether you want a side-by-side style, a traditional freezer-on-top model or a newer freezer-on-bottom design. Since the 1960s the side-by-side refrigerator has been a best seller. It’s ideal for those who don’t need expansive freezer space or the ability to store large platters of food. This design lets you keep the things you reach for most in the location where it’s easiest to grab. Side-by-side styles typically offer the most options for ice and water in the door as well.
You can find white side-by-side refrigerators in varying sizes from multiple manufacturers. Most units have adjustable shelves and ice and/or water in the door. Some also offer humidity-controlled crisper drawers so your food lasts longer, saving you money. Many get high marks for efficient energy use so you can cut down on your utility bills. This type of refrigerator comes in different sizes, and each one has its own configuration, so you can choose the one that best fits your space with the features you’re looking for.
When you buy a new refrigerator, you’ll likely keep it for several years. After all, you can’t just toss it in the car and take it back to the store without a great deal of hassle. If you’ve already narrowed down your options and you know that you’re looking for a side-by-side model in white, use this guide to avoid spending your hard-earned money on something that doesn’t suit your needs or fit your space.
1. How do I know what size refrigerator to shop for?
You’ll need the basic measurements of the space where your refrigerator will sit. Most consumers know to check the depth, width and height. However, it’s easy to forget that you have to add a few inches to all those measurements so that air can move around the machine and keep it from overheating. Also, think about how the doors of a side-by-side unit will swing open. You want to make sure that they won’t hit your cabinets and that you have enough room for them to open all the way. Finally, you want to give some thought to how far the fridge will stick out past your countertops or whether it will sit flush.
2. What features do I need, and which ones would be nice to have but aren’t necessities?
How much food do you keep in your freezer? If you keep a lot of boxed frozen food, like pizzas or large containers of ice cream, you may find yourself running short of space. If you choose a model with ice and water in the door, you’ll sacrifice even more room because the parts of the ice machine extend into the interior of the freezer.
On the refrigerator side, which things do you reach for most often? If you have children or others in your home who have trouble reaching high shelves, the side-by-side model lets you put those items they use most right in front of them. Do you have a “food browser” in your home, someone who stands with the doors open for a while as he or she decides what to eat? If so, side-by-side models don’t let out as much cold air since you usually only open one door at a time.
What kind of things do you store in your refrigerator and freezer? Are the fridge shelves tall enough to hold your tea pitcher or 2-liter bottles of soda, or can they at least be adjusted to fit? If your family eats a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, you want a refrigerator model that controls humidity in the drawers based on what’s stored inside.
When it comes to ice and water in the door, those are handy things to have. However, consumers report breakdowns in these two components more often than any other. Water in the door requires a filter that you have to replace periodically. If you won’t use these features regularly, you can save yourself the hassle and some money.
If your household includes children or anyone else who is prone to spills and messes, look for a model that has glass shelves with spill-resistant lips. You can see through a glass shelf which makes it easier to see the mess and tell when you’ve got it cleaned up. Spill-resistant lips keep liquids from running off one shelf and down to another, containing it until you can get to it.
3. Can a new refrigerator help save on my utility bills?
It’s possible that you may see some savings. Most consumers don’t realize that the refrigerator uses 10 to 15 percent of the energy consumed by their household. Models without ice and water in the door use less energy – up to 20 percent less. Every new model should have an Energy Guide label to help you estimate this part of the cost of ownership of the unit. If you see the Energy Star mark, you’re looking at a unit that uses at least 20 percent less electricity than its counterparts.
How We Reviewed These Refrigerators
When you’re spending such a large chunk of money on a new appliance, you need to understand what you’re buying. For the models we reviewed, we considered the information provided by the manufacturer, but we gave more weight to feedback from consumers who own the product and use it daily. This is the best way for potential buyers to think through how well the refrigerator will meet day-to-day needs. We also consulted those who install and repair these models to give you an idea of what to expect in terms of maintenance and upkeep. All things considered, we hope we’ve given you a realistic and unbiased tool that will help you make the best purchasing decision possible.
Overall Price Range
The price of your new white side-by-side refrigerator can run from a few hundred dollars to thousands. On the more expensive end of the spectrum, you find some innovative new offerings like internet connectivity, compartments that change from refrigerator to freezer, and sparkling water makers. Keep in mind, though, that while the features you choose are the biggest factor affecting the price, they’re not the only thing that can drive up the bottom line. Manufacturing components, warranties and even the name brand can add dollars to the retail sticker.
Top 3 Brands/Models
All three of these side-by-side models are available in white at most online and brick-and-mortar appliance retailers.
Of all the models we reviewed, this unit is packed with the most features even though it’s far from the most expensive refrigerator on the list. It’s roomy with a capacity of 15.7 cubic feet on the fridge side and 8.8 cubic feet in the freezer. Like most units in this class you get adjustable shelving, but you also get slide-out shelves which are less common in this price range. Bins in the doors can hold a gallon of milk or a bottle of wine easily, and the freezer side has adjustable door bins as well and a drawer at the bottom below the shelves. The Samsung RS25J500DSR has a quick-cool and quick-freeze feature that knows to bring down the temperature if someone keeps the doors open too long. You also get an available door alarm to tell you if the doors didn’t close all the way. A child-lock feature on the ice and water dispenser helps you avoid messes.The warranty for this Samsung model is an industry-standard one year on parts and labor “bumper to bumper” and another five years on the sealed internal workings. Support from Samsung technicians is available via online chat, by phone and through email. Finally, this model carries the Energy Star badge, exceeding minimum standards for energy usage by more than 9 percent.
One of the features this Samsung model is lacking, the deli drawer, is a big deal for some consumers.
A perennial favorite in appliance reviews, Whirlpool brings you another solid choice for a white side-by-side refrigerator. One of the least expensive choices in the list, it also has a generous amount of drawer storage.While it’s not the largest model we reviewed, it does make excellent use of the space it has, measuring 24.6 cubic feet of storage and 69 inches tall. With the four shelves, three drawers and multiple bins in the door, you get one humidity-controlled drawer for fresh produce and a deli drawer for your meats and cheeses. This is the only model reviewed that has a rack specifically for canned drinks.The warranty is a standard one-year comprehensive and five years on the sealed system. Owner’s manuals are available online for your convenience.
This was the least energy-efficient model we reviewed, so what you save on the purchase price may be lost on increased utility bills. It doesn’t qualify for an Energy Star badge.
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Of all the models reviewed, this is the most efficient and the easiest on your utility budget. While capacity is just average, the arrangement of the drawers and shelf space makes the most of every inch. Two of the three drawers are humidity and temperature controlled to preserve your fruits and vegetables. You also get a large drawer for deli meats and cheeses. All of the drawers and shelves are transparent, so you can easily see what you have on hand.The water and ice dispenser in the freezer door have a lockout feature to help prevent messes. This model even has a feature called metered fill, so you can set the water dispenser to release only a set amount of liquid.The KitchenAid is Energy Star qualified, so it’s one of the best on our list in terms of efficiency. The warranty for this model is the same as for the Samsung, one year overall and an additional five years on the sealed system. Support is available through live chat, email or phone.
This is the most expensive model on our list. You’ll want to think carefully about whether the features are worth the price.The shelves are not adjustable, so taller items might be hard to accommodate.
The Samsung RS25J500DSR strikes a balance of features and price. The capacity is adequate for most families, and you get some handy features not normally found on a side-by-side model in this price range. It’s also gentle on your wallet with a moderate retail price and energy ratings that help save on the utility bills.