Design and configuration are how we typically classify refrigerators, for instance, the number of doors (such as double door) or where the freezer is situated (such as a bottom freezer refrigerator). While this is a logical approach, it can get a bit confusing for consumers.
When people think about single door or double door fridges, they are most likely thinking about two elements: the fridge compartment and the visual split of the doors. To some, a top freezer configuration may be classified as a single door since the freezer and refrigerator doors are divided between the top and bottom. This differs from side-by-side units, which might be thought of as double door units as the doors are next to each other.
This article aims to clarify the categories referred to as single door refrigerators vs. double door refrigerators. It will look at each configuration’s pros and cons so you can start figuring out which one is right for you.
Single Door vs Double Door Fridges
In most cases, single door refrigerators are more cost-effective than other configurations and usually offer a set of features that are best described as streamlined. While this may not apply to every model, you should be prepared to have a little less interior space. Not to worry, though, as you should still have more than enough room to store wide items compared to the average Side-by-Side fridge.
The styles of single door refrigerators include:
If you tend to buy mostly fresh food then you should consider an All-Refrigerator, which features a single door refrigerator and no freezer compartment. You can pair it with an upright freezer or All-Freezer to ensure you also have the necessary storage space for frozen foods. These independent units can be placed next to one another to create the look of a side-by-side fridge except with more space on each side.
The styles of double door refrigerators include 4- and 5-door options in the French Door configuration but only for some brands. Also, double door fridges are the configuration most likely to be available in counter-depth or built-in styles.
Pros and Cons of Single vs. Double Door Refrigerators
Some kitchens allow for either a single or a double door refrigerator. If this is the situation you are in, then your decision should come down to your cooking and household needs.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of each configuration.
The pros of single door refrigerators include:
- Cost – This configuration is typically more affordable. You may have to sacrifice a more modern look but you will still be able to enjoy excellent performance. Here is an approximate price range for each configuration (excluding built-in):
- Top-freezer refrigerator price ranges:
- $300 – $1700
- Bottom-freezer refrigerator price ranges:
- $300 – $3500
- Top-freezer refrigerator price ranges:
- Cleaning – Easier to clean as there are less handles or no handles at all (pocket handles). This means that there are less places to get dirty and grimy.
- Can Fit in Narrow Spaces – Single door refrigerators come in conveniently smaller sizes. This makes them a great option for smaller kitchens or people looking to add a second fridge to another part of their house like a basement.
Column refrigerators are offered by certain premium brands. These units have a sleek built-in style with a single door configuration that can be used as either a full refrigerator or freezer compartment.
The cons of single door refrigerators include:
- Space – Generally, it’s wise to expect slightly less interior space because some of these refrigerators (especially top freezer units) can have a smaller footprint. Owners of a single door fridge should still offer ample room for wide items compared to several side-by-side models. The market offers some larger and wider options if that’s what you’re looking for. Here is the approximate capacity range for:
- Top-freezer refrigerator:
- generally range from 7.5 cu. ft. – 21.5 cu. Ft.
- Bottom-freezer refrigerator:
- generally range from 7.5 cu. ft. – 25 cu. Ft.
- Wide Door Swing – When you open the fridge door on certain models they tend to swing wide. It’s important to remember that the bigger the door, the bigger the radius as it opens. This is particularly important if you’re living in an apartment or dealing with a small kitchen.
The pros of double door refrigerators include:
- Space – Models with this configuration provide owners with exceptional organization options as they can be quite big. Furthermore, a double door refrigerator is typically equipped with multiple tiers and drawers so you can divide your meal prep in a way that you feel is most organized. In this category, side-by-side refrigerators often feature more freezer space than other configurations. In addition, several of the larger fridge models have double doors, providing even more storage capacity.
- For example, the capacity of these French Door refrigerators (excluding built-in) generally range from:
- 16 cu. Ft. – 30 cu. Ft.
- Side-by-side capacity:
- AA: 18 cu. Ft. – 32 cu. Ft.
- Layout – French Door fridges are always designed with the freezer on the bottom, usually as a pull-out drawer. The purpose of this is to make sure more popular items like fruit, veggies and milk, to name a few, are accessible and highly visible. Despite side-by-side refrigerators having narrower compartments, they still allow for optimal organization courtesy of all the different sections. Also, you can store all the important freezer and fridge items so that they are at eye level.
- Kitchen Space – This configuration lets you experience and enjoy a premium look and more room in your kitchen when the doors are open. Since there are two doors that swing in opposite directions, the clearance can be less on a double door fridge. You always want to measure your space to confirm the clearance you will need. You can even choose to go with counter-depth and built-in options, which leave more space in front of your refrigerator and in your kitchen overall as they are shallower.
- Features – Compared to single door units, double door refrigerators (especially French Doors) often come with an array of higher-end innovations and features.
Some of these features include:
- Special Climate/Temperature Control sections: Maintain the freshness of different ingredients. You can keep both a whole salmon and an eggplant fresh despite their needing different temperature environments. Essentially, you have the ability to control the amount of cool air that enters the drawer.
- Fingerprint Resistant Finish: Fingerprint resistant stainless steel helps prevent smudges while keeping your fridge looking as good as new. It’s also easy to clean.
- Panoramic LED lighting: Keep everything visible and at your fingertips with under-shelf lighting.
- Door within Door: Enjoy added organization and quick access to the items stored on the door.
- Smart/WiFi Connectivity: Connect your fridge to your WiFi and your smart devices. One caveat is that this integration may make the appliance more costly.
The cons of double door refrigerators include:
- Narrow Door Storage (Side by Side models) – The door bins on this style of fridge may be narrower because of the size of the door. This means that on certain fridges, if you want to keep a jug of juice, large water bottles and a number of condiment jars in your refrigerator door, you might have to arrange accordingly so that they all fit.
- Cost – This is usually the more expensive option. You’ll be paying a premium for the size, look and more advanced features available compared to a single door fridge. To give you an idea, here are approximate price ranges for these configurations:
- French Door (excluding built-in):
- $1200 – $6000+
- Side-by-side price range (excluding built-in):
- $1200 – $3200
Which Configuration Do You Prefer?
Discover your preferred configuration by reviewing these single and double door refrigerators:
Single Door – All Refrigerator / All Freezer
Single Door – Columns (built-in)
Single Door – Top Freezer
Single Door – Bottom Freezer
Double Door – French Door (3-door or even 4- or 5-door for certain brands)
Double Door – Side-by-Side
Learning about the distinction of single door and double door refrigerators and understanding the benefits they offer, should make you more prepared and informed to purchase your next fridge.