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Counter-depth refrigerators offer a sleeker look, but there are trade offs

Counter-depth refrigerators, which stand flush with the edge of kitchen cabinets and counters, offer the sleek look of a built-in fridge for far less money. However, they're still more expensive than most equivalent standard-depth fridges, and they have less usable space. Still, if you're willing to accept those trade-offs, it's possible to find a counter-depth fridge that performs well.

Counter-depth side-by-side refrigerator

LG LSC22991ST
LG LSC22991ST

For this update, a couple of side-by-side models move to the top of the class. Chief among those is the 21.6 cu. ft. LG LSC22991ST (Est. $2,200). Energy efficiency is normally a downer with both side-by-side and counter-depth fridges. Not so much in this case, however. The LG uses a door-in-door design that lets you put your most used items in bin storage on an outer door, while leaving bulkier items behind a clear glass inner door. Reviewed.com calls the energy efficiency "impressive," while an independent testing agency gives the LSC22991ST its highest rating classification on that score.

The LG LSC22991ST is a top choice among all reviewers that have looked at it. Depending on who you ask, temperature performance is either very good, or excellent. Reviewed.com did notice that temps were higher toward the bottom, by the crisper, but wonders if that's by design. "It could be intentional-produce should be stored at higher temperatures than most other refrigerated foods-but it's still something you should keep in mind," says Matthew Zahnzinger. Crisper performance is also substandard, and delicate greens lost more moisture than average in the course of Reviewed.com's testing.

Outside of the door-in-door design, the feature set is limited. There's the obligatory (in this price range) through-the-door ice maker and water dispenser. The controls are digital and door mounted. A door alarm sounds if you leave the door open for more than a minute. Of course, the big reason to opt for this model over others is its shallow, counter depth -- just under 29 inches with the door and handles, roughly 24.5 inches for the cabinet alone. It's designed to fit into a 36-inch wide space. The exterior is available only in stainless steel.

User reviews aren't plentiful, but what we found are remarkably good for a counter-depth model. Around 20 BestBuy.com users rate it an average of 4.7 stars, and all that had weighed in at the time of this report say that they would recommend the LG LSC22991ST to a friend. Feedback is identical at HomeDepot.com, though based on only a dozen reviews.

The stainless-steel Samsung RS22HDHPNSR (Est. $1,900) is another, slightly less expensive choice. This counter-depth side-by-side fridge is also available in white as the Samsung RS22HDHPNWW (Est. $1,900) and black as the Samsung RS22HDHPNBC (Est. $1,900). It scores similarly to the LG LSC22991ST in one professional test, and does even a hair better when it comes to noise. User reviews are good, though the LG scores just a bit better with owners. At HomeDepot.com the RS22HDHPNSR earns a 4.2-star rating following nearly 25 reviews, while at BestBuy.com we see a 4.3-star rating following more than 40 reports.

Features are on a par with the LG, minus the door-in-door design, which is a significant loss. Otherwise you get a through-the-door icemaker and water dispenser, on-door digital controls, a door alarm, spill proof glass shelves and a counter depth of 29.5 inches with the doors in place, or 23.75 considering the cabinet only. This 22 cu. ft. refrigerator is 36 inches wide and has sufficient capacity to store 22 bags of groceries, Samsung claims.

We didn't find a lot of great feedback for French-door type counter-depth fridges for this update, but the LG LFX25991ST (Est. $3,500), a French-door model with 24.5 cubic feet of space may be worth considering if a side-by-side simply won't do Two separate professional tests show that this LG fridge is great at maintaining a constant temperature, although that temperature may not be even throughout the entire fridge or freezer section. Reviewers give the fridge high marks for ease of use, too: The tilting freezer door pulls out easily, and the digital touchpad controls are easy to read.

User reviews, while initially positive, have deteriorated a bit over time. We noted more complaints regarding reliability and customer service than when we initially evaluated the fridge. Still, it scores well enough at retail sites -- 4.2-stars following more than 280 reviews at HomeDepot.com, for example -- to see that most owners are satisfied.

All of the counter-depth refrigerators in this section are made to sit within a 36-inch-wide space. If you have a tiny apartment kitchen 36 inches might be a tight -- or impossible -- fit. If so, check out some of the shallow and narrow fridges we profile in our section on compact refrigerators. They aren't appropriate for large families, but could be the perfect answer for singles or couples.

Elsewhere in This Report:

Best Reviewed Refrigerators, Top-Freezer Refrigerators, Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators, Side-by-Side Refrigerators, French-Door Refrigerators, Compact Refrigerators, Buying Guide, Our Sources

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