What every best Refrigerators has:
- A flexible layout.
- Convenient features.
- A well-lit interior.
We found fewer recommendations for side-by-side refrigerators than for bottom-freezer refrigerators and French-door refrigerators, both of which we also cover elsewhere in this report along with top-freezer refrigerators and counter-depth refrigerators. Still, a few perform well enough or offer a good-enough value to bubble to the top among experts, users or both.
At the top of the charts in this category is the Samsung RH25H5611SR (Est. $1,890). It's the least expensive model in Samsung's popular Food Showcase Series. What sets the Food Showcase models apart is the door-in-door design that allows you to open a glass front on the main refrigerator door to access frequently used items stored in the door, such as drinks, condiments or snacks, without heating up the entire fridge. Parents of kids love this feature, but some experts say they're not sure it it's necessary. Keep in mind, though, that these professional reviewers are primarily men who are testing in a kid-free environment.
Aside from that convenience, the Samsung RH25H5611SR gets high marks from experts for its terrific performance in reaching and consistently maintaining accurate temperatures. At Reviewed Matthew Zahnzinger says, " This Samsung side-by-side does almost everything right: Both compartments are nice and cool (aside from a warm spot down by the crisper), temperatures hold steady over time, and energy consumption is low." Consumer Reports agrees, giving the RH25H5611SR a Recommended nod and an Excellent rating for temperature control, Good for temperature uniformity. Ry Crist at CNET finds that this fridge performs even better than the pricier side-by-side model in this series, the Samsung RH29H9000SR (which we discuss in more detail below).
We saw no real complaints related to temperature issues from owners; in fact, we saw surprisingly few complaints regarding the Samsung RH25H5611SR at all. A few say the water dispenser drips or leaks when not in use -- or continues to dispense even when you pull the glass away -- and others say the icemaker is noisy, but none ding the fridge for these small quibbles. As with all refrigerators, we did notice a few durability complaints; doors not fitting properly, the freezer failing, etc., but not enough to concern us.
One caveat that's common with all side-by-side refrigerators: storage is not always intuitive. This is less of a problem with the Samsung RH25H5611SR than with smaller side-by-sides, simply because it's bigger so there's more room, but, even so, it can be difficult to impossible to store wide items like pizza boxes, or to be able to group taller condiments with shorter ones (think tall ketchup bottles and short mustard containers). Still, those are issues that owners seem to be able to work around just fine.
In addition to the icemaker, water dispenser, digital controls and door-in-door styling, owners particularly love the LED lighting, which they say gives Samsung RH25H5611SR a very space-age vibe. And, while the expert reviewers say its appearance is pretty basic, owners like it a lot, and say it looks great in their kitchen. The RH25H5611SR is stainless-steel, but it also comes in white as the Samsung RH25H5611WW (Est. $1,890) and black stainless as the Samsung RH25H5611BC (Est. $2,000).
The runner up to our Best Reviewed pick for those who have both more space and more cash is the Samsung RH29H9000SR (Est. $2,670). It's a runner up only because the RH25H5611SR did better in testing at Consumer Reports. There, the RH29H9000SR earns lackluster scores across the board and does not get a Recommended nod.
At Reviewed, though, Zahnzinger is a fan, giving the Samsung RH29H9000SR an overall score of 9.6 and awarding it both Editors' Choice and Best of the Year honors, calling it "A fridge worthy of the hype." Owner feedback is strong too, with users praising the Samsung's features and performance.
Like its smaller sibling, the Samsung RH29H9000SR features Samsung's dual door "Showcase" design, but there are some other noteworthy features on the RH29H9000SR as well. Refrigerator controls are located on the outside of the cabinet, and are digitally controlled via a touch screen. If you have young children about, a control lock can prevent curious fingers from changing the settings. There is also a through-the-door icemaker and water dispenser. What you don't get is a lot of interior flexibility. You can't adjust the door storage and there's only one adjustable shelf in the main compartment.
With a capacity of 28.5 cubic feet, it's not surprising that the Samsung RH29H9000SR fridge has a big foot print -- the cabinet measures roughly 36 inches wide by 35.25 inches deep. However, if you need a fridge for a big family, but are saddled with a small kitchen, the side-by-side design at least means that you won't need to accommodate a massive door as well.
If either of these Samsung refrigerators is too much of a reach for your budget, the LG LSXS26326S (Est. $1,500) is also worth considering. While a $1,500 price tag may not seem like much of a savings, keep in mind that side-by-side refrigerators do tend to be pricier than bottom- or top-freezer models, and that we use the MSRP in our reports -- you should be able to find this fridge for several hundred dollars less at different retailers or when on sale.
As far as performance, the LG LSXS26326S does well in expert reviews. Consumer Reports gives it a Recommended nod, with scores of Excellent for thermostat control, and Very Good for temperature uniformity, energy efficiency, noise and ease of use. AT CNET, Andrew Gebhart gives the LSXS26326S an overall rating of 3.5 stars, not bad at this review site, saying, "The main shelves of the LG LSXS26326S averaged the exact temperature set point in our performance tests, making this one of the more accurate fridges we've seen."
Users tend to agree with that mostly positive view of the LG LSXS26326S's performance. Although many of the reviews we spotted were gleaned from the manufacturer's website and collected as part of a promotion, those that we evaluated after sorting by verified purchase were highly positive. Many say that this 26 cubic foot fridge is plenty roomy, and maintains its temperature very well. We also saw a large number of comments regarding how attractive it is. The LG LSXS26326S is stainless; it also comes smooth white as the LG LSXS26326W (Est. $1,400), and smooth black as the LG LSXS26326B (Est. $1,400).
No fridge is perfect, of course, and the LG LSXS26326S is no exception. CNET notes that the crisper drawers tend to run warm (but, to be fair, we saw that same complaint in nearly every refrigerator review and test we evaluated). That's the one complaint we spotted from owners as well, aside from the occasional durability issue.
There aren't a ton of features on the LG LSXS26326S, and CNET notes it "lacks a few basic amenities like spillproof shelves and humidity sliders," but you will find a through-the-door ice maker and water dispenser. The water dispenser is inside the door, which saves you some space in the main fridge. Temperature controls are digital and reportedly easy to see and use.