How much clearance will you have when opening the refrigerator door? In tighter kitchens, many people opt for the side by side approach...the freezer on one side and the main compartments on the other. This configuration allows for ease in access to the fridge, but significantly cuts down on the size of items you can store in the refrigerator. No more throwing in Friday night's pizza box with leftovers, or gramma's flat sheet cake. It also can be more difficult to find items that are stuck in the top back shelf. You will get more total freezer space however than in a standard top and bottom model, but overall their outward size is misleading. Generally larger (from 32 to 36 inches wide), side by sides produce less usable space. Beware of manufacturer's claims, as they tend to be optimum and exaggerated.
Side by sides are more expensive than the traditional freezer on top (Kenmore's side by sides start at $850 on up to $2000) but offer more in the way of features. In-the-door water and ice dispensers are now common in these models. Unfortunately they are the primary cause for repair calls. Compared to a top and bottom freezer with icemaker, consumers reported 50% to 100% more problems with the side by side refrigerator.
Other features can include drawers that are humidity and temperature controlled, elevator like spill proof shelves and filters for those water and ice dispensers, as well as the previously mentioned TV. Side by sides are known to use more energy than the more efficient top mounts, and since the refrigerator is the king of the hill when it comes to appliance energy consumption, this can add up over its ten year or more lifetime.
Whirlpool ED5GHEXNQ 25.3 Cu. Ft. Side-By-Side
Matag MSD2650HEB 26 Cu. Ft. Side-By-Side
Avanti RM901W 8.8 Cu. Ft. Single Door Apartment Size
Frigidaire FRT8S6ESK 18.2 Cu. Ft. Top-Freezer
Amana ABB1921DEW 18.5 Cu. Ft. Easy Reach Bottom-Freezer