Should You Get a Single-Door Fridge or One with French Doors?

published May 8, 2017
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(Image credit: Left: ben bryant/Right: Customdesigner)

There’s no doubt that your refrigerator is one of the most important things in your kitchen. It’s home to the fruit you put in your morning smoothies, the shelter for your beloved nightly class of wine, and, of course, the keeper of all the cheese.

The function of your fridge is more important than most cosmetic details — whether it’s white, black, stainless, or purple, it’ll all be the same inside! But there is one seemingly superficial detail that can make a big difference in the way you use your fridge: whether you have French doors or one single door.

Here are all the things you should consider before choosing one.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

The Pros and Cons of Fridges with French Doors

Pro: They’ll give you more room in your kitchen.

No, it’s not a magical appliance. Because you have two doors swinging in opposite directions instead of one, wide-swinging door, the clearance is much better on a French-door fridge. That means you won’t have such a tight squeeze behind you as you share space in the most-used room of your house.

Pro: The setup puts your most-eaten food up top where you can see it.

Unlike other styles of refrigerators, French-door versions always have the freezer on the bottom, usually as a pull-out drawer. With the fridge on the top, you’ll be able to see your veggies, milk, and other daily necessities right when you open the doors, without having to bend down at all. It’s an easy way to give VIP placement to your VIP foods.

Con: They’re usually more expensive.

If you’re going to buy a car, every additional change you make to it is going to quickly jack up the price, right? The same is true of refrigerators. A standard, single-door fridge is like a base model. If you want French doors, you’ll be paying a premium for the cool look, and typically they’ll cost you well over $1,500.

Pro: They’re energy-efficient.

Anytime you open your fridge, you’re letting cold air out, causing the machine work harder to keep everything inside cool. Because you have the option of opening only one of the French doors at a time, you let less cold air out and end up wasting less energy.

Pro: They’re very (very) organized. And very big.

Sure, all refrigerators have shelves, but a French-door refrigerator has multiple tiers and drawers that allow you to use either the width of the fridge in its entirety for last night’s pizza, or split up all your meal prep into perfectly organized layers on one side of the refrigerator. Plus, most of the biggest models on the market are made with French doors, so you can size up to have a bit more room.

Con: The door storage can be narrow.

All that super-sizing means you still have a trade-off: The door shelves on French-door fridges tend to be a little bit more narrow. If you like to keep giant water bottles, pitchers of juice, and tons of condiments on your refrigerator door, you might have to rearrange.

(Image credit: Ana Kamin)

The Pros and Cons of Single-Door Fridges

Pro: They’re cheaper.

If you’re on a tight budget, a single-door refrigerator is the best bang for your buck. It might not look as fancy, but it will keep your food cool. And isn’t that the whole point?

Con: The door swings wide when you open it.

Here’s the truth: Bigger door = bigger radius as it opens. And for most people living in houses, this might not be a deal-breaker, but when you’re dealing with an apartment or just have a small kitchen, it might make the space seem even tighter when you have the refrigerator door open.

Pro: There are fewer handles to clean!

It sounds silly, but when you think of how many germs are on your fridge door — no matter how often you wash your hands! — that number only doubles when you have two fridge doors.

Pro: They’re easier to close.

French-door fridges need to pushed closed. Like, really pushed. Sure, some have alarms that will ring if the doors have been open for too long, but what if you’ve already left the house? That beeping won’t save your milk! Single-door fridges are much easier to close (on the first try!), so you won’t ever have to worry about if you properly shut it while you’re in your morning status meeting.

Con: They’re not much of a statement piece.

If you want to be on the cutting edge of kitchen design, this is not your appliance. Again, though, it will keep your food cold.

More on Shopping for a Fridge

Which one would you get? Or do you prefer French doors with the freezer on the left? So many options!