A side-by-side refrigerator is a symbol of luxury and elegance in a kitchen. But truth to be told, they were initially designed keeping in mind the Western lifestyle where the freezer is used abundantly. With a few alterations to suit the Indian way of life, they launched here to much adulation. But even now, there are a lot of people who buy them without being completely aware of their features, pros and cons. For such people, here are some of the key aspects you should keep in mind before opting for a side-by-side refrigerator.
They Are Huge
A refrigerator used in a nuclear family is usually of 250-350 L capacity. In comparison, a side-by-side refrigerator is almost 2-3 times larger and it looks like an almirah! So unless you stock up on a large quantity of fresh and frozen food or if you have a joint family, you would be better off using a double door refrigerator.
They Are Not Necessarily Space Efficient
The fridge to freezer ratio of a side by side refrigerator is 60:40, while that of a double door refrigerator is 70:30. Considering that most of the side-by-side refrigerators have at least 600 L capacity, the 10% difference results in a difference of 60 litres in gross capacity.
Most Indian households use freezers limitedly. However, many non-vegetarians stock up on fish and meat. And some people use the freezer to store pulses in large quantities. If you don’t fall under either category or if you use a refrigerator mainly for storing fresh food, you would be better off buying a double door refrigerator.
They Are Not Convertible
This may seem obvious to many. But user reviews suggest that many people buy a side-by-side refrigerator expecting the freezer to be convertible. With the exception of a few models from Haier and Samsung, most side-by-side refrigerators are not convertible.
They Are Energy Efficient
BEE doesn’t provide energy ratings for side-by-side refrigerators. But this doesn’t mean that it isn’t energy efficient. Owing to the large size, it obviously uses more energy. But on a per-unit basis, the energy efficiency of side-by-side refrigerators is excellent because they are equipped with advanced compressor technology.
When we checked with a few users, they said their energy bills did not increase after shifting to a side-by-side refrigerator. This is because old refrigerators have poor energy efficiency compared to newer ones. So, a new side by side refrigerator would consume as much or sometimes even less than what a 10-year-old 300-litre refrigerator consumes.
Cheap Doesn’t Mean Inexpensive
Side-by-side refrigerators are available at a price range starting from Rs. 40,000 onwards. Cheaper side-by-side refrigerators usually have a conventional reciprocatory compressor. They consume more energy, are noisy and are not as durable as newer inverter compressors.
So, it is better not to penny-pinch on an appliance that you intend to use for 10-15 years. Invest in a refrigerator from reputed brands like LG, Samsung, Whirlpool etc. They have comparatively a lower incidence of repairs and breakdown.
Look at the features, availability of aftersales service in your area and above all warranty period. If the manufacturer doesn’t provide a 10-year warranty on the compressor, scoot! If in case it needs repairing or replacement, you may have to spend a huge amount, which you could have otherwise been used for buying a much superior refrigerator.
Its Ice Dispenser Is Usually Hassle-Free
Ice dispensers in side-by-side refrigerators found in Western countries have ice dispensers which require a plumbing system. But most refrigerators in India, come with a 2-5 litre container from which water is drawn to dispense cold water, ice cubes and crushed ice.
Hence, you needn’t worry about the water line getting frozen or requiring frequent maintenance.
To wrap up, a side-by-side refrigerator can be a useful appliance if you stock up on frozen food in abundant quantities. Its energy efficiency and cooling performance are some of the best out there and the models from reputed brands are quite durable too. But if you decide to purchase it on a whim without careful consideration of its pros, cons and utility, you may be disappointed.