One of the most notable differences between a French door and side-by-side refrigerator is the compartment configuration. A French door refrigerator is very much like a bottom-mount refrigerator, with the freezer drawer below the refrigerator section, except that users access the fresh food compartment through two doors that open from the center instead of through a single door. Side-by-side refrigerators also have two doors that each open from the center, but they open on two separate compartments.The fresh-food and frozen-food compartments are side-by-side, not above or below as in a bottom- or top-mount refrigerator.
Features found in a French door and side-by-side refrigerator are pretty much the same. Because each refrigerator is offered in multiple models that offer a wide array of features and technologies, if you find a French door refrigerator with a given feature, you most likely can find a side-by-side with the same feature. Some of the features you would only find in a French door design include a wine rack, side-by-side humidity controlled crispers and a full-length deli rack.
The different internal layouts of a French door and side-by-side are perhaps the biggest difference between these two appliances. Within a French door refrigerator you are given access to the full width of the appliance. Thus, you will have larger storage spaces when it comes to volume in the fresh and frozen food compartments in a French door than you would in a side-by-side. French door refrigerators are able to store large, bulky frozen goods as the freezer is as wide as the unit. Because the side-by-side design splits the refrigerator down the middle, you will have less wide storage shelves in the fresh and frozen food compartments.
The price difference between a French door and side-by-side refrigerator is not staggering; however, if you are on a budget you may not be able to afford one or the other. As of 2011, the average cost of a basic-level side-by-side refrigerator is $800 while high-end side-by-side units are priced upwards of $1,500. A basic-level French door refrigerator typically sells for $1,200 to $1,400, while high-end French door models can cost $2,000 or more.