Smudge-resistant slate finish
Through-door ice and water dispensers
Fridge temperatures can run a little warm
With the pros and cons in mind, we spent some time with the 36” wide 25.4 cubic-foot GE GSE25HMHES. We’ve seen it on sale for as low as $1100, along with some rebates.
Design and Usability
Side-by-sides often cost less than French door refrigerators, and they’re sometimes less expensive to run. (Our test showed that running this model will cost you about $50 a year.)
If you have kids, it’s great to be able to store their favorite snacks on a shelf they can reach. Plus, you can move the adults only items to a higher shelf. Multiple shelves on the freezer side can help you maintain organization.
But that narrow freezer compartment can be a pain. While it’s fine for a container of ice cream, will your pan of homemade lasagna be too wide to fit? Maybe. Forget about storing a frozen turkey; there’s just no room for it. And, unless you want to file your frozen pizzas vertically, you’ll have to finagle the shelf configuration.
The slate exterior on our test model is reminiscent of dark stone, and its matte finish resists smudgy fingerprints. It’s magnet friendly, too, so you can create a gallery of kindergarten artwork, or at the very least, post your shopping list. Only GE makes appliances in the slate finish, so you're limited to their brand if you want everything to match. I think the slate could blend well with stainless or black in most kitchens.
If you prefer stainless steel, that’s available at the same price, with black and white models priced at a couple of hundred dollars less.
The exterior controls are clear and easy to use. You can get water, ice cubes or crushed ice, and shine a bit of light on the area, in case you wake up thirsty in the middle of the night.
You can set the temperatures interior temperatures without opening the door. That’s a good thing, because our tests showed that the fridge tended to go slightly over 40°, even though we set it at 37°. You’ll want to keep an eye on that.
On the fridge side
The interior light bulb is bright, but it takes up useable space. That's why I prefer space-saving LEDs. The glass shelves pull out for easy cleaning. You can do a bit of customization by moving them around, based on your shopping and eating habits. There are eight different slots for shelves.
Generous bins on the door let you store a gallon of milk or a good-sized container of orange juice, which is a nice convenience. Still, we measured usable space at 70% in the fridge.
There are two bins you can use as crispers. One lets you change the setting to vegetables or fruits, and the other lets you control humidity. That sounds like two different ways of expressing the same thing.
On the freezer side
If you buy a side-by-side, you know that you’re giving up some flexibility on the frozen foods side. Although there are three shelves, four bins, and a couple of baskets, this freezer won’t accommodate anything tall or wide. It’s fine if you’ve just made a Trader Joe’s run, and you want to stash a bunch of frozen entrées. Otherwise, the freezer may frustrate you. Our tests showed you could only use 56% of claimed capacity in the freezer.
The large reach-in ice bin could be a convenience, if you can reach the scooper far enough into the depths. A water filter helps to ensure that the ice and water coming from the dispenser tastes clean.
The advanced water filtration system claims to remove traces of pharmaceuticals from your water, if that’s a concern. Regardless, you’ll have to change it a couple of times a year.
The bottom line
The handsome slate finish and clear exterior controls are the main pluses for the model. The inherent disadvantages of a side-by-side are the need for space to open the doors, and the limited capacity of the narrow freezer compartment.
In the case of this refrigerator, we’re concerned about the temperature spikes. And its ranking comes out in the bottom group of refrigerators we’ve tested. If you want a side-by-side that came out better in our tests, this Whirlpool is a stronger choice.
Meet the tester
Cindy Bailen loves writing about major appliances and home design and has spent over 15 years immersed in that. In her spare time, Cindy hosts pledge programs for WGBH-TV in Boston and other public television stations.
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