Design & Usability
A simple interior suffers from poor illumination.
When we opened up the Kenmore 50022, we found a decent-looking fridge with a relatively spacious interior. While simple, the interior is fairly customizable. We set up the fridge with a large area at the top for tall bottles, but that cramped the lower shelves. We suggest you use the extra-large shelves in the door that can easily fit a milk jug or wine bottle. These can be moved as well.
We were a little disappointed by the lighting. After reviewing scores of well-lit fridges, we've become partial to the white-blue LED lighting, and the 50022's warm light looks garish in a cold refrigerator.
The icemaker and vent bulge do cut into the 50002's usable space. Even with three shelves and a drawer, access is difficult in a packed fridge since the cavity is so narrow. Freezer door shelves are tiny, but should prove useful in keeping the smaller freezer items from getting buried. On the other side of the freezer door, the control panel's green LEDs look appealing, but the buttons feel a bit flimsy.
Performance & Features
You might want to verify the temperatures with a thermometer.
The Kenmore 50022 didn't have too much difficulty honing in on the proper temperature, but fluctuated more than we like to see. On a good note, temperatures were warmer at the top, which is appropriate since veggies in the crisper drawer don't need to be as cold as the milk and yogurt up top. The crisper drawers didn't hold on to humidity that well, losing slightly more moisture than the competition.
The freezer offered better consistency, but averaged temperatures a little too high for long-term food storage. Since the temperature control panel doesn't feature degrees, we recommend using a thermometer to help calibrate your freezer. Ours ran warm, but some may not.
Despite the freezer's temperature issues, it performed admirably in some tests. When we stuck our test foods into the freezer, they froze in just an hour and fifteen minutes—a full half hour less than average. And in our power loss test, the 50022 stayed under 32°F during our simulated 36-hour outage, indicating superior insulation.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
There are other fridges at Sears, if you can expand your budget.
If you're willing to pay a little more, there are much better options than the Kenmore 50022. The Kenmore 41152 is an Editors' Choice pick and goes on sale for under $1200, and the Frigidaire Professional FPHS2399PF won our Best of Year award.
However, the 50022's sale price of $879 is almost impossible to beat for a side-by-side, or any fridge with through-the-door ice and water. If your budget is inflexible but you want to stay hydrated, this fridge will be do the trick. Just don't expect the fit-and-finish or top-notch performance of a higher-end model.
The Cold Hard Facts
While you can might argue with our assessment of fridge lighting, it's much harder to argue against our battery of lab tests. Though it did well in our freezing and thawing tests, the 50022 did struggle in many of the others.
The freezer averaged 3.53°F, a few degrees above the recommended standard of 0°F. While it doesn't seem like that much higher than 0°F, our sensor in the bottom part of the freezer recorded a maximum temperature of 7.00°F, an indication that temperatures aren't necessarily so even throughout the cavity. That's a sign that freezer burn may happen. The freezer did however, maintain similar temperature deviations throughout as it strayed, giving it a decent consistency score.
In the right side, the fridge averaged 38.48°F, just above the 37°F recommendation, with 37.52°F, 37.79°F, and 40.14°F averages in the top, middle, and lower parts respectively. This warmer average toward the bottom benefits produce, which doesn't need to be quite as cold. But despite these satisfactory averages, the temperatures fluctuated over time.
In our humidity test, the 50022 lost an average of 0.19 grams of moisture per hour. This doesn't present any big risk to lettuce, but it's not going to keep produce fresh for any longer than average.
Freezing & Thawing
The freezer performed admirably at two things: freezing and preventing thawing. When we stuck the 500g food substitutes into the freezer, they dipped below 32°F after just an hour and fifteen minutes, which is extremely fast. But besides the power, the freezer demonstrated excellent insulation, staying below 32°F for over 36 hours after a simulated power outage.
Storage Space & Energy Efficiency
In this relatively spacious side-by-side we calculated 10.7 and 4.5 cubic feet of usable space in the fridge and freezer respectively. While you might think those numbers are substantially less than the claimed 25.4 cubic feet of total space, that number refers to total volume, not space you'll actually use. When you compare our usable space calculations with our power use numbers, the 50022 is very efficient, using just 3.9 kilowatts of power during our four day test period. If your power costs are close to the national average of $0.091, you're looking at a monthly running cost under three dollars.
Meet the tester
Ethan writes reviews and articles about science for Reviewed.com, and edits the Science Blog. He's originally from Vermont and thinks the bicycle and guitar are examples of perfected technology. Prior to Reviewed.com, he studied furiously at Middlebury College.
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