Through-door ice and water dispensers
Fridge temperatures can run a little warm
So, when we tested at the Kenmore 51112 side-by-side fridge (available at Sears for $999.99), it reminded us a lot of the Whirlpool WRS325SDHZ, another side-by-side refrigerator we tested recently. That's because Whirlpool makes both of them, and the two have a lot in common—namely, smaller but effective freezers, fresh food compartments that ran a few degrees warmer than ideal, and crispers that, unfortunately, don't maintain the crisp.
Still, at under $1000, you might still be willing to consider this Kenmore fridge. Here’s what our tests showed.
Design and features
The Kenmore fridge we tested in our labs was white. All-white kitchens are totally classic, but if you prefer to get the Kenmore in a silvery stainless (51113) you can scoop it up for only $50 more. You can also buy the fridge in black (51119) for the same price as the white one.
Ice (both cubed and crushed) and filtered water are dispensed through the door. Lit in green, the tap-touch controls on the front panel are clear and simple to adjust. Although you can’t set an exact temperature using these controls, you can tap to make the fridge colder on either side.
When the door opens, the LED lights shine. Gallon bins provide storage for milk and juice containers. One of the advantages of a side-by-side fridge is that kids can reach their own snacks, and these bins can definitely help with that.
If a little one reaches for something on a shelf and accidentally tips it over, the shelves don’t contain spills. But at least they are easy to remove for cleaning.
We measured the refrigerator’s capacity at 11 cu.-ft. of useable space, not the 15.4 cu.-ft. the manufacturer claims, but still workable, depending on your needs. In the freezer, the ice bin takes up so much room that you can only use 4.6 cu.-ft. of the 9.1 cu.-ft. promised space, not advantageous if your kids eat lots of ice cream and frozen pizzas.
When you put produce into a crisper, you expect it to stay crisp (vegetables) and juicy (fruits). The crispers on this fridge may not do that for you, long term. In our tests, they lost 7.7 grams of water a day, which is too much.
On the refrigerator side, where we’re looking for temperatures to stay at 40° or below, with 37° ideal, the average temperature in our test refrigerator averaged 40.1°, not bad. But when it sometimes spiked to 42°, we worried about how long the dairy would stay fresh.
If you buy this model, we advise using the control panel to turn the refrigerator temperature down a bit. You can check it with a refrigerator thermometer before and after.
The freezer side is great as is. It cooled down to 32° in an amazing 31 minutes. And once it got into the optimal range (best is 0°, and this one reached -1°), it stayed there, which keeps freezer burn at bay.
Efficient to operate, the estimated yearly energy cost to run this fridge is about $36.20.
What users say
We haven’t seen user comments on this recent model yet. User ratings for the very similar Whirlpool WRS325SDHZ are generally positive, though a few owners said that they are unhappy with the amount of space the icemaker takes up in the freezer.
The bottom line
Side-by-side refrigerators keep more food at eye level, and since their lower shelves are easy for children to reach, they work out well for some families. Side-by-side fridges tend to cost less than trendier French door models, which have double doors on top, and a freezer drawer below.
If you’re sure you want to stick with the side-by-side format, the Kenmore 51122 fridge is a good value, and the crispers do a good job capturing humidity. Take a look at it before you make a buying decision.
Meet the testers
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.
Kyle Hamilton is a product tester at Reviewed, specializing in home appliances and technology.
Checking our work.
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