refrigerators
  • Best of Year 2014
  • Editors' Choice

Kenmore 51122 Refrigerator Review

Another great side-by-side value, whether you buy it in white or stainless.

$899.99 at Sears
7.5 score Tested by Experts
Where to Buy
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This review was originally published on March 11, 2014, but has since been updated to reflect the results of new test data.

The Kenmore 51122 (MSRP $1,279.99) is a sleek white side-by-side fridge with a roomy interior, through-the-door ice and water, and a sale price under $900. The Kenmore 51123 is the same thing in stainless, and both are nearly identical to the excellent Whirlpool WRS325FDAM

Both feature through-the-door water and ice, straightforward interiors, and displayed great temperature consistency in our lab tests. Both are also among the lowest-cost side-by-side refrigerators on the market—so pick whichever one is on sale, or whichever brand matches your other appliances.

Design & Usability

Straightforward simplicity

Kenmore 51122 Ice & Water Dispenser
The external dispenser only controls ice and water output; all other controls are inside the fridge. View Larger

For a budget product, the fit and finish of the 51122 actually feels pretty sleek. The glossy exterior looks clean and elegant, plus the white coloring is resistant to fingerprints.

The interior is much of the same—and also 99 percent identical to the Whirlpool it's based on. The Kenmore sports less white plastic trim, but it has the same LED lighting that makes everything look bright and spacious. That's unusual—most fridges at this price point use incandescent bulbs. The crisper slides in and out smoothly, though the deli drawer was stiff.

That said, the fridge and freezer don't offer much for customization—each compartment only has a single open slot available for shelf adjustments. The fridge door manages to pick up some of that slack, where three of the five shelves are highly adjustable. Other than that, you’re pretty much stuck with things as they are.

Kenmore 51122 Water Filter
The water filter is found at the bottom of the fridge, and it's a pain in the neck to change. View Larger

The nebulous controls inside the fridge were an unexpected disappointment. Given the number of affordable side-by-sides on the market that have Fahrenheit displays, finding one that uses a “cold” to “colder” range is very much a downside.

The external controls—which handle the ice and water dispenser—look like a touchscreen, but are just backlit switches covered by a plastic panel. The ice and water dispenser cavity is also shorter than average, and the accompanying bright green lights glow all the time.

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Performance & Features

All around, it does alright.

Although we calibrated the 51122 at the manufacturer's recommended "normal" setting, both fridge and freezer got a little warmer than ideal temperatures. The fridge got a little too warm, while the freezer never got any cooler than 3ºF. Freezers should stay below 0ºF to reduce the risk of freezer burn. Luckily, you might be able to correct the temperatures by adjusting the separate fridge and freezer controls, since both compartments kept temperatures even over time.

Kenmore-51122 Controls
The nebulous controls make it very hard to calibrate this fridge. View Larger

The crispers did a decent job retaining moisture and the freezer didn't take too long to get room-temperature food below 32ºF. However, thanks to chunky shelves and a large icemaker, usable storage space was lower than average for a 25.4 cubic foot side-by-side.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Why We Love It

The Price is Right

Kenmore 51122 Exterior
This glossy white fridge also comes in stainless. View Larger

This Kenmore's low price tag is appealing—there aren’t many other side-by-side models available for under $900.

It's also not a bad performer at all. Though the freezer stayed warmer than we'd like to see, temperatures were even over time. For a fridge in this price range, it's one of the two best values out there. The other one? The Whirlpool WRS325FDAM, which is almost identical to this Kenmore.

If you don't want through-the-door ice and water, the Kenmore 41152 is a great bet, and sometimes sells for as low as $900. The stainless Frigidaire Gallery FGHS2655PF—one of our Editor’s Choice award winners—retails for around $1,000, another great deal.

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