refrigerators

Kenmore 51122 Refrigerator Review

$1,279.99
4.9
Better than 12% of Reviewed Refrigerators

Best skip this side-by-side

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. Unfortunately, our tests showed that this fridge had difficulty keeping an even temperature, got too warm in the freezer, and lacked the ability to customize shelf space. Even at a low sale price, we'd give this one a pass.

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.
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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, sporting white plastic trim and 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.
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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.

Performance & Features

Nothing stellar here

Although we calibrated the 51122 at the manufacturer's recommended "normal" setting, neither fridge nor freezer got close to the ideal temperatures. The fridge was too cold, getting as low as 33ºF in some places, while the freezer never averaged a cooler temperature than about 10ºF. While you might be able to correct the temperatures by adjusting the controls, both compartments also displayed temperature swings that won't do your food any favors—a sure-fire recipe for freezer burn.

Kenmore-51122 Controls
The nebulous controls make it very hard to calibrate this fridge.
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The crispers did a decent job retaining moisture and the freezer didn't take too long to get room-temperature food below 32ºF. However, 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.

Save Up for a Better Fridge

Only the price is right.

Kenmore 51122 Exterior
This glossy white fridge's performance isn't as sleek.
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The low price tag is appealing—there aren’t many other side-by-side models available for under $900—but the Kenmore 51122’s performance means this fridge is no bargain. You may also want to steer clear of the similar Kenmore 50022, which had some of the same issues.

The good news is that you don't have to spend much more for a better fridge. If you don't want through-the-door ice and water, the Kenmore 41152 is a great bet, sometimes selling 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.