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GE GFE26JSMSS French Door Refrigerator review: An unassuming GE French door fridge -- and a so-so performer

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The Good This mid-range GE model offers better-than-average efficiency and plenty of room for groceries. It isn't flashy, but you still get a slide-in shelf to help you fit tall items inside, plus an extra cold deli drawer for meats and cheeses.

The Bad The refrigerator's top shelf and all of the right door shelves ran too warm throughout our tests (incidentally, those are also the only shelves that can fit a gallon of milk).

The Bottom Line This fridge is a bit of a bore, and the performance isn't strong enough to make up for it.

7.1 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Design 7
  • Performance 6.5
  • Usability 8

One of the most common "must-haves" people tend to list while shopping for a new refrigerator is an in-door ice and water dispenser. That's why fridges like the GE GFE26JSMSS -- one of the brand's least expensive French door models that'll dispense ice through the door -- tend to be pretty popular picks.

At a suggested retail price of $2,400 and currently available for closer to $1,900, the GFE26JSMSS isn't cheap, but it's more affordable than GE's fancier, more feature-rich fridges, including French door models in the Profile Series and Cafe Series lineups. It'll work if you just want a simple, baseline French door fridge and you're on a budget, but it won't offer much to get excited about. 

That isn't so bad if you just want something that'll keep your milk cold, but the GFE26JSMSS might struggle there, too. Despite steady performance throughout the majority of the fridge, the top shelf was a persistent problem spot that consistently ran a few degrees warm, returning an average temperature of 40.2 F during a 72-hour test at the default setting of 37 F. Though only just barely, that's still warmer than the FDA recommends, and warm enough for me to tell you to to shop around for something with a default setting that performs a little better.

As a plain ol' baseline French door model, the GFE26JSMSS fits the bill. With a total of 25.5 cubic feet of storage space, 17.5 of which are allocated to the fridge compartment up top, it isn't the biggest icebox money can buy, but it'll still offer plenty of room for a full family's worth of groceries. With a yearly energy draw of 700 kWh, it'll add about $84 to your energy bill each year. Divide that cost by the cubic footage, and you're spending $3.29 each year to cool each cubic foot. That's a little better than average as far as French door models are concerned -- for comparison, the Samsung RF23M8090SG, a top-performing, high-end French door fridge that retails for about $2,000 more than this GE model, will cost you about $3.36 per year per cubic foot.

As a low-to-midrange model, the GFE26JSMSS doesn't come with a whole lot of features, but you at least get a shelf that slides in to make room for tall groceries below, which is always nice to have. And, while the deli drawer at the bottom of the fridge doesn't offer its own, distinct temperature settings like you'll find in higher-end models, you do get a little slide that lets you adjust between "Cold" and "Colder." I left it dialed down during my performance tests, and found that it brought the temperature down by about 3 or 4 degrees, which is enough to be useful for delicate ingredients like meats and cheeses.

Hot spots in the door shelves are more or less forgivable, but the main body shelves really ought to stay below 40 degrees F at the default setting.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

As for the temperatures in the rest of the fridge, they were more or less right on target in my tests, with two exceptions. First, the entirety of the right door ran warm, which is pretty common in French door models, and forgivable if you're just going to use those shelves to hold things like beverages and preservative-heavy condiments. You'll want to put the milk elsewhere, though.

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