Freezer Buying Guide

A Guide To Find The Best Freezer For Your Needs

The Greatest Appliances Freezer Buying Guide shares all you need to know to make an intelligent decision before buying your next freezer.

Prior to making a purchase as big as a new freezer, check out this Freezer Buying Guide to get educated before you buy.

Perhaps you’re one of those folks that prefers to be prepared, making an extra bit of soup in case you have last minute dinner guests, storing up on reasonably priced foods in bulk, or you like cooking all of your meals ahead of time. If that’s you, the little freezer in your refrigerator can get full in a hurry. A solution for you could be purchasing a stand-alone freezer.

If you already know all about freezers and just want to find the best one to meet for your needs, be sure to check out our Freezer Reviews. You should also check out all of our Appliance Buying Guides.

image of a freezer buying guide

Prior to shopping for your new freezer, you will need to figure out whether an upright freezer or a chest freezer is going to meet your needs the best. You also need to consider size, available floor space, energy use, and overall capacity.

In Greatest Appliances’ reviews, we fill the freezers with frozen packs of mixed vegetables to test for energy efficiency, the ability to stay cold after power goes out, temperature performance, and noise. The buying advice we provide will make you shopping experience a (cold) breeze.

Our Freezer Buying Guide Explains the Types of Stand-alone Freezers

We have discovered, as far as the two popular freezer types – chest and upright models – are concerned, there is no obvious winner. Below, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Additional options include portable freezers and freezer drawers. See more information below.

image of magic chef chest freezerChest Freezers

Advantages: Other than the removable hanging baskets, chest freezers are wide open and provide you with more space that you can use than what you find with upright models. These freezers are also usually a bit more energy efficient and less likely to produce freezer burn than their upright counterparts. Because of their not self-defrosting like an upright, chest models keep temperatures lower on a more consistent basis. Because of this, these bad boys are the better option if you live in an area that experiences power failures or brownouts. The usually keep the items inside frozen for longer periods of time whenever the power is turned off. They’re also usually more quiet than uprights.

Disadvantages: In spite of the hanging baskets, the can sometimes be more difficult to organize than what you will find in the uprights, having to get food that is beneath everything at the bottom of the freezer can be a hassle. They also require more floor space, a 22 cubic foot chest freezer will require a 2-by-6 foot of floor space while the same size upright freezer will only require a 2-and-a-half by 2-and-a-half foot space. The only option for defrosting, Manual Defrost, can be somewhat time consuming.

Cost: Range in cost from around $200 to $1,000.

Upright Freezers

image of frigidaire upright freezerAdvantages: These models, as previously stated, require less floor space in comparison to the chest freezer. The organization possibilities in an upright model is also better than in a chest freezer. Because of shelves and bins, finding items is a lot easier. In uprights, you have the option of Manual Defrost or Self Defrost. Keep in mind that you need to empty out the freezer for a manual defrost and this process can take several hours. However, self-defrosting freezers cause a rise in temperature temporarily, which can sometimes compromise the overall performance of the model. Also, uprights, unlike chest freezers, can be purchased in a variety of finishes, such as stainless steel and slate.

Disadvantages: In our reviews, manual defrost uprights had a difficult time maintaining the cool temperatures on their door shelves in comparison to the rest of the interior. In our power failure simulation, all uprights experienced a pretty significant temperature uptick after just nine hours. Bins and shelves consume more space (as much as 20%) than in chest models. Self-defrost uprights are usually more noisy and tend to cost more to operate. There is also more air circulating which promotes more occurrences of freezer burn.

Cost: Range in cost from around $300 to $1,500.

Feel the (Freezer) Burn

Stand-alone freezers were, at one time, only about utility without the consideration of design, having an open-box interior that made it difficult to keep items in an organized manner. You can still find those bare-bones freezers, many of them have performed very well in our freezer reviews, however we also noticed many improvements to the functionality and look of freezers. Before you do your shopping, take these factors into consideration:

Where Is It Going?

When placing the freezer in a living area, think about how it looks and how noisy the unit is. A lot of manufacturers state that their freezers are able to operate in a room that gets as warm as 110 degrees Fahrenheit, however, be sure to read the specifications if you are planning on putting the freezer in an area that is unheated, like a garage or basement.

How Does It Measure Up?

Freezers are available in four basic sizes regardless of whether it’s an upright or a chest: small (5-9 cubic feet), medium (12-18 cubic feet), and large (over 18 cubic feet). As noted previously, upright freezers require smaller floor space for the equivalent storage space.

Recovery From Power Outage

The majority of manufacturers claim that their freezers are able to keep food frozen adequately for 24 hours without power, so long as the freezer stays closed. However our testing simulated an extended power failure and it showed that some uprights allowed a fairly sizable rise in temperature after just 9 hours.

How Consistent Is It?

The majority of the freezers we tested were able to maintain a consistent temperature, with the exception being the Manual-defrost uprights. Not having the fans to circulate cold air, the temperature of on-door shelving was between 9 and 19 degrees warmer than what we found in the rest of the freezer.

How Much Energy Does It Use?

Your freezer may have an EnergyGuide label but don’t expect it to be quite as efficient as this label states. Our most recently tested models, on average, consumed 16 percent more energy. Of course, our testing is tougher and, in our opinion, similar to real-world situations than what the U.S. Department of Energy does. Energy Star models have to meet specific governmental standards on energy efficiency.

Additional Details

After you get your freezer, you might want to give it a little assistance in keeping it cool, helping to make your food last longer. Read our expert tips below:

Reduce Energy

Place your freezer in a cool area, like a basement, where it usually will be much lower than normal room temperatures. Although the majority of freezer manufacturers say models are capable of operating in temperatures as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit, review the product information for specifications.

Cut Down On The Frost Factor

Keep the lid or door closed as much as possible. Maintain an inventory of what you have in the freezer, and where it’s located, so you don’t have to search around and keep the door or lid open longer. For the same reason, label food well so it’s easier to identify.

Store Food Properly

You can reduce the amount of moisture loss and freezer burn by repackaging food in many layers of plastic wrap. A few normal freezing rules of thumb to follow: You are able to freeze ground beef for as long as 4 months, and a whole chicken for as long as a year. A pack of franks should only remain frozen for 1 or 2 months.

Our Freezer Buying Guide Explains the Cold-Blooded Features

A freezer is an appliance that serves a pretty obvious purpose. However, some models offer features that do make them a bit more convenient to use. Keep in mind, however, that the price usually goes up with each added feature.

Compartment Dividers and Tiered Bins

In chest freezers, upright plastic dividers and sliding bins on racks assist in the organization of stored food.

Door Lock

We discovered some freezers that were equipped with this feature, which blocks access or prevents the door from being left open. This is especially useful if you have kids in the home.

Self-Defrost Versus Manual

Manual-defrost freezers are usually better at energy efficiency (remember, this is the only option on chest freezers), and not as likely to cause freezer burn than self-defrosting models (uprights can be either manual- or self-defrosting). You would be wise to avoid letting ice build up on the walls of the freezer because this will cause the freezer to work harder and it will increase your power bill. It’s worth mentioning that the defrost process can take several hours. On the downside, manual-defrost uprights had a difficult time keeping their door shelves as cool as the rest of the freezer, with temperature differences that ranged from 9 to 19 degrees. Self-defrosting uprights were better at keeping their door shelves as consistently cool as the rest of the freezer, and they save you the annoyance of needing to actively defrost the model.

Power-On Light

You can see this light and not need to open the door, letting cold air out, in order to see that the freezer is running. Most models come with this feature and we believe ALL should.

Quick-Freeze and Soft-Freeze Features

A number of uprights are able to cool bigger quantities faster. Other freezers provide a soft-freeze option—this comes in handy if you don’t want to wait for rock-hard ice cream to soften.

Freezer Drawers

Higher-end kitchens are seeing an uptick in pull-out freezer drawers. Typically as a supplement to the freezer in the standard refrigerator. They’re capable of matching cabinetry or can have a pro-chef stainless appearance. They are also pretty expensive, costing anywhere from $2,000 to as much as $4,000. You can typically find them in 24-inch and 30-inch widths.

Recreational Freezers

Portable freezers are popular for things like camping and boating and need a standard 110-volt power outlet or a 12-volt power source (such as car battery). A number of these models are capable of holding as much as 85 quarts and are normally equipped with baskets that you can use to organize your food. You will also be able to adjust them to refrigerate as well. There aren’t many brands of this type and we noticed that the smaller ones are not as efficient as the larger ones.

Our Freezer Buying Guide Explains the Brands That Matter

Amana is a Favorite of this Freezer Buying Guide

Amana is a small brand that manufactures upright and chest freezers, with capacity that ranges from 5 to 16 cubit feet. Freezers manufactured by Amana can be purchased at Sears, Home Depot, Best Buy, Lowe’s, and independent dealers. Prices vary anywhere from $250 to $700.

Frigidaire is a Favorite of this Freezer Buying Guide

Frigidaire is one of the world’s biggest freezer manufacturers; it also manufactures models for a number of other brands. Frigidaire offers upright and chest configurations that range from as small as 5 to as much as 25 cubic feet. Its upright line includes a number of self-defrosting models and a pro-style model. Prices vary anywhere from $300 to $1300. The freezers can be purchased at Lowe’s, Best Buy, and at independent appliance dealers.

GE is a Favorite of this Freezer Buying Guide

GE, similar to other brands, provides a wide range of products in both chest and upright configurations. Their focus is mainly in manual-defrost models. Sizes range from 5 to 25 cubic feet. Prices vary anywhere from $200 to $850. GE freezers can be purchased at Home Depot, Walmart, Best Buy, price clubs, and independent appliance dealers.

Haier is a Favorite of this Freezer Buying Guide

Haier is another huge manufacturer that manufactures models for other brands. They provide a wide assortment of chest and upright freezers ranging from 5 to 20 cubic feet. Prices vary anywhere from $250 to $900. Haier can be found at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, price clubs, and independent appliance dealers.

Igloo is a Favorite of this Freezer Buying Guide

This brand offers products that range from 3.5 to 7 cubic feet in upright and chest configuration. Prices vary anywhere from $250 to $500. Products are widely available at retail, such as Walmart, Home Depot, and Kmart.

Kenmore is a Favorite of this Freezer Buying Guide

This major brand manufactures a wide variety of products in both chest and upright configurations. Kenmore sells a number of self-defrosting upright models in various sizes and also a pro-style product. Prices vary anywhere from $350 to $1,500. Kenmore is sold at Sears.

Maytag is a Favorite of this Freezer Buying Guide

Maytag offers upright freezers which can be purchased at Home Depot and independent appliance dealers. Prices vary anywhere from $500 to $700.

Whirlpool is a Favorite of this Freezer Buying Guide

Whirlpool sells freezers in both chest and upright configurations. Self-defrosting upright models are available in two-door and professional styles. Sizes range from 7 to 25 cubic feet. Prices vary anywhere from $350 to $1500. Whirlpool is sold through independent appliance dealers, home centers, regional appliance centers, and Sears.

Other Brands

Other freezer brands you will find include Danby, Idylis, Magic Chef, and Midea.
We hope that you’ve found this freezer buying guide to be helpful. Hopefully, you are now more prepared to make an informed buying-decision.