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Best Freezers

Updated September 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 21 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 145 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best freezers

    Last Updated September 2018

    For many families, a freezer is an indispensable appliance. You can save money by buying in bulk or freezing fully prepared meals for easy weekday dinners. Freezers come in different styles and sizes, and many include a host of features that you may or may not need. Finding the one that’s right for your family means taking into account your available space, storage needs, and the number of people in your household.

    If you’re ready to buy but don’t know where to begin your search, you’ve come to the right place. At BestReviews, we talk to experts, assess customer opinions, and test products to find the best of the best. We don’t accept free manufacturer samples so that we can bring you honest, objective feedback.

    We’ve provided a shopping guide to help you know what type and size of freezer would work best for your family. Be sure to take a look at our top five picks to see the freezers we think are most worthy of your hard-earned money.

    Freezers (and refrigerators) work by removing heat from the enclosed space to lower the temperature of the items inside. The heat from foods in the freezer is absorbed through a process of liquid evaporation.

    Types of freezers

    Upright freezers

    Pros:

    • Same floor space as average refrigerator (about 6.25 square feet)

    • Easy to organize because shelves and drawers provide easy access

    • Variety of finishes to match other appliances
       

    Cons:

    • More temperature variation, especially near door

    • Less efficient than chest freezers

    • Sometimes noisier than chest freezers

    Chest freezers

    Pros:

    • More usable space (fewer shelves and dividers)

    • More consistent temperature (making freezer burn less likely)

    • Manual defrost

    • Quieter than uprights

    • Stay cold longer during power outage (with lid closed)
       

    Cons:

    • More difficult to organize

    • Easy to lose items that fall to the bottom

    • Take up more floor space than uprights (about 12 square feet vs. 6.25 square feet)

    Portable freezers

    Pros:

    • Plug into car battery

    • Hold up to 85 quarts

    • Include storage baskets or shelf

    • Some also refrigerate
       

    Cons:

    • Not very efficient

    • Not a lot of choices

    EXPERT TIP

    Storing food in several layers of plastic helps prevent moisture loss and freezer burn.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Freezer features to consider

    Size

    Freezers come in three basic sizes:

    • Compact/Small (5 to 9 cubic feet)

    • Medium (12 to 18 cubic feet)

    • Large (over 18 cubic feet)
       

    To find the right size for you, you’ll need to take a few different factors into account. Most important is how much floor space you have for the freezer. A chest freezer would make a good choice for a garage, while a space-saving upright would work better in a utility room. Also consider the food storage needs of your family. As a general rule, you’ll need 1.5 cubic feet of freezer space per family member.

    The freezer rule of thumb is 1.5 cubic feet per family member.

    Temperature consistency

    Chest freezers are better at holding a consistent temperature. In uprights, the area near the door can be a few degrees warmer than the back of the shelves. Self-defrosting uprights regularly experience a small temperature shift when the fans turn on to defrost the evaporator.  

    • Power outages pose a problem for frozen food. Freezers with a good seal around the door can usually keep food cold until the power comes back on. Chest freezers are better at this, but some uprights also perform well. Many manufacturers boast that, in a power outage, their freezers can keep food cold for up to 24 hours under ideal conditions (door or lid closed). In reality, the freezer will probably keep your food cold for a shorter time. Some uprights lose their ability to safely freeze food after about nine hours. If you live in an area known for prolonged power outages, a chest freezer is probably a better choice.

    Energy efficiency

    Chest freezers are more energy efficient overall. Keep in mind that most freezers don’t meet the manufacturer’s claims for energy efficiency. In fact, most freezers are about 17% less energy efficient than stated claims because the advertised energy efficiency is based on ideal conditions.

    Models with an Energy Star rating can save you up to 10% each year on your energy bill.

    Organization

    Keeping food organized makes it easier to find what you need when you need it and helps prevent waste. Chest freezers present more of an organizing challenge than uprights. Look for a model with as many dividers, bins, and shelves as possible to provide easy access to everything in the freezer.

    Door lock

    A lock gives you extra reassurance that the freezer door is securely shut. Families with small children will appreciate a mechanism that keeps little ones from opening the door (and leaving it open).

    Defrost

    • Manual: All chest freezers and some upright models must be defrosted manually. These freezers are more energy efficient and less expensive, with better temperature consistency and fewer instances of freezer burn. You’ll need to regularly turn off the freezer, empty it, let any frost melt and drain, and clean the freezer, which can be a time-consuming process.

    • Self-Defrosting (Frost Free/Auto Defrost): Self-defrosting upright freezers are more expensive because they defrost automatically. This saves you hours of work, but because of the on/off cycling of air in the freezer, the temperature tends to fluctuate more in this model. The combination of temperature changes and moving air causes more instances of freezer burn.

    Self-defrosting upright freezers are usually noisier than chest freezers because of the fans that turn on and off during defrosting.

    Power indicator light

    It can be costly to find out your freezer has been off because of a breaker problem or power outage. A power indicator light gives you a visual sign of the status of the freezer, a simple feature that could save you a lot of money.

    Freeze control

    • Soft-Freeze: Some freezers have a soft-freeze option for items you don’t want to get rock hard. Foods like ice cream and butter that don’t need to be as deeply frozen can be more easily enjoyed with this setting.

    • Quick-Freeze: A few upright models come with a quick-freeze feature that freezes foods in less time than the normal setting.

    Alarm

    Because of possible temperature fluctuations, some self-defrosting freezers have an alarm that sounds when the temperature gets too warm inside the freezer. Like a power indicator light, an alarm gives you a little extra security in case of problems.

    Some freezers have an alarm that alerts you if the door has been left open.

    Refrigerator conversion

    With the push of a button, a convertible freezer can be used as either a freezer or refrigerator. This is a nice feature if you have changing needs over the holidays or when entertaining a large number of guests on special occasions.

    Castors

    Some chest freezers come on castors so they can be moved. Considering the amount of floor space they take up and the weight of a full chest freezer, a model with castors can make it much easier to organize your space.

    Vapor lock

    Some freezers have a seal that keeps air from escaping or entering the freezer. Models with a vapor lock are energy efficient, but they also take some serious muscle to open. If you don’t need to get into your freezer often, a door that’s tough to open probably won’t cause a problem.

    EXPERT TIP

    To minimize the amount of time the door or lid stays open, keep a list of the items in the freezer. Holding the door open while you try to find something causes frost to build up more quickly.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Freezer prices

    • Inexpensive: For less than $200, you can find several upright models with a capacity of 3 cubic feet and chest freezers with a capacity between 2.1 and 6.9 cubic feet. Some of the upright freezers come in different finishes, such as slate or stainless steel.

    • Mid-Range: In the $200 to $600 range are chest freezers with a capacity from 5.3 to 17.7 cubic feet, including some baskets and dividers for organization. Upright models range from 3 to 20 cubic feet, with many self-defrosting models and adjustable shelves. Many upright models come in different finishes, too.

    • Expensive: Between $600 and $1,000, you’ll find uprights with a capacity of 13.8 to 21 cubic feet that are self-defrosting, have reversible doors, and can be converted to a refrigerator. Internal organization options are usually more durable and of higher quality at this price. The chest freezers have a capacity between 10.9 and 24.8 cubic feet and have castors, safety locks, and baskets and dividers.

    • Premium: For over $1,000, you can find upright models with a capacity between 17.7 and 20.8 cubic feet. These models come in various finishes, are self-defrosting, convert to a refrigerator, and often have electronic temperature controls and door and temperature alarms.

    Tips

    • Decide where you’ll keep the freezer before you buy. Chest freezers take up more floor space. Uprights require more clearance around the freezer to open the door.

    • Open the freezer door as infrequently as possible. This will keep frost from building up inside.

    • Keep your freezer organized. Label the foods so you can quickly find what you need.

    • Consider mobility. Chest freezers with castors can actually be easier to move than upright freezers. They allow you to adjust the position of the freezer even when it’s fully loaded.
    To conserve energy, keep your freezer someplace cool like a basement or garage. Most models function well in temperatures up to 110°F, but they’ll have to work harder and use more electricity if they’re in the sun and heat all day.

    FAQ

    Q. What is the typical height of a chest freezer? I’m short and worry I won’t be able to reach the bottom of the freezer.
    A.
    A typical chest freezer stands anywhere from 30 to 33 inches high. There’s some variation by model, but that is a standard height range. Castors add to the height. For those who might be worried about reaching the bottom of the freezer, measure the distance from your waist to the floor. If the height of the freezer is above your waist, it might be hard to reach some foods. You can opt to keep a stool nearby if necessary.

    Q. What’s the benefit of a freezer that can also be used as a refrigerator?
    A.
    If you have a large family, you’ve probably already realized the benefit of having a second refrigerator. Convertibility gives you more options. For example, if you host large family parties or frequently entertain big crowds, converting a freezer to a refrigerator lets you keep fully prepared dishes ready to go without needing to thaw them. Once the party’s over, you can convert the unit back to a freezer for the leftovers. Keep in mind that many convertible models have vapor lock doors that are harder to open. These models don’t usually work as well as a refrigerator if you need to access it frequently.

    Q. How often should I defrost a chest freezer?
    A.
    It’s time to defrost if the frost is between one inch and one-and-a-half-inches thick. You’ll need to take everything out of the freezer first. How often you’ll need to defrost depends on how often you open the lid and how long the lid stays open.  

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Stacey
      Stacey
      Writer

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