We love the array of thoughtful features, such as the soft-freeze drawer for ice cream and the adjustable baskets and shelving. This model can also be converted into a refrigerator should your needs change.
The door isn't reversible, so it might not fit all spaces.
Generates enthusiasm for offering the perfect combination of a compact size with more interior space than expected. Shelf system keeps items organized. Freezes solid. Affordable.
Mixed opinions on the noise level it produces when running. Some dented doors upon arrival. A few reports of lemons.
The interior shelves help to freeze and regulate food temperatures inside. Multiple levels also make it easier to organize different foods.
More expensive than other freezer options in this size class.
The stainless steel exterior looks upscale compared to other upright freezers. The included cylinder lock and keys keeps food safe from unwanted intruders.
The smaller 2.1 cubic-foot interior may be inadequate for people looking for a mid-size freezer.
A mid-sized model at a mid-level price that has space practical for most consumers. Doesn't take up too much floor space. Includes three quick-freeze shelves. Easy to organize food thanks to the interior and on-door shelving.
Some owners report malfunctioning after a few months of ownership. Door seals feel flimsy. Dents on arrival noted.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you need extra freezer space for a large family or like to keep a stock of frozen food on hand in your basement or garage, an upright freezer is an ideal solution. Upright freezers also utilize space very efficiently, making them perfect for dorm rooms or small apartments.
However, with so many upright freezers on the market, how do you find the best one for your home? You have to consider the freezer’s size, defrosting method, and price. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, you’ve come to the right place.
At BestReviews, we give you the information you need to find the best products for you and your family. For everything you need to know about upright freezers before you buy, keep reading our shopping guide.
Size is one of the most important considerations when it comes to buying an upright freezer. The general rule is 1.5 cubic feet of freezer space per person.
Upright freezers that have five cubic feet of freezer space or less are considered compact. These small models work well in a guesthouse, rec room, or home with limited space. Some compact upright freezers are portable for boating or camping. Portable models can either be plugged into a regular electrical outlet or powered by a 12-volt car battery. Keep in mind that portable upright freezers aren’t as energy-efficient as regular models.
Small upright freezers have six to nine cubic feet of freezer space. Families of four to six will have plenty of room with a small upright freezer.
Mid-sized upright freezers have 10 to 18 cubic feet of freezer space, which is what you’ll need for six to twelve people. For most families, an upright freezer of this size offers plenty of room for frozen meals, vegetables, and meat.
Large upright freezers have well over 19 cubic feet of freezer space. If you have a large family, a lot of frozen food to store, or you frequently prepare meals for large gatherings, you will be happy with one of these upright freezers. However, these models take up as much space as a traditional top freezer refrigerator.
How you defrost an upright freezer is another important feature to consider. Upright freezers are either self-defrosting or manual.
Self-defrosting upright freezers (sometimes called frost-free freezers or auto-defrost freezers) have an automatic fan that melts any frost or ice buildup. The melt is caught in a drip tray located behind the bottom trim plate of the freezer. The amount of water is usually small enough that it evaporates, so you won’t have to empty the pan. The fan not only defrosts the freezer but also circulates air to maintain a consistent interior temperature, even around the freezer door. Self-defrosting upright freezers are more expensive but can save you hours of work. Because of the circulating air in self-defrosting freezers, freezer burn is more of a problem, however.
An upright freezer with manual defrosting requires you to turn off the freezer, remove all food, and let the ice and frost melt on its own or with the help of an exterior fan. This can be a time-consuming process, and you will need to keep your food cold in the meantime. That said, because manual upright freezers don’t have an automatic fan, these models save energy and money. However, manual upright freezers aren’t as good at maintaining a consistent interior temperature as self-defrosting freezers. The area around the door can be nine to 19 degrees warmer than the interior.
One of the main benefits upright freezers have over chest freezers is their interior shelves and drawers. Some upright freezers have fixed shelves, but models with adjustable shelves allow you to move shelves up or down to better fit your food. If you’re freezing whole turkeys and other bulky food items, adjustable shelves are ideal.
Maximum space and convenience
The Kenmore Elite 27002 20.5 Cu. Ft. Upright Freezer has an impressive 20.5 cubic feet of freezer space yet feels even roomier. We love the on-door temperature gauge and soft freeze zone, which leaves food ready to eat. Add to that its excellent shelf organization and this self-defrosting upright freezer is easily our top pick.
With an interior temperature alarm, if the temperature inside the upright freezer reaches a certain point, an alarm goes off, which can alert you if the door has been left open. While this isn’t a necessary feature, it’s handy if you’re prone to absentmindedly leaving the freezer door open.
Power indicator lights are another way to make sure your food is being kept at temperature in an upright freezer. A power indicator light can alert you to a popped breaker or power outage with a glance. This is also a nice feature if you have children who might be tempted to play with exterior controls.
Some upright freezers have a quick freeze option. These models can cool a large quantity of food in a short amount of time. If you freeze food in large batches, a quick freeze feature will get your food colder sooner.
A few upright freezers have a soft freeze feature, which still keeps food frozen but at a higher temperature. If you don’t want rock-hard ice cream, a soft freeze feature might be right for you.
A reversible door means the door can be attached to either side of the upright freezer. This gives you more options as to where the freezer can be stored.
If you have children, a door lock is a good way to keep them out of the upright freezer. Not only will you not risk the door being left open, but there’s no risk of anyone crawling inside.
Some upright freezers can operate in temperatures up to 110°F, but you can save energy and money by placing your freezer in a cool place that’s out of the sun. Basements are an ideal location because they are usually cooler than the rest of the house.
To improve the efficiency of an upright freezer, try to keep frost to a minimum. With manual defrosting, you can maintain the frost level by keeping the freezer door closed as much as possible.
Upright freezers are not as efficient as other freezers at maintaining their temperature during a blackout, with some only being able to keep food cold for about nine hours.
For less than $300, you can find a compact upright freezer with three to five cubic feet of space. These freezers tend to have manual defrosting.
From $300 to $800 are upright freezers that range in size from five to 21 cubic feet. Many of these freezers are self-defrosting, and a few models in this price range have adjustable shelves.
In the $800 to $1,500 range are upright freezers with well over 20 cubic feet of space and high-end features like quick freeze and soft freeze, interior temperature alarms, and digital controls. These self-defrosting models are as big as top freezer refrigerators, however, so you’ll need plenty of room to accommodate one.
At over $1,500 are professional-grade stainless steel upright freezers with maximum storage space. They’ve got interior temperature alarms, quick freeze and soft freeze zones or drawers, and adjustable shelves. Some have reversible doors. These upright freezers are full size and self-defrosting.
Just the right amount of extra space
If all you need is a little extra freezer space, the Magic Chef 3.0 Cu. Ft. Compact Upright Freezer is your best bet. This compact upright freezer maximizes interior space with a well-designed shelf system. It is small enough for the tightest spaces but freezes just as well as a full-size model. Just keep in mind that this upright freezer does require manual defrosting.
Look for an upright freezer with LED interior lights. Interior LED lights last a long time and are energy-efficient. And if you keep your upright freezer in the basement or garage, interior lights make it easier to find the items you need.
Minimize frost buildup by opening and closing the upright freezer door as little as possible. Some people create a checklist that has not only the items in the freezer but where they’re located. This method helps you find food faster and keeps you from searching through the freezer with the door open.
Q. How much floor space does a typical upright freezer take up?
A. An upright freezer takes up much less floor space than a chest freezer. A full-size upright freezer takes up about two-and-a-half square feet of floor space, yet it offers around 20 cubic feet of freezer space.
Q. What kind of child safety features are available for upright freezers?
A. An upright freezer with a door lock is the best way to keep children safe. Some door locks also have a key pop-out feature, which ejects the key so it cannot be left in the door.
Q. Do upright freezers come with warranties?
A. Most manufacturers offer at least a one-year warranty, and some offer warranties up to four years. The seller may also offer an extended warranty for an upright freezer.
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