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The Functional Freezer

When your refrigerator/freezer combo doesn't give you the room you need to store all your frozen foods, a stand-alone freezer may be the answer. Depending on the size of your family and the amount of food you plan to freeze, you have a variety of options to choose from.

Choosing the Right Freezer

Freezers come in two distinct styles, upright and chest. Each type is specifically suited to address different needs, so take a moment to weigh their strengths against what will most benefit you. Regardless of which style you choose, you will have to consider where you will place the unit and how much food you plan to keep in it. Each of these decisions will affect the style and size of the freezer you purchase.

Upright Freezers
Upright Freezers

Upright freezers open like a refrigerator and include a variety of shelves and storage drawers. This design helps you stay better organized and track what you have on hand to prevent food from getting lost in the back and spoiling. Units vary in size and offer a wide range of capacities. You can choose either manual defrost or frost-free configurations. Frost-free units periodically warm the shelves for convenient, hassle-free maintenance. Manual defrost units require you to remove food a couple of times per year and allow the freezer to thaw. Manual defrost freezers are more energy efficient and are more effective at preventing freezer burn, but they must be placed near a drain to make defrosting easier.

  • Shelves and drawers provide convenient food storage and access
  • Range in size from 4.7 cu. ft. to 24.7 cu. ft.
  • Take up less floor space for easier placement
  • Available in both manual defrost and frost-free configurations
  • Lighted interior enables you to see and organize food easily
Chest Freezers
Chest Freezers

Chest freezers open from the top like a trunk or suitcase and hold slightly more food per cubic foot than upright freezers. They take up more floor space and generally carry a lower price tag. Chest interiors are most commonly available in manual defrost configurations. This can limit your options for placement since it is best to have a manual defrost model near a drain for easier water management. Chest freezers require a little more effort to organize, but pull-out drawers and sliding baskets can help you keep an eye on your frozen items and avoid food spoilage. Chest freezers are often more energy efficient than upright freezers, and their design allows the door to seal more tightly, so food stays colder during power failures.

  • Hold more food per square foot than upright freezers
  • Range in size from 3.6 cu. ft. to 25.0 cu. ft.
  • Lower price tags for a smaller up-front investment
  • Usually available as a manual defrost unit
  • Lift-out drawers and sliding baskets provide added organization
  • Provide more energy-efficient operation
Freezer Type Capacity Range (Cu. Ft.) Features to Consider Applications
Upright 4.7 - 24.7
  • Many units come in frost-free configurations
  • Shelves and drawers for convenient storage and easy access
  • Lighted interior
  • Ideal for keeping items organized
  • Good fit for smaller spaces
  • Reliable performance and economical choice
Chest 3.6 - 25.0
  • Most units are manual defrost
  • High energy efficiency
  • Lift-out drawers for easier organization
  • Ideal for families who store large amounts of food
  • Stores big and bulky packages easily

Placement and Use

Regardless of which type of freezer you choose, there are several issues to consider. One of the most important is where you will place the unit. You want to avoid storing your freezer too close to a heat source, such as an oven or near a window with direct sunlight, as this can force the unit to work harder, reducing efficiency. When it comes to determining how large of a freezer to purchase, bigger may not be better. Freezers less than 2/3 full use more energy, so having a large under-stocked freezer will cost you more money in the long run. Select one that meets your capacity requirements or, if you find you're not utilizing 2/3 of the available space, consider adding jugs of water to fill up the empty space to improve efficiency.

  • Place manual defrost units near a drain for easier defrosting
  • Keep freezer away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight
  • Freezers at 2/3 capacity or more maximize energy efficiency


Interior Lights

Most upright and some chest freezers feature interior lights, making it easier to see and organize food.

Door Lock

Freezers with door locks are especially handy when you have small children. Locking the door not only blocks access, it also prevents young ones from accidentally leaving the door open and spoiling food. Door locks also ensure the unit stays tightly sealed to conserve energy.

Adjustable Temperature Control

Models with adjustable temperature control give you the ability to choose the ideal climate for the amount of food you have in the freezer. This improves efficiency and prevents food from getting too warm or too cold.


Some models feature an alarm that will sound if a temperature change occurs too quickly. Most often, the culprit is an open door and the alarm lets you know in plenty of time to close it and prevent food from spoiling.

Adjustable Shelves and Storage Baskets

Movable shelves are generally only available in frost-free freezers. Shelves and baskets make it easier to organize food, helping you to sort new from old so you can prioritize consumption with ease.

Food Spoilage Warranty

If you keep a lot of food in your freezer, seek out a model that provides compensation if the freezer fails and food spoils.

Magnetic Door Seal

Tightly sealed doors are more energy efficient, and magnetically sealed doors close reliably to keep cold in and heat out.