Why Buy an Upright Freezer?
Refrigerators optimize the lifespan of food by storing it at safe, low temperatures. Unfortunately, they usually don't come with much freezer space, and you can quickly run out of space, especially when you're trying to store items like frozen meats, pizzas and ice cream.
Investing in an upright freezer is a wise choice, especially if you have a large family or just need extra space for cold food storage. In our buying guide, you will find several write-ups of and informative articles about upright freezers from top manufacturers like Kenmore, Frigidaire and Whirlpool. You can also read more articles about upright freezers here.
Choosing the Best Upright Freezer: What You Need to Know
When shopping for an upright freezer, pay attention to energy efficiency and storage capacity.
Efficient Energy Use
Look for a freezer that is Energy-Star qualified and has a low estimated yearly operating cost. Energy efficient freezers are better for your wallet and the environment. Some are more efficient than others, with denser insulation to lock in cold air. This same insulation maintains the safe temperature of your food longer should you lose power.
Freezers with external controls and power or indicator lights also help you save energy, because you're not opening the door and letting cold air escape every time you check the status or temperature of your appliance.
Ample Storage Capacity
Also consider the amount of food you need to store on a regular basis. A rule of thumb to keep in mind is to allocate 2.5 cubic feet of freezer storage space for each family member living in your home. For a family of four, you'll want a storage capacity of at least 16 cubic feet.
If you don't have a large family but you want to supplement your refrigerator's existing freezer space, a small upright freezer may still be your best option. You need enough space to store your Thanksgiving turkey, frozen pizzas, vegetables, ice cream and more. Turkeys and hams take up a lot of room as do boxed foods and packaged meats.
If you grow your own fresh produce, or you like a bargain and regularly hit the local farmer's market, an upright freezer with a large capacity lets you store a huge amount of seasonal produce that you can then enjoy throughout the rest of the year.
Exterior Temperature Controls
One other feature you'll want to pay close attention to is where the temperature controls are located. While it is most common for the temperature controls to be on the inside of your freezer, some models have external controls that allow you to adjust the temperature without opening the door.
What Else is Important When Selecting an Upright Freezer?
No longer are freezers the energy hogs or generators of ice-crystal palaces they once were. But besides capacity and energy efficiency, what other features make a particular style or brand of upright freezer right for you?
Below are some features to consider:
Design & Features
Flexible Storage Options
Look for a freezer that has plenty of shelves to amply hold your food. Adjustable shelving is an optimal design feature, like the SpaceWise shelving and baskets found in some Frigidaire uprights for example, because it allows you to change the storage configuration to suit your needs.
For those who simply can't live without a constant supply of ice, look for a freezer with a built-in ice maker.
Adjustable dividers are also exceptionally useful if you need to separate or compartmentalize food items. Some freezers offer color-coded baskets, bins or shelves, letting you easily separate and organize food types.
Power Indicator Light
Another useful feature for an upright freezer to have, though it is often overlooked, is a visible power indicator or a monitor or alert to warn you if the temperature range is unacceptable.
The worst thing that can happen to a freezer is to have a power outage that renders your freezer incapable of providing a continuous supply of cold air to your food.
A quick glance to see if your upright freezer's power light is on can provide reassurance while an alarm can alert you to any potential problems.
Additionally, a locking door keeps your freezer securely shut, providing peace of mind for a few different reasons. One strong reason is if you have young children: You can rest assured they cannot access the freezer.
Another reassurance a lock provides is that it keeps others out of your food, plus it prevents someone from accidentally leaving the door ajar, releasing cold air and potentially spoiling your food.
An upright freezer also needs a bright light, preferably a long-lasting LED. Bright lighting makes it easy to find what you need, day or night.
Additionally, the best upright freezers automatically defrost themselves and are frost-free. These functions reduce or eliminate annoying frost buildup and liberate you from the chore of manually defrosting your freezer.
Another factor that can influence your decision is which direction the freezer door swings open to – left or right. The best upright freezers have reversible doors, a feature that lets you or the installer place the hinges on either side of the door so that it opens to the desired direction. This allows you more flexibility with where you can place your freezer, and it makes it easier to access your food.
You may be limited by your home's design or layout where you can install it, but if you want the best performance from your freezer, planning ahead can save you from a lot of frustration and disappointment later.
Warranty & Dimensions
A good upright freezer should be covered by a reliable warranty. The standard warranty length is one year, but many manufacturers offer extended warranty coverage for an additional cost.
Dimensions are key as to whether the upright freezer you choose will fit into the desired space. Upright freezers need at least an additional three inches of clearance on both sides and at least an inch behind for optimal air flow, so be sure to take that extra space into consideration when deciding where you want to put it.
Unlike your refrigerator, an upright freezer is not meant for regular household use. If you opened and shut your freezer door as much as your refrigerator, your freezer would be hard-pressed to maintain a consistent temperature. Fortunately, upright freezers fit nicely in your basement, garage or other place that's out of the way, allowing it to function continuously without constantly being opened.
Because freezers are often located in rooms that are not as insulated as your home's interior, you should consider carefully where the best location is for your upright freezer. Ideally, you want to put it in a cool, dry place in your home.
If you decide to place your freezer in your garage, consider the fluctuation in temperatures it will experience during summer and winter months. Placing the freezer against a west-facing wall in your garage is not a good choice as heat from the sun will collect in the garage, forcing the freezer to work harder. This uses more energy and increases your power bill. Conversely, if outside temperatures dip below freezing during the winters where you live, this can be hard on the freezer's internal parts and components.
Below are some of the popular household upright freezer brands and the features and functions you can expect to find. Choosing a freezer from a reputable brand helps ensure you get a reliable, durable appliance to last for years.
Some Kenmore upright freezers offer high capacities of up to 20 cubic feet, which is enough space to store food for a household of eight. Many Kenmore models are Energy Star certified and have an estimated annual operating cost of $52 per year, or $2.90 per cubic foot.
To further optimize energy efficiency, these freezers are frost-free and feature auto defrost. This ensures your food remains at a safe temperature, without freezer burn, and that energy isn't wasted by ice buildup, which causes your freezer to work harder to maintain a consistent temperature.
Kenmore offers several freezer models with adjustable shelving along with baskets or bins to accommodate larger items. There are also shelves installed in the door for easy access to items you need to grab quickly. The adjustable shelving lets you customize the interior of your freezer to accommodate items of any size.
Frigidaire offers upright freezers that are a good option for large, busy families. Frigidaire freezers come with adjustable shelving, baskets and dividers so you can configure the interior to suit your needs. Some models come with a soft-freeze shelf that allows you to keep ice cream at the ideal serving temperature. You'll find the soft-freeze shelf toward the bottom of the door, and it stores goods at slightly higher temperatures than the rest of the appliance.
Some Frigidaire uprights feature extra thick insulation in the form of Arctic Lock walls that are designed to be efficient and keep food at a safe temperature for up to 48 hours in the event of a power outage.
Frigidaire freezers come with pop-out keys to ensure you always remember to take the key with you after you've locked the freezer, thereby increasing the overall safety of the unit.
Whirlpool is another popular brand. Their selection is smaller; however, most of these workhorses are Energy Star compliant and feature bright LED lighting for energy efficient convenience.
Models with a temperature alarm warn you if the internal temperature becomes too warm. Fast freeze functionality lets you rapidly lower the freezer's internal temperature, so if the alarm alerts you to a problem, you can make sure your food stays safely frozen. Some Whirlpool models include ice makers, too, so you've always got access to fresh ice for smoothies and cool drinks.
Choose an upright freezer based on your home's available floor space and how much internal storage capacity you need. Remember to check, too, whether the door is reversible or if it only opens one way.
Energy Star compliance and energy-efficient features help reduce your utility bills and your carbon footprint, making this an important consideration for eco-conscious consumers and those wanting to save money. Having an upright freezer lets you significantly reduce food waste, make the most of grocery store bargains and enjoy delicious produce year-round.