What Is Important in Choosing a Freezer?
We researched 10 comparable chest and upright freezers by looking at their storage space, warranty and annual operating cost. Chest freezers are far more compact and less expensive, while upright freezers are larger, provide more storage space, but are generally more expensive and consume more energy. Based on our research, we can recommend specific models for those who need a lot of cold storage and for those who are looking for something more economical.
Best Overall - Frigidaire
The Frigidaire FFFH17F2QW is a large-capacity, Energy Star-certified freezer that is laid out for organizing food for a big family. Some of its energy-friendly features include a frost-free operation and exterior controls that let you adjust the temperature without wasting energy with an open door. It lacks a door alarm, but the child lock will let you control who can access the freezer, and when. This freezer’s unusual design makes it higher, wider and shallower than a regular freezer, but it can hold plenty of food. It has big door bins for foods you want easy access to, and there’s plenty of varied space in the main compartment. Overall, this a very nice freezer for a big family at a reasonable price.
- Its safety features and capacity are great for a large family.
- It lacks a door alarm.
Best Value - Magic Chef
The Magic Chef HMCF7W3 is a high-functioning, large-capacity chest freezer. Its 7-cubic-foot capacity makes it the biggest chest freezer we evaluated. The space is versatile, with a wire box for food you want easy access to and a removable interior divider help organize the space. While it is a large-capacity freezer, its dimensions are rather compact and its size is amenable to whatever out-of-the-way space you have available. It has a manual defrost, like most chest freezers, but a drain in the front of the unit makes it easy to empty the water out. It also has a convenient temperature control dial in front. There is no child lock on the door, but that is one of its few omissions. The large capacity and economical price make this freezer a good choice for most families.
- It has plenty of well-organized storage space.
- There is no door safety lock.
Best Warranty - Maytag
The Maytag MZF34X16DW has a large capacity design with customizable space. It has some nice temperature control features, like a fast-freeze option that drops the freezer to its coldest temperature for 24 hours so food can freeze thoroughly. It also has a frost-free design, so you won’t have to manually defrost it. It has a generous amount of shelf space in the door, and the adjustable shelves in the main compartment let you customize the space to your needs. A storage gate on the bottom is great for corralling big items (like a turkey) that you don’t want to slide out when you open the door. You can also orient the door to open from the right or the left, which lets you place the freezer wherever it fits best in your home. In addition to the one-year warranty for the freezer, it has a 10-year limited parts warranty on the compressor. While it’s not Energy Star-certified, it is relatively energy efficient.
- It has a generous 10-year limited parts warranty on the compressor.
- It is not Energy Star-certified.
What We Evaluated, What We Found
When you make any big purchase, you want to make sure you get the one that’s right for your needs. One of the most important factors goes beyond the initial price of the appliance. You want to choose a freezer that costs only a small amount each year to operate and consumes very little energy. In fact, the best chest and freestanding freezers are Energy Star certified, which means that the manufacturer participates in the energy efficiency program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. We thoroughly researched chest and upright freezers that are comparable to each other in cost and storage space and calculated how much, on average per year, it would cost you to run them.
How Much Do Freezers Cost?
The cost of a freezer depends primarily its capacity and style. Upright freezers generally cost more, while chest freezers are more economical, and larger models cost more than smaller ones. Upright freezers can run anywhere from $300 to upwards of $800. Chest Freezers can cost as little as $150 or as much as $700 on average. The biggest opportunity for savings on a freezer is to wait for a sale, and often your best bets are Labor Day, Memorial Day or President’s Day sales. Retailers also drop prices when newer models are coming out and they need to clear inventory, so keep your eyes peeled if you have the luxury of waiting to purchase.
You should also measure the space where you plan to place your freezer and then compare your measurements to the dimensions in our buying guide reviews. Keep in mind that you need to leave a few inches around the appliance for air clearance. You’ll need enough space above the freezer to lift the lid if it’s a chest freezer or to open the door wide if it’s an upright freezer. Taking the time to measure the intended space for your freezer and knowing the freezer's dimensions assures quick and painless installation. Manufacturers suggest a certain number of inches of air clearance to help the unit operate more efficiently; otherwise, your freezer’s compressor may work overtime to keep your food frozen.
Preventing Freezer Burn
Freezer burn happens because moisture evaporates from your food, thus drying it out. This can result from temperature fluctuations caused by frequently leave the door open, inconsistent temperatures, temperatures set too low or trying to freeze too much food at once. To prevent freezer burn, you can do the following:
- Set the temperature well below freezing, preferably between 0 and 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don’t stuff your freezer full of food. Only freeze about 3 pounds of food, especially meat, per cubic foot of space. This doesn’t apply to prefrozen food such as frozen dinners – just meat and other food being frozen for the first time.
- Keep the freezer door closed as much as possible. Never leave it sitting open.
- Store food in plastic or glass containers with airtight lids or in sealable freezer bags. Keep liquid items in jars. You can double wrap baked food and leftovers in aluminum or waxed paper before sealing them in freezer bags.
- Rotate your food supply to prevent food from staying in the freezer longer than nine months.
What Else Is Important When Choosing a Freezer?
In addition to important considerations like cost and features, there are certain specifications you will want to consider before deciding which freezer to purchase. Some considerations, like where to store the freezer, will depend on environmental factors that vary based on where you live.
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. In some locations, you may be able to store it outside. Ideally, you want to put it in a cool, dry place in your home. If you live in a very cold climate, you may not be able to keep your chest freezer in your garage, because the system requires that coolant boil by a combination of pressure and heat, and if exterior temperatures are too cold, the freezer may stop working.
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.
Most of the freezers come with limited one-year warranties. Manufacturers that cover vital parts such as the compressor are more comprehensive in warranty coverage. For instance, the Maytag MXF34X16DW also has a 10-year limited parts warranty on the compressor, and the Haier HF50CM23NW has a five-year sealed system warranty. Some manufacturers also offer extended warranties that you can pay extra for.
Contributing Reviewer: Noel Case