Demand for freezers skyrocketed shortly after Covid19 forced the majority of us to hunker down at home in 2020. People were preparing to stay locked-in within their houses, minimizing outdoor travel so they had a lower chance of catching the virus — and frozen foods were, and still are, a great choice if you want to stock up and stay put, because they keep for a long time.
Best Small Freezers for 2021
In my article, I shall talk about the best small freezers you can purchase and compare them with each other to reveal what makes each model unique. Do you need a chest or upright freezer? What size should you get? What do the star ratings mean, and how much power will it consume? What features to look for (soft- freeze, fast- freeze, defrost, frost- free, compartment dividers, door lock and alarm, etc.)? I shall answer all these questions, which should give you an idea of what to look for in a freezer you’re planning to purchase.
Each household will have different requirements. Some might want a smaller model because they live in a crammed apartment without a whole lot of floorspace to spare. Others might want a larger freezer because they live in a remote area and have to make a 100- mile round trip just to get stuff from the nearest supermarket. So folks like that will want to make the most out of each trip, storing enough food to last a month or two. If you’ve got kids in the house, you might want a door lock feature on your freezer. Or perhaps your grandpa forgets to shut the door. In that case, you might need a door alarm which alerts you if the freezer door is left open for too long, so you don’t lose large amounts of food to defrosting. Then, there are people who already own a fridge + freezer, and still want an additional freezer on top of that for bulk storage of meat and veggies.
You’re sure to find a model in here that suits your needs. There’s the 1.1 cubic foot “mini freezer” from hOmelabs for folks who need something small for personal use that’s also easy to transport. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the large Kitma 7 cubic foot model which lets you store giant quantities of meat and veggies (like half a hog, or a quarter of a cow). If this is your first time purchasing a freezer and you don’t have a clue as to how much you can store in a given amount of space, the general rule of thumb is 30lbs of meat per 1 cu. Ft (cubic foot). It’s a rough estimate, and I will have a more detailed sizing guide later on in the article, so you can rest assured.
There’s some other topics I’m going to discuss which might affect your purchase decision indirectly, like how a freezer works and how long can you expect certain types of food to last inside a freezer. I will also provide some helpful tips to increase the shelf life of your frozen food and talk about the effect of sub- zero temperatures on viruses. But first, let’s take a look at the actual freezers themselves.
Freezer Reviews :
Compact Upright Models
Whynter CUF-301BK 3.0 cu. Ft.
Great For Apartments and Offices
This Energy Star certified upright model from Whynter is compact, and easily fits into tight spaces due to its small footprint. You can tuck it away into the corner of a kitchen or office room, the stainless steel finish blends in nicely with most home décor. With a storage capacity of 3 cubic feet, the CUF-301BK is a nice option for bachelors or students living in dorms or apartments. It also works great as a complimentary/ backup freezer for your refrigerator. Or, you can use it in addition to your bulk storage freezer. Store all the beef and garden produce in your 20 cubic foot chest freezer, and when you run out of space, you could use the 3 cubic foot CUF-301BK to keep stuff like ice cream and chocolate. Or perhaps some bones for preparing broth, along with extra stuff like livers.
One of the reasons for the CUF-301BK’s excellent cooling performance is its unique fast- freezing coil shelf system. The shelves themselves are actually freezing coils, part of the refrigerant cooling loop which is responsible for removing heat from within the freezer. And these coils are in direct contact with the food items, resulting in near instantaneous freezing. This design also ensures that cold air is evenly distributed throughout the vertical section of this freezer.
Organizing your food items is really easy, since the CUF-301BK has a slide out basket shelf along with 2 upper shelves. There is plenty of space between each shelf to store tall items like a whole turkey or large ham. Since this is a compact upright freezer, there are no door storage shelves/ compartments. But the door itself can be setup to swing in either direction. This increases the installation versatility, allowing you to position the CUF-301BK more freely inside a crammed apartment kitchen or office room. And the door features a cylinder key lock, a nice feature to have if there are small children in your home. Due to its compact dimensions, upright design, and low weight of 57lbs, the CUF-301BK is extremely easy to transport through doors. You only need 2 people, or maybe just one (depending on your physical condition and build).
hOmelabs model HME030361N 1.1 cu. Ft.
Best Mini Freezer for a small apartment.
It functions brilliantly as a personal freezer. If you just need something super tiny to store beverages and ice cream for personal use in your own room, this is it. Ideal for college dorms, offices, and garages. And it has a footprint of just 18.3” x 17.5”, which is slightly larger than the average briefcase. The operating sound level generated by this mini freezer is under 42 decibels. For reference, that’s slightly louder than a quiet library (which is at 40 decibels). Which means this little freezer won’t disrupt you as you carry about your daily work at home. While you’re watching TV or working on the computer, you won’t even notice it running in the background.
The door hinge is top mounted and reversible, so you can open it to the left or right. This basically means you can place it against the wall, in any open corner of a room. The door can be setup to not collide against nearby objects as you open it. And it even comes with a door lock, so you can keep unwanted hands out of your personal freezer.
The temperature control is pretty basic and somewhat crude, there’s a thermostat knob which lets you select from any one of 7 preset modes between -4°F and 6.8°F (-20°C to -14°C). Setting 1 is the coldest, and 7 is the warmest. There is no auto defrost, you have to get ride of ice buildup manually (by raising the temperature or unplugging the freezer and leaving it open). So, who is this little freezer for? As I mentioned earlier, it’s perfect as a personal freezer for your dorm, bedroom, mancave, or garage. You can use it to store snacks, milk, yoghurt, ice cream, beverages, ice cubes, etc. The storage space can be divided into two sections, and there is a removable wire shelf in the middle. However, if you want something larger, I suggest you check out the HME030361N’s big brother- the 3 cubic foot HME030360N.
hOmelabs model HME030360N 3.0 cu. Ft.
One of the best Upright Freezers for your condo or apartment.
In terms of footprint, the HME030360N takes up nearly 35 percent more floor space than its 1.1 cu Ft. counterpart. But you get 2.73 times the storage capacity in return, which is amazing. Both models are ideal for college dorms and office spaces, but the HME030360N can function as a serious standalone freezer that’s capable of storing a significant amount of groceries. While the HME030361N is more of a personal freezer to store some beverages and snacks, this one can store half a hog or an 1/8th of beef. And you’ll still have room left over to keep some veggies and milk in there.
There are two fixed shelves, and a total of 3 storage sections within the HME3O360N. It is slightly cheaper than the Whynter CUF-301BK. However, it must be noted that the Whynter has higher cooling performance (wider temperature range) as well as a removable slide out basket shelf (which the hOmelabs contender lacks). Both the Whynter and hOmelabs upright 3 cu Ft. models have reversible stainless steel doors with built- in locks.
The hOmelabs model has its thermostat control located inside the storage space, on the right side of the top shelf. In contrast, the Whynter CUF-301BK’s temperature control is located on the exterior, nearby the compressor in the bottom rear section. Personally, I feel the hOmelabs temperature control is easier to access, especially for older users or people with back problems who can’t bend down nearly as much. Both the hOmelabs and Whynter models have leveling legs on the front which can be adjusted to compensate for uneven surfaces.
Best Upright Freezer for Garages
Ideal for two people living together in an apartment, or garages. It functions well as a beverage chiller, ice cube dispenser, and snacks freezer. The Whynter CUF-210SS has a storage capacity of 2.1 cubic feet which is modest even by mini freezer standards. But do you really need any more than that for a simple personal freezer intended to be kept underneath the kitchen counter or in a office workspace? It has more than enough space to store some cheese, a couple gallons of milk, and a few pints of ice cream. You can easily transport it around the house, due to its compact design. It will fit into any corner of the room, provided you have at least 4” of clearance between the sides of this freezer and the wall.
Even when the compressor is running, you barely hear any noise which makes this a great freezer for your living room or even bedroom. It is so small you can fit one of these inside your camper or RV. The door has a stainless steel finish and features a recessed handle which gives it a clean look. If you want some extra security for your personal freezer, there’s a lock at the bottom of the door. A mechanical temperature control lets you go from -10°F up to 2°F. Unlike the Whynter CUF-301BK which has fixed shelves, the 210SS comes with removable wire shelves. One of the downsides is that you lack the direct coil cooling of the 301BK. So it will take slightly longer for stuff to freeze in the 210SS. But you have more versatility when it comes to organizing the contents of your freezer. You can remove both shelves if you need to store something large and tall. Or you can remove one shelf and configure the storage with a big- small partition.
Arctic Air AWF25 25 cu. Ft.
Best Bulk Storage Freezer for your small apartment.
This is the freezer you get for a 7 to 10- person family, or if you need to stock up enough food to last you and another 3 people an entire year. The Arctic Air AWF25 is one of the largest upright freezers you can purchase, and is classified as a “reach-in” model. You will find yourself surprised with the cooling performance of this beast, for it rivals even commercial grade freezers in terms of consistency and raw cooling power. Like all other Arctic Air freezers, the AWF25 is designed and tested to meet NSF Standard 7 regulations.
There are 3 adjustable shelves inside the AWF25, and you can comfortably fit half a hog or 2 to 3 turkeys in each shelf. If you’re into hunting and fishing, this freezer is highly recommended for its massive storage capacity. If you want to store large portions of meat and vegetables that will last 6 months to a year, this is the freezer you’re looking for. It holds a steady temperature, and can freeze stuff instantly thanks to a powerful 5/8hp compressor. The temperature range is between -7°F to 0°F (-21.66°C to -17.77°C). Once you reach 0°F, bacterial growth is completely halted. And if you can maintain sub 0°F consistently, food can last almost indefinitely. The shelves are epoxy coated to increase corrosion resistance. Magnetic door gaskets ensure a tight air-proof seal that prevents outside air from entering.
Unlike smaller freezers, this Arctic Air model comes with an electronic thermostat which is more precise and reliable compared to mechanical ones. There is an external digital display so you can monitor and control temperature settings without bending down or having to open the door. Casters underneath the freezer help with transportation (you need them, since this freezer weighs over 300lbs empty).
Compact Chest Freezer Models
Midea WHS-129C1 3.5 cu. Ft.
Best small mini chest freezer for your apartment or condo.
The greatest asset of the Midea WHS-129C1 is how quiet it is. Even at night in the middle of absolute silence, you barely hear this thing running. And it is also extremely efficient with power consumption since the compressor draws only about .89 amps of current on average. It needs less than 100 watts of power, so you can easily run it off a small inverter generator during a blackout. Not that you need to plug it in immediately, since this is a chest freezer and holds its internal temperature much longer than an upright model after losing power. You can easily go 10 to 12 hours without plugging it in if the freezer is more than half full. None of the food items inside will thaw.
The Midea WHS-129C1 has a storage capacity of 3.5cu. Ft so it should be perfectly fine for 2 to 3- people or 1 prepper. If you want a freezer that is quiet, compact, reliable, and energy efficient, this is it. It also costs less than the Whynter and hOmelabs upright freezers despite having more storage space. There is a sliding wire basket on the top which slightly helps with food organization, but you still need to bend down and reach in deep if you want to access of the older food items. You can store pretty much anything in this freezer- cuts of beef, hog, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, fruits, vegetables, etc. It is taller than it is wider, so you can actually get it through most doors with ease. This is one of the few chest freezers which will actually fit into a small apartment without any hassle.
Kitma | 7 cu. Ft.
The Best all-around compact chest freezer for your apartment.
The Kitma 7 cubic foot chest freezer is perfect for small families of 3 to 4. It is extremely quiet and sips on energy, like most modern chest freezers. The 7 cubic feet of storage capacity means you can stash enough food in there to last multiple months. If you want a freezer to store all that extra produce from your garden which you can’t consume immediately, this will do a fine job. The foamed in place polyurethane insulation is excellent for keeping all that negative heat energy inside, and a locking hinged lid allows for hands free operation when you’re taking stuff in or out. There are 2 storage baskets which you can use for small items like beer, cream, chocolate, milk, cheese, etc. If you store such items in the main compartment, they could get crushed by heavier objects on top of them.
There is a drain plug which assists with manual defrosting, helping you drain all that water from inside the freezer. No more messing around with towels and buckets, just plug a pipe into the drain plug and watch as all the water exits your freezer within minutes. The Kitma is equipped with digital temperature control, which can adjust to any value between -10°F and -1°F. Even on the warmest setting your food will remain frozen. Since there is no auto defrost, your food won’t accidentally thaw by itself. The interior is made from anodized aluminum which is extremely corrosion resistant and provides great structural strength. It also keeps the overall weight down to just 84lb. That may not seem very light at first, but remember that this is a 7 cu. Ft chest freezer.
Freezer vs Refrigerator
The products I’m reviewing in this article are all standalone freezers, used to deep- freeze food items. They are different from refrigerators, which are more commonly found in households that don’t store meat and vegetables for several weeks or months at a time. The main difference between a freezer and refrigerator is the thermostat- a refrigerator keeps stuff at a temperature which is a few degrees above the freezing point of water, usually 1.1 to 4.4 degree Celsius (34 to 40° F). At this temperature range, the reproduction rate of bacteria and other pathogens is significantly slowed down so food doesn’t spoil easily.
However, a freezer’s thermostat allows it to go even colder, below the freezing point of water. The typical temperature inside a household freezer ranges from -18 to -23 degree Celsius. Once you go below -18°C (0°F), certain food items can be preserved almost indefinitely. No microorganisms grow once you go below -9.5°C, and all the residual moisture is turned into ice which further hinders growth of any unwanted guests within your food. In a standalone freezer, the same temperature persists across all compartments unlike a fridge which has separate temperature chambers (including a freezer section).
If you’re storing your meats and veggies for a few days or week, refrigeration will do the job. If you’re in for the long haul and have frozen meats or ice cream in your pantry, you might want to use a freezer instead which will keep them safe for multiple weeks and even months. Plus, a standalone freezer will have much more storage space than the freezer compartment of a refrigerator. This lets you purchase meats and veggies in bulk, including seasonal items which can then be preserved year- round once they go into the freezer.
How Long Will Food Last In The Freezer?
A freezer can totally change the way you prepare and store food, provided you know what to store and how. Whether it’s a busy weekday night or a lazy weekend morning, there are plenty of make- ahead freezer meal recipes out there for you to try out. And once you’ve made your lasagna, enchilada, soup, or pot roast, you can store it in the freezer for days. Then, all it takes is a quick defrost and reheat in the microwave for the food to go from freezer to table- ready.
But a lot of home cooks shy away from frozen food because they fear it won’t taste as good as meals prepared from fresh ingredients. While that’s true to a certain extent, a lot of it comes down to moisture management and how you thaw your food. You have to store your fruits and veggies when they’re at their freshest, most ripe state and thaw properly to ensure that quality remains intact.
Raw cuts of meats often tend to suffer from freezer- burn, and cooked meals end up tasting mushy. All this happens due to improper storage and defrosting. But before I talk about how you should store and defrost your frozen foods, let’s take a look at how different food items last in frozen storage.
Freezer burn: A condition caused by oxidation and dehydration of frozen food; it usually happens when you don’t preserve the food in airtight packaging. Meats that have been freezer burned develop grayish- brown spots with a leathery texture. This doesn’t make the food inedible or unsafe for eating, but it becomes dry and degrades taste.
Cheese will last 6 months, except for the following types which are exceptions to the general rule- cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, processed cheese (once it has been opened), and Neufchâtel.
Butter will last 6 to 9 months in the freezer, ice cream between 1 to 2 months, milk for about 3 months, yogurt around 1 to 2 months, and cream for 4 months.
Fish and Seafood-
Clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, and shrimp will keep for about 3 to 6 months in the freezer. Fatty fish like bluefish, mackerel, perch, and salmon should be consumed by 2 to 3 months. Lean fish like flounder and sole will go up to 6 months.
As a general rule, fresh fruit will last for 10 to 12 months in the freezer. However, there are exceptions- avocados and bananas shouldn’t be kept for more than 3 months in the freezer. Citrus fruits will last between 4 to 6 months, and fruit juices around 8 to 12 months.
Artichokes and eggplant will go 6 to 8 months in a freezer without spoiling, asparagus and turnips for 8 to 10 months. Beans, bok choy, broccoli brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, corn, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers soybeans, spinach, and summer squash will last 10 to 12 months. Tomatoes last just 2 months in a freezer.
Cooked meat shouldn’t be stored for more than 2 or 3 months inside the freezer. Ham, hot dog, etc. will keep well for 1 to 2 months in the freezer. Same with sausages and bacon. Uncooked, ground meat can be preserved for 3 to 4 months. Uncooked roasts, steaks, chops, etc. will last 4 to 12 months. Uncooked wild game will can be stored for as long as 8 to 12 months.
Cooked, around 4 months. Uncooked, for up to 12 months.
Tip: Eggs shouldn’t be frozen whole with the shell, instead you should whisk them together before freezing (you can do whites and yolks separately, but whisked yolks on their own tend to become thick and syrupy within the freezer). You can also add a pinch of salt along with one and a half teaspoon of sugar to the yolks, which should prevent their quality from degrading during deep freezing.
Foods You Shouldn’t Freeze-
Whole eggs, the water inside their shells will expand, causing the shells to crack open. Another food item that is often not recommended for freezing is milk. This one’s a bit weird because it’s not like frozen milk becomes unsafe for consumption. Rather, freezing tends to separate the water from the fat resulting in chunky bits that spoils the texture of the milk. This process starts after a couple weeks of freezing, and you wouldn’t want this chunky milk in your cereal or coffee. If you’re using the milk for baking or cooking, the texture isn’t as big an issue and thawed milk is a perfectly reasonable choice for such applications.
Another item which you shouldn’t freeze is raw potatoes. These have a significant amount of water inside which means that after freezing and thawing, you’re often left with a potato that is soft and mushy. Leftover potatoes from a cooked meal aren’t going to become nearly as mushy as raw potatoes, so you can definitely freeze cooked potatoes. Besides, the texture change won’t matter as much in casseroles or stews.
Fried foods will lose all that crispiness once they go into the freezer, and they will become mushy. If you’re okay with eating soggy french fries and mozzarella sticks, by all means- put them in the freezer.
Tip: For chicken nuggets, you can freeze the breaded nuggets on a cookie sheet and transfer to an airtight bag or container for storage within the freezer. When you’re read to cook, take out the prepped nuggets and bake them (Add 3 to 5 minutes to your normal cook time if you’re baking directly from a frozen state).
Soft cheeses will go through a transformation similar to milk with a high fat content once you leave them in the freezer for a long enough period of time. Your cheese will end up having watery lumps in it, which ruins the texture (applies to cheeses like cream cheese and ricotta). Note that the cheese won’t become unsafe to eat, nor will its taste change. But the texture will be ruined.
Raw veggies and fruits with high water content like celery, cucumber, salad greens, watermelon, etc. won’t retain their quality very well in the freezer. They will be safe to eat, no doubt about it, since pathogens can’t reproduce at 0°F. But the water inside them will turn into ice crystals, and thawing these vegetables/ fruits will leave you with a mushy product that isn’t very appealing to the palate.
Important: While storing fresh fruits and vegetables in the freezer, always pack them into airtight containers or moisture- proof heavy duty freezer bags. Make sure to force out as much air as possible from the bag/ container. The key to keep moisture in, and air out.
Certain spices and seasonings like garlic, green pepper, cloves, and paprika will undergo a flavor change if you store them in the freezer. Pasta and rice will lose their texture, becoming mushy once you thaw them. Cream and milk- based gravies will turn lumpy when you thaw them after removing from the freezer. But flour- based gravies can last months. Mayo and yogurt also lose their creaminess and become grainy if you put them through deep freezer storage.
Do You Need A Standalone Freezer?
When I mention the word “freezer”, most people think about that little compartment in their fridge where they keep the ice cream. This isn’t the same as a standalone freezer which can go much cooler and has a lot more storage room. But do you need one? To be honest, a medium to large sized standalone freezer can entirely change the way you shop and cook food. Even a small freezer can redefine your lifestyle, especially during a pandemic like the current one. A freezer means fewer shopping trips, quicker meal prep times, and big savings on grocery bills.
Let’s talk about the multiple benefits of owning a standalone freezer:
First of all, food can be preserved for much longer if you freeze it- weeks and months instead of days. This means you don’t have to go outside as much, which is a necessity during this pandemic and government mandated quarantine/ lockdown. This is also super useful if you live in a small town or rural area, and the nearest supermarket is a 1- hour drive from your home.
The second advantage of a standalone freezer is storage space. It means you can shop in bulk so whenever the store has a flash- sale on meats or veggies. You can take full advantage of the fact that you own a freezer with significantly more storage space than the tiny freezing compartment of a standard refrigerator. The same applies when you’re storing fresh garden produce, or surplus food gifted by friends/ neighbors. Some weeks, your garden might produce more of a particular crop- be it squash, cabbage, or tomatoes. And you can’t possibly eat all of it at once, so you need a long- term storage solution with sufficient storage space.
The third benefit of a standalone freezer is the fact that you can enjoy off- season fruits and veggies. Like corn and zucchini during the freezing month of February, or cabbages and kale on a hot July day. If you’re worried about your veggies turning soggy and mushy, fear not- there are ways to extend their freshness as you preserve them in a deep freezer. Like blanching, in which you dunk the fresh veggies into boiling water for a couple minutes to slow down enzyme reactions which causes loss of flavor and texture over time. Then, you immediately plunge these veggies into cold water to prevent them from cooking, after which you drain them thoroughly and pack into freezer bags. If you want to learn about the ideal blanching times for various vegetables and various blanching methods (microwave, steam, water, etc.), check out the table on this page.
The fourth and often overlooked benefit of freezers is the low meal prep time they afford you. This is especially useful for college students and working bachelors who have super busy schedules with barely any time to start cooking with fresh ingredients. Most of them choose to order from a restaurant after they return exhausted from a hard day of work, unwilling to spend an hour cooking and cleaning afterwards. The problem with ordering meals from the restaurant is that it’s pricey and often bad for your health in the long term. But with a freezer you can schedule your meals for a whole week or more ahead of time and reduce preparation time by using partially cooked ingredients which you plop into the freezer, removing only as much as you need for each meal on a daily basis. You can even prepare large amounts of a fully cooked meal (lasagna, chili, roast, etc.), separate it into single- serving sized batches, and store in freezer- safe containers.
Then, when you’re hungry, all you have to do is take out a single container and plop it into the microwave for thawing and warming. You don’t have to cook fresh daily, plus it’s much healthier and cheaper than restaurant meals. You also don’t have to spend a lot of time cleaning up utensils afterwards since it just a single container. If you’re on a specific diet like gluten- free, paleo, vegan, etc. you can prepare it beforehand, so you don’t have to spend extra to get a meal cooked according to your requirements.
If you hunt or fish, a standalone freezer is a must- have so you can stow away you catch for weeks or even months. Especially if you hunt larger game such as deer, there is no possible way a single family eats it all in one sitting. The larger your family, the more food you consume, the more economical it is to own a freezer and purchase food in bulk.
A chest freezer in the basement also ensures you always have ice on hand for cocktails, or a tray of ready to bake homemade lasagna/ chicken pot pie for that instant dinner party. A freezer can also double up as a chiller for your booze, and allows you to store up to half a gallon of ice cream (or more) at a time for those social gatherings on special occasions.
Selecting The Right Freezer
So, we’ve established that a standalone freezer is pretty awesome. It’s flexible, and can preserve a wide variety of food items for a really long period of time. It reduces meal prep times and the number of trips you make to the grocery store each month. But a freezer isn’t just something you buy at random and place inside your home. It takes up floorspace, consumes a significant amount of power, and depending on the model you purchase, can cost a pretty penny. The freezers we’re reviewing today are smaller models, so they won’t put a hole in your wallet. But the more cubic feet of storage space a freezer has, the more it will cost to purchase (and operate, since larger freezers consume more power). Larger freezers also take up more floor space (duh). The largest freezer you can afford and accommodate within your home isn’t always the best choice,
Chest vs Upright
Standalone freezers come in two main styles- chest, and upright. Uprights are like your standard refrigerator; the door is mounted on the front. These models are taller, so they have more vertical space. And they take up less floor space compared to chest freezers. Chest freezers are the ones you find in shops and basements, used to store ice cream and chocolate. The door is mounted on the top, and you have to bend forwards in order to access items inside. Both designs have their strengths.
Chest freezer advantages
They have around 20 percent more usable space than an upright, this is due to their wide open design (no shelves or drawers) which allows most of the internal volume to be dedicated towards storage. All the crucial components are located deep inside, towards the bottom of the chest which frees up more space for storing food. Despite the hanging baskets and dividers, you’ll find more space to work with in a chest freezer.
Air temperatures within a chest freezer stay consistent since most of them lack a self- defrost function.
Chest freezers tend to be more energy- efficient compared to uprights.
There is less air circulation within a chest freezer, which reduces chances of freezer- burn.
In the event of a blackout, the chest freezer will retain its internal temperature for a longer time and prevent your food from thawing. If your chest freezer is full, the food will stay cold for up to 2 days (1 day if it is half- full) without power.
A chest freezer will cost less than an upright which has the same amount of internal storage space.
Chest freezer disadvantages
They take up more floor space compared to upright models.
Despite dividers and hanging baskets, chest freezers are harder to organize. You will spend more time bent down, while trying to take out the item you want and putting new stuff in.
Chest freezers have no self- defrost, so it can take a day or more to defrost the inside of your freezer.
Tip: Most people simply unplug the freezer and wait for the ice to melt. But there’s a more convenient way- first take out all the food, then scrape away the ice patches with a putty knife. Hold the putty knife at a 45° angle so you don’t gouge out the freezer interior.
Upright freezer advantages
Since there are shelves and bins, it is easier to organize food in an upright model. You can find what you want quicker, and close the door faster.
Upright freezers take up less floor space, so if you live in an apartment or condo this might prove useful.
Upright freezers tend to have auto- defrost functionality built in so you don’t have to wait an entire day for the ice to clear up.
If you’re after looks and aesthetics, upright freezers come in a variety of finishes ranging from slate to stainless steel.
Upright freezer disadvantages
While they can defrost faster, the same feature also decreases freezer performance since air temperature isn’t as consistent as that of a chest freezer.
Uprights are noisier.
They consume more power compared to chest freezers.
Air circulation in an upright model is higher, so food is more likely to get freezer burn.
Upright freezers tend to cost more.
Features to look for
- A temperature alarm which alerts you if temperatures within the freezer rise to unsafe levels.
- Magnetic door gaskets, these ensure an airtight seal whenever you close the door (and you don’t have to slam the door in).
- Ample internal LED lighting (plus a power- on light, so you can tell if the freezer is working or not without opening it).
- If you’ve got kids in the house, a child- lock device might be necessary to keep their curious hands from prodding inside. A lock with a pop- out key is ideal since it makes sure you won’t accidentally leave the key in the lock.
- Manual vs Self- Defrosting. Some freezer models are equipped with more advanced defrosting technologies that enables them to stay ice- free.
- Easily accessible, and intuitive controls- you need to be able to set the thermostat and freeze mode without having to fumble around the control panel, plus the panel itself should be located in a spot that is easy to access.
- Fast freeze- certain freezers can briefly drop the temperature by up to 10 degrees lower than their standard lowest setting. This is used to preserve the freshness of perishable food items, or if you need to freeze a large amount of food in a short period of time.
- Soft freeze- if you’ve stored ice cream in a freezer before, you know that it might get rock hard after a while which makes it hard to scoop. Certain freezers have a dedicated soft- freeze compartment for ice cream which keeps it frozen, but still soft enough to scoop with ease.
The biggest factor when it comes to choosing a freezer for your home, is size. This is determined by two things-
- Your family size
- How much food you plan to store
A family of three doesn’t need as much freezer storage as a family of 6. And you don’t need a super large freezer if you just want some extra storage to complement your existing fridge freezer. But on the other hand, if you’re prepping for a pandemic and need to store food for a month or two in order to deal with the quarantine, you might want to go for a larger freezer (or multiple smaller freezers).
What you use your freezer for will also determine its size. Do you fish and hunt? If you’re planning on storing whole animals or parts of animals inside your freezer, you will need something big- like a 15 or 20 cubic foot model. You can get away with a 4 or 5 cubic foot model if you’re storing a quarter beef (1/4th of a processed cow which is around 90 to 110lbs). Does your family eat a lot of frozen meals? Do you like to shop in bulk? Do you want to store garden produce for off- season usage? If so, then you need a larger freezer.
On average, one cubic foot of freezer space can hold around 35lbs of food. Depending on packaging because that also takes up space. In practical use, it’s more like 30lbs of food per 1 cu. Ft. And the general rule of thumb is to have 1.5 cubic feet of freezer space per person in the family. Don’t get a freezer that’s too big or too small, because freezers run at maximum energy efficiency when they are 2/3rds full.
Freezers are categorized as compact, small, medium, and large based on their storage capacity in cu. Ft-
- Compact freezers– 5 cubic feet and less
- Small freezers– 6 to 9 cubic feet
- Medium freezers– 12 to 18 cubic feet
- Large freezers– 18+ cubic feet
Energy Star Rating
An energy star rating tells you how energy efficient your freezer is. Since you’ll be running it 24/7 all year round, I recommend purchasing the most efficient model you can. An Energy Star certification equals higher efficiency, it’s that simple. Modern innovations in insulation and compressor technology have allowed for freezers which consume far less power than older models from just 10 or 15 years ago. Energy star refrigerators are on average, 9 percent more efficient compared to freezers that just meet the Federal minimum efficiency standards. They are also better for the environment since they indirectly help lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Note: In Europe, and some other parts of the world, star rating is an indicator of performance. It tells you how cold the refrigerator/ freezer can get. Three and four star models can maintain lower temperatures, resulting in longer storage times compare to 1 and 2 star models.
How The Pandemic Has Affected Freezer Popularity
While preppers and germaphobes are indiscriminately stockpiling both perishable and non- perishable food items (along with lots of toilet paper and hand sanitizer), regular people have also been affected by the coronavirus induced scare. Most appliance stores have run out of stock when it comes to freezers, and many stores have them on back orders. Even online retailers were suffering from the same predicament, at the start of the pandemic — you’d have found it extremely hard to find a home freezer in stock, but now, in 2021, online retailers have adjusted and stock is much easier to find. While personal spending in the U.S. has dropped since the lockdown, stay-at-home orders have caused people to start stockpiling on food items. And to keep their food reserves safe, they need more freezers.
Unlike refrigerators, freezers are capable of keeping meats and veggies safe for months on end. Certain home appliances like electronic pasta makers, soda machines, air purifiers, and handheld cleaning devices have seen massive surges in popularity. The humble freezer is also one of those appliances, more people are buying freezers now than ever before (some online marketplaces are reporting twice the volume of freezers sold compared to the same time last year). Many people have moved from large cities like New York to remote areas like The Hamptons and Catskills which are traditionally regarded vacation spots. These rich, newly moved part- time residents are buying up giant amounts of food, and they need new freezers to store all that food. Some paranoid people are buying 2nd and even 3rd freezers to hold enough food for up to one year. If you want a freezer, place your order now or it might go out of stock sometime in the near future.
Why You Shouldn’t Overstuff Your Freezer/ Refrigerator (And Other Helpful Suggestions)
I know, you just bought a new freezer and it’s really tempting to shove all your food in there and cram it till its 100 percent full. But that’s not a very efficient way to operate your freezer. Not only does an orderly freezer make it easier for you to insert and retrieve items, but it also encourages air circulation, so everything is evenly cooled. You also don’t want to pack it too sparsely, because every time you open the door, warm air enters. If there is a lot of free space in there, warm air will find a nice spot to settle into as the denser, colder air, spills out onto the floor (especially the case for uprights). And then your freezer will spend extra energy trying to cool that warm outside air till it reaches the temperature specified by the thermostat. Keep items you use most frequently towards the front, so they are more readily accessible. This is easier to do with an upright freezer which has special door compartments. If your freezer feels a bit too empty, fill some Ziploc bags or jugs with water and place them in there (don’t fill the jugs fully with water or they will burst open). By doing so, your freezer’s temperature won’t drop much whenever you open it.
Another thing I suggest you do is partially cool down food items before you place them inside the freezer. Many people take their freezer’s cooling power for granted and assume that they can just throw stuff in there and expect it to freeze over. If you place a hot container of lasagna in there, it’s now placing additional load on the freezer and its compressor which will result in higher energy consumption over time. Not just that, but that hot container might partially thaw other food items nearby. If you’re planning on storing stuff in there, place it in an ice bath first. Separate food into small containers, place them in the refrigerator till they’ve cooled down, then put them in the freezer.
Important: If you just picked up some fresh vegetables or fruits at the grocery store, you need to get it cooled within 2 hours (any longer and you’re risking potential bacterial growth within the food).
Oh, and finally- don’t forget to check the temperature of your freezer. The USDA recommends it be kept at 0°F if you’re storing perishable food items for long periods of time. Why 0°F? Because that’s precisely the temperature at which bacterial growth stops. Temperatures lower than that will temporarily inactivate the pathogens, but they still don’t die. Once your food is thawed, the bacteria that was previously frozen is now free to multiply so treat thawed food like fresh food.
Can Freezing Kill Viruses?
No, there’s no solid evidence to suggest that freezing your food kills viruses contained inside it. In fact, research on SARS and MERS showed that they can survive for up to 72 hours at 4°C, which is the average internal temperature of a fridge. Besides, the WHO believes that cold weather and snow can’t kill the coronavirus. So, no, freezing your groceries won’t keep you safe from coronavirus. But you know what will? Washing your hands with soap, as soap will break down the fatty outer membrane of the virus cell, causing it to spontaneously disintegrate and die. Cooking your food at 60°C or more for at least 30 minutes will also kill the virus. Freezers will reduce your chances of contracting the virus, since you don’t have to go out for groceries as often. And when you do go out to purchase groceries, make sure to wear a mask/ respirator. Check out my article on the best respirators to protect yourself from coronavirus.