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With more and more people preparing food at home while trying to space out their trips to the grocery store, buying in bulk is becoming a new normal. This makes freezer chests an increasingly attractive and practical addition to the home. But PopSci, don’t chest freezers require a lot of space and energy? Not anymore! The best freezer chest depends on your needs and the realities of your living space, and there are options made for garages, some made to be more spatially flexible, and some that can even be kept outdoors. No matter your situation, you won’t be left out in the cold if you need a deep freezer.

When it comes to picking a deep freezer, let’s get all the questions off our chests

Deep freezers have come a long way. Not only don’t they require you to keep enormous blocks of actual ice somewhere in your living space, but they also aren’t powered by ammonia and sulfur dioxide like they were in the 1830s (until someone realized that that combination was, to put it mildly, lethal). General Electric popularized the modern domestic freezer in the 1920s, and it’s been evolving ever since. Of all your kitchen appliances, deep freezer chests—whether they be upright freezers, large chest freezers, or even outdoor freezers—can be among the most cost-effective and life-changing. Having a quality deep freezer chest changes the way you shop, the way you cook, and even the things you eat. They can save families (especially large families) significant time and money by allowing them to plan meals without fear of wasteful spoilage or annoying repeat trips to the supermarket. 

Modern freezers use 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane, which does not deplete the ozone layer or cause toxic poisoning, and is considered safe for use in the home. Most freezers store food at -18 degrees Celsius and it is at this temperature that food will remain safe and viable indefinitely. Some freezers can go as low as -34 degrees Celsius. You have a wide range of size options as well, so they can handle whatever your kitchen refrigerator overflow requires. Here are our suggestions for the best freezer chest for any circumstance. 

Related: The weather’s nice, so let’s pull some meat out of the freezer and get to grilling with these tools 

Things to consider when looking for a large freezer chest

Most people probably agree that if you’re going to invest in a standalone freezer chest, you may as well go all in. But just how big you go depends on a number of factors—none more important than just how many mouths you have to feed. 

The large freezer chest you buy should be based on the size of your family and the size of the space you have to accommodate a spare appliance. Most appliance manufacturers estimate that you should dedicate 1.5 cubic feet of freezer space for each family member, and most commercial freezer chests come in four basic size ranges: Compact (5 cubic feet), Small (6 to 9 cubic feet), Medium (12 to 18 cubic feet) and Large (18 to 25 cubic feet). You’ll also want to consider your lifestyle: Do you buy frozen food and meat in bulk? Do you keep a lot of frozen snacks on hand year-round? You can easily store 35 pounds of food in one cubic foot of freezer space.

Best large chest freezer: Frigidaire 19.8-cubic foot chest freezer

Big Time Storage

Here’s how to store lots of food for feeding big families. Amazon

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Featuring adjustable temperature controls and a power-on indicator light (which is handy if you live in an area that is susceptible to power outages), the Frigidaire chest freezer is also lockable and comes with two “SpaceWise” adjustable baskets for organizing smaller items. 

What to look for in an upright freezer

When you’re in the market for a standalone freezer, one of the biggest considerations overall is how much space you have in your home to dedicate to such a large appliance. The upside is, unlike standard refrigerators, freezers do come in a few more size and style options. 

When choosing between a chest freezer or an upright freezer, consider that each style has its advantages and disadvantages. Because it’s less reliant on shelves, for example, a chest freezer has greater capacity than an upright and can easily handle food items of odd sizes and shapes. However, you do run the risk of having items fall to the bottom of a chest freezer never to be heard from again, which is not a problem with a more easily accessible upright model.

Because of its low profile, a chest freezer can be placed under a window, where an upright needs a bit more wall space (and ceiling clearance). If you have narrow walkways and doorways, an upright is also easier to maneuver. 

Best upright freezer: Hamilton Beach 11-cubic foot upright freezer

upright white freezer

Tall And Reliable

When floor space is at a premium, here’s a great option for narrow spaces. Amazon

The Hamilton Beach upright freezer has an adjustable hinge door that can open right or left, as well as adjustable legs to ensure no wobbling. The adjustable thermostat makes it easy to change the temperature to desired levels, and five wire shelves and bright LED lighting make organizing and accessing items easy. 

Things to consider when looking for a mini freezer

While space—and saving said space—is likely the biggest drive force behind a person’s search for a mini freezer chest, there are other things to consider as well. Maybe you don’t have a large group to feed and just need a little ancillary freezer for a few precious items (or just a handy supply of ice), or maybe you need something temporary to supplement your regular fridge. 

Another thing to consider is cost—not just for the unit itself, but the money saved by purchasing a smaller, more energy-efficient model. Energy ratings can vary widely per model. For example, if your freezer comes with an ice-maker, that requires both additional energy reserves, as well as a connection to a water source. Some small freezer chests come with a flash-freeze option that will bring the temperature in the freezer down quickly when you load it up with food, which can also require more energy.

Best energy-efficient mini-freezer: Whynter Energy Star 1.1-cubic foot freezer

Small, But Efficient

This model makes up for in savings what it lacks in size. Amazon

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Requiring less energy than a standard light bulb, the Whynter freezer is a great option for those who don’t need a lot of extra storage and are concerned about energy costs. It’s also lockable and has a manual defrost option. 

What to consider when looking for an outdoor freezer

Once again, the space you have to work with is only part of the equation when shopping for an outdoor freezer or garage freezer. Not only do you have to take into consideration the durability of the unit—since it will be exposed to the elements—you also have to know if its cooling system can be as effective in your cold, winter garage or yard as it is when those areas become stiflingly hot in the summer. 

There are two kinds of cooling systems: forced-air and cold plate. In a forced-air system, a hidden cooling unit—usually a compressor—cools air and then circulates it through the cabinet, leading to much more consistent temperatures throughout the unit. If your freezer is jam-packed with food, it will restrict the airflow and the unit will struggle to lower and maintain temperatures (not to mention that the appliance will have to draw massive amounts of power). The more room you have between items, the easier it will be to cool. Also, glass vs. metal shelves can affect the evenness of the internal temperature. 

Cold plate refrigeration, also called static cooling refrigeration, is a method of cooling that uses a dedicated cooling element at the back of the unit’s cabinet to pull heat out of the freezer. Contents near the back of the freezer may block the flow of cold air, which can result in inconsistent temperatures. Additionally, contents directly touching the cold plate are more likely to ice or frost over. Point being: It’s not just about having more space, it’s about using it efficiently. And the placement of your freezer chest (whether it’s backed up against a wall, exposed to the elements, etc.) may inform the best system for you.

Best outdoor or garage freezer: Midea 7-cubic foot chest freezer

Durability And Dependable

This chest freezer offers a large space and can operate at optimal levels in all weather conditions. Amazon

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The Midea Chest Freezer is a forced-air garage freezer unit that weighs just a hair under 75 pounds and is sturdy enough to withstand being housed in a garage or even outdoors. It also boasts an adjustable thermostat, removable baskets for easy cleaning, and a top door that can raise from 45 degrees to 75 degrees for easy access to its vast storage space. 

What to consider when looking for a cheap freezer

Standalone freezers can run the gamut when it comes to cost, mostly due to the wide variety of sizes and shapes they come in. You can find options from as little as $150 to as much as $1,000, but you will likely sacrifice size, efficiency, and flexibility as you move from the biggest top-of-the-line models down to the budget options. 

But if you are just looking for something basic to store a few items, there are quality options that won’t break the bank. Your biggest concerns will likely be size, energy use, and noise level—because you want something that’s going to be effective without causing you more problems than it’s worth. 

Best budget freezer: Arctic King 5-cubic foot chest freezer

The Goldilocks of Freezers

Not too big, not too small, this budget freezer is just right. Amazon

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At just around $200, the Arctic King freezer is a surprisingly big model at such a low price point (its 5 cubic feet of space is just a nudge above a “compact” or “mini”). It weighs just about 60 pounds and while it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, it’s not a bad choice if you’re not looking to spend a lot. 

Best freezer chest FAQ: people also ask

Is a chest freezer worth it?

It’s hard to make a blanket statement for everyone, but generally the answer is yes, a chest freezer is worth it. By limiting food waste, reducing the need to go back and forth to the grocery store, and allowing for better (and longer-term) food planning, chest freezers make themselves pretty invaluable (and eventually pay for themselves in money saved). 

How long does a freezer chest last?

Along with gas and electric ranges, freezers tend to be the longest-lasting kitchen appliances—they typically last anywhere from 12 to 20 years. 

Are chest freezers dangerous?

Chest freezers can be dangerous in certain circumstances, so you should consider a few things when shopping. If you have small children, you may want to invest in a chest freezer that is lockable, to avoid any “Hide and Go Seek” mishaps, and people in coastal areas should be aware that salt air can cause outdoor chest freezers to corrode more quickly. If you live in a place where extreme temperatures are common, the best freezer chest for you may be an indoor option. 

Related: Gifts for the home cook who already has everything

The last word on the best freezer chest

Chest freezers can be extremely convenient and cost-effective, especially for large families or shared living spaces. They help reduce food waste and can ensure year-round access to seasonal foods or scarce items. Just consider your spatial flexibility (or lack thereof), how much extra storage you need beyond your refrigerator, and the climate conditions around where you live—each one of these factors can affect how much you’ll need to spend (bigger freezers are more expensive, naturally), where you can keep your freezer (garage vs. outdoors), and how accessible you need your frozen items. But overall, they are usually a solid option for most homes.

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