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A Guide to Understanding Freezers

For many people, the standard refrigerator does not have enough freezer space for their shopping needs. Luckily, there are full-freezer options, which offer plenty of storage space at below-zero temperatures.

Types of Freezers

  • Chest freezers/"deep" freezers: Chest freezers rest length-wise on the floor. Aside from their removable baskets, they are completely open for storage. Most do not have internal lighting, but chest freezers are better at retaining cold during power outages and use less energy than upright models.
  • Upright freezers: Rather than laying long-ways, upright freezers stand similarly to a refrigerator, clearing up floor space. They also come with more shelving and drawers, which take up storage space but help to organize content. Upright freezers also have internal lighting.
  • Walk-in freezers: Most common in businesses, walk-in freezers allow for easily accessible storage space. The typically customized optional shelving allows for more organized contents.
  • Undercounter freezers: A recent design, undercounter freezers allow for in-kitchen installation while saving floor space. They typically offer less storage space than upright or chest models, so they are ideal for owners with fewer food items to freeze.
  • Refrigerator freezers: The most commonly used freezer, refrigerator freezers are often compact, with the freezer component acting solely as an additive feature.

Important Freezer Features

  • Temperature, a somewhat obvious feature, does not have such obvious setting requirements. While manufacturers sometimes recommend running their models at temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit, freezers typically do not need to drop below -3. In fact, energy conservancy organizations recommend running your freezer at the maximum freeze temperature, 0 degrees. So, if a model touts running at -20 degrees, don't be fooled. Not only will your contents be more prone to freezer burn, you'll also be wasting hundreds of dollars worth on power every year.
  • Defrosting options can be tough. While manual defrost freezers use up to 40 percent less electricity per year than automatic defrost ("frost-free") freezers do, manual devices also require more maintenance. Automatic defrost freezers will periodically heat up its own coils to prevent ice buildup, while manual models do not, requiring periodic defrosting. This process can take several hours to a day, as the owner must remove its contents and turn it off until the ice melts. Consider both options before deciding, taking into consideration your stances on manual labor and energy efficiency.

Freezer Design

Style is not particularly important to most freezer manufacturers. This is mainly a result of having a product that is mostly used as secondary storage, often placed in a basement, a garage or a backyard. Practicality is more important, so freezers will function extremely well, even if they appear to be hand-built.

As a result, freezer buyers and owners may have to get creative. Paint is popular, but if you want a particular design to match your home, you may have to pay extra for a custom job. The simplest design option, however, is investing more money for a high-quality stainless steel deep freezer. It provides a sleek, effortless look that goes with nearly any kitchen aesthetic. As a bonus, the material is also better for reducing temperature loss, so your food stays colder longer with less energy.

More recently, manufacturers have come up with undercounter freezers, which operate using drop-down doors and allow for easy in-kitchen installation. Many also have portable wheeling options for homes that choose move the freezer from room to room. If you choose permanent installation as opposed to the wheeling option, try to place your freezer in an out-of-the-way location, such as a kitchen island or a corner cabinet. The added insulation from the surrounding walls will actually help your freezer, and you are less likely to waste cold air by opening it accidentally.

In the end, if you would like a freezer in your kitchen, you will need the help of a contractor. Speak with the professionals about the practicality of your desires before setting anything in stone. Occasionally, installation in your desired location will be difficult, so try to be flexible.

Freezer To-Do List

  1. Figure out how much freezer storage you need. The last thing you want is too much freezer space for your needs. In actuality, 90- to 100-percent-full freezers are better at keeping your food frozen than freezers that are only at 75-percent capacity, so save yourself some space and electricity by opting for a smaller model. Also, if you live alone, you are less likely to need long-term freezer storage, so consider sticking with a refrigerator freezer or undercounter model. Investing extra for more freezer space may not be worth the higher electricity bill.
  2. Know your design needs. If you are looking for a custom look, don't compromise by buying something from a warehouse. In the end, you may keep your freezer in the garage for practicality, but you'll avoid it out of shame. By accommodating your aesthetic needs, you're more likely to invest in something you'll use.
  3. Check energy efficiency. Freezers are notorious for soaking up energy, so examine power levels and energy levels for every model you consider.
Last Updated: January 19, 2012
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for

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