Freezer Buyer’s Guide – Ice Cold Comparisons Made Simple

Freezer buyer's guide

On average, 2.5 million freezers are sold each year in America, which means you have plenty of models and brands to choose from. With so many options available, it’s no surprise that making the right choice can be overwhelming at times.

After all, freezers can last more than 16 years, so making the right decision may keep you from being stuck with annoying issues such as frost buildup or thawed food and the associated repair costs (more than $350!)

The good news is that you’ve come to the right place. With 7 years of experience repairing and covering all types of appliances, I’ve put together a list of key factors to consider when buying a new freezer.

In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of freezers and the features you should look for (and those you’ll want to avoid), as well as other important factors that will help you make the right choice. We’ll also answer the most frequently asked questions about freezers.

Keep reading and relax, knowing you’ve got a freezer you can rely on!

Freezers Types

Whether you’re looking to replace your current unit or you’re a first-time buyer, the first thing you should think about is the different types of freezers out there.

Not only are they different in design, but they also have unique features, benefits, and certain limitations. The 3 main types of freezers are:

Chest Freezers

The easiest way to recognize chest freezers is by looking at their shape.

They have a rectangular shape, some people compare them to a large box. They also have a hinged lid that opens from above.

Chest freezer
Chest freezers are typically energy efficient and great for storing large items.

Chest freezers offer a lot of storage space, so if you’re looking to store a lot of meat, poultry, fish, or other items for a long period of time, these freezers are the way to go.

Bear in mind that these freezers can take up a lot of space, so if you live in a small apartment or house, they may not be the best option.

Upright Freezers

Unlike chest freezers, these freezers are designed to stand upright, just like a refrigerator.

They have a single front panel door, as well as removable shelves and baskets that allow you to organize your food.

Upright freezer
Upright freezers have a door that opens just like a fridge. Image from Danby Appliances

Upright freezers take up less floor space and have more modern features than chest freezers, such as the auto-defrost option.

But, keep in mind that upright freezers can be more expensive and may not be the best option if you need to store large items.

You’ve probably heard of “deep freezers” before and are wondering what they are. In a nutshell, they’re any freezer that doesn’t have a refrigerator compartment, such as chest or upright freezers.


This appliance includes both a fridge and a freezer compartment in the same unit.

Fridge-freezers are among the most common appliances.

They typically have removable shelves or baskets, which are very useful for organizing food and making it easy to access.

Fridge-freezers are great for small families and apartments with limited space because it is not necessary to buy a separate freezer to store your food.

But, as you probably imagined, they’re not recommended if you have a larger family due to their limited storage capacity.

Freezer Buying Considerations

Now that we’ve covered the different types of freezers, it’s time to take a closer look at other factors you should keep in mind when buying a freezer.

#1 Location

One of the most important things you should think about when looking for a new freezer is where you’ll place it.

Believe it or not, weather can greatly affect your freezer’s performance. According to Consumer Reports, you need to make sure the unit is not exposed to temperatures above 110° F (43° C) and below 0° F (-18° C).

So, if you’re planning on placing your freezer in the garage, you’ll need to make sure the area is insulated and climate-controlled first.

Tip: If you want to place the unit in your garage, chest freezers may be the way to go thanks to their size and storage capacity.

But, if you’re going to place the freezer in your kitchen, make sure it’s away from sources of heat, such as ovens or dishwashers. Otherwise, it will need to work harder to maintain its temperature and your energy bills will increase.

#2 Size

Once you’ve decided where you want to put your freezer, you’ll need to measure the height, depth, and width of the designated space, as this will determine the type and size of your freezer.

Measure freezer space
Measure the designated space to make sure your new freezer fits perfectly.

For instance, if the area you have in mind for your freezer is tight or narrow, an upright freezer might be the way to go, as it takes less floor space than chest freezers.

If you don’t have enough space for a chest or upright freezer in your home, you may need to stick to fridge-freezers.

When measuring the space of your freezer, please make sure it has enough breathing room. Leave at least 1 or 2 inches (2.54 cm—5 cm) of extra room around the rear and sides of your freezer.

You see, to keep your food cool, a refrigerant needs to circulate through the internal and external coils. During this process, the unit releases warm air.

So, to prevent heat buildup and ensure the refrigeration system is working as intended, you need to give your freezer enough breathing room.

Once you have the measurements of the space, please write them down and refer to them when browsing for a new freezer.

#3 Capacity

When looking for a new freezer, you also want to make sure it can store all your frozen food, so you never run out of space.

To choose the right storage capacity, you need to think about how many people live in your home.

Upright and chest freezers usually come in different sizes: compact, small, medium, and large. To find the perfect freezer size, take a quick peek at the table below:

Family MembersFreezer SizeCubic Footage
1-2Compact3-5 cubic feet
2-3Small5-9 cubic feet
4-6Medium10-16 cubic feet
6+Large17+ cubic feet
You can find the capacity of a freezer on the manufacturer’s website

Tip: Multiply the number of people living in your home by 2.5 cubic feet. This way, it will be easier to know which freezer capacity to choose.

Typically, 1 cubic foot of freezer space holds between 15 and 20 lbs (6.8 to 9 kg). So, a large freezer can hold more than 340 lbs (154 kg)!

Keep in mind that it isn’t recommended to overfill or under-load your freezer, as it can lead to different performance issues resulting in pricey repair costs! Try keeping your freezer 75% full to allow air to circulate freely.

Don’t forget that if you usually store many large packages of frozen food, it’s recommended to buy a chest freezer.

#4 Features

Now, it’s time to talk about the different available features.

There are a lot of features worth having because they can make your life easier. But, to be honest with you, there are some that are just a total waste of your hard-earned money.

Don’t worry, though, I got you! I’ll help you look for the features that are actually going to benefit you in the long run.

The features I recommend looking for when buying a freezer are:

  1. Auto-defrost: During the refrigeration process, a coolant flows through your freezer’s evaporator coils to absorb heat. Unfortunately, this can sometimes result in frost buildup, which can eventually affect your freezer’s performance. This is why most modern freezers have an auto-defrost feature that automatically heats the coil to melt any remaining ice, keeping you from manually defrosting your freezer. This feature is ideal if you’re someone who’s always on the go. Bear in mind that most chest freezers do not offer this convenient feature.
  2. Temperature controls: This feature allows you to control the temperature and is essential to make sure your food stays safe. Although most freezers have this feature, it’s always a good idea to double-check, especially if you’re looking to buy an older model.
  3. Door alarm: If you accidentally leave the door partially open, your food may spoil, your freezer may not work as intended, and your energy bills can increase. This is why modern freezers have a door alarm that will beep when the door has been left open for more than 5 minutes.
  4. Door lock: If you have kids or pets, I strongly recommend looking for a freezer with a door lock. This way, you’ll keep them from accidentally opening the freezer.
  5. Power on light: This light lets you know if the freezer is receiving power. If the light is off, it could be an indication that there’s an issue with your freezer or with the power supply.

When looking for a new freezer, you’ll notice that some freezers have Wi-Fi connectivity and smart functions that allow you to control the temperature or receive alerts through your phone.

Although this may sound appealing to some people, smart freezers don’t offer any major advantages compared to regular freezers and come with a much higher price tag. In my opinion, this feature can be a bit of a waste of money!

There are also some freezers that offer a “garage-ready” feature, which means that they can perform well in extreme ambient temperatures. And while this can be a useful feature, according to Consumer Reports, there are some freezers, such as the Midea MRC09M4AWW, that are marketed as “garage-ready” that don’t live up to their promise.

So, if you want to put a freezer in your garage, I suggest either investing in a garage-ready trusted brand or making sure the garage area is insulated and climate-controlled.

#5 Energy Efficiency

Freezers need to run constantly to maintain the internal temperature and keep your food frozen. This is why it’s a good idea to look for an energy-efficient model.

An Energy Star-certified freezer is at least 10% more energy efficient than a regular freezer. Not only will it help you save money, but will also help you take care of the environment, which is crucial nowadays.

Energy-efficient freezers help you save money in the long run
Energy-efficient freezers use less energy to operate than traditional models, which means you can save some extra money on your utility bills!

Bear in mind that if your top priority is to save energy and money, getting a chest freezer might be the right choice.

You see, if you choose an Energy Star-certified chest freezer with a manual defrost option, you could save more than 200 kWh per year compared to an Energy Star-certified self-defrosting upright freezer.*

*Please note that the amount of kWh used per year may vary depending on the size, capacity, features, brand, and model of your freezer.

#6 Price

When it comes to buying a new freezer, you should also keep your budget in mind, as some models can be very expensive.

The price of freezers can vary a lot depending on the features, capacity, size, and brand. You can find some freezers for $200, while others can cost as much as $1000 or more!

And as you’ve probably imagined, the price can also vary depending on whether you want a chest freezer or an upright freezer. Chest freezers are typically more affordable due to their design and features.

Don’t worry, though. If you don’t have the floor space for a chest freezer or want to enjoy the benefits of an upright freezer, you can still find great and affordable options.

#7 Interior Organization

You should also think about the items you normally store in your freezer to make sure they can be organized according to your needs.

Upright freezer organization
Organizing items in an upright freezer is very simple. Image from Best Buy

Although chest freezers have approximately 20% more usable space than upright freezers, they don’t have removable shelves, door storage bins, or pull-out baskets, which is a bummer if you’re like me and like keeping your food organized.

You should also think about this if you have any movement restrictions or live with elderly people, as it can be tricky to reach or move the frozen food on chest freezers because you’ll probably need to bend over.

So, when it comes to organization, an upright freezer might be the way to go.

#8 Reviews

If you haven’t made up your mind yet, I strongly recommend reading reviews, as they can give you a good idea of how a specific freezer performs.

You can read reviews for a freezer by searching for the model number on websites such as Amazon, Home Depot, or other appliance retailers.

If 80% or more of the freezer reviews are positive (5 stars), then there’s a really good chance it will meet your expectations.

Check freezer reviews
Reviews can give you an indication of the freezer’s performance

I’m all about playing it safe when it comes to making purchase decisions, so if the freezer has a lot of negative reviews, I recommend searching for a different model or brand.

Choosing Your Freezer

Now that we’ve covered all the different factors you should think about when buying a freezer, it’s time to make a decision.

I wish I could tell you exactly which freezer to buy, but the truth is, it’s going to entirely depend on your lifestyle and needs.

This is why I recommend ranking our recommendations based on what’s most important to you.

For example, if you usually buy in bulk and live in a big home, a large chest freezer (17+ cubic feet) might be a great option for you.

A chest freezer could also be a great choice if you want to save some extra money on your energy bills and don’t mind having to perform a manual defrost every once in a while.

But, if you live in a small apartment, don’t have enough floor space, and like keeping your food organized, you would benefit from an upright freezer.

Don’t forget that, whether you’re planning on replacing your current freezer or you’re a first-time buyer, you’ll need to take time to carefully evaluate your options before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Freezers Last?

On average, freezers last for about 16 years. But this can vary depending on the maintenance it receives, how much you use it, the brand, and the model. For instance, chest freezers usually last longer than upright freezers because of their simpler design.

What’s the Best Freezer Brand?

I’d love to give you an exact answer, but it entirely depends on your lifestyle and needs.
That being said, LG, Whirlpool, Samsung, and Bosch are among the leading brands in the global market.

What Size Freezer Is Best for a Family of 4?

Whether you’re planning on buying a chest or upright freezer, a medium size unit (10-16 cubic feet) is ideal for a family of four. This way, you’ll have enough space to store all your frozen food.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more