Whether you have a large family to feed, grow a vegetable garden, do a lot of hunting or fishing, or tend to grocery shop in bulk, a chest freezer—which offers additional cold storage to the freezer in your overstuffed fridge—can be a wise purchase.
You can spend more than $1,000 on an upright version slightly smaller than a fridge, but many opt for a horizontal model with a hinged top door. These units come at a fraction of the cost and tend to be more energy-efficient to boot.
Read on for an overview of important features to consider, and check out some of the best chest freezers listed below.
- BEST OVERALL: Frigidaire 14.8 cu. ft. Chest Freezer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: VISSANI 5 cu. ft. Manual Defrost Chest Freezer
- UPGRADE PICK: Frigidaire 24.8 cu. ft. Chest Freezer
- BEST SMALL: RCA 3.5 cu. ft. Chest Freezer
- BEST PORTABLE: ICECO Portable Refrigerator Fridge Freezer
- BEST FOR GARAGE: GE Garage Ready 15.7 cu. ft. Chest Freezer
- MOST EFFICIENT: GE Garage Ready 10.6 cu. ft. Chest Freezer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Chest Freezer
As you’re deciding among the best chest freezers on the market, there are factors to keep in mind and compare. Chest freezers can vary in their size and capacity, temperature control options, defrost settings, energy efficiency, and other key features. Deciding which features are most important for your needs can help focus your search.
Size and Capacity
Most chest freezers run between 2 and 4 feet wide and between 3 and 6 feet long. Since a 5-by-3-foot appliance clearly can’t be wedged into a 4-by-3-foot clearing in a basement, measure the available space and make sure the chest of choice will fit. Measure the space where the appliance will go, as well as all the doorway openings that lead to that space, to ensure that the freezer can arrive at the chosen spot.
The capacity of most chest freezers ranges between 5 and 20 cubic feet. One cubic foot can hold about 35 pounds of cut and wrapped meat. Meat with the bone takes up more space because of its irregular shape. It’s not worth running a freezer that won’t hold everything or one that takes up unnecessary space.
When selecting an appropriate freezer capacity, factor in times of the year when there tends to be the most food, like around the holidays, after a harvest, or after hunting season. Take inventory of what will be stored to determine the capacity that will best work.
The temperature control is preset at the factory for dependable performance, but a manual temperature controller inside the unit allows for customized adjustments. Colder temperatures may be more appropriate for long-term storage, while less cold temperatures are better for keeping ice cream scoopable. Some freezers offer temperature zone control that allows for a range of storage capabilities.
Some new upright freezers feature an average temperature range of 10 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit, with some models offering colder settings. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that frozen foods be stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. The optimal storage temperature range for long-term freshness is -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chest freezers can either be self-defrosting, also called frost-free, or there are options for a manual defrost chest freezer. Proper and consistent defrosting eliminates ice buildup and keeps the unit operating efficiently. Choosing a self-defrosting upright freezer helps avoid adding another household chore.
Frost-free chest freezers automatically run a defrost cycle about once a day. During the defrost cycle, the temperature change in the food storage area raises minimally, about 2 degrees. Food quality is unaffected by this small change.
Look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star–rated freezers operate at least 10 percent more efficiently than the minimum federal standard. These models use about 395 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and cost less than $50 per year to operate. Energy-efficient upright freezers use advanced technology, high-performance features, and better design and insulation compared with standard equipment.
One energy-efficient design feature is the magnetic seal. Rather than using a simple rubber gasket seal, efficient freezers often incorporate a magnetic strip inside the seal to form an airtight connection. Not only does the magnet eliminate airflow through gaps to the outside, but it also pulls the door completely shut if it has been carelessly closed.
Another energy-efficient feature to look for is an air temperature monitor. This feature will warn the owner if the internal temperature rises to a potentially unsafe level for proper food storage.
Chest freezers tend to be no-frills appliances, but some models offer worthwhile features. These extras are generally worth a slightly higher price if the chest will be accessed on a regular basis, it’s kept in a dark area, and/or theft is a concern.
- Some freezers come with storage bins or shelves to sort items.
- An interior light helps you see what’s in there.
- Leveling legs screw in or out to counteract an uneven floor. The freezer should tilt toward the back slightly so the door closes automatically.
- Casters are especially helpful when it’s time to clean behind the freezer.
- High-end chest freezers may come with a built-in lock, touch-screen control panel, and ice maker.
Our Top Picks
Hoping to stock and store a surplus of groceries so that less food goes to waste? Start the search for the best chest freezer. The following are some of the best options on the market, organized by category and chosen based on the shopping considerations above.
This chest freezer from Frigidaire offers a spacious 14.8-cubic-foot capacity to help individuals store a large number of frozen foods. The SpaceWise sliding baskets assist with organization and provide easy access to key items, while the LED lighting enhances interior visibility. Use the adjustable exterior temperature controls to set the temperature between -10 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit to match food storage needs.
Some other noteworthy features of this chest freezer include the safety lock and pop-out key, defrost water drain, and optional casters to allow the freezer to slide easily. According to the manufacturer, this freezer also is suitable for use in a garage in many kinds of climates.
Those who are looking for a chest freezer that won’t break the bank may want to consider this 5-cubic-foot model from Vissani. To help keep foods organized and within easy reach, the freezer includes an interior rack and removable wire storage basket. Users can adjust the temperature to their desired setting without opening the freezer’s door using the exterior temperature controls.
Since this freezer is designed for use in indoor temperatures ranging between 0 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, it is safe to use in most garages. The interior LED light also makes it easy to quickly find food in the freezer, even in dark rooms or garages.
The Frigidaire 24.8-cubic-foot chest freezer offers an impressive list of features to help safely store and organize frozen foods. The special SpaceWise storage baskets offer color-coordinated clips to ensure items are quick to find when needed and are placed where they belong. This chest freezer also offers an exterior temperature control dial to set the temperature between -15 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit without letting cold air escape from the freezer.
Users will be able to clearly see the contents of their freezer thanks to the bright LED interior lighting. Use the safety lock with a pop-out key to lock the freezer to keep children safe or protect food from theft. Other key features of this model include the optional casters, defrost water drain, and power-on indicator light to confirm that the unit is running.
Those who are short on space and searching for the best small chest freezer may want to consider RCA’s 5-cubic-foot model. While this unit may be compact, users can maximize the storage space by optimizing the coated steel wire basket. The basket also slides across the width of the freezer to make it easier to add or remove items.
This model also has exterior temperature controls and a defrost drain to assist with proper care and maintenance. The recessed door handle makes opening the freezer simple, and the leveling legs allow it to stand evenly on uneven surfaces.
The ICECO portable refrigerator freezer offers an ideal solution for those looking to transport frozen items or keep them frozen when they are away from home. This model features an adjustable temperature between -7 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit for both frozen and refrigerated items.
Choose the option ECO mode and the compressor will save energy and only start running when the interior temperature has risen between 6 and 9 degrees from where it was set, or choose the MAX mode to cool the unit down more quickly. Both 110- to 240-volt AC and 12/24 DC cables are included with each model to allow for both home and vehicle use. While this is a portable model, it still holds quite a bit. The 40-liter capacity is large enough to fit 58 soda cans, 36 water bottles, or 12 wine bottles.
Searching for the best chest freezer for garage use? Consider GE’s 15.7-cubic-foot Garage Ready chest freezer. This model has undergone testing and performs well in both hot and cold temperature extremes ranging from 0 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Inside the spacious 15.7-cubic-foot capacity and four sliding storage baskets, users can store and organize frozen meats, ice cream, packaged goods, and other items. A second level rail allows users to place the sliding baskets at different heights for ease of access.
This Energy Star–qualified model also offers exterior temperature controls, a power-on indicator light, and LED lighting. The temperature alarm can help reduce food waste by letting users know if the freezer’s temperature begins to increase, and the lock and key allow users to keep their food items secure.
Keep utility costs down with this Energy Star–qualified chest freezer from GE. The 10.6-cubic-foot freezer uses only 218 kWh of energy each year and costs just $26 to operate, according to its Energy Guide. In addition to its energy efficiency, this freezer also has a lot of impressive features to offer.
One of the most impressive is that it is tested for performance in temperatures ranging from 0 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a good option for garage use as well. The chest freezer offers three sliding storage baskets that are removable for easy access to the foods beneath them. Other features include the power-on indicator light, lock and key, external adjustable front temperature controls, interior lighting, and recessed handles.
FAQs About Chest Freezers
After reading about all of the important chest freezer features and checking out some of the best on the market, there may still be some remaining questions about choosing among the best freezers. The following answers to some popular questions may help during your search.
Q. What is a standard-size freezer?
There is not necessarily one standard size for chest freezers. Rather, there are four different size ranges. Within each size range, the freezer’s dimensions may also vary. Below are some general dimensions for each chest freezer size:
- Compact (3 to 5 cubic feet): 21 to 28 inches wide, 32 to 34 inches high, and 19 to 22 inches deep
- Small (5 to 9 cubic feet): 29 to 38 inches wide, 32 to 34 inches high, and 22 to 27 inches deep
- Medium (10 to 16 cubic feet): 54 to 65 inches wide, 33 to 36 inches high, and 24 to 28 inches deep
- Large (17 or more cubic feet): 72 to 84 inches wide, 31 to 34 inches high, and 27 to 32 inches deep
Q. What is the difference between a chest freezer and a deep freezer?
Deep freezers are specially designed for long-term storage. Their design features additional insulation to ensure food stays completely frozen. Deep freezers can be designed as a chest freezer or an upright freezer and typically have a capacity of between 10 and 25 cubic feet.
Q. Are chest freezers better than upright?
There are pros and cons to both chest freezers and upright freezers. The “best” option can vary from person to person based on their individual storage needs.
Chest freezers typically offer a greater storage capacity and are better able to keep foods frozen should the power go out. They also are more economically priced and more energy efficient than upright models. Many chest freezers will last for 15 to 20 years, which is longer than the average upright freezer. On the other hand, chest freezers don’t offer as many shelves and organization baskets (if any) as an upright freezer. They can also be more challenging to clean and often require manual defrost, as opposed to the auto defrost offered with some upright models.
Upright freezers make it easier to keep foods organized since they feature more shelves and storage baskets than chest freezers. An upright freezer also has a smaller footprint than a chest freezer and is easier to reach inside and clean. However, upright freezers are more expensive and typically only last between 10 and 15 years. They also don’t stay as cold in a power outage, so it is more likely that the food stored will go bad. While upright freezers can be good for organizing food, the layout of the shelves can make it more challenging to fit large or bulky items.
Q. What is the most efficient chest freezer?
The GE Garage Ready 10.6 cu. ft. Chest Freezer is one of the most efficient options on the market. This Energy Star–qualified freezer has an estimated yearly electricity use of just 218 kWh and an estimated yearly operation cost of only $26.
Q. What brand of chest freezer is best?
There are a few top chest freezer manufacturers. Some of the most respected include Frigidaire, GE, and Whirlpool.
Choosing the best chest freezer can be a challenging task. Selecting a model that offers the storage solutions you need while also fitting in the available space in your home is important. Likewise, you want to find a chest freezer that operates efficiently, maintains an ideal temperature, and offers any additional features that you desire.