If you’re looking to control your household food budget or simply want to limit trips to the grocery store, a stand-alone freezer can be an excellent investment. They offer long-term storage space for perishable foods while helping owners take advantage of grocery store sales. These large-capacity freezers also can be essential for those who garden, fish, or hunt.
Stand-alone freezers for home use come in two kinds: chest freezers and upright freezers (also known as a standup freezer, standing freezer, or upright deep freezer). Chest freezers are oriented horizontally, with the door on top. They provide efficient cold storage space, with low energy usage. Upright freezers are similar in appearance to single-door refrigerators.
The best upright freezers allow for better organization of stored foods and utilize less floor space than chest freezers. Upright freezers are available in different capacities and finishes that match other appliances in the home. This shopping guide includes important factors to consider when shopping to help narrow down the options to the best upright freezer and provides a list of some of the top-performing models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: GE Appliances 17.3cu.ft. Frost-Free Upright Freezer
- RUNNER-UP: Whirlpool 17.7-cu ft Frost-free Upright Freezer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Frigidaire 16 cu. ft. Frost Free Upright Freezer
- BEST FOR GARAGE: Gladiator 17.8 cu. ft. Upright Rolling Garage Freezer
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: Frigidaire 5.8 cu. ft. Upright Freezer
- BEST MINI FREEZER: Magic Chef 3.0 cu. ft. Upright Freezer
- BEST MIDSIZE FREEZER: GE 14.1 cu. ft. Frost Free Upright Freezer
- BEST LARGE FREEZER: GE 21.3 cu. ft. Frost-Free Upright Freezer
- MOST ORGANIZED: Frigidaire 20 cu. ft. Frost Free Upright Freezer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Upright Freezer
An upright freezer is usually a functional purchase. As such, the main shopping concerns beyond appearance are performance and convenience. How much food can it hold? How easy will it be to find things in the freezer? Are there any special maintenance concerns? Read on to learn more about these factors, plus capacity, energy efficiency, and other features that differentiate upright freezers.
Upright freezers can be categorized as compact (up to 5 cubic feet), small (5 to 9 cubic feet), medium (9 to 18 cubic feet), and large (more than 18 cubic feet). They are proportionally tall and narrow, and their footprint doesn’t increase that much with added capacity. Some of the smallest models have the advantage of fitting either above or below counter height.
Most foods hold up well in a freezer for about 6 weeks before quality begins to deteriorate and freezer burn sets in. Individually wrapped butcher cuts can last up to a year. Think about how much frozen food the household consumes within that time frame. A good starting point to determine the right home freezer capacity is to multiply the number of people in the household by 2.5 cubic feet. As consumption varies among people, also factor in food purchasing habits.
Those who buy in bulk may want to keep in mind that 1 cubic foot of space can hold about 35 pounds of food. A half beef requires about 8 cubic feet of freezer space. It’s OK to buy a freezer that’s a bit larger than what is expected for regular use. However, keep in mind that empty freezer space wastes energy.
Exterior dimensions of a freezer can be important. With the exception of garage freezers, before buying, make sure that the freezer will fit through the door of the home. Also, it is helpful to size up the location where it will reside, including the footprint and the freezer door swing clearance, before making a purchase.
On the smaller end, a 6-cubic-foot upright freezer is usually about 57 inches tall and has a footprint of 22 inches wide and 23 inches deep. A midsize 14-cubic-foot model fills a space 64 inches tall, 30 inches wide, and 32 inches from front to back. For a 20-cubic-foot freezer, 72 inches of height clearance and floor space that’s 33 inches wide and 29 inches deep is usually needed.
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. If purchasing an upright freezer with an eye toward extended storage, colder is usually better.
Upright freezers can either be self-defrosting, also called frost-free, or manual defrost. 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.
Upright frost-free 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.
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 of the internal temperature rises to a potentially unsafe level for proper food storage.
- Shelves: Organizing stored food is one of the primary reasons to buy an upright freezer rather than a chest freezer. All else being equal, a freezer with the most shelves, ideally ones that are adjustable, can make it easier to organize food. More shelves allow for different storage configurations, including removal of shelves as needed to make room for large items.
- Interior lights: Interior lights are tremendously helpful in locating specific ingredients, but they are not always included. The best upright freezers not only include interior lights but have enough lighting to make it easy to see all of the contents quickly and easily.
- Touch screen: Touch screen controls conveniently display the internal temperature and allow adjustments without opening the door. This feature improves operating efficiency and convenience.
- Ice maker: Although it may seem like an obvious feature to include in a freezer, few upright freezers incorporate ice makers. But some do, and it makes a lot of sense.
- Door safety lock: The option to lock a freezer door is a consideration for safety and security. This option is especially helpful when the freezer is located in an unsecured location outside the home. Families often prefer to lock their freezers and eliminate the risk to curious children who may want to play inside them.
- Leveling legs/wheels: What’s under the freezer can matter, too. Leveling legs screw in or out to counteract an uneven floor. The freezer should tilt toward the back slightly so the door closes automatically. Wheels are especially helpful when it’s time to clean behind the freezer. Be sure to consider these options while shopping.
Our Top Picks
Whether looking for the best upright freezer for garage spaces, basements, or other spots in a home, selecting the right upright freezer can be challenging. In addition to size and energy efficiency, there are several other optional features to compare. To help the shopping process, below are listed some of the best upright freezers, organized by category.
GE’s 17.3-cubic-foot Frost-Free model has plenty of space to load up with meat, ice cream, and frozen veggies. The interior is well organized to help keep track of inventory, with two adjustable shelves in the midsection, a fixed shelf at the top with a shallow drawer beneath, another fixed shelf in the lower section with two deep drawers beneath, and four bins attached to the door.
Other convenient features include interior LED lights, a lockable door for safety and security, an exterior electronic temperature control, and a high-gloss handle that looks great and cleans easily. This freezer is Energy Star–certified for efficiency and is rated for use in ambient temperatures between 0 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Whirlpool 17.7-cubic-foot Frost-free Upright Freezer provides ample room to store bulk meat purchases or to preserve the harvest from a backyard garden. The reversible door allows customizing the direction it opens to fit the location. Organize everything on four adjustable shelves, a deep bottom drawer, and six door-mounted bins.
This unit also features LED interior lighting and electronic temperature controls, including a Fast Freeze mode to quickly drop the freezer temperature. Frost-free means that the freezer may never need to be emptied to thaw ice buildup.
Frigidaire’s 16-cubic-foot Frost-Free Upright Freezer is perfect for a large family without a lot of floor space to spare. It offers a variety of ways to organize the interior on four adjustable shelves, a deep bottom bin, and five bins on the interior of the door.
Frigidaire’s unique cooling system constantly circulates cold air throughout the freezer with smart sensing technology that adjusts airflow to maintain a uniform temperature. It also features bright interior LED lights, a door ajar alarm that audibly alerts if the door is left open or the temperature rises, floor-projected power-on indicator, and internal dial temperature control.
The Gladiator 17.8-cubic-foot Upright Rolling Garage Freezer features plenty of frozen storage space for large families or the hunting camp. Flexible organizing options include three adjustable shelves and two drawers inside, plus two full-width bins and two half-width bins on the door interior.
One of the features that’s great for garage spaces is the step-to-open door that makes it easy to open up when arms are full. Even in extreme temperatures between 0 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, this garage freezer operates efficiently. Heavy-duty casters allow for easy movement when needed.
Measuring just 56.8 inches tall, 21.75 inches wide, and 22.8 inches deep, the Frigidaire 5.8-cubic-foot Upright Freezer packs ample storage capacity for two. It comes with five wire shelves to easily organize the interior and adjustable temperature control to maintain just the right settings.
The reversible left- or right-opening door works in any space. The door handle is conveniently integrated into the structure of the door to maintain a convenient low-profile exterior, perfect for small spaces. The well-lit interior makes it easy to find items. Defrost manually as needed. A built-in drain is included for simple defrosting.
If a household has been relying on a refrigerator’s top or bottom freezer compartment for all frozen storage needs, this mini freezer can double the available space. It is 32.1 inches high, 20.3 inches wide, and 22 inches deep and includes two wire shelves to help organize the space. This is a good choice for small spaces, apartments, condos, or offices.
The reversible door with a recessed handle saves space and works conveniently in any location. A magnetic gasket seal improves energy efficiency. Adjustable leveling feet take the wobble out of any uneven base. The cabinet is finished in black, and the door features a stainless finish. A front interior temperature controller allows easy adjustment of the setting. Defrost manually as needed.
The GE 14.1-cubic-foot Frost Free Upright Freezer offers plenty of freezer space to feed five, with energy-saving operation. It is 62 inches high, 28 inches wide, and 32 inches deep. Organizing features include four wire shelves and two clear slide-out bulk bins. The digital thermometer and temperature control panel are conveniently located on the exterior of the door. This garage-ready freezer is tested to perform in temperatures between 0 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
The included key lock helps to keep kids out. Interior LED lighting helps make it quick to find what’s needed. Turbo Freeze boosts the cold to restore the storage temperature quickly after the door is closed. An alarm alerts if the storage temperature rises. This frost-free freezer virtually eliminates maintenance.
The GE 21.3-cubic-foot Frost-free Upright Freezer is the largest capacity residential upright freezer available. There are plenty of ways to organize the space as well. This unit features four adjustable shelves, an oversize bottom bin, and four full-width inner door-mounted bins to easily organize up to 700 pounds of meat, produce, and frozen treats.
This unit is rated for use between 0 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit and is an excellent choice for locating in an unheated garage or basement. It features an audible temperature alarm, LED interior lights, a locking door with key for safety and security, and exterior electronic temperature control. Turbo Freeze mode provides an extra boost of cold air to restore the interior temperature after loading.
The Frigidaire 20-cubic-foot Frost Free Upright Freezer offers ways to use space efficiently, starting with its space-saving design. At 71.75 inches high, 32.6 inches wide, and 28.25 inches deep, it fits in the same space as an average 17-cubic-foot model. A wider opening and shallower depth make it easier to access all of the contents, even in the very back. The interior space is organized with four adjustable wire shelves, a wire bulk bin, and five-door shelves.
This garage freezer is designed to work in temperatures from 0 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooling system’s variable speed compressor constantly circulates cold air through the freezer, with a smart sensor that adjusts airflow for a uniform temperature throughout. A tight seal ensures that food will stay frozen for two days in a power outage. The auto-close door, tight seal, and door ajar alarm help eliminate spoiled food. The convenient frost-free design eliminates ice buildup and the need for manual defrosting.
The Advantages of Owning an Upright Freezer
Owning an upright freezer allows you to stock up on food for up to 6 months at a time or more, reducing trips to the grocery store and butcher shop. Plus, the added storage space helps save money because it can accommodate extra food when there is a sale.
Gardeners, hunters, and fishermen often need space to preserve foods that come in large quantities all at once. Upright freezers take up less floor space than chest-style deep freezers with similar storage capacity, making them a great choice where floor space is limited.
- Upright freezers provide lots of storage space for bulk cold storage at home.
- They require less space than chest freezers, and they stay better organized.
- Owning an upright freezer helps save on a food budget by allowing stocking up on seasonal or sale-priced items.
FAQs About Your New Upright Freezer
Whether you’ve made your selection or you are still shopping around for a new upright freezer, it’s not uncommon for numerous questions to arise. Read on to learn the answers to some common questions that other shoppers have asked.
Q. What is the best brand of upright freezer?
General Electric (GE), Frigidaire, and Whirlpool upright freezers have been among the top sellers for decades. They consistently receive high praise for product innovation as well as lasting durability. If you’re looking for an established brand, any of these would be a great place to start.
Q. What should I look for when buying an upright freezer?
Many tend to shop for functionality first, then consider aesthetics. Start by narrowing down the field with the size. Measure the space you have to work with, and estimate the volume of food you need to store. Next, think about your budget. When everything else is equal, consider the value of Energy Star. Energy efficiency costs more upfront but saves money in the long run, so spending 10 to 15 percent more could become a bargain over time.
Q. How often should an upright freezer run?
An upright freezer should run about 80 to 90 percent of the time, with the compressor cycling on at approximately 30-minute intervals.
Q. What is the quickest way to defrost an upright freezer?
Frost-free upright freezers never need to be defrosted. Manual defrost freezers should be emptied and the built-up ice melted on a regular basis. Simply let the ice melt on its own. Place a fan near the freezer to expedite the process.
Q. How long should you wait to put food in a new freezer?
After powering up a new freezer, wait about 4 hours before stocking it with food.
Q. What is the average life of an upright freezer?
Upright freezers have an average life span of about 10 to 15 years.
Upright freezers offer a space-saving approach to long-term food storage. Many of today’s upright freezer models offer unique approaches to organizing and lighting the interior space, controlling the settings from the outside, and keeping the interior colder while using less energy. If you’re looking for an appliance that can extend your monthly budget and improve your family’s food security, a new upright freezer could be an excellent buy.