If you’re looking to control your household food budget or simply want to limit trips to the grocery store, a standalone freezer is 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 are also essential for those who garden, fish, or hunt.
Standalone freezers for home use come in two kinds: chest freezers and upright freezers. 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. Upright freezers are available in finishes that match the other appliances in the home.
This shopping guide will help you find the best upright freezer for your home by outlining some things to consider and providing a list of top upright freezer picks.
- BEST OVERALL: GE Appliances 17.3-cu. ft. Frost-Free Upright Freezer
- RUNNER-UP: Whirlpool 17.7-cu. ft. Frost-Free Upright Freezer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Frigidaire16-cu. ft. Frost-Free Upright Freezer
- UPGRADE PICK: Gladiator 17.8-cu. ft. Upright Rolling Garage Freezer
- FLEX USE PICK: Kenmore 13.5-cu. ft. Upright Freezer/ Refrigerator
- LARGEST CAPACITY: GE 21.3-cu. ft. Frost-Free Upright Freezer
Features to Look for in the Best Upright Freezer
An upright freezer is 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 for the criteria used to determine which upright freezers made this list of top picks.
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. The smallest models have the advantage of fitting either above or below counter height.
Most foods hold up well in a freezer for about six weeks before quality begins to deteriorate and freezer burn sets in. Individually wrapped butcher cuts last up to a year. Think about how much frozen food your 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. Also factor in food purchasing habits.
Those who buy in bulk should consider that 1 cubic foot of space can hold about 35 pounds of food. A 1/2 beef requires about 17 cubic feet of freezer space. It’s okay to buy a bit larger than you expect to use, but not too large. Empty freezer space wastes energy.
Exterior dimensions of the freezer are important too. You need to know before you buy that the freezer will fit through the door(s) of your home. Also, it is helpful to size up the location where it will reside, including the footprint and the door swing clearance, before making the purchase.
Number of Shelves
Organizing stored food is a primary reason to buy an upright freezer instead of a chest freezer. All else being equal, buy the freezer with the most shelves, and be sure they are adjustable. More shelves allow for different storage configurations, including removal of shelves as needed to make room for large items.
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 see all of the contents quickly and easily.
What’s under your freezer matters, too. Leveling legs screw in or out to counteract an uneven floor. The freezer should tilt toward the back very slightly so the door closes automatically. Wheels are especially helpful when it’s time to clean behind the freezer. Be sure to look for these options as you shop.
The temperature control is pre-set 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.
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. Choose a self-defrosting upright freezer to avoid adding another household chore.
Self-defrosting 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.
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.
Our Top Picks
We reviewed the most popular upright freezers by the top brands in the industry. After weighing them against our criteria, and considering other optional features, we narrowed it down to the following six best upright freezers.
GE’s 17.3-cubic foot Frost-Free Upright Freezer has plenty of space to load up with meat, ice cream, and frozen veggies. The interior is well organized to help you 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 your backyard garden. The reversible door allows you to customize 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 you will never have to empty the freezer to thaw ice buildup.
Frigidaire’s 16-cubic foot Frost-Free Upright Freezer is perfect for a large family without a lot of 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, door ajar alarm that audibly alerts you 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.
This unit also features a step-to-open door that makes it easy to load up when your 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.
Kenmore’s 13.5-cubic foot Upright Freezer/Refrigerator is a freezer that converts to a refrigerator if needed. It was designed with maximum storage space and flexibility in mind, featuring five adjustable shelves and a bottom bin on the interior and no bins or shelves attached to the door interior.
This efficient unit is Energy Star-certified for efficient energy consumption. It features a reversible door, automatic defrost, and LED interior lighting. Dual functionality lets you control the temperature to use the unit as a freezer or a refrigerator.
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 oversized 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 Advantages of Owning an Upright Freezer
Owning an upright freezer allows you to stock up on food for up to six months at a time or more, reducing trips to the grocery store and butcher shop. Plus, the added storage space helps save money because you can load it up when things are on sale. Gardeners, hunters, and fishermen 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 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 you save on your food budget by stocking up on seasonal or sale-priced items.
FAQs About Your New Upright Freezer
That new upright freezer will help you avoid frequent trips to the grocery store and save money on your food budget. While you’re waiting for your freezer to arrive, check out the answers to these frequently asked questions about upright freezers.
Q. Which is better: an upright or a chest freezer?
It depends on your priorities. Chest freezers store more food per cubic foot, operate more efficiently, and hold temperature better in a power outage. Upright freezers require less floor space, keep things better organized, offer a self-defrost option, and come in a variety of finishes to match the home.
Q. Why does my freezer make a clicking or whirring sound?
The sound you hear is probably the fan that blows air through the evaporator for cooling. An older fan makes these noises as parts begin to wear. You may need to replace the fan.
Q. How do you get rid of frost buildup?
Remove all food and place it in a cooler with ice. Unplug the freezer and prop the door open. Allow the frost to melt completely. Clean and dry the interior while it is turned off. Plug in the freezer and reload the food after you ensure it’s resumed cooling.
Q. Why is my upright freezer leaking?
The self-defrost cycle allows water to drip through a drain hole at the back of the freezer, down a drain tube, and into a drain pan. The drain pan, located beneath the freezer, may be full of water and overflowing. Or, there may be a clog in the drain hole or drain line. A clogged drain hole or drain line can be caused by ice or other debris.