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It’s an extremely common issue in the kitchen – your refrigerator provides more than enough cooling real estate, but the freezer compartment is woefully insufficient. No matter the amount of reorganization, sometimes it is simply impossible to find enough space in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator and freezer combo appliance. A common solution to this is the chest freezer, often stored in the garage or another removed area. This is all well and good if you’re storing large cuts of meat or other items that are too large for shelved freezers and not regularly needed, but what if you simply have a large family or tend to buy many frozen items? In cases like these, the best solution is the upright freezer.

Upright freezers bring the organization and convenience of refrigerators to the world of sub-zero storage. The main reason for choosing one of these over a chest freezer would be the desire to have your freezer readily accessible in the kitchen. With a similar profile as refrigerators, these can also easily be incorporated into the aesthetics of your kitchen – they come in a wide variety of finishes. Their similar layout to refrigerators is also ideal when the food being stored is of small or medium size and requires some manner of organization.

It’s clear that upright freezers are an excellent addition to the kitchen for those that need extra freezer space. All upright freezers are not the same, however, and it is important that you invest in the one that will work best for you. Here, then, are some factors you should consider when choosing an upright freezer.


When it comes to upright freezers, this is undoubtedly the number one consideration. The capacity of any cooling device is, of course, important – but the thought process may be a bit more when it comes to freezers. With refrigerators, the general consideration is whether it is large enough for your needs. When it comes to freezers, though, it is equally important to consider whether the unit is too large as it is to figure out if it is too small. As it is easier for smaller freezers to achieve lower temperatures, hold those temperatures consistently, and maintain them in the case of a power outage or other failure, it is far preferable to get an upright freezer that is not larger than you will ever need. Further, freezers less than two-thirds full actually use more energy – so in addition to the extra draw due to a larger unit, you’ll be spending more on electricity due to a lack of efficiency. Of course, the fact that you are adding an additional appliance to your kitchen is also motivation not to “go too large.”

Choosing the perfect size for your upright freezer is quite simple, thanks to the fact that they come in a variety of sizes. 34-inch freestanding upright freezers are the larger units that many of us may be familiar with. For families and those with a penchant for purchasing frozen food in bulk, this is often the right size, boasting capacities of up to 20 cubic feet. Similar capacities can be had from sleek counter-depth and built-in models with widths of 36 inches. For some, however, an upright freezer needs hold far less. 18-inch “column” models are excellent in this case – they are more akin to the freezer half of side-by-side refrigerators and generally have capacities under 10 cubic feet. 22-inch and 30-inch models provide options for those whose needs lie somewhere in between.

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The importance of this will vary depending on what you aim to keep in your fridge. Across the board, the main compartments of modern upright freezers will remain in an acceptable range of a few degrees above or below the chosen setting. However, some users require extreme accuracy and consistency – this might include someone who sells homemade ice cream, or simply cooking aficionados who do not want to risk freezer burn or the slightest of partial thaws at low freezing temperatures. For these individuals, research independent field tests and consumer reports may point you in the direction of the most consistent models. Start with models that allow specific temperature settings and remember to look for a unit with more rack space than door space, as temperatures in-door shelves can be considerably higher.

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This often-ignored consideration can really affect what freezer is best for your home. One technique to maximize an upright freezer’s efficiency is to keep it away from any heat sources. Examples of this can be an oven or facing a window with direct sunlight. Imagine that the only place your built-in freezer can fit is directly next to the over – or the only spot the 84-inch high freestanding unit you’ve been eyeing can live is directly facing a bay window. To avoid skyrocketing energy costs, it may be worth it to choose a different style or dimension upright freezer that can fit in a more appropriate place. If your freestanding freezer is going to the garage, unfinished basement or another unheated or non-air-conditioned area, check the range of suggested temperatures for the freezer and ensure they fall within the most extreme temperatures the appliance will be subjected to.

Another consideration with regards to location comes from the actual functioning of the freezer. Before purchasing this appliance, it’s wise to ask your electrician if there are multiple circuits in your kitchen, and if so, if there is one that the freezer would be better placed on. Another example of this is upright freezers that utilize manual defrost. These will need access to some sort of drainage.

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Often times, an upright freezer is chosen over a chest freezer because the ability to sort and separate items is desired. If that is the case, it certainly makes sense to maximize this preference and look for models that pay particular attention to organizational matters. A combination of wire and solid metal shelves can provide suitable support for pizzas as well as turkeys and entire cuts of meat. The inclusion of slide-out baskets allows for safe stacking of appropriate items, and appropriately sized and sturdy door storage can add space for items that do not require the coldest of temperatures.

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As upright freezers can get quite large, you should always research a model’s energy consumption before buying. As always, you should always attempt to purchase Energy Star-compliant models to save on energy costs. And while a laundry list of features may not be terribly important in your choice, keep an eye out for specific energy-saving features that may pay dividends in the long run.

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Freezers may not be as feature rich as modern refrigerators and many other appliances, but there are some extra features that can make your life easier and ensure the quality and integrity of your frozen foods.

Zone Freezing –This high-tech feature available on certain models actually keeps different sections of your upright freezer at different temperatures. This is exceedingly useful if you store both items that need extreme cold and others that prefer to be kept just slightly below freezing.

Temperature Alarm – A simple feature, this can prevent the loss of hundreds of dollars worth of food. When the temperature in the freezer rises above a certain temperature, a loud alarm will warn you that your upright freezer is not maintaining the temperatures it should be.

Locking Doors – Many upright freezers are large enough for a child to fit in – therefore, locking doors (manual or electronic) are important safety features if children are in the home or regularly visit. This also prevents kids from opening the freezer and leaving the door open, causing food spoilage.

Adjustable and Convertible Shelves and Baskets –The types of food kept in freezers can vary wildly in size. If you will be keeping large items along with smaller ones in your upright freezer, adjustable and removable shelves are a must.

Self-Defrosting or Manually Defrosting Models – Contrary to popular belief, self-defrosting freezers are not necessarily better than manually defrosting models – it truly depends on your needs. Of course, self-defrosting models take care of the process automatically and do not require the removal of food or cleaning frost. However, this process uses more energy, and self-defrosting models are more susceptible to causing freezer burn. In the end, it comes down to what is more important to you – the convenience of a self-defrosting model, or a manually defrosting model that saves energy and maintains a consistent temperature.

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