Since World War II, freezers have given us a convenient option to safely store and preserve food for months at a time, even years in some cases. We use them to store such items as leftovers, prepared meals, bulk meat and food buys, and convenience food. The freezer we choose depends on a number of factors: the amount of food we want to freeze, available space, design, and budget. It’s not at all uncommon to have more than one in the home. Here are some different freezer styles and comparisons to consider when choosing a freezer (or two) to preserve your food.
Upright freezers come in different styles:
- Top or bottom freezer/refrigerator
- Side-by-side freezer/refrigerator
Upright standalone freezers look like refrigerators, with doors that open from the side. They take up less space than a chest freezer — a 22-cubic-foot chest freezer takes up a 2-foot by 6-foot space, while an upright standalone with the same capacity only takes up a 2.5-foot by 2.5-foot space. Uprights include wire or glass shelves (adjustable in some models), racks, and bins inside and on the door to make organization simple. It’s less strenuous to reach inside a standalone for cleaning, and to retrieve food, than with a chest freezer. However, there’s less space in a standalone to store larger items due to the layout.
Some higher end models can even be converted to refrigerators, giving greater flexibility for your food preservation needs.
You can also choose between self-defrosting and manual-defrost standalones. For manual defrost ones, look for a model with a built-in drain to make defrosting easier.
Although the standalones are convenient, the self-defrosting ones are often noisier than chest freezers, and their temperatures fluctuate due to the defrosting cycle. With manual-defrosts, the temperature of the door shelves is often higher than the rest of the freezer. And during a power outage, food spoils faster than in chest freezers.
A top freezer/refrigerator is an American tradition, and still a popular choice. A top-mounted freezer is a cheaper option than one on the bottom and is also more energy efficient. The U.S. Department of Energy states that fridges with top-mounted freezers use 10 to 25 percent less energy than bottom-mounted, or side-by-side units.
There isn’t as much space to store frozen items in a top freezer compared to chest, upright, and side-by-side freezers, but the advantage is it’s at eye level, which makes it easier to find what you need. Also, lifting heavy objects from a top freezer (like a holiday turkey), puts less strain on your back. If you store heavy items in your fridge freezer, a top one is a better choice. It’s also ideal for storing frozen pizzas and anything large that must be stored flat (e.g. trays of food). The disadvantage of a top freezer is that you have to bend down to get items from the fridge, which is more difficult when they’re at the back of a shelf.
Because cool air pushes warm air upward, top freezers also run a couple of degrees above the set point of zero. If you plan to keep food frozen for an extended period of time, it would be better to store it in another type of freezer if you can’t maintain a zero temperature.
Bottom freezers are a more modern design, with either a swing-door or pull-drawer style. They often have lift-out baskets or pull-out shelves, compared to the basically open space of a top freezer. Usually refrigerators with bottom freezers come in slightly larger sizes than those with top freezers, so the bottom freezers are also a bit larger. They’re also situated where the coldest air sits, so the temperature remains at the optimal freezing mark.
With a bottom freezer, your fridge is at eye level, which saves you the constant bending for everyday items. However, you’ll need to bend to access your frozen foods.
A side-by-side freezer is one side of a refrigerator/freezer combination, split down the middle with two doors — one for the fridge and one for the freezer. The doors open from the center rather than the side, and being relatively narrow, don’t swing out as far as regular fridge doors.
The freezer section overall is larger than top or bottom freezer models. However, the shelf space is narrower, so it’s best to find a model with adjustable shelves and bins to get the layout you need for larger items.
The coldest part of the freezer with side-by-sides is at the top, where cold air is blown in, with the bottom section slightly warmer, including the lower door bins.
Chest freezers are generally more affordable than all upright freezers and tend to last longer. However, because they take up more floor space, most people keep them in the basement, garage, or utility room. As well, there has to be enough headroom to open the lid all the way. Some chest freezers have a counterbalanced lid, saving you from holding the lid open with one hand, while searching for food with the other (or propping the lid open with your head and shoulders).
Ranging in size from 5 to over 18 cubic feet, these freezers are ideal for storing items that are too bulky and too numerous for the freezer section of the fridge, as well as for items not needed for a while. Almost every inch of a chest freezer is usable storage. In fact, they have around 20 percent more usable space than upright freezers. They usually have sliding wire baskets and sometimes dividers to help with organization, but food can still be difficult to find. To assist with this, some freezers have an outside drawer on the bottom of the freezer for storing frequently used items.
Chest freezers are more energy-efficient than uprights, due to their built-in sidewall insulation and their tighter-sealing lids. During a power outage, if the lid is kept closed, a chest freezer can keep food frozen for 2 or 3 days, depending on the quantity of food (the more food the longer it will stay frozen).
Most chest freezers have to be manually defrosted, so look for one with a front drainage system that makes it easy to drain out any leftover water. They are more difficult to clean and maintain, but their extra storage space and protection during a power failure make them a worthwhile investment.
One of the features found not only in some chest freezers, but also in standalones and side-by-sides, is the soft freeze zone. This area is warmer than the rest of the freezer, and is good for keeping ice cream soft, maintaining meat and fish in low-level frozen conditions, and storing food that freezes better at lower temperatures.
Choosing a Freezer
Sub-Zero provides upright, bottom-mounted and side-by-side freezers that are known for their high quality and many features. They’re available in a wide variety of sizes in each of the Classic, Designer, and Pro series that can be customized to complement the design of any kitchen.
Whatever style of freezer works best for you, C&W Appliance Service is the trusted name for repairs and maintenance. Call us at (855) 358-1496 or (214) 358-1496 for prompt and professional service.