Updated 25/08/2010 Most refrigerators come equipped with their own freezers. While suitable for storing small-to-medium sized foodstuffs, they usually fail to meet the requirements of an average family household. Instead of being overly selective with the food you keep, it might be a good idea to buy a secondary ‘stand-alone’ freezer. This guide is designed to help you understand the basics.
Chest vs. upright
Freezers come in two basic varieties: chest and upright (also known as vertical). Chest freezers have a box-like design with a lid running along the top, while upright freezers resemble a traditional fridge with a front-mounted door. Both types have their own specific strengths and weaknesses, depending on your needs and we’ll look at these to help you make the right choice for your budget.
Ease of access
One of the advantages of an upright freezer is that your food is always within easy reach. Just like in a fridge, the contents are stored on horizontal shelves that can be accessed by simply opening the freezer door. Chest freezers, on the other hand, require you to ‘stack’ your food vertically. This can make it difficult to reach items stored at the bottom, especially in larger models. Some chest freezers come with removable baskets that can be lifted out for easier access — although this is still less convenient than upright freezers.
Before buying a freezer, it’s important to measure up your available floor space to ensure it will fit. Like most household appliances, a freezer’s dimensions are usually measured in millimetres and divided into height (h), width (w) and depth (d). Generally speaking, chest freezers are bulkier than upright models, although upright freezers are often taller — up to 1800mm and over.
Both types of freezer also come in miniaturised ‘compact’ sizes that share similar dimensions to an average bar fridge; a handy option if you live in a small apartment. Before visiting our store, check out the Good Guys online product catalogue for the dimensions of all available freezer models.
It’s impossible to give the ‘general dimensions’ of an upright or chest freezer, as every vendor offers a wide variety of different shapes and sizes. This is why it is important to measure up your intended floor space before walking into a store.
As with refrigerators, a freezer’s storage capacity is measured in litres. Freezer capacities range from around 80L (the same size as a typical bar fridge) to over 700L (bigger than many fridges). Naturally, the capacity you require will depend on the size of your household and the amount of frozen food you buy each week. If you like to buy your groceries in bulk or regularly purchase plus-sized items, go for a chest freezer with a larger capacity. But don’t get a capacity that exceeds your needs as this will waste floor space in your house and can also affect your electricity bill. Naturally, a bigger freezer will require more energy to run — make sure to check the energy rating label before making your purchase.
Because of their squat, boxy design, chest freezers are not particularly pleasing to the eye. Upright freezers are generally more stylish, and can even match the style of your fridge. Most vendors offer a range of different finishes, from traditional white to titanium and stainless steel. Upright freezers are also available as built-in models that can be incorporated into your kitchen design, with finishes designed to make them seamlessly blend in.
Of course, your secondary freezer does not have to be stored in your kitchen; it will work just as well in your garage, laundry or anywhere else where space is available. If the freezer is out of sight, its style becomes less of an issue in your buying decision.
Freezers keep food cold in a variety of different ways, depending on the model and its price. Most chest freezers use manual defrost, which means you need to periodically remove built up layers of ice. Some chest and upright freezer models offer frost-free cooling (also known as automatic defrost) and do not require you to remove any ice. This is achieved by circulating dry air around the cabinet using fans. Some frost-free models offer multi-flow air delivery, which is good for keeping every inch of a freezer consistently cold.
Naturally, frost-free freezers are a lot more convenient than models that need to be defrosted manually. They also help to reduce frost build-up on food, making it easier to read the labels. On the other hand, frost-free models are more expensive and require more energy to run.
If you decide to buy a freezer with manual defrost, go for a model with a water drain outlet and drain hose (usually located at the rear of the unit). This will make it easier to remove the melted frost.