Fridge and freezer buying guide

Side by side or upside down? Find the right fridge and freezer for your needs.
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03.Upright vs chest freezers

Some thoughtful questions from an online member prompted us to think about the positives and negatives of upright versus chest freezers. So if you are in the market for a stand-alone freezer, here are some things to consider.

Running costs

The percentage running cost difference between an upright and chest freezer can be calculated if you get the current manufacturer label values for their upright frost-free freezers and similar sized large chest units. The uprights will probably only be a little higher in energy because the compressors used in the more expensive upright models are usually more efficient than the less expensive chest products even though the chest design can have a lower energy loss. We may do this the next time we test freezers.

Food storage life

The storage life of your food won't be quite as good in an upright because there is likely to be more temperature variation from automatic defrosts and door openings. A chest freezer can be very awkward to use but its shape does mean little cold air escapes when the lid is opened.

With extra precautions the upright can perform well if the door isn't opened for too long or too often. Avoid putting sensitive food at the top of the upright - this area will have the most temperature variation and warming with defrosts, door openings and compressor cycling.

Most importantly set your freezer to at least -18°C. Properly check the temperature with a number of thermometers left inside. Your food will need to be more fully wrapped with as much air excluded as possible in a frost free upright because the circulating less humid air will dry out food much more than the static air in a chest freezer.

A freezer model which has small temperature fluctuations (from the compressor running then stopping) will give better food storage life and quality but this information is only available for CHOICE tested models.

In both chest and uprights the compressor step - which is a small outcrop where the plastic or metal casing is shaped inward making space for the compressor behind it - can be a little warmer than other locations so again sensitive foods are best not stored there.

Is one type more prone to rust?

Corrosiveness of manufactured panels in fridge/freezers is difficult to assess. We do carry out appliance reliability surveys every few years which give you some indication of the amount of repairs which may include resistance to rust. Also check your warranty details - rust is not always fully covered, or only to perforation of metals. You might want to check that the inner panels are plastic rather than steel.

Why are uprights difficult to find?

Upright freezers are not unpopular, however the market is dominated by fridge/freezers rather than pigeon pair combination options like upright freezers. This could be for a variety of reasons. Size and tradition come to mind and most households don’t have an additional stand alone freezer.

Ease of use

You should also consider ease of access if you want to purchase a stand-alone freezer. Bending over into a large chest freezer could be difficult for older people, for example.


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