A chest freezer in a basement or mud room

Whether you’re a frequent hostess, a bargain hunter who buys in bulk or a member of an always-hungry family, you might require the extra storage space that a standalone freezer provides. Both compact upright freezers and large chest-style models can get the job done in a pinch. That said, choosing the best freezer for your lifestyle will depend on how much food you need to store and which features (like organizational accessories, energy efficiency and door locks) you want. And then there are portable ice makers to consider, too! We know it sounds like a lot of information to wade through, but chill—this guide has all the info you need to decide what freezer to buy.

Jump to

plus icon

1Types of Freezers

Once you’ve realized that the small compartment attached to your fridge isn’t going to cut it, you have two categories to choose from for additional freezer space: upright and chest. Both upright freezers and chest freezers come in a range of sizes and price points. Our lists of pros and cons can help you decide which style will work best for you. (And if you’re shopping for a refrigerator too, be sure to check out our fridge buying guide.)

Chest Freezers

A chest freezer in a garage

Freezers with a lid that opens from the top are called chest freezers. They contain plenty of open space and tend to work best for long-term storage.

Pros Cons
They’re less likely to cause freezer burn than upright models. These freezers are trickier to organize; it can be difficult to reach foods that get buried on the bottom.
They have about 20 per cent more usable space than an upright freezer.[1] Most chest freezers must be manually defrosted, which can take up to 24 hours and be a messy process.
The large open space inside makes it easier to pack in a big or oddly shaped item, like a holiday turkey. They use up more floor space than upright models.

Shop Chest Freezers

Upright Freezers

Upright freezers in kitchens

These freezers look like a single-door fridge and come with plenty of drawers, shelves and space on the door for easy organization. The style works well for people who dip into the freezer often.

Pros Cons
One of the biggest pluses with this design is easy access to food—no digging required. Foods are more vulnerable to freezer burn since there’s more opportunity for air to circulate around the boxes, bags and packages.
This style has a smaller footprint, making it a good option for small spaces or if you want to tuck it into your kitchen. These models tend to be a bit pricier than comparably sized chest freezers.
The automatic defrost function makes maintenance a breeze. The auto-defrost function is easy to use, but some reviewers point out that it can be noisy (which can be annoying if it’s in your kitchen) and that it also uses more energy.

Shop Upright Freezers

Ice Makers

An ice maker on a kitchen counter

If your fridge doesn’t have a built-in ice maker and you can’t seem to get enough cubes from trays alone, a standalone ice machine might be a good investment—especially since you can take a portable model with you anywhere, like to the cottage or in an RV.

Pros Cons
Most models can make a batch of bullet-shaped ice in just eight minutes, which is much faster than the tray in the fridge freezer. Many brands produce cloudy ice that makes carbonated drinks fizz more and go flat faster, which some people don’t like.[2] If you like to nurse a soda, look for an ice machine that makes clear cubes.
You’ll always have enough ice to keep everyone’s drink cold—even when hosting a crowd. Most models don’t work well in the heat, so you’ll have to keep yours stashed in a cooled garage or in the house instead of your backyard bar.

Shop Ice Makers

2Freezer Sizes

Four freezer sizes including compact, small, medium and large

Before you even consider what size of freezer you want, take precise measurements of your space—including the height, width and depth that you have available. Don’t forget to leave an extra inch behind and above your freezer when measuring, to ensure there’s room for proper ventilation. If your square footage is limited, that might also limit your options.

Whether you’re measuring for a chest or upright freezer, they each come in four basic size groupings. (Keep in mind that uprights come with a smaller footprint that takes up less floor space in your garage, basement or kitchen pantry.)

  • Compact: Like a mini-fridge, a compact freezer is under five cubic feet.[3] To give you a visual, one cubic foot will hold up to 35 pounds of packaged meat.
  • Small: These little guys provide between five and nine cubic feet of storage space and are ideal for small families.
  • Medium: A mid-sized freezer will hold about 12 to 18 cubic feet of frozen food, which is plenty of room to store batch-cooked meals, holiday baking and ready-to-eat veggies for a family of five or six.
  • Large: If you’re a large family who buys in bulk, or does a ton of entertaining, you might need to go with a model that can hold more than 18 cubic feet of food. Just bear in mind that big isn’t always better—a freezer that’s only half full requires more energy to keep the contents frozen.
timer icon
Quick Tip
Still not sure what size you need? A good rule of thumb is to multiply the number of people in your family by 2.5 cubic feet to determine your household storage needs.[4]

3Key Features and Factors

Upright freezer with shelves and a chest freezer with no shelves or baskets

Here are the key things to keep in mind when comparing different chest and upright freezers:

  • Shelves, drawers and baskets: Upright freezers tend to make organization a bit easier due to their shape, compartment dividers and drawers that are designed for easy access. When shopping for chest freezers, hanging baskets become a must, but this style will still require more bending and digging to reach items stacked on the bottom.
  • Noise level: Every freezer emits some noise, but there can be a big difference between models, ranging from a quiet hum to a consistent rattle. If it’s going in your basement this might not matter much, but it can be a big deal for an in-kitchen freezer. User reviews are a great way to find out if the model you’re interested in has a reputation for being abnormally loud.
  • Freezer lock: A safety lock with a key or fob will secure your freezer, preventing unwanted entry. This feature is appealing for families with small kids but might not be necessary if there are only older children or adults in the house.
  • Energy efficiency: To find an energy-efficient freezer (which is better for the environment and will cost you less money to run), you can search model numbers in the Energy Star product finder. Just make sure you’re filtered for the Canadian market.
  • Blackout performance: Power outages don’t happen often, but when they do, a freezer that performs well will save your food. Chest freezers tend to be best at holding in the cold, which makes them a smarter choice if your area is prone to blackouts.

4Choosing a Brand

When you’re making a big-ticket purchase like a freezer, considering the brand reputation can help you choose a model that’s right for you.

  • Arctic King: Above all, Arctic King is known for its affordable pricing compared to its competitors. Most models are simple (in a good way!), straightforward and easy to use.
  • Danby: This company with headquarters in Guelph, Ont. makes chest, upright and portable freezers, all of which get strong reviews. Happy customers mention durability and energy efficiency in their praise. Though its freezers are still reasonably priced, Danby is one of the more expensive brands on our list.[5]
  • Galanz: This brand makes a range of upright and chest freezers in a variety of sizes. Savvy shoppers give high marks for the LED lighting, reversible doors and energy efficiency on certain models.
  • Koolatron: Innovating fridges, coolers and freezers from its Brantford, Ont. headquarters since 1983, Koolatron makes compact and small freezers that are seven cubic feet or less and are Energy Star–rated.[6]
  • Marathon: This family-run business based in Elora, Ont. makes a variety of home appliances—from electric ranges to freezers. Though their models tend to be a bit more expensive than some of the other brands on our list, they have a reputation for being quiet and energy-efficient.[7]

Get Everything You Need for Food Storage

Article Sources

  1. Consumer Reports. Freezer Buying Guide.
  2. New York Times Wirecutter. The Best Portable Ice Maker.
  3. Consumer Reports. Freezer Buying Guide.
  4. Cnet. Upright Freezer or Chest Freezer: Which Should You Buy?
  5. Danby. Freezers.
  6. Koolatron. About Us.
  7. Stirling Marathon. Freezers.