Freezer Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Freezer for You
Choosing a freezer might seem like an easy decision – just get the one that works the best for the least money, right? But with so many different options available
, and so many factors to consider, the choice is more complicated than it might first appear. The freezer that’s ‘best’ for one person might not be so for another.
Let’s figure out which freezer is right for you.
Types of Freezer
You’ll see upright freezers in the majority of homes. These consume less floor space than the alternative – chest freezers - and they’re far more convenient when it comes to accessing their contents. They do, however, tend to be more expensive than chest freezers, while the design means that inch for inch they offer slightly less storage space.
The insulation in chest freezers tends to be superior to that of upright freezers, meaning they require less energy to keep cold. This also means that in the event of a power outage, they will keep your food safely frozen for much longer than their upright counterparts.
The downside with a chest freezer is that you’ll need a means of keeping the contents organised but even the best organised chest freezers can be tough to navigate. They also require a lot of floor space. Not only will you need sufficient room to physically get the freezer into position, but you’ll need room to comfortably rifle through it. You’ll also need to think about how you’re going to get it into the house (larger chest freezers will be difficult to fit through doors).
For these reasons, chest freezers are often placed in garages, where there’s enough room to store them, whilst access to the front drive makes it really easy to install them (bear in mind, however, that if temperatures in your garage drop below 10°C, your freezer might not work properly).
Integrated freezers are designed to be invisible – they’ll slot into a suitable space within your kitchen cabinets and can be covered with a door to match the rest of the cupboards in your kitchen. Smaller sized freezers are stored at ground level as under counter freezers as they’re too heavy to be practicably mounted overhead. If you’ve already got an integrated fridge, then an integrated freezer placed nearby will complement it excellently.
Fridge freezers combine a fridge and a freezer into one unit. They’re a popular option for homeowners in part because of cost (a combined fridge freezer will often, though not always, cost less than buying the appliances separately). They’re also a great way to save space – just remember that what you save in kitchen space, you lose in food storage space.
The best freezers come with additional features that make using them easier and more convenient. Let’s briefly examine a few of them.
Thermometers ensure you know your freezer is working properly. A good freezer will provide this information in the form of an easy-to-read dial – either on the interior or the exterior of the unit.
Leaving a freezer door open will waste power since it will have to work harder to keep the food frozen. An alarm will help to prevent this – if the door is left open, an alarm sound will be emitted, letting you know you need to close it.
A freezer works by channelling coolant through special coils called the evaporator and condenser coils. These are placed on the interior and exterior of the compartment and allow the conduction of heat from the former to the latter. In the process, the interior coil (the evaporator) can collect a coat of frost as water condenses and then freezes on them. Over time, this frost can reduce the lifespan of the coil and by extension the lifespan of the freezer.
Removing this frost is a troublesome task as the evaporator coil is often difficult to access and it’s often necessary to remove all of the items from the freezer in order to get the job done. A freezer that comes with an automatic defrost function will occasionally address this problem by heating the evaporator coil for a short time, causing the water there to melt and run off, draining out through a special duct at the rear of the unit.
Once you’ve placed your food into freezer, you’ll want to be sure that it freezes promptly – particularly if it’s been sitting in a hot, stuffy car for some time. That’s where quick-freeze comes in – it heightens the cooling power of the freezer temporarily, so that any new items reach their ideal temperature as quickly as possible.
Soft-freeze compartments store food at just below freezing point. It’s great for storing foods you might not need immediately but will do in the near-future. It’ll keep meat and fish fresh and ready to cook quickly, without degrading the quality of the produce.
A soft-freeze is also ideal for ice cream storage, ensuring perfect soft-scoop ice cream every time. It’ll also minimise the ice cream’s exposure to changes in temperature which can cause crystals to form within the ice cream. For perfectly smooth ice cream every time, a soft-freeze function on your freezer would be ideal.
When it comes to freezers, there are a few questions that seem to crop up again and again. Let’s take a look through some of the more common.
How much does a freezer cost to run?
As we’ve mentioned, the efficiency of a freezer will vary according to its size and type – larger freezers will generally cost more to run than smaller ones. According to research by the Energy Savings Trust and several government departments, a fridge freezer is the most expensive to run at around 420kWh/year (which equates to around £62) – but we need to account for the fact that it’s doing the work of two devices
, and so in some circumstances might be the more economical choice.
In comparison, upright and chest freezers were found to consume around 327 and 362 kWh/year respectively – but these figures do not take into account the differences in capacity between the two technologies – a larger chest freezer might cost more to run, but in cases where you’d like to store a lot of food, the expenditure might be worthwhile.
New freezers are rated on a scale from D to A+++, set by the EU. Superior freezers will carry higher energy ratings – so investing in the best one you can afford will likely save money in the long-run.
How long does a freezer take to get cold?
When you first turn your freezer on, it will take some time for the interior of the compartment to become cool enough to safely store food. This time will depend on the freezer itself – some freezers will take just a few hours to reach the required temperature, while others might take an entire day.
If your freezer comes equipped with a built-in thermometer, you’ll be able to see at a glance whether the compartment has reached the appropriate temperature.
How long does a freezer take to defrost?
If you’ve got an automatic defroster on the evaporator coils of your freezer, you won’t need to worry about defrosting them. That said, you might still want to periodically empty your freezer in order to remove all of the frost and any grime that’s built up inside. This will take some time - you’ll want to set aside a whole afternoon to do it.
Obviously, the more frost there is on the inside of your freezer, the longer it will take to remove it. For this reason, it’s important to defrost your freezer regularly – this way the task will be over as quickly as possible.
How cold do household freezers get?
Ideally, frozen food should be stored at around -18°C. Some produce might benefit from being kept at slightly higher temperatures, but in order to be sure that your food is safe to eat, -18°C is ideal.