Chest Freezer vs. Upright Freezer: Which Is Best for You?

You need more freezer storage—but you're unsure whether to go with a chest or upright freezer. Here's a look at the pros and cons of both.

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Buying a second freezer will not only expand your freezer capacity, but it also allows you to make meals in bulk and save money in the long run. (Here’s a list of surprising foods you can freeze!) But what’s better—a chest freezer or an upright freezer? Both offer their own pros and cons. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide what’s best for your storage needs.

Don’t miss our ultimate guide to freezing food!

Upright Freezers

These freezers can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,500, and may have less storage space than a chest model. Before buying an upright freezer, make sure you know if it has a manual or auto defrost feature. (Any model labeled “Frost Free” or “auto defrost” means you shouldn’t have any nasty ice build-up.)

The Pros

Easy to Organize. You’ll be able to see all the contents of your items better in an upright, so sorting and organizing items will be easier than in a chest freezer. Keep your upright freezer tidy with these freezer organization tricks!

Smaller and More Compact. An upright takes up less space in your garage or basement than a chest freezer. When you’re finding the perfect spot for your new deep-freeze, be sure to consider how much room you’ll need to swing open the door.

The Cons

Less Flexible Storage Space. Since upright freezers have up to 15 percent less storage space than chest models, storing larger items can be difficult. It may be hard to stash things like large cuts of beef or venison, whole turkeys and other odd-shaped items.

Stays Frozen Only 1-2 Days Without Power. If your power goes out, food will spoil faster when it’s in an upright freezer. It will generally stay frozen for one to two days, which may or may not be long enough, depending on where you live.

Shorter Lifespan. Uprights tend to have a shorter lifespan than chest freezers. Chest freezers can last up to 20 years while uprights generally last up to 15. Hopefully you don’t have any frozen pizzas or gallons of ice cream hanging around that long!

Our Favorite Upright Freezers

Chest Freezers

When it comes to chest freezers, every inch of the freezer is usable storage space. (More room for these make-ahead freezer meals!) Most chest freezers must be defrosted manually, although some models are frost-free or have an automatic defrost option.

The Pros

More Cost Efficient. Chest freezers hold temperature well and use the least amount of energy to run. That means a lower energy bill for you—nice!

Easy to Organize. They make it easy to organize frozen food. You can use bins like these to help keep items together, such as frozen produce, meats and make-ahead meals.

Huge, Open Interior. Since chest freezers have so much storage space, they are a great option for storing large or awkwardly shaped items. Just make sure you know how long food lasts in the freezer.

Stays Frozen 2-3 Days Without Power. Chest freezers can keep food frozen for up to three days during a power outage.

The Cons

Bulky Shape. The shape of chest freezers can be a con since they take up more space. You’ll need to make sure you have a large enough footprint, along with enough headroom to fully open the door.

Hard to Reach Food. Chest freezers require you to bend and reach for items, which can be a strain on those who are shorter or have mobility issues. It’s also tough to reach things that get stuck at the bottom.

Our Favorite Chest Freezers

Whatever type of freezer you do choose, go for an Energy Star model—it will help save you money and use less energy! Save room for our best freezer-friendly cookie recipes, too.

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Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.