Chest Freezer vs. Upright Freezer: Which Should You Buy?

Choosing the right freezer for your home can significantly impact your food storage capabilities and energy bills. This comparison will help you decide between a chest freezer and an upright freezer based on various crucial factors.

Immediate Answer

When deciding between a chest freezer and an upright freezer, consider the following key factors to determine which type best suits your needs:

  • Storage Capacity
  • Footprint and Space Efficiency
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Access and Organization
  • Price Range
  • Special Features

Chest Freezers are ideal for bulk storage, are more energy-efficient, and typically have a lower initial cost. However, they can be harder to organize and access.

Upright Freezers, on the other hand, offer better organization and easier access but come at a higher price and typically consume more energy.

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Storage Capacity

Chest Freezer

Chest freezers, with their broad, open layout, provide more usable interior space compared to their upright counterparts.

Typically, chest freezers are available in capacities ranging from 10 to over 25 cubic feet, making them ideal for those who require significant storage for bulk purchases or large items.

  • Pros: Chest freezers are perfect for storing large items such as whole turkeys, sides of beef, or an abundance of garden produce. They often come with dividers or baskets that, while basic, can help organize the interior space better. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, chest freezers are more energy-efficient due to their design, losing less cold air when opened, and they consume about 15% less energy than upright models.
  • Cons: Despite their larger capacity, the design can make it challenging to organize smaller items effectively. Without a structured organization system, items can be easily buried and forgotten. Frequent digging through the contents can thus become time-consuming and inconvenient.

Upright Freezer

Upright freezers are designed like standard refrigerators, with shelves, bins, and drawers that facilitate easy access and organization. They are generally available in capacities ranging from 10 to 20 cubic feet, which is suitable for most household needs.

  • Pros: The structured layout of upright freezers allows for better categorization and easier retrieval of items, reducing the time spent searching for specific foods. This can be particularly useful for families who prefer a systematic approach to food storage. The convenience of upright freezers is echoed by Consumer Reports, which emphasizes that “the ability to see and reach everything easily can significantly reduce food waste due to forgotten items.”
  • Cons: The shelving can limit how much you can store, particularly when it comes to bulkier items. Additionally, due to the more complex design and the constant opening and closing of the door, upright freezers generally consume more energy, leading to higher electricity costs over time.

When evaluating capacity and energy usage, it becomes evident that while chest freezers might be better suited for those prioritizing bulk storage and lower energy bills, upright freezers cater to those who value organization and ease of access. 5 Tips for Picking Appliances: Conquer the Kitchen (and Beyond!)

Making an Informed Decision

When choosing between a chest freezer and an upright freezer, it is crucial to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each type based on your specific storage needs and household requirements.

  • If Bulk Storage is a Priority: A chest freezer may be the better choice due to its larger capacity and energy efficiency. It is ideal for individuals or families who buy in bulk, requiring substantial storage space for large items and infrequent access. The lower energy consumption of chest freezers also translates to cost savings over time, as noted by the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • If Organization and Accessibility Matter More: An upright freezer is a sound investment for those who prioritize structured storage and convenience. The ability to categorize and easily access food items can prevent waste and streamline meal preparation. However, bear in mind the higher initial cost and increased energy consumption associated with upright models.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the freezer that best aligns with your lifestyle and storage preferences, ensuring you maximize efficiency both in terms of space and energy usage. Unveiling the Best Undercounter Refrigerators: Reviews and Guide

Footprint and Space Efficiency

Chest Freezer

Chest freezers are generally designed with a low profile, making them suitable for spaces where height is a limitation. Their horizontal orientation allows them to be placed under counters, in garages, or basements, enabling optimal use of available floor space.

  • Pros: Due to their compact height, chest freezers can be discreetly installed in areas with limited vertical space. They are particularly advantageous in situations where horizontal space is more abundant. Their wider footprint allows for substantial storage while maintaining a low profile. Furthermore, their energy efficiency, as detailed by the U.S. Department of Energy, maximizes both space and resource use.
  • Cons: Despite their spatial efficiency in height, chest freezers require significant floor space due to their broad horizontal spread. This can be a drawback in smaller areas where floor space is at a premium. Additionally, the horizontal design can make accessing items stored at the bottom more challenging, necessitating more comprehensive organization and potentially a secondary storage system to avoid clutter.

Upright Freezer

Upright freezers are designed similarly to standard refrigerators, standing tall and fitting neatly into narrow spaces. Their vertical layout is an excellent choice for areas where floor space is limited but height is not an issue.

  • Pros: The vertical configuration of upright freezers enables them to fit conveniently into tight kitchen corners or narrow utility areas, effectively utilizing vertical space. This design also allows them to seamlessly integrate alongside other kitchen appliances, providing a cohesive look in modern kitchens. Consumer Reports notes that the ease of access provided by an upright design improves overall kitchen efficiency.
  • Cons: The increased height requirement can be a limitation in basements or garages with low ceilings. Additionally, while they save on floor space, the vertical design might not accommodate large, bulky items as efficiently as chest freezers do, potentially necessitating more careful planning and organization of storage.

When considering footprint and space efficiency, the choice between chest and upright freezers depends significantly on your specific spatial constraints and the environment in which the freezer will be placed.

Chest freezers are suitable for wider, lower spaces with ample floor space, while upright freezers are better for narrow, taller spaces where vertical efficiency is paramount.

Energy Efficiency

Chest Freezer

Chest freezers are renowned for their energy efficiency, making them an attractive option for cost-conscious consumers. Their design inherently supports more effective temperature control and less energy consumption.

  • Pros: The superior insulation of chest freezers couples with the physical properties of cold air, which sinks and remains trapped inside the unit. This results in less frequent operation of the compressor and, consequently, a reduced usage of electricity. Chest freezers typically consume about 10-25% less energy than their upright counterparts, leading to lower ongoing operating costs. The U.S. Department of Energy highlights that, due to their efficient design, chest freezers maintain a consistent temperature, even during power outages, further adding to their reliability and cost-effectiveness.
  • Cons: When specific to energy efficiency, chest freezers exhibit no significant drawbacks. However, optimizing their internal organization is crucial to leverage their energy-saving benefits fully.

Upright Freezer

Upright freezers, while convenient and easy to organize, generally have a higher energy consumption rate compared to chest freezers.

  • Pros: Upright freezers don’t offer distinct energy efficiency advantages. However, they provide easier access to stored items, which can potentially reduce the time the door is open, minimizing energy loss when compared to poorly organized chest freezers wherein extended searching might lead to more prolonged door openings.
  • Cons: Their design, featuring a vertical door, leads to more frequent loss of cold air as it escapes when the door is opened. This results in the compressor running more often to maintain the desired internal temperature, thereby increasing energy consumption. Moreover, the less robust insulation and the higher frequency of door openings contribute to greater cumulative energy use over time.

Key Takeaways

When deciding between a chest freezer and an upright freezer, energy efficiency is a critical factor to consider, especially for long-term cost savings.

  • Chest Freezer: Ideal for those prioritizing energy efficiency and lower utility bills. It is particularly beneficial in environments where maintaining consistent temperatures is crucial.
  • Upright Freezer: Suited for those who value convenience and ease of access but should be chosen with an understanding of its higher energy consumption. Regular maintenance, such as ensuring the door is sealed correctly and minimizing door opening duration, can help manage energy costs.

Carefully weigh your preferences for energy savings against your need for convenience when making your choice, as this will significantly impact both your utility expenses and overall satisfaction with the appliance.

Access and Organization

Chest Freezer

  • Pros: Ideal for bulk storage and less frequently accessed items.
  • Cons: Finding specific items can be challenging due to the deep, open design. You might need to dig through the contents to find what you’re looking for. Additionally, accessing items requires bending over, which might be uncomfortable for some individuals.

Upright Freezer

  • Pros: Food is stored on easily accessible shelves, eliminating the need to dig through contents like in a chest freezer. Upright freezers allow for easier access to food without excessive bending.
  • Cons: Limited storage for bulky or oddly shaped items due to shelf configurations.

Price Range

Chest Freezer

  • Pros: Chest freezers are generally more affordable than upright freezers of similar capacity. For instance, a standard chest freezer with a 15-cubic foot capacity may range from $200 to $600, making it an accessible option for budget-conscious consumers.
  • Cons: None significant for price. However, it is worth noting that the initial lower cost can be further offset by potential energy savings over time, enhancing their overall value proposition.

Upright Freezer

  • Pros: None significant for price.
  • Cons: Upright freezers tend to be pricier than chest freezers of similar capacity. For comparison, an upright freezer with a 15-cubic foot capacity typically ranges from $400 to $900. This higher price point can be attributed to their convenient features and easier organization. However, it’s important to consider overall costs, including potential higher energy consumption, when evaluating the total investment.

Special Features

Chest Freezer

  • Pros: Some models come with baskets for better organization, adjustable temperature controls, and defrost drains to make manual defrosting easier.
  • Cons: Limited in terms of advanced features compared to upright freezers.

Upright Freezer

  • Pros: Advanced features like automatic defrost, temperature alarms, and built-in shelving units for better organization.
  • Cons: Typically come at a higher cost due to these additional features.

Conclusion: Making the Right Choice

Both chest and upright freezers have unique advantages and disadvantages. Your decision should be based on your specific needs and circumstances.


  • Choose a Chest Freezer if:
  • You need to store large, bulky items.
  • Energy efficiency is a priority.
  • You have limited vertical space but ample floor space.
  • Budget is a concern.
  • Choose an Upright Freezer if:
  • Organization and easy access are crucial.
  • You have limited floor space but ample vertical space.
  • You prefer advanced features and are willing to invest more upfront.

Interactive Quiz: Find Your Ideal Freezer

  1. Do you prioritize energy efficiency?
  • A) Yes
  • B) No
  1. Do you need to store large, bulky items?
  • A) Yes
  • B) No
  1. Is easy access to items important to you?
  • A) Yes
  • B) No
  1. Is having advanced features important to you?
  • A) Yes
  • B) No
  1. Is budget a primary concern?
  • A) Yes
  • B) No
  1. Do you have limited floor space but ample vertical space?
  • A) Yes
  • B) No
  1. Do you need consistent internal temperatures even during power outages?
  • A) Yes
  • B) No


  • Mostly A’s: Choose a Chest Freezer. Your priorities align best with the energy efficiency, budget-friendliness, and storage capacity of a chest freezer.
  • Mostly B’s: Choose an Upright Freezer. You value easy access, advanced features, and are willing to invest more upfront, making an upright freezer suited to your needs.

Top Freezer Recommendations

According to EnergyStar, these freezers are the most energy-efficient models available.

Upright Freezer:

Frigidaire – 32.6 in. 20 cu. Ft. Frost Free Defrost, Garage Ready Upright Freezer in White, ENERGY STAR

Frigidaire Freezer

Chest Freezer:

GE Garage Ready 21.7-cu ft Garage Ready Manual Defrost Chest Freezer with Temperature Alarm (White) ENERGY STAR

GE Freezer

Environmental Impact

Chest Freezer

  • Pros: Chest freezers are generally considered to be more environmentally friendly due to their higher energy efficiency. The reduced energy consumption not only lowers utility bills but also decreases the overall carbon footprint. Additionally, chest freezers often have longer lifespans, requiring fewer resources for manufacturing replacements.
  • Cons: Despite their energy efficiency, chest freezers typically require manual defrosting. The defrosting process, especially if done inefficiently, can lead to water waste and potential food spoilage if not managed correctly.

Upright Freezer

  • Pros: Some upright freezers come with eco-friendly features like energy-saving modes and temperature alarms to reduce unnecessary power usage. Automatic defrost systems in these models can prevent excessive frost build-up, which keeps them running more efficiently.
  • Cons: Generally, upright freezers consume more energy, contributing to a larger carbon footprint over time. The convenience features that many consumers appreciate often come at the cost of higher energy consumption. Additionally, the shorter lifespan compared to chest freezers means more frequent replacements, leading to increased resource usage and waste.

Key Takeaways

For eco-conscious consumers, the environmental impact of the appliances they use can be a decisive factor. Understanding the differences between chest and upright freezers in terms of energy consumption and lifespan is crucial in making an informed decision that aligns with eco-friendly values.

  • Choose a Chest Freezer if:
  • Reducing energy consumption and lowering your carbon footprint are top priorities.
  • You prefer an appliance with a longer lifespan, even if it requires more manual maintenance.
  • Choose an Upright Freezer if:
  • You are interested in models with additional eco-friendly features and are willing to manage the potentially higher energy use.
  • You value the convenience and organization features that come with newer, but possibly less energy-efficient, designs.

Weighing the environmental impact alongside energy efficiency, convenience, and cost will help you make a well-rounded decision that not only meets your practical needs but also supports your environmental goals.

Warranty and Maintenance Tips

Chest Freezer

  • Warranty:

Chest freezers typically come with a standard warranty period of one to five years, covering parts and labor. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to offer extended warranties at an additional cost, which can provide further peace of mind. Be sure to check if the warranty covers both the compressor and the sealed system, as these are critical components.

  • Maintenance Tips:
  1. Manual Defrosting: Most chest freezers require manual defrosting. To keep your freezer operating efficiently, defrost it at least once a year or whenever the frost buildup exceeds a quarter inch. Unplug the unit, remove all contents, place towels or pans to catch water, and allow the frost to melt. Clean the interior with a mixture of baking soda and water.
  2. Temperature Settings: Regularly check and adjust the temperature settings to ensure it remains between -10°F and 0°F for optimal performance.
  3. Clean Coils: Ensure the condenser coils are free of dust and debris by vacuuming them every few months. This helps maintain efficient cooling and prolongs the life of the freezer.
  4. Seal Check: Periodically inspect the door gasket for cracks or splits. A tight seal helps in maintaining the internal temperature and reducing energy consumption.

Upright Freezer

  • Warranty:

Upright freezers often have similar warranty terms as chest freezers, usually ranging from one to five years. However, given their higher complexity and additional features, extended warranties might be more beneficial. Some manufacturers offer specific warranties covering individual features like the automatic defrost system or temperature alarms.

  • Maintenance Tips:
  1. Automatic Defrosting: Modern upright freezers often come with an automatic defrost feature, which reduces maintenance efforts. However, periodic inspection is essential to ensure the system functions correctly.
  2. Temperature Monitoring: Utilize built-in temperature alarms or regularly check to confirm the internal temperature is consistently between -10°F and 0°F.
  3. Shelving: Clean the shelves and drawers regularly to prevent odor and bacterial build-up. Removable shelves can be cleaned with mild soapy water.
  4. Clean Coils: As with chest freezers, cleaning the condenser coils periodically is crucial. This task ensures the freezer operates efficiently and extends its operational lifespan.
  5. Seal Check: As upright freezers have multiple shelves and compartments, door gaskets require frequent checking. Ensure they are clean, intact, and sealing properly to avoid energy loss.

By understanding the warranty specifics and adhering to these maintenance tips, you can extend the lifespan and efficiency of your freezer, ensuring it operates at optimal performance for years to come. Proper maintenance not only reduces the likelihood of unexpected repairs but also ensures that the appliance runs efficiently, saving both energy and money.


Is a chest freezer or upright freezer better?

The answer depends on your specific needs. Chest freezers are more energy-efficient and better for bulk storage, while upright freezers offer better organization and easier access.

What are the disadvantages of a chest freezer?

The main disadvantages include difficulty in accessing and organizing items and the need for more floor space.

Which type of deep freezer uses less electricity: an upright or chest style freezer?

Chest freezers generally use less electricity due to their superior insulation and less frequent opening, making them more energy-efficient than upright freezers.

By carefully considering these factors and understanding the pros and cons of each type, you can make an informed decision about which freezer best suits your needs. For more detailed information and personalized advice, feel free to reach out to our experts.

We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with the clarity needed to make a well-informed decision.

Glossary of Terms

Carbon Footprint

The total amount of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, generated by our actions. It is usually measured as the amount of CO2 produced in tons.


A crucial component in freezers, the compressor is responsible for moving refrigerant through the system and enabling the cooling process. It compresses the refrigerant, increasing its pressure and temperature, which is essential for the refrigeration cycle.

Condenser Coils

These coils help dissipate heat from inside the freezer to the outside environment. Keeping them clean is essential for maintaining the efficiency of the freezer.


The process of removing accumulated frost from the interior of the freezer. In manual defrosting models, this involves turning off the freezer and allowing the ice to melt. Automatic defrosting models handle this process electronically.

Door Gasket

A seal located on the outer edge of a freezer’s door. The gasket prevents warm air from entering the freezer, thereby maintaining the internal temperature and energy efficiency.

Energy Consumption

The amount of electrical power used by an appliance over time, typically measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Lower energy consumption is preferable for reducing electricity bills and environmental impact.

Extended Warranties

Optional purchase plans that extend the initial warranty period provided by the manufacturer, offering additional coverage for repairs and part replacements beyond the standard warranty.

Internal Temperature

The temperature maintained inside the freezer. Optimal internal temperatures for freezers typically range between -10°F and 0°F.

Sealed System

A component of the freezer that includes the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and associated tubing. It is responsible for circulating the refrigerant and maintaining the cooling process.

Temperature Alarm

A feature in some upright freezer models that alerts the user when the internal temperature rises above or falls below a set range, potentially indicating a malfunction or that the door has been left open.


To ensure this guide is both accurate and authoritative, the following sources have been referenced:

U.S. Department of Energy – For statistical data on energy efficiency and electricity consumption comparisons:

U.S. Department of Energy. “Energy Savers: Freezers”.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – For information on reducing the carbon footprint and the importance of energy-efficient appliances:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions”.

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) – For technical details on refrigeration systems and maintenance best practices:

ASHRAE. “Refrigeration Handbook”.

J.S. Diyhouseskills

I’m J.S., I created and am the content manager at I do the research and write the articles that appear on this website. I’ve learned many household skills during my life and think it’s important to at least know the basics so that you can save yourself time and money… READ FULL BIO >