June 16, 2021

Chest vs Upright Freezer Comparison Guide

Learn the key differences

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Woman opening a refrigerator in the kitchen.
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Although a refrigerator freezer may provide sufficient frozen food storage for a small family, a chest or upright freezer can be very convenient and can even save you money in the long run. Having ample freezer storage allows you to take advantage of bulk food specials, freeze seasonal berries and jams, as well as everyday and special event baking, make-ahead meals, and wild game or large meat orders.

So what style of freezer should you buy and what will work better for you? There are trade-offs to each type of freezer.The 7 Best Freezers of 2021

Chest vs Upright Freezer: Major Differences

The type of freezer that best suits you depends on your particular lifestyle and needs. Some people prefer to have an upright for everyday frozen foods, while they store seasonal game/meat or special and seasonal baking in a chest freezer.

Chest Freezer vs Upright Freezer Comparison
 Chest FreezerUpright Freezer
AppearanceLift-up door, baskets, lower to the groundFront-opening door, shelves, stands vertical
Size5 to 25 cubic feet5 to 25 cubic feet
MaintenanceLabor and time-intensive if manual defrostLess maintenance
NoiseLess noisyNoisier
EnergyUses less energyUses more energy
InstallationLarger footprintSmaller footprint
CostLess expensiveMore expensive
LifespanUp to 14 yearsUp to 14 years

Key Features

Chest Freezer

Chest freezers usually come with at least one wire basket to help you organize the contents. You can segregate types of foods using cardboard boxes to better organize freezer contents. However, chest freezers require a lot of bending, reaching, and moving frozen foods to find what you’re looking for.

That being said, they do accommodate odd-shaped, long, or large items that may be difficult to place in an upright freezer. There are some models on the market that have a bottom drawer accessible from the outside of the chest freezer, but while this can add convenience to a chest model, it will also reduce capacity slightly.

Upright Freezer

Probably the best convenience feature of an upright freezer is the ability to better organize the frozen foods, making it easier to monitor and rotate contents to keep frozen foods current. Some upright models have versatile storage systems with adjustable and removable door storage bins, sliding, adjustable shelving, and pull-out baskets or bins.

All these features add to the ease of sorting and storing contents. Although you can better organize an upright, there are constraints. Items such as large turkeys or long, frozen items may not fit without removing a shelf to accommodate the size.


Chest Freezer

Chest freezers have a door on top of the freezer that you lift when you need to use it. They are often long and lower to the ground than an upright freezer. However, there are mini-chest freezers that may need less floor space and a bit more vertical space. Though you will find a majority of chest freezers that have a white finish, you can also find a few rare stainless and black finishes. Many chest freezers also have caster wheels for mobility.

Upright Freezer

An upright freezer will have a single front panel door on it that opens just like a refrigerator. It will also be as tall as a refrigerator. As with chest freezers, most are white, but there is also a selection of stainless and black stainless finishes available. You may even find a few bright red upright freezers that will add a vintage look to your garage or basement.

Best for Appearance: Upright Freezer

Since an upright freezer looks like a refrigerator, it will seamlessly integrate into your kitchen or other high-traffic living space. They are also available in more colors than chest models. A chest freezer often looks more utilitarian and is usually best suited for basements, garages, or other out-of-the-way areas.


Both styles of freezers are generally sold in 5- to 25-cubic-foot sizes, but there are capacity differences in the same size chest and upright models of freezers. It’s also easier to find the mid-range freezer sizes in stores and not all freezers are available in self-defrost models—something you’ll want to confirm.

Repair and Maintenance

Chest Freezer

Although certain chest models have automatic defrost or are frost-free, most chest freezers are manual defrost, a task which requires several hours or a whole day to accomplish. However, there are fewer components inside a manual defrost chest freezer than will need maintenance.

Upright Freezer

Most upright freezers are self-defrosting and that means there are more components inside the appliance that may need repair down the line, including automatic heating elements, hoses, and drip trays. However, you won’t need to handle the sometimes arduous task of manually defrosting the freezer when you own an upright.

Best for Repair and Maintenance: Upright Freezer

Since most upright freezers are self-defrosting, most owners appreciate the minimal maintenance and convenience of never having to manually defrost a freezer.


Chest Freezer

Chest freezers that have manual defrost are less noisy than upright freezers. However, if the chest has a powerful and high-speed compressor, you will hear some noises. You may also hear the normal expansion and contraction of the liner.

Upright Freezer

A self-defrosting upright freezer constantly cycles on and off which makes it noisier than a manual defrost chest freezer. As the freezer cycles, you’ll hear normal noises like whooshing and whining several times throughout the day. The compressor also makes infrequent noises. Consider the noise factor when deciding where to place an upright freezer.

Best for Noise: Chest Freezer

A chest freezer will be quieter than an upright, but only if it’s a manual defrost model.

Energy Use

Chest Freezer

In light of the inherent sidewall protection, chest coolers hold their chilly temperatures well indeed and subsequently utilize minimal measure of energy to run. Truth be told, during a blackout or a family move to another district, as long as the cooler cover isn’t open, an unplugged chest cooler can keep the substance frozen for two or even three days, contingent upon the frozen food amount.

Upright Freezer

Oneself thaw out element of most upstanding coolers can cost you, in addition to it will utilize more energy, yet the comfort is definitely worth this additional expense. An auto-thaw out highlight in an upstanding works like a cooler auto-thaw out by cycling off/on to keep the cooler liberated from ice develop.

Best for Energy Use: Chest Freezer

In the event that you select a chest cooler that has manual thaw out, it might utilize something like 40% less energy than a self-thawing out upstanding cooler. For the best energy productivity, pick a cooler that is Energy Star qualified. Both upstanding and chest coolers can convey an Energy Star rating.The 8 Best Upright Freezers of 2021


Chest Freezer

Because of the width of a chest freezer, which will vary depending on the size, its footprint is larger than what is needed for an upright model, even for a small chest freezer. You’ll need to ensure that there is enough space to place it and sufficient headroom above the freezer to fully open the door.

Check measurements before buying to ensure you have a spot for it. It’s worth mentioning that when choosing a chest freezer, you should consider the path to and inside the house and how many turns or doorways you’ll need to go through to get it in place. Although chest models are now made slightly narrower than years ago, it’s not unusual to have to remove a door or two to get it inside the house and beyond. Always locate a freezer in a dry level area.

Upright Freezer

An upstanding cooler has a more modest impression than chest models. Think as far as setting a fridge while thinking about an area for an upstanding cooler. It needs space for stature just as width, entryway swing space and at any rate an inch behind it. Additionally, consider what direction the entryway swings and whether it is reversible.

Best for Installation: Tie

It depends on the space you have available for a freezer. Besides adequate space, both types of freezers simply require an outlet with the appropriate voltage rating.


Chest Freezer

The most economical type of freezer is the chest model. In addition, every inch of a chest freezer is usable storage which makes the appliance a great value.

Upright Freezer

On the off chance that you can bear the cost of the additional expense and you love to keep everything coordinated in its place—an upstanding might be best for you. Upstanding coolers are more costly than chest models yet give less usable stockpiling limit; a distinction of around 10 to 15 percent less. Costs are impacted by limit and capacity frameworks, just as comfort highlights, for example, auto or manual thaw out. It very well may be difficult to identify if an upstanding has self-thaw out; you’ll need to affirm that with the seller.

Best for Cost: Chest Freezer

If you’re just looking for economical frozen food storage while keeping energy costs at bay, a manual defrost chest model is more economical to buy and operate.


Chest Freezer

Manual defrost chest freezers tend to have longer life cycles than upright models. That’s because they have fewer components than an upright freezer.

Upright Freezer

An upright freezer has more components to wear out than a chest freezer, especially if it’s a manual defrost model. The automatic heating elements that constantly cycle on and off can wear down over time.

Best for Lifespan: Chest Freezer

Most chest and upright freezers can typically last between 10 to 14 years. With fewer components to worry about, a manual defrost chest freezer may be your best bet when it comes to the appliance’s longevity.

The Verdict

Having a cooler—or two—in your home can add another component of capacity worth considering. Both chest and upstanding coolers serve a significant capacity with regards to putting away food and each has its advantages and disadvantages. You need to pick whether you need a chest or upstanding cooler dependent on your financial plan, the limit you need, the comforts of self-thawing out and inside association, and energy proficiency contrasts.

Rather than having a cooler/cooler in your kitchen, you could pick an all-fridge model that would incredibly expand cold food stockpiling and keep your frozen food sources in a couple of coolers of any sort. It ought to be noted, nonetheless, that coolers of any style will expand your energy costs while giving this food stockpiling accommodation.

Top Brands

  • Danby sells all sizes of chest freezers and it’s known for its energy-efficient models with smaller footprints that have exceptional insulated interiors.
  • Whirlpool sells both chest and upright. It’s also known for its handsome double door side-by-side model, the Whirlpool SideKicks Upright Freezer.
  • GE also sells both styles and offers a spacious 21.3 cubic foot frost-free upright that’s over 6-feet tall.

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