October 26, 2021
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Self-Defrosting vs Manual Defrosting Freezer Comparison Guide

Learn the key differences

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Ice in freezer
 Franziska Uhlmann/Getty Images



What do you have more of: time or money? Your answer to that question may help you decide whether you prefer a higher-cost but convenient self-defrosting freezer or a low-cost but time-consuming manual defrosting freezer.

The self-defrost or frost-free freezer cycles on/off periodically, melting the ice that would otherwise build up in the freezer’s interior. A freezer without self-defrost is known as a manual defrost freezer.The 7 Best Chest Freezers of 2021

Self-Defrosting vs Manual Defrost Freezer: Major Differences

The major difference between the two types of freezers is how excess ice and frost is eliminated from the cavity. With a self-defrosting freezer, the appliance’s heating elements cycle on and off throughout the day. During the defrosting process, water from melting ice is discharged through a small hose at the back and down to a drip tray positioned at the base of the unit. A manual defrost freezer relies on the owner to remove the excess frost and ice from the cavity.

Self-Defrosting vs Manual Defrost Freezer Comparison
 Self-Defrost FreezerManual Defrost Freezer
AppearanceUpright and chest stylesUpright and chest styles
Repair and MaintenanceLittle maintenanceLabor and time-intensive defrosting
NoiseNoisy Less noisy
Energy UseUses more energyUses less energy
InstallationNo differenceNo difference
CostMore expensiveLess expensive
LifespanUp to 14 yearsUp to 14 years

Key Features


Self-thaw out (or ice free) is a cleaning configuration include in coolers. Self-thawing out is a programmed thaw out cycling measure requiring no mediation from the client. It works by warming loops inside the cooler at ordinary stretches to forestall ice develop. Otherwise called an ice free or auto-thaw out, it’s something numerous purchasers love for simplicity of cleaning and saving time and work.

Manual Defrost

A manual thaw out cooler doesn’t contain any programmed warming components to forestall the development of ice or ice. It requires the proprietor to physically thaw out the cooler loops as ice develops. At the point when the loops are covered by a lot ice and ice, wind current is limited and the cooler will not effectively cool food.



Most—though not all—upright freezers have a self-defrost feature. An upright freezer has a door that’s mounted on the front, and it looks like a regular refrigerator.

Other than the comfort factor, upstanding coolers are designed with racks to make it a lot simpler to coordinate, find, and recover frozen food varieties. You’ll likewise track down that most blend fridge coolers have a self-thawing out include. Some chest coolers will be named as ice free.

Manual Defrost

Most (however once more, not all) chest coolers have a manual thaw out. Chest coolers additionally do not have the getting sorted out potential and recovery accommodation of an upstanding self-thaw out model. A self-thawing out or manual thaw out chest cooler will likewise for the most part require more level floor space.

Best for Appearance: Tie

It depends on what style freezer you prefer. If you want a chest freezer, you’ll likely have to manually defrost the appliance though you may spot a frost-free model.

Repair and Maintenance


Self-defrosting freezers are more popular than the manual defrost type because they reduce freezer maintenance considerably, but they do have a few downsides.

The dribble plate is typically situated behind the base trim plate of an upstanding cooler. Normally, there is no compelling reason to purge this water plate; the water will in general vanish all alone. You’ll generally should be watching out for a broke hose or skewed trickle plate to keep oneself thawing out mode working easily.

Manual Defrost

It’s normally suggested that a cooler ought to be thawed out when the ice has become about a quarter-to a half-inch thick. Thawing out a cooler physically is an active, tedious, and monotonous errand. The interaction includes unplugging the apparatus, eliminating everything from the cooler, and pulling off huge bits of ice to speed it up. Chest coolers with manual thaw out will ordinarily have a channel at the lower part of the chest to let out the water.

Best for Repair and Maintenance: Self-Defrosting

Those who use a frost-free freezer enjoy the minimal maintenance. Oftentimes, owners will often not want to return to a manual defrost freezer model.



The constant cycling on and off of the setting in a self-defrosting freezer creates a noisier operation. As the cycle happens, you may hear whooshing, crackling, popping, or whining noises, all of which are normal. Better compressors also make some noise as it works throughout the day. However, many freezers are located in out-of-the-way areas where noise may not be an issue.

Manual Defrost

Just like a self-defrosting freezer, a newer model manual defrost freezer may have a more powerful and higher speed compressor which may make slight noises.

Best for Noise: Manual Defrost

Manual defrost freezers are generally quieter than self-defrosting freezers. All you’ll hear is the compressor and possibly the normal expansion and contraction of the freezer liner at times during the day.

Energy Use


A self-thawing out cooler model cycles on and off occasionally, which utilizes more energy than a manual thaw out cooler. On account of the on/off cycling thawing out daily schedule, temperatures will in general vary frequently, and oneself thawing out cooler should work more enthusiastically to reestablish the ideal inside temperature. (As a side note, due to the cycling on and off, food sources are likewise more inclined to cooler consume in a self-thawing out cooler than in a manual thaw out cooler.)

Manual Defrost

In spite of the fact that manual thaw out coolers require seriously cleaning, they are less expensive to purchase and cost less in energy to work. The energy-saving perspective happens for two reasons. In the first place, there is insignificant virus air misfortune with a chest cooler (which is typically manual thaw out). The entryway opens from the highest point of the chest which permits substantially less virus air to escape than a front-opening entryway does. What’s more, a manual thaw out cooler keeps a more steady frigid temperature.

Best for Energy Use: Manual Defrost

A manual defrost freezer may use up to 40 percent less energy than a self-defrosting model.1 A manual defrost freezer does not contain heating elements, which reduces the overall energy use of the appliance. It’s important to note that both self-defrosting and manual defrost freezers can carry an Energy Star rating. Freezers with Energy Star ratings are at least 10 percent more energy-efficient than the minimum federal standard.The 8 Best Upright Freezers of 2021


There is no distinction in establishment for a self-thawing out or manual thaw out cooler. By and large, a cooler ought to consistently be connected to its own outlet with the fitting voltage rating. This will give the best exhibition of your cooler paying little heed to its thawing out work.



Self-defrost functionality, however, does increase the price of a freezer. Consumers should confirm the presence of this feature before buying since it’s not always easy to detect its visible presence. Nor is it often noted on the appliance tag or details.

Manual Defrost

A manual defrost upright freezer the same size as a self-defrosting model will cost slightly less because there are fewer components. A manual defrost chest freezer of about the same size (in cubic feet) will cost even less than a manual defrost upright.

Best for Cost: Manual Defrost

A manual defrost freezer of any style will be less expensive than a self-defrosting upright freezer. There are still plenty of models across most brands of manual or self-defrosting freezers.


You may hear that coolers last around 20 years. Actually whether or not you have a self-thawing out and a manual thaw out cooler, your apparatus will last between 10 to 14 years. In any case, the normal life expectancy of a cooler is all the more ordinarily 11 years, as per the National Association of Home Builders.2

The Verdict

There are upsides and downsides to self-thawing out or manual thaw out coolers that even out the decision. Shoppers ought to consider all cooler highlights alongside activity, energy, and support prior to settling on a choice about purchasing a cooler. At the point when it comes time to settle on your cooler choice, consider what’s generally imperative to you: the comfort of a self-thawing out cooler or the expense, energy investment funds, and decision of style of a manual thaw out model.

Top Brands

  • GE sells both upright and chest freezers of all sizes. Look for models with temperature alarms and power on lights so you don’t lose costly food.
  • Frigidaire’s upright and chest freezers feature technology that keeps food frozen for over two days in the event of a power outage.
  • Whirlpool offers a number of budget-friendly upright and chest freezers with auto-defrost, as well as manual defrost.

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