Chest Freezer Buyers Guide
- Why buy a chest freezer?
- What to Look for in a Chest Freezer
- Explanation of Key Terminology
A chest freezer differs from a traditional fridge/freezer in that it opens from the top rather than the side. This has the advantage of being able to provide more storage especially for oversized items (think Christmas turkey!) and also allows less cold air to escape when the door is opened (hot air rises, cool air falls).
Why Buy a Chest Freezer?
Although all chest freezers may look like big white boxes, they do differ in the features they offer, and for some people it may be important to find one that is particularly quiet or can be safely used in outbuildings. Read on for our top tips and jargon busting buyers guide!
Here is a closer look at the main features and specifications that you need to consider when purchasing a chest freezer:
Where to Keep Your Chest Freezer
You first need to consider where you are going to put such a bulky item. Many people decide to keep their freezer in a garage or outbuilding. You should be aware however that some manufacturers don't recommend this as they only design their products to work down to a minimum temperature of around +10 degrees Celcius. Even a garage protected from the elements can go lower than this during a typical British winter.
Of course many people do still keep their freezers outdoors and suffer no consequences - just remember that if a fault does develop that the manufacturer may not honour the warranty.
There are however some manufacturers like Zanussi, Beko and Iceking that specifically design and test their products for use in unheated outbuildings. Read more about this and see which freezers can be kept in the garage.
It is also important to consider the effect of heat too. There should be good ventilation in the location you have chose for your freezer and should generally not exceed 32 - 40 degrees Celcius. you should also ensure that there is space around the freezer, particularly the back where the heat is expelled, so that the freezer is always on top form.
Chest Freezer capacity is measured in litres (and sometimes cubic feet). There are generally two measurements - gross and net. The net figure is the important one as this is the actual total space that you can use to store food.
Energy Consumption, Rating
Every electrical appliance is now rated on a scale from A to G for it's energy use. A is the best while G is the worst. There are also A+ and even A++ and A+++ ratings for super-efficient models.
In addition to the rating, most manufacturers quote the average annual electricity usage - measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). One kWh is one unit of electricity so a freezer quoted as using 200 kWh per year will use 200 units. That's a cost of about £26 at Spring 2015 prices.
Noise is measured in decibels (dB) and the freezers generally operate in the range of 38 to 45 dB. The more expensive models, such as Bosch, Miele and Liebherr generally have better build quality which dampens the vibration of the compressor, and so operate more quietly. This is particularly important if the freezer will be kept indoors such as in a utility room or hallway.
Food Safe Time
This is the amount of time that a freezer can keep food safe to eat in the event of a power failure. More expensive models will have much better insulation and seals and will be able to keep food safe for much longer - we have seen up to 70 hours.
A Frost Free Chest Freezer?
It is unusual to find a completely frost free freezer (that is one that does not need to be defrosted regularly to remove the large deposits of ice that can build up inside) due to the very low temperatures. However, some manufacturers namely Whirlpool have developed a system of crystal bags that can be placed in the freezer. These bags absorb all the moisture and so limit the amount of ice build-up. The bags need to be replaced every 6 months.
All freezers can be manually defrosted and we recommend you do this according to the manufacturers instructions. Look for those that have front drains that make it easier to collect the water as the ice inside melts.
Refrigerators and freezers have a star rating that determines their effectiveness at maintaining low temperatures. Nearly all chest freezers have the maximum four stars which indicate it will cool to temperatures of -18C or colder - required to freeze fresh food.
Many chest freezers, even the budget models, have fast freeze which freezes food quickly but still retains freshness and texture. This is especially useful when you fill the freezer up with a lot of items that have been at room temperature. Budget models usually have a switch that you operate manually to switch onto fast freeze, while more expensive models will automatically sense the temperature and adjust accordingly.
Some of the more expensive freezers will have a lockable lid - ideal to keep the kids away from the ice creams, and to deter casual thieves who might be looking for easy pickings in more insecure outbuildings. Some model's may not come with a lock as standard but can have one fitted later.
This means that when you open the lid it stays open in that position and won't slam shut if you let go. Ideal for filling up the freezer after a big shopping trip.
Find the Best Chest Freezer for Your Needs
Now that you're an expert on chest freezers, see all currently available Chest Freezers and start stocking up on that cheap frozen food!