Refrigerator (isolated with clipping path over white background)

Although most homeowners just use the freezer built into their fridge, many also choose to add a second standalone freezer appliance for supplemental use, often in the garage, basement or pantry. Large households, hunters and fishermen may need a separate freezer just to hold surplus food, whether it is prepackaged or freshly caught.  This guide will help explains the major freezer types and  features to help you make an informed buying decision.

Chest Freezers

Of the two basic types of freezers available for the home, chest freezers are great for bulk storage. Chest freezers are horizontally oriented and commonly feature a lift-up, solid-top lid. They contain a single spacious freezer compartment ideally suited to storing large cuts of meat or other big items that cannot fit in the kitchen freezer. Chest freezers in the home usually possess between 4.0 and 25.0 cubic feet in capacity, although smaller units are available. Consisting of a durable acrylic or vinyl laminate shell, chest freezers are insulated with high-density polyurethane foam and commonly feature a one-piece lining for easy cleaning.

Chest Freezer Features

Chest freezers are typically manual defrost appliances with a drain plug provided for that purpose. They often feature an adjustable mechanical thermostatic control, a power-on indicator light and a safety lock. An interior light may be included. Regardless of their size, chest freezers include one or more removable freezer baskets for convenient loading and unloading. Some units feature counterbalanced hinges so that the lift-up lid stays put when opened.

Commercial Chest Freezers

Commercial chest freezers are nearly identical to residential units in design, specifications and features. The biggest difference is that commercial units are primarily designed for displaying wares, so they feature sliding glass doors instead of solid lids. The glass may be curved or flat, is tempered for strength and is heat reflective. Other commercial chest freezers include ice cream dipping cabinets. These spacious units are designed to hold a dozen or more 3-gallon ice cream tubs. They feature a heavy-duty straight glass top with a sneeze guard for easy customer viewing on one side and quick clerk access on the other. Commercial chest freezers also include heavy-duty casters for easy moving.

Upright Freezers

The other primary freezer type is an upright freezer. From ultra-small, 1.3-cubic-foot units to medium- and full-size models, upright freezers more closely resemble traditional refrigerators in design. While refrigerators typically feature one door enclosing separate compartments, upright freezers feature a single door with home units. Commercial upright freezers are an exception to this, though. Many of the same structural components and design features of chest freezers are found on upright freezers. These include adjustable temperature controls, high-density foam insulation and a one-piece interior liner for easy cleaning. Upright freezers commonly come with automatic defrost and with leveling legs for orientation on uneven surfaces. They are readily available in a stainless steel as well as a vinyl laminate or acrylic finish.

Common Features

Upright features range in size from 1.3 cubic feet to about 20 cubic feet. Medium- and full-size freezers as well as some compact units feature ample door storage, multiple adjustable interior shelves and storage drawers. An interior light and power-on light are nearly standard. Some upright freezers have a field reversible door for desired orientation. Lock and key sets are included with many models, and door handles are either recessed or reach-through. Full-size upright freezers are capable of holding 700 pounds or more of frozen goods, meaning they are capable of storing months' worth of supplies.

Commercial Upright Freezers

Upright freezers used in commercial applications are for either storage or display. Commercial storage freezers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including rollable under-counter units, combination worktop freezers, single and multi-section reach-in freezers and countertop display freezers. Rollable under-counter and worktop freezers are about 3 feet high, feature heavy-duty casters and commonly include dual side-swing doors. Worktop combos include a backsplash to hold a cutting board or other utensils. Straight under-counter freezers are sized to stow neatly away where space is otherwise tight. Full-size reach-in freezers come in single- and multi-door designs with up to 72 cubic feet in capacity. Commercial units often feature digital temperature controls, an automatic evaporating condenser and self-closing doors. Upright merchandise freezers include see-though triple pane windows for maximum product visibility. Fluorescent lights, a stainless steel floor and custom panel acceptability are typical.

Commercial freezers are almost always finished in stainless steel and may feature galvanized steel or anodized aluminum components. Merchandisers are often finished in rugged acrylic or vinyl. All types are foamed-in-place with dense polyurethane insulation. Heavy-duty swivel casters and magnetic door gaskets are also common attributes of commercial upright freezers.

Brands and Prices

A wide number of appliance makers produce freezers of either the residential or commercial kind at an equally wide variety of prices. Chest freezers found in homes and food service establishments are made by Frigidaire, Kenmore, Haier, GE, Avanti, Maytag, Fricon, Summit, Arctic Air and Danby. Many of these same brands produce home upright freezers, as do Whirlpool, Sunpentown and Electrolux. Other brands specialize almost exclusively in the commercial freezer market. Appliance makers such as Tor-Rey, Caravell, Turbo Air, Beverage Air, Excellence and True produce a wide assortment of upright, chest and merchandising freezers for commercial application.

As for price, you can spend from $150 to $2,000 or more for a chest or upright freezer to install in your home. Commercial freezers are priced differently. Commercial chest freezers start at around $500, while high-end commercial reach-in units have prices that vary widely between $1,000 and $5,000. Basically, there is no such thing as a narrow price range with residential and commercial freezers. Whatever you need can be found, and whatever your budget, it can be met. Whether for display or storage, in the home or at a commercial establishment, a freezer is the only way to preserve foods safely for a long period.