If you want to store a lot of food for a long time, a chest freezer is your best bet. Our best-reviewed model in this category is the Frigidaire FFFC16M5QW (Est. $599), which provides 15.69 cubic feet of storage space at a great price. That's big enough to hold an entire steer or winter's worth of venison, or a major stockpile of purchased frozen goods.
While the FFFC16M5QW has not been specifically tested, its predecessor, the since discontinued and virtually identical FFCH16M5QW, is included in one professional roundup. Experts love this Frigidaire chest freezer for its excellent energy efficiency and temperature control; users love it for its quiet operation and solid durability, although a few do say that the lid feels a little flimsy. The single sliding basket comes in handy for organizing smaller items but, with a freezer this big, you really need dividers or at least more baskets for organizing smaller items; users make do by providing their own plastic bins or buying more baskets from the manufacturer.
The Frigidaire FFFC16M5QW freezer has a power-on light so you can see that it's operating, a bright interior LED light to help you find whatever you're looking for, and a lock that automatically pops the key out (so you can't accidentally leave it in the lock). This is an especially important safety feature if you have children in the house, because they could climb into an unlocked freezer and become trapped inside.
You will have to defrost the Frigidaire FFFC16M5QW manually -- probably about twice a year -- but it has a water drain to make the process easier, and we didn't find any notable complaints about excess frosting. This freezer is backed by a limited one-year warranty -- pretty much the industry standard, nowadays -- and has an expected operating cost of $37 or 306 kWh/year.
Another excellent option is the 14.8-cubic-foot Amana AZC31T15DW (Est. $550). This mid-size chest freezer gets excellent expert scores for temperature performance and efficiency, and also does a very good job of keeping your food frozen during a power outage.
The 14.8-cubic-foot capacity is enough to hold a whole pig, users say, and they like the easy-to-use dial temperature control and two wire baskets for organizing smaller items. They also say this freezer is fairly quiet -- probably due to its lack of an auto-defrost feature. (There is a drain, though, to make manual defrosting easy.) The only real complaint is that users wish there were an interior light for this model. But otherwise, it delivers an excellent combination of storage space, reliability and value. The projected operating cost is $36 or 297 kWh/year, and the Amana AZC31T15DW is covered by a limited one-year warranty.
If you don't need quite as much storage space, we also like the 10.6-cubic-foot GE FCM11PHWW (Est. $400). This freezer draws top expert scores for its temperature control and energy efficiency, and very good scores for its insulation performance during a power outage. Users and experts alike also praise its whisper-quiet operation.
Some of the features users appreciate most on this freezer are the interior lighting, a built-in lock, three lift-out sliding baskets for organizing smaller items, and a power-on light so they can make sure it's still operating, since they probably won't be able to hear it. There's also a drain for emptying any meltwater left from a manual defrost. Projected operating cost for this Energy-Star-rated model is $26 or 218 kWh/year.
The aforementioned freezers are all great values. If you're on a limited budget, however, one of the best deals we found is the 7-cubic-foot GE FCM7SHWW (Est. $239). You will find a few cheaper freezers out there, but not very many -- and none of them will have the same well-earned reputation for solid, reliable performance and very quiet operation.
A drain port makes the manual-defrost process easy, and a power-on light shows that the freezer is still working, even when you can't hear it. This freezer also comes with two lift-out sliding baskets, and draws excellent reviews for being just the right size: Big enough to supplement a too-small in-fridge freezer, but small enough that you can still reach the bottom and easily find what you want. The estimated operating cost is $30 or 250 kWh/year. Both of the two just-mentioned GE models are covered by a limited one-year warranty.
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