Upright freezers tend to be more convenient than chest models, since they are often self-defrosting and users don't need to bend over as much during use. However, we did encounter more reliability issues with upright freezers, and they are often more expensive to buy and run. If you're on a tight budget or you won't need to access your freezer that often, you might be better off with a chest freezer.
Overall, the best-rated upright freezer we found in available reviews is the 20.5-cubic-foot Frigidaire FFU21F5HW (*Est. $690) . This self-defrosting freezer is also sold as the Kenmore 28052 (*Est. $880) ; the two models are identical except for the brand name printed on the door. In professional tests, the freezer earns high marks for its temperature control and energy efficiency, but testers say it is noisier than most freezers. Some owners complain about this freezer's noise level, but most do not seem to find it a problem; in fact, a majority of the reviewers at RJWilley.com specifically cite this model's quietness as a plus. Users also like this freezer's capacity, organization and appearance. One comment we saw often is that the door seal is very tight; although many owners consider this a plus, some complain that it makes the door very hard to open. This freezer's features include an interior light, an open-door alarm and exterior digital controls. Another plus for those who prefer to buy American: Frigidaire proudly notes that this freezer is "designed, assembled and engineered in the USA." On the downside, the freezer is not Energy Star-rated. It comes with a one-year limited warranty.
We also found good reviews for self-defrosting Kenmore Elite 28712 (*Est. $825) . Although it is smaller than the Frigidaire FFU21F5HW at 16.7 cubic feet, it includes more features: glass shelves, adjustable door storage, a quick freeze option, a soft-freeze zone for ice cream and a retractable pizza shelf. The Kenmore Elite freezer does an excellent job of maintaining a constant temperature in professional tests, but despite its Energy Star rating its energy efficiency is only so-so. Users at Sears.com, the only site that sells Kenmore appliances, say that this freezer is well made and easy to organize, and they appreciate its bonus features. Their most common complaint is that it is loud, but most users don't find the noise to be a big problem. The freezer is backed by a one-year limited warranty.
If you don't need a large-capacity freezer but prefer an upright, the 12.1-cubic-foot Frigidaire FFU12F2HW (*Est. $510) receives good ratings from experts and owners alike. This freezer, which is also sold as the Kenmore 28262 (*Est. $520) , gets middling results in professional tests. Its temperature control is excellent, but its noise level is only so-so. The Frigidaire/Kenmore freezer has interior lighting but no power-on light, and the controls are located inside the freezer. The freezer earns good overall scores from owners at ABT.com and Sears.com, who praise its performance, capacity and quietness. However, we did see a few complaints about reliability, usually involving compressors that failed within the first two years. Like the larger Frigidaire upright, this freezer is U.S.-made but isn't Energy Star-rated. It is covered by a one-year warranty.
Manual-defrost upright freezers are less expensive than self-defrost models, but they do need to be defrosted regularly, a messy process that can take several hours. Moreover, experts find that manual-defrost units often struggle to maintain consistent temperatures throughout, and food stored in the door can become unacceptably warm. In one test, the best manual-defrost upright freezer received lower scores for temperature performance than the worst self-defrosting upright and manual-defrost chest freezers. Still, some users prefer manual-defrost uprights because they don't have internal fans, so food stored in them is less susceptible to freezer burn. If you want manual defrosting with the convenient storage of an upright, you have a couple of options.
One product, the Frigidaire FFU21M7H (*Est. $660) , gets only middling scores in professional tests but receives excellent reviews from users. Tests show the U.S.-made freezer is very energy efficient (though it is not Energy Star-rated) and fairly quiet, but its temperature control is only so-so. However, users at BestBuy.com and RCWilley.com give this freezer very high scores overall, praising its capacity, organization and efficiency. Features such as the adjustable door bins, interior lighting and door lock are singled out for praise. However, we did see a few complaints about reliability, with several users saying their freezers spontaneously defrosted and all the contents went bad. Like other Frigidaire freezers, this model comes with a one-year limited warranty.
The 17.1-cubic-foot Frigidaire FFU17M7HW (*Est. $650) receives better test ratings than the larger FFU21M7H, but it still does a mediocre job of maintaining a consistent temperature. This freezer has three wire shelves, interior lighting and a keyed lock, but it lacks extras such as a temperature alarm and power-on light. The door includes a nice variety of storage shelves and bins. This freezer is also sold as the Kenmore 28722 (*Est. $660) , and most of the user reviews we found for it came from the Frigidaire and Kenmore manufacturer sites. Users on both sites like this freezer's quietness and good organization, but we saw a few complaints about the door seal. A couple of users say it seals so tightly that it makes the door hard to open, while another says that, by contrast, it leaks so badly that moisture condenses around it and freezes the door shut. This freezer is not Energy Star-rated and has a one-year warranty.