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Best Chest Freezers

By: Lisa Maloney on March 19, 2018

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Best chest freezer


Chest freezers are great for long-term storage

If you want to store a lot of food for a long time, a chest freezer is your best bet (although an upright freezer, which we cover elsewhere in this report, will take up less floor space). Our best-reviewed model in this category is the GE FCM11PHWW (Est. $400), which draws Excellent scores from Consumer Reports for its temperature control and energy efficiency. Users and experts alike praise its whisper-quiet operation, and they say it's good in a power outage, too; one owner writes that it kept everything frozen after two full days without power.

Some of the features users appreciate most on the GE FCM11PHWW 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, handholds on either side of the lid that make it easy to open, and wheels that make it easy to roll this freezer around. That said, if you're the sort that leans on the freezer as you fill it up, it might roll right out from under you.

At 10.6 cubic feet, this is the perfect freezer for a mid-size family that likes to buy food in bulk or do some hunting, Users are often pleasantly shocked by just how much will fit in here; one family stored a full side of beef and a summer's worth of garden produce, while another filled it with elk. Projected operating cost for this Energy-Star-rated model is $26 or 218 kWh/year, and it's covered by a one-year warranty.

Although the GE FCM11PHWW can hold quite a bit, large families or particularly avid hunters may want more space. The 15.7-cubic-foot GE FCM16DLWW (Est. $650) and 21.7-cubic-foot GE FCM22DLWW (Est. $850) offer similar features and performance, including an Energy Star certification and one-year warranty. Both freezers also have the added bonuses of a temperature alarm and second-level rails, so you can organize sliding baskets on two levels.

If you're very environmentally minded, however, you might not like that both of these larger models use R134a refrigerant, which contributes to global warming and is set to be phased out of new freezers by the year 2021. You can read more about the global warming impact of some refrigerants, and which substitutes are and aren't acceptable, on the Environmental Protection Agency website. If you buy (or already own) a freezer with R134a coolant, you'll be able to keep it; the 2021 ban will apply only to new and retrofitted models.

If you want more freezer space, another excellent option in the chest freezer category is the 14.8-cubic-foot Amana AZC31T15DW ($500). Consumer Reports gives this mid-size chest freezer Excellent scores for thermostat control and efficiency, and Very Good ratings for keeping your food frozen during a power outage.

This freezer's 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 it's 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.

Like the Amana AZC31T15DW, the 14.8-cubic-foot Frigidaire FFFC15M4TW (Est. $500) receives Excellent scores from Consumer Reports for its temperature control and energy efficiency, although its ranking for performance during power outage is just Good, and its noise levels mean you'll probably be happiest with it tucked into the garage or utility room.

That said, this freezer offers plenty of room for stocking deer and other quarry from a prolific hunter, or a good-size family's stash of seasonal food. Useful features include a power on indicator, an external temperature dial and a drain to help with manual defrosting.

The Frigidaire FFFC15M4TW also has something that the previously mentioned Amana model doesn't: Interior lighting. On the downside, users are vexed by the way this model frequently arrives without the screws needed to mount its caster in place, and they say customer service is usually slow to replace them -- a particular problem because those have to be put in place before you start using the freezer. If you don't mind possibly going without the wheels, though, this is a viable alternative to the other models discussed, especially if you find it on sale. The Frigidaire FFFC15M4TW is covered by a one-year warranty, and its estimated energy cost is $36 or 296 kWh/year.

GE also makes a great, inexpensive freezer

The aforementioned freezers are all great values, but if you're on a more limited budget, one of the best deals we found is the 7-cubic-foot GE FCM7SKWW (Est. $240). 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, and this model is covered by a limited one-year warranty.

Another great bargain is the Insignia NS-CZ70WH6 (Est. $200). Its named a Best Buy by Consumer Reports, earning Excellent scores for temperature control and energy efficiency, and a Very Good score for noise levels.

This little freezer packs 7 cubic feet of storage space and some desirable features into an affordable package. Those features include adjustable leveling legs, a power on indicator light, a counter-balancing hinge that helps the door stay open at various angles, an external temperature control and a drain to help with manual defrosting.

Users wish the Insignia NS-CZ70WH6 had an interior light, and it comes with just one removable, sliding wire basket. But, in general, they're thrilled with its quiet, reliable performance. Like the GE FCM7SKWW, this model is estimated to cost $30 or 250 kWh/year to run, and it's covered by a 1-year warranty.

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