The average household freezer is a silent slave. It operates
year in and year out, requiring nothing other than a
constant supply of electricity. Eventually, though it may
need to be replaced.
The following are a few considerations that will allow you to make an informed decision about its purchase.
Most consumers have only a few concerns (other than price)
when purchasing a freezer:
1 … What size do I require?
2 … How much electricity will it consume?
3 … What (if any)options do I need?
Size of course depends upon your needs. Generally though,
most people purchase too large a freezer. They base their
judgement upon perceived usages rather than real usage.
Their reasoning is: We “might” need a larger one in case
there “may be” a special at the grocery store on something.
The reality though is that most freezers end up being
operated only half full.
Also, remember that all frozen foods should be consumed
within six weeks. Foods stored longer than that can become
dehydrated no matter how well wrapped. As the moisture
leaves the food both taste and nutritional value will be
lowered. So anything stored longer than six weeks will
probably end up being thrown out. As an example, how much
ice cream have you thrown away because ice crystals started
to form inside the package? That ice forming inside the
package is dehydration at work.
Therefore, when trying to decide how big a freezer to
purchase we suggest using what we call the “six week rule”.
To use this rule you first approximate how much “frozen”
food your family consumes in a six-week period. Then
envision how much space those items would require if stacked
on your kitchen counter. That will give you an idea of the
physical size of freezer you require.
Lastly, don’t forget that the chest style freezer will
require twice the floor space of an upright. This may be an
important factor if you live in an apartment.
Although freezers are efficient consumers of electricity
they will definitely increase your electrical bill.
An upright freezer consumes more electricity. This is because every time it is opened the cold air spills out onto the floor. Consequently, it runs more frequently. Also today’s uprights are often frost free, which by their nature consume much more electricity. So we have to pay for the advantage of not having to defrost it.
Chest freezers are more efficient consumers of electricity
because the cold air lies inside even though the lid is
lifted to access the contents. But, chest types are manual
and will need to be shut down and defrosted once a year.
Are there ways to lower the electrical consumption of our
To lower electrical consumption some people only use their
freezer seasonally. During summer and fall, when freshly
grow food is available, they clean out the freezer and turn
it off. It is started back up again for winter and spring
usage. This practise is common with gardeners who primarily
want to store their fall vegetables. Seniors also do this
because getting out in the winter is more difficult.
Therefore they use a freezer to reduce the number of trips
to the grocery store.
Some people are now suggesting a practice called freezer
blocking to lower consumption. This entails filling any
unused space in the freezer with blankets or boxes of
insulation. The theory is that only the food area would be
cooled because air circulation is being blocked off from
unused sections. The smaller the space being cooled, the
less the freezer should operate.
Others suggest filling unused space with containers of
water. They would become frozen and act as a thermal media
that in theory would lower the run time of the freezer. The
jury is still out on these ideas. To me seems like an over
reaction by people who bought too large a freezer in the
Since most freezers are relegated to the basement they are
not an appliance that needs to look pretty. Neither do most
consumers feel a necessity for them to have many options.
Most are simply regarded as large storage boxes where frozen
foods are kept for later usage.
Recently though manufacturers they have been offering a few
more options. Things such as frost free, built in alarms,
digital temperature displays, push button controls, and
quick freeze are now on the market. All options on a
freezer can serve a purpose but must be offset with the
possibility of increased complexity. The more complex a
device the more possibility of it breaking down. Plus, along
with complexity usually comes increased cost.
One of the more unusual things you will see comes from Haier America. It is a chest style freezer with a pull out drawer at the bottom. The upper half is a basic chest freezer for long term storage. The lower half allows quick access via a drawer that slides out. The idea is that the drawer section is for items that need to be frozen – but will be used within a few days.
Food preferences have changed significantly in the last
decade. We are eating less beef and more poultry and
vegetables. Consequently, consumers now store less than 50
pounds of beef at any time.
Twenty years ago freezers sold would average fifteen to
twenty cubic feet. Today the most popular size for a freezer
is seven to twelve cubic feet. Again a reflection upon the
fact that more people are consuming fresh foods rather than
· Household freezers come in either a chest style or
an upright style.
· If you are looking for convenience, then the upright freezer is for you. Obviously, its design allows you to get to the food easily. Simply reaching into an upright requires less flexibility than leaning into a chest freezer.
· Chest freezers tend to be more efficient to operate and consume less electricity.
· Chest freezers are usually manual and will need to be defrosted once per year. Many upright freezers though are self-defrosting.
· If you expect to use the freezer for long-term storage a chest is better because they operate at a lower temperature than an upright.
So it is time to finally make that choice of what to buy.
Hopefully, some of the ideas above will help you make an
informed decision. Remember to take a close look at the
Energuide before purchasing. It offers a lot of information
to help with an informed decision. But more on the Energuide in future issues.
March 1, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Donald Grummett. All right reserved.
In the trade over 30 years as a technician, business owner, and technical trainer. For more information about appliances including Frequently Asked Questions, Stain guide, Newsletter, and Recycling visit http://www.mgservices.ca