How to buy the best chest freezer
By Patrick Gallagher
Frost-free or manual defrost? Counterbalanced or regular lid? Find out everything you need to know about how to buy the best chest freezer.
See which models aced our tests - check out our Best Buy freezers.
Read on to find out the answers to:
Chest freezers are cavernous appliances that can hold a huge amount of food. They’re useful if you tend to buy and freeze a lot of food in bulk or like to freeze a large load of fresh produce in one go. Chest freezers are large, which means you’ll need a lot of space to keep one in your home.
Chest freezer pros:
- You can store a huge amount of food inside
- They’re inexpensive to buy
- Chest freezers are ideal for storing large and bulky items, such as a big joint of meat
- They offer more usable space than regular freezers.
Chest freezer cons:
- They’re big and bulky – and won’t fit into a lot of kitchens or utility rooms
- Storage features are limited – it’s easy to lose smaller or already opened items
- Most models aren’t frost-free, so you have to defrost them when ice builds up
- You may not want a big white box on view in your home.
We’ve tested chest freezers from brands such as Beko, Bosch, Lec, Miele and Zanussi. To see which are the best for keeping food safely frozen around the clock, head to our freezer reviews - and filter results for chest freezers via the left-hand menu.
Chest freezers don’t have many features to deliberate over. The biggest difference between them and other freezer types is that most need to be defrosted manually. Frost-free options are few and far between. Here are the main features to think about:
These are suspended over the main compartment and are really useful for keeping smaller items where you can find them easily. They’re also ideal for storing open packets of peas and chips upright, preventing them from spilling all over the main chest freezer section.
This works by keeping the chest freezer lid fixed in an open position once you’ve lifted it, leaving you with both hands free to add food or rummage around to find the item you’re looking for. Without this, you’ll have to prop the lid up with one hand while you reach inside with the other.
High temperature warning
These are either alarms or lights that activate if the temperature in the freezer starts to rise. This should give you plenty of time to investigate the problem and help you avoid having to discard the entire contents of your freezer.
Being able to lock the lid of your chest freezer is an invaluable safety feature, particularly if young children are around. It can also help prevent the contents of your fridge freezer from being stolen – handy if you keep your chest freezer in your garage.
Counterbalanced lids are really handy as they stay propped open, leaving you with both hands free to rummage around for the item you want.
Chest freezers come in all sorts of sizes. From small square 54cm wide by 61cm deep models that have a similar footprint to an under-counter freezer, to huge, deep chests which are more than 115cm long.
The size you buy will depend on the amount of space you have to put it in, as well as the amount of food you’ll want to store. Some people want a large chest freezer to hold vast quantities of food. Others prefer a smaller space-saving model to hold the overflow of frozen food that won’t fit into the main kitchen freezer.
The price you pay will depend on the size and brand you buy. In general, the larger the freezer, the higher the price tag (when compared with models from the same brand).
Small chest freezer prices
You can get a small 78cm-or-less Beko, Fridgemaster, John Lewis or Zanussi chest freezer for around £150-£230.
There aren’t a huge number to choose from and most are 50–55cm wide.
Large chest freezers
A cheap, large chest freezer that’s around 80cm wide or more will set you back around £200-£300 from brands such as Fridgemaster, Indesit or Lec.
Expect to pay £300-£400 for most John Lewis chests, while Bosch models cost £360-£460. Miele chest freezers cost more than £500.
Most freezers aren't meant to be kept in cold rooms. But lots of people keep freezers in garages without any problems.
If you want to keep your chest freezer in the garage, this will affect which model you can buy. This is because most freezers aren’t designed to work in rooms that get colder than 10°C. If you keep your freezer in a garage there’s a risk it might not work properly, and it could invalidate its warranty.
In practice, however, lots of people keep freezers in garages or chilly utility rooms without any problems. You can read more about this in our guide to the best freezers for your garage.
Some manufacturers, such as Beko and Zanussi, guarantee their freezers will work in unheated rooms. Bosch, on the other hand, advises that its freezers aren’t kept in room temperatures that fall below 5°C - a not unimaginable occurrence during a chilly UK winter.
Before you buy a chest freezer, it’s worth checking directly with the manufacturer what range of temperatures it will operate in. We’d also recommend checking whether keeping the model in a garage would invalidate its warranty, to avoid any unpleasant surprises further down the line.
The best chest freezers freeze fast and maintain a safely frozen temperature all year round, to ensure food is at is freshest when you defrost it. Discover which models fit this bill - check out our in-depth freezer reviews.
All freezers need insulation to keep cool. This insulation is flammable, so it's essential that it's sufficiently protected in the event of a fire.
The backing that protects this insulation is currently made from either plastic, metal or aluminium laminate, depending on the make and model of freezer you buy.
We continually monitor and vary the assessments that underpin our reviews to take account of changing standards and areas of concern.
Our tests have revealed that plastic backing can be highly flammable. We are therefore not recommending any refrigeration appliances that have flammable plastic backing.
All freezers with this type of backing have been made Which? Don't Buys, regardless of how else they have performed in our chilling and freezing tests.
Our freezer reviews will tell you what type of backing each model has.
If you already own an appliance with a flammable plastic back, it's worth knowing that the likelihood of a refrigerator fire is very low, and the material used in the backing can allow an existing fire to spread – but it isn't the cause of the fire itself. Read more on freezer safety.