How to buy the best freezer
By Patrick Gallagher
Before you buy a new freezer, read our expert buying guide to make sure you choose the best model for your kitchen, budget and groceries.
Don't be fooled into thinking freezers are one and the same just because they often look alike. Before you buy your new freezer, read this guide to make sure you armed with all the information you'll need to make a good decision in the shops.
Whether you're looking for a tall, small or chest freezer, looks can be deceiving. Even models that look identical from the outside can contain very different amounts of usable storage space, and features, price and performance can also vary.
Keep reading to discover what to look out for, and use our interactive tool, below, to help you pick the perfect freezer for your home. Or, head to our Best Buy freezers page to find out which models topped our tough tests.
Which type of freezer do you need?
If you’re replacing your old freezer, you’ll probably know the size and type you want - so skip ahead to the ‘Where will you keep your freezer?’ section.
Planning a new kitchen? Then we've got information, below, on the different types of freezer you can buy. This will help you to decide which is the best type for you.
If you're buying a fridge as well, consider whether a combined fridge freezer would be a better option. These take up less space and work out cheaper overall, so check out our advice on buying the best fridge freezer before you make a decision
Freestanding or integrated freezer?
Freestanding freezers are the most popular and cheapest type to buy. There are lots of models to choose from, you can put them anywhere within reach of a plug socket and you can take your freezer with you when you move home.
Integrated freezers are hidden from sight behind kitchen cupboard doors, meaning you can avoid having appliances on view.
Upright, tall freezers
These stand at between shoulder and head height, and offer a huge amount of storage space for frozen food. However, they take up a fair amount of space and can look bulky, particularly in small kitchens.
Tall models fit the following criteria:
- Most are 50-60cm wide and 60-65cm deep
- Heights vary from 130cm to more than 185cm. If you choose a really tall one, check that you can easily retrieve items in the top drawer or compartment
- Prices start at around £230 for a basic model from brands such as Beko, Fridgemaster and Indesit
- Prices range to more than £1,000 for a large, frost-free Miele or Siemens with a stainless-steel finish
- The taller the freezer, the higher the price tag when comparing models from the same brand
- Mid-height models - around 175-185cm - from brands such as Beko, Hotpoint, Indesit and Zanussi will cost £300-400. A similar Bosch or Samsung will set you back £500-600
- Expect to pay £750 or more if you want a Miele or Siemens.
Tall freezers cost from £230 to more than £1,000 and are 55cm - 65cm wide.
These fit under your kitchen worktop, so they’re ideal if you're short on space.
- Models are 90cm high or less to fit under the average kitchen counter – but check there’s enough clearance under yours before you buy.
- Most are 60cm wide and 50-60cm deep. It’s possible to buy slim models which are less than 55cm wide and 50cm deep - these are useful if you don't have a lot of room and you don’t want your freezer to protrude on to your kitchen floor.
- The price you pay will largely depend on the brand you choose. You can pick up a cheap manual-defrost freezer from brands such as Beko, Hotpoint, Indesit, Lec and Zanussi for less than £150. While their frost-free models start at around £230.
With lids rather than a door, chest freezers are good for storing big and bulky items - such as large joints of meat. Plus, the lack of drawers mean that you can fit more in. On the downside, chest freezers take up a lot of room and it can be hard to find what you’re looking for inside.
Want lots of freezer space? Read our guide on how to buy the best chest freezer.
Where will you keep your freezer?
Some manufacturers, such as Beko and Zanussi, guarantee its freezers will work in unheated rooms such as a garage or shed. Bosch, on the other hand, advises that its freezers aren’t kept in room temperatures that fall below 5°C - which a garage inevitably will during a cold winter.
If you want a freezer for your garage, check with the manufacturer whether the model you have your eye on is suitable. It’s also a good idea to check whether they’ll honour the warranty if you do keep it in an outbuilding.
What size freezer should you buy?
This will depend on the size of your household and kitchen. Whichever model you're buying, check the dimensions carefully. Including whether you should factor in extra space at the sides, back and/or top for air to circulate.
Check whether you need to add extra space at the sides, back and/or top to allow air to circulate.
How much storage space will you need?
If you're planning on freezing a lot of food you're going to need a freezer with lots of storage space inside. However, you can't rely on advertised freezer capacities, as manufacturers typically remove all of the shelves, drawers and door racks when measuring.
We leave everything inside and measure the space you can actually use for storing food. We find big differences between claimed and actual capacities - some freezes have as much as 29% less space than advertised.
Our usable storage volumes give a realistic idea of how much food you can store inside one model when compared with another. You can find these measurements on the technical specification tab of each of our freezer reviews.
Which freezer features should you pay more for?
Freezers don’t have a vast array of features - you won’t find many programmes, functions, storage features or optional extras to choose between.
The main features to look out for are:
- Frost-free This prevents ice from forming, so you’ll never have to defrost your freezer
- Fast freeze Gives a boost of cooling power for freezing a large load of fresh food quickly. The faster food freezes, the fresher it will be when you defrost it
- High temperature warning alarm Lets you know if the freezer temperature starts to rise, so you can investigate and hopefully fix any problem before the food in your freezer starts to thaw
- Open-door alarm Lets you know if you inadvertently leave the door ajar.
Frost-free, fast-freeze and high temperature alarms are features worth investing in.
What type of back does the freezer have?
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 is highly flammable compared with aluminium laminate and metal.
We are therefore not recommending any refrigeration appliances that have flammable plastic backing. All plastic-backed fridge freezers 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 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.
Which freezer is suitable for your kitchen?
Every freezer has a climate class that tells you the range of room temperatures it’s designed to work within. The climate class is denoted by letters – we’ve put these in bold below and highlighted the temperature range each class relates to:
- SN: 10-32°C
- N: 16-32°C
- ST: 16-38°C
- T: 16-43°C
The two you’re most likely to come across are SN and N. Both work effectively in room temperatures up to 32°C, but only SN-classed models are designed for rooms that get as cold as 10°C. It’s possible for kitchens to reach such chilly temperatures during cold winter months.
Want to know which freezer to buy? Head straight to our freezer reviews.