Chest Freezer vs. Upright Freezer Comparing Freezing Efficiency

Buying in bulk or storing proceeds from a recent hunting trip? You’ll need a freezer! Is a chest freezer more efficient? Or, an upright freezer?

When looking for a new freezer, you likely consider the size, where you’ll store it, and more. One of the most important things to check is the freezer’s efficiency. If you compare chest freezers with upright freezers, you’ll quickly notice a huge efficiency difference.

Chest freezers are more energy-efficient than upright freezers because they open from the top and have less pressure difference, which keeps cold air from escaping. On average, chest freezers use less energy to cool the same storage area. They also have 15% or more space. 

In this post, I’ll explain why chest freezers are more efficient, whether or not upright freezers use a lot of power, and what affects a freezer’s efficiency. Read on to learn which type of freezers you should use and how to maximize the efficiency of whichever freezer you’re using. 

Chest Freezers Are More Energy Efficient Than Upright Freezers

Chest freezers are much more energy efficient than upright freezers for several reasons, including the fact that there’s not nearly as much pressure on the seals. Chest freezers also don’t use as much power because the vents rest at the top, which allows the cold air to drop.

Here’s a list of reasons most chest freezers are more energy-efficient than upright freezers:

  • Energy Star claims chest freezers don’t have to cool anything outward, so gravity is on their side. Cold air naturally drops. When a chest freezer blows air from the top, it drops and covers all the food in the freezer. Upright freezers need to use more energy since they have to cool multiple levels facing outward.
  • Chest freezers have less pressure difference and lose less cold air. Upright freezers are known for wearing out their seals due to uneven pressure issues. The taller the freezer, the more pressure difference you’ll have. This allows air to escape, requiring more energy to keep the freezer cold.
  • Upright freezers get hinge problems quicker than chest freezers. The hinges on a chest freezer don’t have any pressure on them when closed. The same can’t be said for the hinges on an upright freezer because they constantly have downward pressure.

Keep in mind that the freezer make and model you choose are more important than whether it’s an upright or chest-style freezer. 

Every freezer shows how many watts it uses. If you’re worried about energy consumption, simply check the watts used per hour. You can also check the amps and volts to know if it needs a dedicated breaker (most of them do).

Read: Why Chest Freezer Making Buzzing Noises? – Troubleshooting Guide

Do Upright Freezers Use a Lot of Energy?

Older upright freezers use a lot of energy because they often require up to 500 kWh per year. However, new energy-efficient upright freezers often use as little as half that amount. That being said, most upright freezers still use more energy than the average chest freezer or upright refrigerator.

EcoCost Savings reports that upright freezers use an average of 445.5 kWh per year if they’re not approved by Energy Star (or another energy management company). So, while they don’t use massive amounts of energy compared to heaters, pool pumps, and other appliances, they noticeably use more power than chest freezers.

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Read: Why Chest Freezer Not Working In Garage?

Chest Freezers Are More Space Efficient Than Upright Freezers 

Upright freezers are less space-efficient than chest freezers because they need more room for air vents and larger compressors. While most of a chest freezer’s components are at the bottom, the entire back and sides of an upright freezer are lined with fans and other components, limiting available storage space.

Let’s take a look at why upright freezers have less space.

  • Taste of Home claims that upright freezers have as much as 15% less usable space. You’ll find plenty of chest freezers with much more room because they don’t have nearly as much clutter. Furthermore, people often use chest freezers for long-term storage, hunting food, and more (all of which require more cubic footage).
  • Most upright freezers have shelves that take up a lot of room. Chest freezers usually have vertical shelves that separate different compartments. They’re much more space-efficient, allowing you to store many more items without worrying about their height (which could limit an upright freezer’s capabilities.)
  • There are usually more cooling components in upright freezers compared to chest freezers. This means they’re a bit bulkier without providing more room. It’s a double negative for upright freezers, which makes chest freezers the clear winner in terms of functionality, space efficiency, and energy efficiency.
  • Chest freezers are much more efficient when it comes to stacking items. You don’t have to worry about hitting the shelves above them or figuring out how you’ll stack them without blocking the compressor (as you would with an upright freezer). This also allows chest freezers to cool the food quicker.

The easiest way to know how much room you’ll get in your freezer is to check the cubic footage. There are far more chest freezers with good cubic footage than upright freezers. 

And even when cubic footage is the same, you’ll still get better energy efficiency with the chest freezer. 

Read: 3 Reasons Why Chest Freezer Is Not Working After Power Outage

What Affects a Freezer’s Efficiency?

Many factors influence a freezer’s efficiency, especially when comparing chest freezers and upright freezers. For example, how much food you have in the freezer can determine how long it stays cold. Additionally, the height and width of a chest freezer or upright freezer affects energy usage.

Below is a list of the factors that affect the energy an upright freezer or a chest freezer uses.

  • How Stuff Works claims that filling your freezer will keep the food colder for longer, regardless of the type of freezer you have. This is because the frozen items maintain the cold air rather than the freezer having to continuously pump colder air into empty space.
  • Proper freezer maintenance enables your freezer to function much more efficiently. Check the compressor, filter, freezer coils, hinges, seals, and other parts. Cleaning and replacing these components when necessary will ensure the freezer doesn’t use too much energy trying to catch up.
  • Damaged seals and hinges can cost air leaks, both of which are more common in upright freezers. Anywhere there’s a gap along the outside of the freezer, cold air can escape. Minor air leaks in your freezer can skyrocket your utility bills by causing your freezer to run around the clock. Consider chest freezers to prevent these issues.
  • Worn, old freezers typically use more power because they don’t have energy-efficient approval ratings or parts. This problem applies to upright freezers and chest freezers, but it’s more common in upright freezers. All of the aforementioned wasted energy issues are multiplied by the aging parts and old design.

Use a multimeter to check your freezer’s voltage, amperage, and wattage if you’re curious about how much energy it’s using.

Read: 3 Possible Reasons Why Chest Freezer Not Freezing At Top – Troubleshooting Guide

Final Thoughts

While chest freezers are almost always more efficient than upright heaters, it’s important to note that your results may vary. For instance, if you have an old-school chest freezer, it’ll likely use more power than an Energy Star-approved upright freezer. 

The best way to know is to compare the hourly watt usage. Also, you can maximize the efficiency of your freezer by keeping it well maintained.

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