The Best Frost-Free Freezer to Own in 2018

freezer

Are you having freezer defrosting woes? A frost-free freezer could be the solution you need.

It’s true that all modern freezers can be defrosted in some way. However, there are important differences between frost-free freezers and manual defrost types.

For some people, a frost-free freezer makes life much easier. You’ll avoid the buildup of frost and the yearly hassle of removing it.

But there are also a few drawbacks that you should know about before you buy one. To decide which style of freezer is right for your lifestyle, you first need to understand the differences between them.

Once you have a handle on how both types of freezers work, you will be better able to choose one that will fit your needs.

What is Freezer Frost?

Frost-Free Outdoor Compact Refrigerator

People who own old or inexpensive freezer styles are often very familiar with freezer frost. To defrost some freezers, you have to manually scrape out the buildup of frost, which can make a frost-free style very enticing.

However, you can choose the right freezer solution more easily if you know a little more about freezer frost and where it comes from.

The frost that builds up on the sides of a freezer comes from moisture in the air. When the moisture reaches a low enough temperature, it sticks to the coldest nearby surface, which tends to be the sides of your freezer or the built-in ice maker.

Where does the moisture come from, though? It generally gets inside when you open the freezer door. However, if the gasket that seals the freezer doesn’t work well, it might leak, allowing water to get in.

The food in your freezer is also a source of moisture. If you store food that’s not wrapped or packaged well, the moisture will gradually work its way out and move toward the coldest part of the freezer. In fact, freezer frost is closely related to freezer burn: when air can reach the food, and moisture seeps out, you end up with freezer burn.

Why Defrosting Your Freezer Matters

Unless they’re designed to be frost-free, freezers naturally build up frost over time. There’s no way to completely prevent moisture from entering, although you can take steps to keep it to a minimum.

However, what’s so bad about a little bit of frost? After all, it’s just water, right?

The purpose of freezing food is to make it last longer. Freezing temperatures keep the microbes that make food decay from growing. In fact, as long as you avoid freezer burn and keep the temperature low enough, frozen food can stay good “indefinitely.”

However, a freezer doesn’t stay exactly at freezing all the time, which is why the things inside can still eventually go bad. Every time you open the door, the temperature varies a bit, and other conditions that lead to frost buildup, like a faulty gasket, also affect the temperature.

As frost builds up thanks to the clash of warm and cold air, you’ll start to lose space in your freezer to the walls of ice. However, your freezer will also become less efficient thanks to the buildup of frost.

Defrosting your freezer, whether you do it manually or with a frost-free option, is critical for making your food last. You want your freezer to help you save time and money by storing food for you, so you’ll need to take steps to make sure it runs well.

As a general rule, you should defrost your freezer at least once a year, or when the frost buildup exceeds ¼-inch thickness. You’ll need to take everything out of the freezer (which might mean throwing some things away) and either scrape away the ice or let it melt.

However, a frost-free freezer means you won’t have to do this work. Is it worth it? Let’s take a look.

What’s a Frost-Free Freezer?

Most of today’s new freezers are frost-free styles. However, some people have noticed issues with the frost-free design, and it may not be the best choice for everyone.

frost freezer

A frost-free freezer keeps frost away by letting the temperature go up once a day, to 32 degrees instead of the standard 0 degrees. However, in order for your food to stay good indefinitely, it has to stay at or below 0 degrees. When the temperature is going up regularly, even though it’s still “frozen,” your food doesn’t last as long.

The rising temperature of a frost-free design keeps your food below freezing but is warm enough to keep moisture in the air from condensing into ice. Instead, that moisture is collected and siphoned away from the freezer. You won’t get a buildup of frost - but you’re more likely to have freezer-burned food. The consistent, fluctuating temperature allows more moisture to leave your food.

If you freeze large quantities of food and want to keep it for a long time, a frost-free freezer won’t work well. However, you might still decide to use a frost-free freezer for everyday items and invest in a traditional deep freezer with no temperature fluctuations for things you want to freeze in the long term.

Pros and Cons of Frost-Free Freezers

Still not sure if the frost-free option is right for you? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • No frost on your food As mentioned above, frost-free freezers aren’t effective against freezer burn and can cause food to go bad faster. However, you won’t have to deal with the annoyance of ice crystals forming on your food, since these freezers actively work against that. This means the packages won’t stick together and the labels won’t become unreadable.
  • More storage space With a frost-free freezer, you won’t lose storage space to frost build-up. But that doesn’t mean you can pack your freezer completely full, either.A frost-free freezer uses a fan to blow cold air over stored food, keeping moisture away. When you fill the freezer too much, the air won’t be able to circulate properly. Make sure to read the instructions from the manufacturer. They’ll tell you how to store food in a frost-free freezer so it can still work well.
  • Less maintenance The most obvious benefit of a frost-free freezer is not having to defrost it yourself. Defrosting a freezer can sound simple. Just unplug it and let the ice melt! However, it can turn into a drawn-out challenge, involving trying to keep your food cold during the defrost, using hot water and hair dryers to speed things up, or scraping the sides with an ice pick.Defrosting a freezer takes both time and effort. It can take as long as 24 hours for a freezer to defrost completely. A frost-free design isn’t completely maintenance-free, but it’s a lot less work. You’ll just need to clean the storage area once a year, which means wiping it down to remove odors or spills.

Cons

  • More expensive The cost of a frost-free freezer might make you reconsider. They’re not only more expensive to buy, but they’re more expensive to operate than traditional freezers. They're also worse for the environment since they take more electricity.You might spend nearly twice as much on electricity to keep a frost-free model running. It costs so much because it needs to run a heater to raise the temperature regularly, as well as a fan to keep the cold air moving and a sensor to know when frost is building up.
  • Possible freezer burn The temperature inconsistency is the major “con” of a frost-free freezer. If you buy frozen food in small quantities and use it quickly, then this won’t be an issue. But for example, if you hunt and want to store the meat for a year or more, frost-free isn’t the best choice.

Frost-Free Freezer Price Range

An upright frost-free freezer (a standard choice for home freezers) will cost about $500 on the low end, and up to $1,000 for a fancier model. An under-counter frost-free freezer is more expensive, at about $1,500 to $2,000, but most families won’t need to make that kind of investment.

It's rare to find mini-freezers with frost-free designs since they're small and easy to defrost. However, you can find some small frost-free chest freezers for under $500.

Traditional freezers cost less but are also hard to find new. If you decide to go the traditional freezer route, you’ll likely save even more by buying a used model. However, you’ll also have to face the fact that your used freezer likely won’t last as long - as well as doing the yearly manual defrost.

2018’s Top Frost-Free Freezers

If you decide to buy frost-free, how can you make the right choice? Here are our top models for the year.

How we reviewed

  • Creating a list of the best freezers might seem like a subjective process. However, some freezers are more effective and better-constructed than others.
  • If you’ve decided to go with a frost-free freezer, they all generally do an equal job of keeping food cold. Instead, you’ll want to consider things like features, efficiency, capacity, and value.

These are the factors we used when putting together this list of top frost-free freezers.

Frigidaire FFFH20F2QW

This Frigidaire model is our number-one pick for upright frost-free designs. It nicely balances size and value on Amazon. It has some of the best reviews of any frost-free models and has all the major features you’re looking for.

This freezer offers more than 20 cubic feet of storage space, making it larger than most frost-free freezers on the market. However, it’s less expensive than other, similarly sized freezers.

Since it’s upright, it doesn’t take up much space, and it’s easier to keep it organized than a chest-style freezer.

The features that make this freezer ideal include adjustable legs and a safety lock. It also has a power “on” light so you can see whether or not it’s working without opening the door.

This model is also quite efficient, so your energy bills won’t go up as much as with other models. Frigidaire is known for making reliable appliances that last a long time, so you can enjoy this freezer for years to come.

Kenmore Elite 27002

The Kenmore Elite is another top frost-free pick. It comes in a comparable size to our favorite Frigidaire model, with 20.5 cubic feet of space, and at a comparable price click here to learn more.

The included delivery and hookup makes the price even sweeter. This fridge also does a better job at keeping food fresh than some frost-free designs: it runs at a standard -20 degrees.

Use the “soft freeze zone” for things like ice cream that you don’t want to be frozen too hard. The built-in LED lights make it so you’ll never have to dig around in the dark for a specific frozen item again.

Danby DUF138E1WDD

If 20 cubic feet sounds like a little too much, you’ll want to check out this smaller freezer design, with a capacity of 13.8 cubic feet. This model starts at  on Amazon, so it’s also more affordable than the two varieties above.

Since it’s on the smaller side, this freezer is a great choice for pantries or small kitchens. You’ll still be able to store a lot of food in here, so this is an ideal design for couples or small families.

Summit FF948SS

Looking to squeeze a frost-free fridge and freezer into an even smaller space? Then you’ll love this 8.8-cubic-foot design from Summit.

It has one of the smallest freezer footprints you’ll find, with a slender 22-inch width. This is a great design for small studio apartments or space-crunched kitchens.

The adjustable shelves, crisper, and other organizational elements make it easy for you to find exactly what you’re looking for inside. The sleek stainless steel exterior also gives a lovely, modern look to any kitchen.

At $676.99 on Amazon, this isn’t the most budget-friendly option. However, if you’re working with a small space, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better fit than this freezer.

Danby DFF100C2WDD

If you want a more affordable frost-free fridge and freezer combo, you’ll be glad to hear that this Danby model is available at a very affordable price. Although it doesn’t offer the tiny footprint of the Summit design, this 10-cubic-foot freezer gives you a bit more space. Use the electronic controls to easily operate the fridge and freezer’s settings.

The Verdict

The best frost-free freezer for you depends on what you’re looking for. You can easily find these freezers in upright and fridge-and-freezer combo designs.

If you want an under-counter model, you’ll have to spend more, while you can save some money with a smaller chest freezer. However, the upright style works best for most people.

Whether or not you choose a frost-free freezer is all a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer the ease of avoiding manual defrost, while others don’t want to risk wasting food with fluctuating temperatures.

No matter what, if you’re set on getting a frost-free freezer, the designs on this list won’t let you down.

Do you think a frost-free freezer is right for you, or are you happy to defrost a traditional freezer instead? Leave a comment and let us know!

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