In the book Mosh Potatoes, a member of the band L.A. Guns talks about the compact freezer on the band's tour bus.
The freezer holds twenty single-meal sized containers of their favorite "Stage Stew," so that they don't have to waste money on fast food while out on tour.
Are you off on a road trip? Or maybe a day out on a boat? A compact freezer is a convenient and robust alternative to an ice chest. Or perhaps you're doing some entertaining at home and looking for something to hold the ice for your famous margaritas.
Whether at home or on the road, a compact freezer might be the solution to your cold storage needs.
What is a Compact Freezer?
There are four basic freezer sizes. A large freezer has 19 cubic feet of storage space or more. A mid-sized freezer will have between 10 and 18 cubic feet. A small freezer can store six to nine cubic feet of frozen goods.
A compact freezer will have less than that -- generally around five cubic feet of space. If you're looking for something to fit under the counter of your bar at home, or to sit next to the pool during a party, then you're looking for a compact freezer.
How Do You Choose a Compact Freezer?
Aside from size and price, there are a couple of factors for which you should look.
Optimum temperature range
According to the FDA, a freezer should be able to maintain a constant temperature of 0F, or -18C. All freezers can reach this temperature, but the temperature outside of the freezer may affect the freezer's capacity to stay there.
This is especially true if you're using your compact freezer outside. Some freezers can maintain a safe temperature despite outside temperatures, while others may have a more difficult time of it.
Plug-in or portable?
Is your freezer going to stay in one place, like the garage or under the bar? Or are you planning to take it on a boat or in the car? Either way, there's a freezer for that.
Manual or self-defrost?
If you've ever defrosted a freezer, you know it's a pain in the neck. So if you want to avoid the trouble, look for a compact freezer with a self-defrosting option.
How would your freezer handle a power outage? If you live in an area prone to blackouts, this is definitely something to consider.
How Much Can You Expect to Pay?
There is a surprisingly wide price range for compact freezers, and it doesn't always correspond to storage capacity. You can find a highly rated unit for an average price, or you can pay two or even three times that.
The important thing is to figure out your price limit. Then see which features are dealbreakers for you, and try to get the most compact freezer for your money.
How We Reviewed
We consulted trusted expert review sites like Consumer Reports, CNET, and others, to find which compact freezers they thought were worth your money.
Then we researched feedback from actual consumers to see how they felt about their purchases. In this way, we hope to bring you a well-rounded, unbiased picture of the best compact freezer models out there on the market today.
The Best Compact Freezer Models
Which is the best? That depends on your needs. There are larger compacts and smaller ones. There are freezer-only units, as well as compacts that can toggle between freezer and fridge based on your needs.
Plug-ins need to stay in one place, and portables you can take with you. Which features are your dealbreakers is something you'll have to decide for yourself. Below, you'll find some fantastic and varied suggestions.
This top-loading unit was the only compact freezer to make the Consumer Reports recommended freezer list.
In particular, they rated it highly for thermostat control, temperature uniformity, and energy efficiency. With five cubic feet of storage, it's one of the larger compacts. It also has an adjustable temperature range.
This is a plug-in freezer, so you probably won't be taking it on the road with you. However, if you're looking for somewhere to keep drinks cold at your next party, this one is pretty hard to beat.
Keep in mind that this freezer has a manual defrost, so if you have your heart set on an automatically defrosting compact freezer, this might not be the model for you.
- Convenient controls let you adjust the temperature to keep your foods at the right temperature
- Removable storage basket. Provides flexible organization options for your frozen items.
Insignia is the Best Buy house brand for many different kinds of electronics. You're probably most familiar with the brand as it relates to televisions. Different manufacturers produce appliances that Best Buy sells under the Insignia name.
Some of these manufacturers include Samsung, Toshiba, and LG. This little freezer is on the smaller end of the compact scale, with a capacity of 3.5 cubic feet.
This, also, is a plug-in unit, as well as a manual defrost.
We've put this one on our list because of the huge number of happy customers who bought this unit from Best Buy.
Customers liked how quietly this model runs. They also report it keeps food frozen consistently and effectively.
- Volume: 43 qt. / equivalent to 60 12oz. cans, Range: -8°F to 50°F; Outside Dimensions: 20.8"h x 24.7"w x 17.7"d
- 12/24 volt power lead: 6' detachable power cord, 115 volt power lead 8' detachable power cord
- Flash Freeze function rapidly cools the unit to -8°F, Warranty: 90 days labor, 1 year parts
This is an interesting little unit for a number of reasons. First, this 43-quart capacity unit is both a refrigerator and a freezer -- you choose and set it based on your needs.
Second, it has a flash-freeze function, for rapid cooling to -8F. Third, it runs on both AC and DC power, so you can either plug it in or take it with you. It's a bit more cool than the typical chest freezer, but it sure looks fun, and it's getting some great reviews.
EZ VID considers it one of its nine favorite chest freezers. Customer complaints focused on this model's lack of durability over time.
And given the price tag, one might expect better. All the same, this compact freezer has some unique qualities, and it might be well worth a look. You can find it on Amazon.
- Measures: 20" Long x 17.5" Wide x 27.5" High. The noise level is <45 dB and the voltage is 115 volts /60Hz
- Freestanding setup (clearance around the unit is needed).Refrigerant type: R600a.
- Sleek stainless steel reversible-swing door and black cabinet with cylinder lock and two keys
This is a very small unit, with 2.1 cubic feet of freezer capacity, though there's a three cubic foot capacity model available as well. Despite its diminutive size, it's getting a lot of enthusiasm from consumers and professional reviewers alike.
This is another compact freezer that can do double duty as a plug-in or battery powered portable. Like the above model, it also has a fast-freeze function, and it can function as a refrigerator as well.
It was also a favorite at Consumer Research. Customers liked its low power consumption and its temperature stability. They also considered it good value for money.
Amana 5.3 Cu. Ft. Compact Freezer
With 5.3 cubic feet of storage space, this is one of the larger compact freezer models. Consumer Reports calls Amana one of the "brands that matter,"and with good reason. In particular, they were pleased with the unit's steady temperature control and its ability to get down to optimum temperature quickly.
Top Ten Reviews gave this unit its Silver Award, specifically citing its quiet operation and generous interior capacity. If that's not enough, this top-loading impact freezer also has a fast-freeze function that will bring the temperature down to -8F very quickly. Plus, it's Energy Star certified.
This is a plug-in, manual defrost unit. It is rated for use between 32 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Danby might not be as famous a name as Amana or Frigidaire, but a lot of people buy and like their products.
This chest freezer is available in five different sizes: 3.2, 3.8, 4.3, 7.2, and 8.5 cubic feet. It's a top-loader, a plug-in unit, and it has manual defrost.
One big selling feature of this particular unit is its environmental friendliness. First, it uses a special coolant called R600a, which is a non-toxic, high-performing refrigerant with zero ozone depletion potential, and very low global warming impact potential. The cabinet and lid are insulated with foam, which make it even more energy efficient.
You can find it at Amazon and Home Depot for an average price (for the 3.8 cubic foot unit).
- Mechanical Temperature Adjustment Ranges From -11.2' to 8.6' F
- Features Reversible Door that can Open from Left or Right. Cabinet Dimensions(H x W x D)- 33.9 x 19.7 x 18.5 inches....
- Contains Two Fixed Shelves and a Removeable Wire Drawer
This 3.1 cubic foot compact freezer is one of Amazon's top customer-rated units, and if you look at the specs, it's no surprise.
The Midea WHS-109GFW1 is a front-loading, plugin unit, with a door that you can adjust to open from either the right or the left. This makes it handy for lefties, as well as better able to fit into tight spaces in your dorm room or under the bar.
This unit is available from Amazon for an average price, depending on the finish. You'll pay dearly if you want it in stainless steel! If you don't mind white plastic, however, you can get the lower price. Complaints seemed to center on damage sustained during shipping.
Compact Freezer Comparison Table
So, which is the best compact freezer on the market today? It was hard to pick, we have to admit. For general purpose use, we liked the Danby. First, we liked the numerous environmentally friendly features the company thought to include. Although the most commonly used refrigerant in the United States, tetrafluoroethane, is better than the freon it replaced, it's not a perfect solution.
Indeed, it is becoming less and less common in Europe and around the world. Using the non-toxic, zero-impact refrigerant R600a is a small step in the right direction. And the many positive customer ratings speak for themselves.
If you're looking for something to take on the road with you, however, we'd go with the Whynter compact freezer.
Not only do reviewers and consumers consider it good value for money, but it rated well for both power consumption and temperature stability.
Which compact freezer will work best for you? Only you can decide that. There are a lot of great choices out on the market to choose from.