First and foremost, when considering what type of freezer you require you must decide on capacity. There are two main types of standalone freezer you can buy, the upright freezer and the chest freezer, and the capacities vary quite a lot. Chest freezers are frequently purchased as a secondary item and kept in an outhouse such as a garage in order to preserve space within the house. Utility rooms also commonly contain chest freezers; they are significant in size and quite often simply won't fit in a kitchen along with all the other appliances. A chest freezer works best for those larger households who freeze a lot of food at one time - ideal if you grow fresh fruit and vegetables in your own garden. Traditional upright or integrated fridge freezers don't tend to have the amount of space required for this purpose.
Upright freezers, on the other hand, don't have the volume of a chest freezer, but are much more practical for those with less space to store the freezer itself. Upright models are much narrower than chest freezers and allow an easier installation and will fit into smaller places with a lot less difficulty. An upright freezer has the added benefit over a chest freezer in that it typically comes with a number of shelves, allowing the user to distribute the food into sections. Chest freezers, although usually coming with wire baskets, don't have this added ability to divide the storage up and as such can get cluttered.
The choice between the two types of freezer should depend on the amount of food the household typically freezes or stores. If the freezer is just a daily convenience rather than a necessary feature to freeze a lot of fresh produce or prepared meals, then an upright freezer is a great compromise between space and storage size.
Upright freezers can also come in the form of integrated devices, with a door that matches the rest of the kitchen cupboards. This is great for concealing the often bulky white goods that are prevalent in a typical kitchen.
Both chest and upright freezer types have built in thermostats to accurately control the temperature of the food. Most models will also have a thermometer providing you with information on the temperature on the inside of the freezer; more expensive freezer models will have a thermometer on the outside rather than the inside, making it simple and easy to check the internal temperature. Upright freezers are typically divided up with a series of drawers. These drawers are usually made of plastic with a handle on the front to aid access to the contents. These shelves can get quite brittle over time with the cold conditions, so some freezers offer a wire or bin-type drawer 'bucket' in which the food sits. The added price of these can put an extra cost onto the final price of the freezer, although they do reduce running costs a little. This is because they assist in the retention of cold air when the freezer door is open. As a result the motor powering the evaporator tubes doesn't have to work so hard, or so often.
All modern freezers, even frost-free freezers, possess the ability to fast freeze recently prepared or freshly bought food products. This is used to prevent the temperature in the freezer dropping overall when warmer items are put in - and it allows the food to remain at a consistently better quality, with less crystallisation occurring. Higher end or more advanced models will use an electronic control unit in order to switch on the fast freeze mode as soon as the temperature in the freezer is detected as being too warm. It will then switch itself off again when the correct temperature is reached.
Frost free freezer models allow for fast freezing to occur in all of the storage compartments in the freezer. The benefits of a frost-free freezer are significant. Not only does the frost-free freezer have a faster freezing time; they tend to collect less ice inside over time. Frost-free freezer types ensure a better tasting food and will quickly freeze in nutritional content that otherwise may escape when the ice melts and the food is reheated. Consider buying a frost-free freezer if your budget will stretch to one. This type of freezer is coming down in price and there are some great deals to be had if you look around.
Regardless of whether you are choosing a frost-free freezer or a standard model, all freezers available in the UK are graded on an energy efficiency rating ranging from A - G. A is the most efficient, and models fitting into categories A, B and C will cost the consumer less money throughout the lifetime of the device than less efficient freezer models. These models normally possess a level of technological superiority and as such may cost more than other freezer types to buy, but will save the owner money over the life of the device. Models with thicker insulation and automatic door closing motors will inevitably cost more money, but these freezers are cheaper to run over their working lives. It is likely that as the more energy efficient models are more expensive, they will be more aesthetically pleasing as well, having more time spent on their design than other cheaper models.
Maintenance is essential with domestic freezers as with other appliances. Keep door seals clean in order to ensure that air doesn't escape from the freezer itself. Unsealed doors won't help efficiency in any way- a well maintained freezer is an airtight freezer. The same rule applies to a frost-free freezer. Check the door seals regularly, to ensure that the rubber has not perished at all.
It's important to defrost the freezer on a semi-regular basis to ensure the pipes and motors don't get clogged up with ice. This can significantly reduce efficiency and could also cost a lot of money to fix if a fault arises as a result. It can sometimes be the case that when the freezer gets so over filled with the ice that it has produced that the door becomes difficult to close. It is then difficult to get a good airtight seal on the freezer door and defrosting is essential.
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