Pros: These models tend to be slightly more energy efficient and are less likely to cause freezer burn on food. Because they don’t self-defrost like uprights, the temperature stays consistently lower. They're also the better choice if the area where you live is susceptible to power failures—they tend to keep food frozen longer when the power is off. We find that they have a tendency to be quieter than self-defrosting uprights.
Cons: Despite their hanging baskets, they can be harder to organize than upright models, and retrieving items buried near the bottom of the chest can be a reach. Their footprint is also larger than equivalent upright models—a 22 cubic foot chest freezer takes up a 2-by-6 foot floor space versus the 2 ½ by 2 ½ footprint of a same-size upright. Manual defrost (which can be time-consuming) is the only option.
Pros: They're easier to organize. As with a fridge, shelves and bins inside and on the door make it easy to find things. You have the option of manual or self-defrost. Note that manual defrost takes hours and you have to empty the freezer. But self-defrost freezers can allow temperatures to rise temporarily, which might compromise performance. And, unlike chest freezers, uprights are available in a variety of finishes, such as slate and stainless steel.
Cons: Manual defrost uprights have a hard time keeping their door shelves as cool as the rest of the interior. In our power failure simulation, all uprights allowed a relatively large temperature uptick after only 9 hours. Shelves and bins take up more space (up to 20%) than in chest types. Self-defrost uprights tend to be noisy and may cost more to run. They also allow more air to circulate around food, making food more likely to get freezer burn.