New freezer -- Energy Star vs. manual defrost?

MizLizzieJanuary 28, 2014

I'm freezer shopping for a smallish upright to replace my tiny chest freezer. In general, it seems the ones under 14 cubic feet are not apt to be Energy Star rated. Now, I'm skeptical about those ratings to begin with. And I do not mind defrosting my freezer manually. Does anyone know, energy-wise, how a small manual defrost would compare to an Energy Star rated auto-defrost? I guess what I'm asking is, doesn't that defrost process run the electric bill up, in and of itself? The freezer will go in the garage which does get pretty warm in summer. I have my eye on a 14.1 Frigidaire model (LFFU1424DW) that is exclusive to Lowes, because it will fit my space nicely.

Thanks for any thoughts or guidance.

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EnergyStar and energy usage rating are mainly to judge products against each other.

The ratings numbers are garnered in a lab scenario which rarely reflect real-world energy usage and cost.

For example, dishwashers (in the past, I've heard the testing procedure has been changed) were sometimes tested for EnergyStar on the automatic soil-sensor cycle with *clean* dishes.

Running your new freezer in a non-climate-controlled garage will use more energy (summer season) than running it in a kitchen or utility room inside the house. Of course, the waste heat of the compressor running isn't being added to the household air conditioning load, so there's that.

Buy whatever product fits your needs in terms of storage space and desired convenience features.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Also, where do you live, if you are in a cold climate and it goes below 50F in your garage you might have problems with the freezer in the colder months.

I am not sure on a freezer only unit, but you probably want to look in to that before you buy if you get cold at all. I know we have a new fridge/freezer combo with the defrost on the freezer and I had to buy a "Garage kit" which is essentially a heater to put on the defrost circuit. OTherwise my temps in my freezer go from 0F up to 20F and back down. It never frosts up, but it keeps doing that.

Read up before you decide just to be safe.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:02AM
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A freezer-only unit doesn't suffer the temp swings to the extent that a refrigerator/freezer does when run in an unheated environment.

The reason refrigerator/freezer units have that problem is because the thermostat is in the fresh food section and the target temp there is between 35ðF and 38ðF. The compressor runs until the fresh food section reaches the target temp and the freezer section basically gets as cold as it can. If the room temp is below 35ðF for an extended time then the fresh food section doesn't gain ambient heat to trigger the compressor, and the freezer temp may rise above freezing.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:15AM
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We are in NC and our current chest freezer seems to do okay. I have a temperature alarm set. It does need to have a little frost shaved off every six months or so, and a thorough defrost every 18 months, thereabouts. It is a good little freezer, but just too small.

Today, however, my new Elux refrigerator has gone on the fritz for the 4th time in 9 months. So I am going to turn my attention to that instead of fretting over a freezer. Sigh.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:58AM
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And I meant to add . . . thank you all for your insight. Much appreciated.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:59AM
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Sorry to hear about the the fridge and wish you luck with the replacement. Does North Carolina have a lemon law for appliances? If not, then, hopefully, the E-Lux warranty will get you replacement.

In case you go back to considering an upright freezer, I can give you my experience on electrical cost increase from going from a s small chest freezer to a larger self-defrosting upright. I replaced a 5 cu. ft. Whirlpool manual-defrost chest freezer with a 14 cu. ft. Frigidaire FFU14 upright (very similar to the Lowe's version you are considering). With a Kill-a-Watt meter, I figured out that my old chest freezer used around 270 kWh per year while the new upright has been using about 440 kWh. I figure the net extra cost per year for me has run a little under $20 per year. So, not much extra utility cost.

Of course, power consumption is partly a function of how full the freezer is and where you keep it. Mine is in the basement which holds a pretty steady at around 60F over the year. Placed the freezer in a garage that is hot for five or six months of the year, and keep it only half full, your cost could be a few dollars higher.

One thing about my FFU14 is that it's compressor and fans run frequently and make a fair amount of fan and motor noise. THe Energy Star implementation is abasically to use smaller fans and motors which use less power even though they run more frequently. Trouble is, those smaller components can be annoyingly noisy, at least on the Frigidaire version that I have. This probably will not be a problem with the freezer out in the garage in your case, but it is a problem for me with the freezer in my basement. Chest freezers are a good deal quieter,

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:42PM
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Interesting numbers, JWV. And I did not know chest freezers were noisier so thanks for that tidbit. Our garage is pretty well insulated so hopefully we won't hear it. Oh, for the days when I had a basement. NC apparently does not believe in such things.

Anyhoo, the Frigidaire, I've learnt, doesn't have rollers so that kind of nixes it for me. I have to be able to move it and sweep behind it. My little chest just rolls around like a little red wagon. In fact, I begin to like it better and better, now I think on it. ;-) But it is one of those odd models with a "freezer drawer" underneath and it doesn't keep things too long down there. I have never seen another like it, so I assume there were issues with the design. On the other hand, you don't have to "go fish" at the bottom of the freezer.

Thanks again. Still waiting on my repairman. Sigh. If only Elux made fridges like they make wall ovens. THAT appliance is awesome.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:41AM
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