Should You Put a Freezer in the Garage?
The appliance will be out of the way, but there are factors to consider before you decide to place it there
By Mary H.J. Farrell
If you recently bought a freezer to stock up on groceries, it might have ended up in the garage. It’s a common place for freezers, and often it’s easier to find space there than in a cramped kitchen. But if you live in a region with temperatures swings, you might not want to leave it there.
Changes in temperature in an unheated garage can be hard on these appliances. "You need to make sure that the unit is not exposed to temperatures above 110° F or below 0° F, because that may damage the freezer," says Larry Ciufo, who oversees the ratings for Consumer Reports’ freezer tests.
Wendy Treinen, director of brand and product communications at GE Appliances, agrees. “In hot weather the freezer has to work overtime, and in very cold temperatures, the freezer ‘gets confused’ and shuts off, failing to keep a freezing temperature because it ‘thinks’ it is already maintaining a temperature of 0° F,” she says.
If your freezer’s compressor has to work overtime to maintain its interior temperature when it’s very hot in your garage, it costs you more money to run the appliance. If it’s too cold and the compressor shuts off, your food could thaw.
But not every part of the country experiences such temperature extremes. And if your garage is insulated and climate-controlled, it’s fine to put a freezer there. You just want to make sure the space is dry. Keep the freezer away from windows and out of direct sunlight, because that makes it work harder to maintain the right interior temperature. For safety reasons, you shouldn’t use an extension cord for a major appliance, so place the freezer close to an outlet. And make sure there’s plenty of space for air to circulate around the freezer so that it operates at its best.
Consumer Reports tests freezer performance at three different ambient temperatures: 55° F, 70° F, and 110° F. Our tests show which freezers keep the internal temperature consistently cold with a minimum of warmer or cooler spots, as well as how long they keep food frozen during a simulated 9-hour power outage.
A number of freezers in our tests of upright and chest models are marketed as “garage-ready,” meaning they are designed to perform well in a wider range of ambient temperatures than a typical freezer. (Our tests reveal that some do, and some don’t.) The six models listed below excelled in our thermostat control and temperature uniformity tests, making them worth considering for garage use. Some are marketed as garage-ready, others are not. The final model listed performed poorly, despite its designation as garage-ready. For more information on freezers and our full test results, see our freezer buying guide and ratings.
CR's take: The GE FUF17DLRWW is a good bet. It cruises through our temperature control and uniformity tests with flying colors, guaranteeing that food stays frozen. Its footprint is about the same as a top-freezer fridge, and it comes equipped with two fixed and two adjustable shelves, three slide-out baskets, and four shelves in the door. This self-defrosting model has a quick-freeze feature that comes in handy when you’re stocking it with new items from the grocery store.
CR's take: The self-defrosting GE FUF14DLRWW earns a Best Buy designation, meaning it offers top performance at a good value. With a capacity of 11 cubic feet, it sports two fixed and two adjustable shelves, two slide-out baskets, and four shelves in the door. It aces both the temperature control and uniformity tests. This model gets an average score for noise, but there are noisier models. The noise level shouldn't bother you if it's in the garage. At this price, the quick-freeze feature is a nice bonus.
CR’s take: Manual-defrost uprights usually don’t score quite as high as the self-defrosting models, but they cost less to buy and run. The Frigidaire FFFU06M1TW gets top marks for temperature control, meaning it hit and maintained our set temperature. But we detected a few warm and cool spots, which lowers the score a bit. Still, it held up well in the power outage test and runs quietly. We estimate that it costs $36 a year to run.
CR's take: At a little over 6 feet, the GE FCM22DLWW is a big freezer. And with a usable capacity of 21.5 cubic feet, it holds far more than any of our other recommended chest freezers. Performance on our tests for temperature control and uniformity is superb, meaning the freezer hits its set interior temperature of 0° F and maintains it uniformly. It also holds up in our power outage test. This freezer runs quietly. It has bright LEDs inside, which, given its size, is helpful for finding what you’re looking for.
CR's take: The GE FCM16DLWW has about three-quarters as much storage as the larger GE model above but is just as impressive. It’s 66 inches long and has a capacity of 15.6 cubic feet. This freezer comes with four tiered bins plus interior LEDs. It aces our temperature control and uniformity tests and runs efficiently. A nice extra is the temperature alarm, which goes off if the temperature rises above the recommended temp of 0° F.
CR’s take: The Frigidaire FFFC13M4TW matches the GE freezers test-for-test on temperature control and uniformity, meaning it keeps your food safely frozen. It’s 50 inches long and has a capacity of 12.6 cubic feet, so you’ll need a roomy garage to accommodate it. But while storage is certainly sufficient, this freezer comes with only one sliding basket, so you might want to buy your own bins to improve the organization. LED lights illuminate the contents.
One 'Garage' Freezer to Avoid
The Midea MRC09M4AWW freezer comes emblazoned with a big “garage-ready” sticker. But it leaves a lot to be desired, earning only a 37 out of a possible 100 Overall Score in our tests. While this Midea freezer was able to hit and keep our set temperature, sections of the freezer were too warm or too cool. It also gets our lowest rating of Poor in the power outage test, so you risk losing a lot of food if you live in an area where blackouts or brownouts are common. This freezer doesn’t offer much in terms of features, either.
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