Chest freezers are usually more economical to buy and operate than upright freezers. They let the owner take advantage of every cubic inch of storage space and last longer. However, chest freezers are harder to organize and find items and often require manual defrosting.
Chest freezers have very efficient sidewall insulation. During a move or power outage, as long as the lid to the freezer remains shut, the food remains safe for two to three days. Because the lid is on top, when it is open, the cold remains inside the freezer. Opening the door of an upright model allows the cold to leak out onto the floor, increasing the time for the unit to return to its normal operating temperature.
Upright freezers have shelves that make it easier to organize and find foods the owner places inside; however, these shelves leave more wasted space. Even with tight packing, there is an inch or more between the top of products and the bottom of the next shelf.
Manually defrosting a freezer takes several hours, and consumers are less likely to find frost-free chest freezers. However, the addition of a self-defrost unit adds $100 or more to the cost of the unit as of 2015.
If floor space is limited, the upright freezer takes the same space as a refrigerator. The chest freezer requires more horizontal space and room for opening the lid.