How Long Does it Take a Freezer to get Cold? 

By Nick Evans •  Last Updated: 02/07/22 •  11 min read

Freezers can take between 4 hours and 24 hours to get cold. While freezers will drop in temperature rapidly when turned on, they take a few hours to reach freezing or below-freezing temperatures. The FDA recommends that freezers maintain a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which is -18 degrees Celsius. Achieving this temperature varies based on the model of the freezer, type of freezer, and where a freezer is located. For example, a freezer in a warm garage takes longer than a freezer in an air-conditioned home.

That said, we’re here to help. We’re going to take you through everything you need to know about freezers getting cold. Read on to learn more about how long it takes freezers to get cold. 

What Temperature Should Freezers Be?

The FDA has guidelines for freezer temperatures. These guidelines state that freezers should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit to preserve the quality of food and provide food storage for 6 months. That said, freezer temperatures vary based on the model and purpose of the freezer.

There are two common types of freezers.

  1. chest freezers
  2. upright freezers

Because of their unique designs, the temperature goals of each freezer are different. For example, chest freezers reach colder temperatures for long-term food storage.

How Cold Should Upright Freezers Be? 

Upright freezers are typically connected to refrigerators. The freezer section should be at around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend having an upright freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit because it preserves the texture, moisture, and quality of the stored food. That said, some upright freezers are mini freezers. This means that they’re standalone units (similar to chest freezers but with better storage options). Still, the temperature of upright freezers is typically the same across the board. While some upright freezers come with options to reach colder temperatures, it’s important to keep your freezer at around 0 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of damaging your food and excessive frost.

How Cold Should Chest Freezers Be?

Chest freezers are designed to operate at colder temperatures than upright freezers. In most cases, chest freezers can maintain temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius. In fact, some chest freezers maintain temperatures as low as -11 degrees Fahrenheit. With chest freezers, it depends on the model. Chest freezers maintain lower temperatures to help with warmer outdoor conditions and for prolonged food storage (more than 6 months). It’s also important to note that chest freezers remain cold for a longer period than upright freezers. 

Read also: How Long Does a Fridge Take to Cool?

Determining if a Freezer Is Cold Enough for Storage 

If you want to start storing food in your freezer it’s important to know if it’s cold enough. For most freezers, the temperature should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re not sure if your freezer is at this temperature, there are a few ways to tell.

The easiest way to determine if a freezer is cold enough is to check the thermostat. A thermostat reading will let you know if the freezer is at the optimal temperature. That said, some freezers don’t have thermostats and thermostats don’t always work. For this reason, we have a simple test you can perform. 

The easiest way to tell if your freezer is cold enough to use is the ice test. The ice test is simple. You fill an ice tray with water and place it in the freezer. If it freezes within a few hours, it’s cold enough for food and other items. Another way to check your freezer temperature is to use an appliance thermostat.

These are devices you can place inside the freezer for between 10-20 minutes. When you remove the thermostat it will give you the proper temperature reading.

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Factors that Impact How Long it Takes for a Freezer to Get Cold 

Many factors impact how long it takes for a freezer to get cold. To help you get a more specific time, we’ll take you through a handful of examples. 

Your Freezer Model 

First and foremost, it’s important to know what type of freezer you have. If you don’t know what freezer you have, look for the brand name and model number. The brand name is typically located on the freezer door and the model number can be found on the back.

Some freezers also have serial numbers, which serve the same purpose as model numbers. Once you have the model number and brand name, you can visit the manufacturer’s website for the owner’s manual. If you can’t find the manufacturer’s website, you can also check out websites from stores like PC Richard’s, BestBuy, Walmart, Target, The Home Depot, and Lowes.

Once you have access to the owner’s manual, scroll through the pages until you find the time it takes for the freezer to get cold. If you’re having trouble finding this information, you can press the “Control” key and “F” key at the same time on your keyboard.

This will provide you with a search bar you can use to find a specific keyword. If you type the word hour into the search bar it can help you find the information you’re looking for faster.

Freezer Size 

Another factor to consider is the size of a freezer. Larger freezers take longer to get cold because of their larger size.

The size of a freezer (on the inside) is measured in cubic feet. A great way to estimate how long a freezer will take to get cold is to learn how much cubic feet of capacity it has. It will take about 1 hour to cool 1 cubic foot of space (on average), so you can apply this to your freezer.

An average freezer is between 4-6 cubic feet and takes about 4-6 hours to get cold. If a freezer is smaller than 4-6 cubic feet, like a mini freezer, it can achieve cold temperatures in less than 3 hours. On the other hand, large chest freezers with more than 4-6 cubic feet of space can take between 6-10 hours to get cold.

Stand-Alone vs. Refrigerator and Freezer Combinations 

Stand-alone freezers are different from refrigerator and Freezer combinations. This is because refrigerator and freezer combinations have more space to cool, especially larger units. For this reason, stand-alone freezers cool faster than refrigerator and freezer combinations. In fact, you should wait between 12-24 hours before using a freezer that’s attached to a refrigerator.

Starting Temperature and Room Temperature 

The starting room temperature and the temperature of the room a freezer is in impact how long it takes for a freezer to cool. If a freezer is located in a hot room (like a garage) it will take longer to reach freezing temperatures and below 0 temperatures. On the other hand, if a freezer is an air-conditioned home it takes less time to reach optimal temperatures.

These are all factors that contribute to how long it takes a freezer to get cold.

Speeding Up How Long It Takes a Freezer to Get Cold 

Freezers take a few hours to get cold but you can speed up the process. We’re going to take you through several tips that speed up freezer cooling times. Some work better than others and you can even use more than one tip at once.

Plug a Freezer Into Its Own Outlet

Freezers require a lot of power to get cold. Make sure you’re giving the freezer adequate electricity by ensuring that the voltage of the freezer matches the voltage rating of your outlets. Another factor that contributes is the power outlet and what’s plugged into it. If you have multiple things plugged into an outlet this can impact the voltage and increase the time it takes for a freezer to get cold. For this reason, we recommend plugging a freezer into a wall outlet that doesn’t have anything else plugged into it.

Use Ice Cubes 

Using a block of ice or ice cubes will also speed up the cooling time of freezers. Once a freezer starts to get cold, adding ice or ice blocks can help the freezer reach optimal temperatures faster and use less power. Having ice in the freezer and frozen foods in the freezer will also help a freezer maintain its optimal temperature.

Don’t Open the Door 

Opening the door allows warm air to enter the freezer. Frequently opening the freezer door increases the time it takes for a freezer to get cold. Plus, if hot air gets in it has an even greater impact. Therefore, you should limit the amount of time you open a freezer door to prevent this from happening. This will also help you save money on your electric bill.

These are some tips you can follow to speed up the freezing process and save money on your electricity bill.

Factors that Impact Freezer Temperature and Power Usage

When freezers reach optimal temperatures it’s all about maintaining that temperature. Maintaining that temperature using the least amount of electricity is ideal because it will help you save money. We’ll take you through a few factors that contribute to freezer temperature fluctuation and power usage.

Room Temperature 

First and foremost, the temperature of a room impacts how often a freezer needs to turn on. Every freezer comes with a recommended operating temperature, which is the temperature a freezer can operate in optimally. You should always follow this recommendation because exposing freezers to higher temperatures can damage the unit and cost you more money on your electricity bill.

Freezer Capacity 

Freezer capacity is another factor that contributes to power usage and freezer temperature. When a freezer is at full capacity it needs to work harder to keep the temperature low. On the other hand, keeping a freezer at about 80% capacity is ideal. This will prevent the freezer from working harder to maintain optimal temperatures. Not overpacking a freezer will also help you save money on your electricity bill.

How Long do Freezers Stay Cold Without Electricity?

On average, freezers stay cold for about 48 hours after the power goes out. In the event of a power outage, it’s important to know how long a freezer will stay cold. This is because temperatures above 0 degrees Fahrenheit can cause food to spoil. There are a few ways to determine how long a freezer will stay cold in the event of a power outage.

First and foremost, leaving the door shut will prevent warmer air from entering the freezer. Freezers are insulated to keep cold air in and warm air out.

Therefore, letting warm air in the freezer will reduce the amount of time it stays cold. Without opening the door, freezers will stay cold for about 2 days. If you open the door a few times this can drop to only 24 hours.

Another factor that contributes to how long a freezer will stay cold is how full it is. A good rule to follow is that the more packed a freezer is the longer it will stay cold.

Having a full freezer will help you reach the 48-hour mark but having a half-full freezer reduces the amount of time it can stay cold. You can also stuff a freezer with ice and use it as a traditional icebox to store food if a power outage occurs.

Stay Frosty!

Knowing how long it takes for a freezer to get cold is important for many reasons. Understanding how long it takes can help you preserve food after power outages, and prevent you from having to use trial and error to determine if your freezer is cold enough. That said, we always recommend waiting for at least 6-8 hours before placing food in a freezer once you turn it on. Doing so ensures that your freezer is cold enough to store food without it spoiling.

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