Manual Defrost vs. Frost Free

Many of you have asked why I chose manual defrost. This is not meant to be a debate as to which is better or why some choose frost-free while some choose manual defrost — just my reasons. And, sometimes I get things in my head that make sense to no one but me so . . take it for what it’s worth.

  • This freezer will be used only for storing meat. I will open it probably twice a week and get out the meat we need for the next few days. Frost will not build up in it like it would in a freezer we were opening 3 or 4 times a day. I would definitely not want a manual defrost freezer as part of my fridge. A manual defrost freezer that isn’t opened several times a day shouldn’t need to be defrosted more than once a year.
  • It will be placed in the room in the basement (the one I wanted for my longarm) and a drain hose can easily be run outside to drain it when it is defrosted.
  • In theory, because of the dehydration, food should last longer in a manual defrost freezer without showing freezer burn.
  • The frost-free freezers have more than can go wrong with them. There’s a time or sensor of some sort that tells it when to run the defrost cycle. I actually had a fridge catch on fire once during the defrost cycle. The heating element heated up too much or for too long and melted all the plastic in the top of the fridge. Granted . . things like this seem to happen to me more than to most people.
  • The frost-free freezers cycle. When it’s in defrost mode, the temp inside goes up a bit – not enough to cause anything to thaw but there is a bit of fluctuation in the temp inside the freezer..

None of these reasons are enough to cause me to want to swap out my side by side frost free fridge/freezer units for manual defrost fridges but for a freezer, all I’ll ever have is manual defrost.

Judy L.


  1. 1

    Linda says

    I agree completely with your logic. I have a manual defrost freezer and do not open it frequently, I have gone as long as 2 years without defrosting but that is really pushing it. Once a year and it is good to go. I also had a side-by-side that over-heated. It didn’t catch on fire, but only because I figured out what was going on before it got too hot. I think you made the best choice, but then you always do your research! I love having a freezer full of meat, it makes me feel secure.

  2. 3

    Linda S says

    I’ve got a manual defrost freezer Judy, and I think I’ve only totally defrosted it once in 15 years!! I know that sounds awful, but I do go through and toss things that are freezer burned or outdated. The only frost it usually builds is right by the door and, by the time I’m done rearranging, it comes off easily. I just throw the chunk in the sink and I’m done. It’s been a great little freezer.

  3. 4

    Norma says

    Thanks for the comments on the manual defrost vs frost free. I am in the market for an upright freezer and have found your post very timely!

  4. 5

    Mama Koch says

    I own two manual defrost freezers. The main reason I have the manual type is that my Mama always taught me that your food stays hard-frozen longer and that it will keep better than if the machine is changing temps all the time.
    May be simple reasoning, but it musta sunk in with me!