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Also known as an under the counter freezer, the under counter freezer is a compact freezing unit that fits snugly under the standard kitchen countertop. The unit is normally the same size as the standard under counter dishwasher. While small, freezers of this type are capable of performing all the functions of larger freezer units, with the only real difference being the amount of frozen items the unit can hold.
In configuration, an under counter freezer may feature two to three drawers that can be opened in a manner similar to cabinet drawers in most kitchens. Foods are placed in each drawer and can be retrieved with relative ease when needed. The drawer configuration is growing in popularity, as it allows the owner to place meats in one drawer, vegetables in another, and fruit and miscellaneous items in the third. An arrangement of this type makes it very easy to retrieve the right type of frozen food when preparing a meal.
The other design for an under counter freezer is very similar to upright freezer models. A single door swings outward to allow access to the interior. Inside, removable shelves provide a means of organizing frozen foods that are stored in the freezer. Some units have storage baskets that can connect under each shelf, which also aids in organizing the contents of the freezer.
As with the chest freezer and full size upright freezer, it is not unusual for the under counter freezer to be self-contained. That is, there is no need for any type of plumbing necessary for operation. Self-defrosting equipment helps to keep the unit from building up ice and frost, eliminating the need for a drip pan underneath the unit.
It is possible to match the exterior of the under counter freezer with other appliances in the kitchen, such as the refrigerator and oven. These compact freezers are available with stainless steel exteriors as well as traditional appliance colors ranging from white to black. Many units come with adjustable legs on the bottom; the legs allow the freezer height to be adjusted so the unit fits snugly under an existing counter. A guard plate comes with many units and helps to conceal the legs once the freezer is in position.
While an under counter freezer can be a great convenience when space is limited but more freezer capacity is required than a standard refrigerator freezer can accommodate, most of the units are quite expensive. In fact, many of them will cost at least as much as other types of standalone freezers. Depending on the exterior finish and other factors, an under the counter freezer can easily cost twice as much as a standard chest freezer.
The house we just bought happens to have an under counter refrigerator freezer installed, and we have really enjoyed it. If my wife is planning to make something for dinner the next day that involves frozen and refrigerated items, she'll get them out of the main freezer refrigerator and put them in the under counter fridge freezer the night before.
There isn't much storage space in our compact under counter freezer section, but we really don't need it. Sometimes we'll store some frozen snacks like pizza rolls in there so the kids can just grab them and cook them in the microwave. They don't have to root around in the big freezer for one little bag of frozen snacks. Sometimes I'll put a carton of partially eaten ice cream in the under counter freezer in case I want to eat some more later.
I saw an under counter freezer for the first time on a cooking show several years ago. The host pulled out a box of frozen ravioli or something while he was demonstrating a meal. Usually they'll walk over to a freezer refrigerator on the other side of the set, but he just opened a drawer under the counter. He probably saved himself a full minute of walking time by having everything right at his fingertips. I told my wife we needed to get a commercial under counter freezer if we ever came into some money.
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