Cold Storage in Upright Freezers

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2 minutes, 53 seconds

After you have calculated the volume of your film-based materials, the next step is to determine how much freezer space you will need. This is an example of an upright household freezer.

Things to look for when buying a freezer

On the average, the largest size this comes in in terms of interior capacity is about 20 cubic feet. However, we've found from packing freezers that because of the shelving configurations or maybe because of the door bins you only average about 15 cubic feet of collection materials that can fit inside each freezer.

You can house these freezers in your museum collection area because they give off very little heat, which is very important in maintaining the proper temperature and RH within your storage environment. They also run pretty quiet. There are some preferred specifications on these freezers that we try to look for.

It's real important to think about the energy consumption of your freezer, and you want to try to find an energy star model to save on cost. You also want to make sure the freezer is frost free. A couple nice features of this freezer are that this one has a digital display up top. This shows you what the temperature is inside. It also has an audible alarm, so if you leave the door ajar or maybe if the power goes off for a little while, the alarm will audibly sound, and you'll know your freezer is too warm inside. There's also a lock on the outside of this freezer, so if this happens to be stored in a non-collection area where people could be tempted to open and close the freezer, you can lock it to prevent that from happening.

Upright household freezers come with a variety of arrangements in terms of how the interior is designed. Some things to look for are what type of shelving they have. Now this freezer here has glass shelving, which is OK, but we've found that if you can find a freezer with wire shelves, those shelves tend to be a little bit more sturdy and can hold a little bit more weight without bowing in the center because of the weight of the collections. We also found that having adjustability in terms of shelving can be really important in order to fit different sizes on different shelves and really maximize your interior space. You'll notice this freezer has some adjustability, but it's better or preferred that all the shelving be fully adjustable. Household upright freezers are relatively easy to maintain.

Aside from routine surface cleaning and monitoring the interior storage environment, minimal maintenance will be required. Be sure to refer to the product manual for specific information regarding warranty coverage and maintenance of your freezer.

Preferred Freezer Specifications

  • Upright model
  • Energy Star model
  • Frost-free
  • Capacity approximately 20CF
  • Quiet operation
  • Adjustable shelving
  • Adjustable door bins
  • Wire shelves (high-strength, industrial or heavy-duty)
  • Security lock on door
  • Adjustable temperature
  • Audible temperature alarm
  • LED display on door with temperature adjustment
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2 minutes, 43 seconds

Before you begin packing the freezer, you need to set the temperature. The recommended setting is between 10 and 32 degrees fahrenheit. Be sure to allow the freezer to acclimate for at least 24 hours after setting the temperature.

How to pack a freezer

So here is a freezer that has been fully packed. I just want to show you some things about the packing job here. The boxes are face forward in terms of labeling and the humidity indicator cards. This will allow you to easily read the cards when you're checking for inspection. You won't always be able to do this, depending on how you can arrange your freezer, but if you can, try to have as many boxes face forward as possible.

You'll also want to think about really maximizing the space inside. Think about how you place your boxes to really utilize as much cubic footage in the interior as possible. Also think about the distribution on each shelf.

Try to weight the shelf across the shelf to make sure the weight is distributed evenly. Some items, like aerial film cans, are particularly heavy, and if you have some of those, you may want to take out these bottom bins and put heavy things directly right on the bottom of the freezer.

Door bins can also be a plus or a minus. If you have small boxes that do fit in the bins, that's a great use of space. However, if your collection doesn't contain these types of boxes, sometimes these shelves can be removed, and what you can do is maximize your shelf space by filling up as much as you can on that shelf, extending boxes a little beyond the edge of the shelf, taking out this bin, and then you'll utilize some of this space. This really maximizes the interior of the space. Make sure when you're packaging not to cover the air vents that are in the back of the freezer.

Freezer Mapping

Lastly, once your packaging is complete, you'll need to make a map of the freezer. The freezer map will help you identify the location of items prior to opening the freezer. When creating the map, include box numbers and shelf or door bin numbers. Secure it to the exterior with magnets. It may be helpful to have separate pages for the interior compartment and the door bins. This tool will prevent you from having to search for items inside the freezer, and it will reduce the amount of time you need to have the freezer door open.

Last updated: December 18, 2019