Losing power can be a nightmare, especially if you have a deep freezer full of food. This is the place that you store meat and other items so that you have them over a period of time.
A power outage can spell disaster for hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of food in your deep freezer. So how long do you have to get your freezer up and running again before your food goes bad.
Food will stay frozen for 2-3 days in a deep freezer without power. The more frozen food you have in your freezer the longer it will all stay frozen. To keep food frozen add dry ice to the freezer and only open the lid if you absolutely have to.
There are a variety of factors that go into how long your food will stay frozen for.
Outside temperatures, amount of food, how often food is opened and density of the frozen food (eg. frozen liquids vs frozen bread) all play a role in how quickly food will thaw.
How Long Will Food In a Deep Freezer Stay Frozen?
After your power goes out, your deep freezer will stay frozen for approximately 48-72 hours. However, if the freezer isn’t full, it can thaw in less time.
For example, if your freezer is only half full, you can expect it to thaw out in almost half the time, which is 24-48 hours.
You need to take steps to extend this amount of time in an extended power outage.
How to Extend the Time a Freezer Can Stay Frozen
The first thing to know is that your food will stay frozen longer if the freezer is full. If your power goes out, you want to fill any extra space.
You can make sure that you have bagged ice on hand and fill in the extra space with these bags. You should act quickly, as you only want to open your freezer when absolutely necessary.
If you have a lot of meat stored in the freezer, you should consider borrowing or buying a generator. You will be able to keep the freezer running until the power comes back on as long as you have enough fuel to keep it going.
Deep freezers don't use much power to run so a small generator should be fine. I personally have a Goal Zero generator – these are small and compact and run off batteries not fuel so they are great options for short term outages.
I can even charge mine with the solar panels on my campervan to keep it going for longer outages.
If you are facing a threat of an extended power outage, the best thing you can do is get ice bags or dry ice and place it into the freezer to keep the food frozen.
Deep freezers are normally well insulated, so they can function similar to a cooler during this type of experience.
If you use dry ice, it is important to remember that you should not touch it directly. You need to use gloves when you are handling it.
You need 5-20 pounds of dry ice for a deep freezer, depending on the size of your freezer and how much food you are trying to keep frozen.
You can place the slabs on top of the food to keep it frozen. Check your freezer every 1-2 days to see if the dry ice needs replacing.
Can You Refreeze Food After It Thaws In Your Freezer?
If your freezer has become warm and your food is no longer frozen, you need to examine it.
Meat will start to smell bad when it spoils, and it can be very unsafe to eat.
Seafood is perishable, and it doesn’t always smell bad when it spoils. If it has thawed and you haven’t had a chance to eat it, you will likely need to throw it out.
You should also make sure that you have a food thermometer so that you can check the temperature of anything you plan to eat before you cook it. If it has a temperature above 40ºF (4ºC), you need to eat it fairly quickly or throw it away.
Finally, you can take a heavy blanket or a rug and put it over your deep freezer to provide additional insulation. This can help it stay colder for a longer period of time.
How to Prepare Your Deep Freezer for a Power Outage
If you know that a power outage is coming, or want to be prepared for one in the future, you can take steps to maximize how long your freezer will stay frozen.
First, you should be sure to maintain your freezer regularly. Your gaskets and your vents should be cleaned to prevent any frost from building up and to make sure that the freezer is sealed tight.
If you have space in your freezer, the first thing to do is to fill the space.
You can actually take empty bottles and fill them with water. This will help to keep the freezer as cold as possible while the power is out. Frozen milk jugs or large water/soda bottles are perfect for this.
If you have the opportunity to freeze them before the power outage, the temperature inside will stay colder for longer. It also gives you fresh water to use while you are waiting for the power to come back on.
You will also want to make sure that you have your freezer set at 0ºF (-18ºC) or lower. By making the freezer colder before the outage, you will have longer before the temperature rises enough to spoil the food.
You should make sure that your meat is on the bottom of the freezer. These items on the bottom will also stay cold longer, and this is critical to saving your meat.
What to Eat First During a Power Outage
You should try to eat the most perishable foods first, including ice cream and frozen dinners.
When you remove items, remember to replace them with ice or bottles of cold water. You can take out your vegetables and dehydrate them so that they will last longer.
The important thing to remember is not to open your freezer unless it is absolutely necessary.
Every time you open it, it will take in some warm air and lose some of the cold air.
If you have a heavy blanket over the freezer, it is a good idea to use a flashlight and go under the blanket to get something out. This will help to keep the cold air inside.
Having a deep freezer is a great way to store extra food, especially if you have a large family. However, it can be nerve-wracking when your power goes out.
Your food will stay frozen for around 48-72 hours, but there are a few tricks you can use to extend that time if the power outage lasts beyond that 2-3 days.
It is important to use a food thermometer to check the temperature of any food that may have thawed because it can be unsafe to eat spoiled meat.
Take these extra precautions if you lose power so that your food will stay frozen as long as possible.