A chest freezer is a cook's trusted ally--a deep-bodied freezer can store 100 pounds or more of meat safely, or a variety of items intended for long-term frozen storage. Many hunters use a chest freezer to store butchered venison, for example. Regardless of the use, these compact units sometimes find a home in garages or other areas exposed to the elements. With care, however, these tough appliances can survive being outdoors.
Chest freezers run on electricity, and they have electrical components including temperature regulators comprised of delicate electrical systems. Not only will water cause shorts, but rust and other forms of corrosion can jam motors, corrode seals, or seize metal hinges. Protect your freezer from water damage by keeping it off the floor of a wet garage or away from hoses, sprinklers, or high-pressure faucets.
Chest freezers use motors and compressors to regulate temperature inside the freezer compartment. Extremely hot weather can force the cooling unit to run constantly, risking burn-out or overheating, and high heat can melt plastic seals and wires. Extremely cold weather can cause some coolants and lubricants to thicken or even freeze, potentially leading to friction damage. Protect your chest freezer by ensuring that it runs within the operating temperatures specified in your owner's manual.
A chest freezer is a bulky, heavy appliance, but unless it is bolted to concrete, an outdoor freezer can be buffeted by high winds that risk moving the appliance too far from its electrical outlet, or even tipping it over. Keep your investment safe by anchoring it from high winds, and make sure that in a high-wind situation, other objects like tools or branches cannot easily damage the freezer.
A freezer full of food will attract animals and insects. Bugs and rodents will take shelter inside the freezer's case, potentially gnawing on wires, jamming motors, or blocking ventilation holes. Spray around your chest freezer with insect repellent and place baited insect and rodent traps around it, to lower the risk.
There is no reason a chest freezer cannot be kept outside, exposed to cold or the outdoors. The lifespan of your appliance will depend on protecting it from water, temperature extremes, wind damage, and animal intruders. Other precautions include using outdoor-rated extension cables and checking your freezer every few days to ensure that it runs properly and is not displaying warning signs of impending mechanical failure.