The Danby has no ancillary features to speak of, and a very basic design. We recorded some issues with temperature consistency throughout the interior from one shelf to another, and you'll need to fiddle with the controls to get the unit sufficiently cold.
That said, it was really consistent over time, and if you can get it sufficiently cold enough, this could serve as a reliable little icebox for folks who are short on space but need some extra frozen food storage.
The Danby is a very basic product. A glossy white finish masks fingerprints and other smudges, while the recessed handle gives the whole machine a smooth appearance that keeps it from looking too cheap.
A scratch-resistant top makes it a viable choice for folks who plan to leave it on the ground, where it could double as an end table.
Inside, the shelves use a coiled structure as opposed to traditional wire tines. As a result, the shelves feel quite sturdy, and there’s essentially no risk anything will fall through.
Really steady, but check those controls
We recorded average temperatures inside the Danby at 2.5°F—definitely warmer than we’d like. What makes it worse is that maximum temps clocked in at 6.3°F, while the average minimum was only -2.7°F. Turning down the thermostat should help keep things below 0°F more often, but it's still a pretty wide gap to close.
Despite a relatively small interior—4 cu. ft. isn’t a whole lot of space when you think about it—the temperature gap inside the Danby is quite wide. From top to bottom, we noticed a difference of 3.2°F—the widest gap we’ve seen to date.
Fortunately, temperatures over time were much more consistent. We only noticed a shift of ±0.3ºF over the course of 72 hours. If the cooling was more even from one shelf to another, this could have been a great product.
Don’t count on this machine when the power goes out
Freezing times in the Danby were actually rather consistent with full-sized machines. Chilling our room-temperature test materials down to 32ºF took about 98 minutes—only slightly slower than average—while getting down to 0ºF took 45 hours.
When it came to thawing, however, this machine’s insulation simply wasn’t up to the task. It only took 29.7 hours for the Danby to thaw. After 36 hours without power, the internal temperatures of our test material had reached 39.2ºF, well above a safe threshold for refreezing.
Usability? What’s there to use?
There’s little to say about the Danby's usability. Without any features, interacting with this mini freezer is always straightforward. Its small size means actually reaching for food is easy, and given the lack of shelf customization, grabbing food or putting food in is really all you’ll ever have to do with it.. aside from defrosting, that is.
The controls are located inside the freezer near the top. The rotating dial is stiff enough that you shouldn’t move it accidentally, but loose enough that adjusting the controls for defrosting or any other temperature changes won’t be a hassle. The removable pan in the bottom is a nice touch, but it’s not a game changer.
Bring on the freezer burn
When testing the Danby, we put the controls at 4, the midline manufacturer-recommended setting. The result? Don't listen to the manufacturer. More often than not, temperatures clocked in anywhere between 2-6°F. That's well above 0°F, which means you'll want to crank this bad boy down. Fortunately, it was very energy-efficient when set to 4, which means you should be able to afford some extra chilling power.
Despite its small interior, the Danby had some trouble maintaining even temperatures from one shelf to the next. Fortunately, it's very consistent over time. As long as you don't regularly move your TV dinners from one shelf to another, they should be alright.
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An efficient use of space
There’s no way to customize the Danby’s shelves, but we didn’t really expect there to be. Fortunately, this mini freezer makes the most of its space: Two full shelves are found in the main compartment with a removable tray at the bottom, plus three more fixed shelves on the door. It all adds up to 4.07 usable cubic feet of space.
Make sure you really need it
The Danby DUF408WE definitely has some strong aspects working in its favor: The storage space is accessible, long-term temperatures are very stable, and it's exceptionally energy efficient. That said, it'll take some fiddling with the controls before the unit gets cold enough to store anything more sensitive than a Hot Pocket.
With most retailers asking $240 or more for the Danby DUF408WE, plus shipping, you're going to want to make sure you really need a separate mini freezer before buying.
Many budget chest freezers are available for as little as twice the cost, and you get at least three or four times the storage capacity. You'll need to be both hurting for space and craving some frozen pizza to make this a worthwhile purchase.
Meet the tester
Logistics Manager & Staff Writer@ReviewedHome
Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.
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