"Outside" refrigerators & freezers in winter

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Old 03-02-16, 08:59 AM
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"Outside" refrigerators & freezers in winter

How cold does it have to get before a fridge or freezer in an unheated garage or shed won't work?
 
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Old 03-02-16, 09:08 AM
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I would say 25F would be a danger zone. That # is based on my work in a 19 story NYC office building. That's when the equipment was at risk.
 
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Old 03-02-16, 09:26 AM
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to keep mine working, i put a small desk lamp inside the fridge with a low watt bulb and a timer. let it go off every few hours which warms up the inside turning on the fridge itself. saw it on another site for the issue. worked this winter which was first time trying it. used one of the clamp on desk lamps to ensure it stayed where i wanted it too. Kept an eye on it to ensure not fire hazard. Probably not a recommended fix. There are warming cables that can be purchased that wrap around the motor or something, supposed to help. probably safer.
 
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Old 03-02-16, 09:52 AM
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It's different with every appliance. Freezers will work better in the cold. To get them to run reliably you can add a small crankcase heater that gets attached to the compressor.

Many refrigerators have a condensor fan that cools the compressor and the condensor coils. This fan can freeze in the cold causing it to burn out.

I would agree that over 25 degrees should be a safe low temperature limit.
 
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Old 03-03-16, 09:04 AM
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My upright freezer has been operating for 20 years in my attached but uninsulated and unheated garage. My in-laws had a spare fridge running in the tool shed for as long as I've known them.

I was just wondering if we've been lucky or they are OK to run in MI zero winter temps. I got to thinking they are a heat pump that removes heat from inside the appliance and transfers it to the outdoors. In that sense a colder ambient would increase efficiency. IF the oil in the compressor doesn't thicken so much to seize it, that is!

And IF I'm thinking correctly about the physics...
 
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Old 03-03-16, 09:06 AM
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I would say you've been lucky. The appliance manufacturers don't recommend running them in 0 degree temperatures.
 
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Old 03-03-16, 09:12 AM
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IMO, it's pure luck that anything runs in temps below 25F. However, that's just my educated guess. Call the manufacturer, to be sure.
 
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Old 03-03-16, 09:32 AM
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I just bought an upright freezer for my unheated garage and works fine. Manual says....

For the most efficient operation, the unit
should be located where surrounding
temperatures will not exceed 110F (43C).
Temperatures of 32F (0C) and below
will NOT affect operation. Additional
compressor heaters are not recommended.


I guess that means it has a compressor heater, no idea where it is. Todays refrigerators recommend 55 or above.


IMO, it's pure luck that anything runs in temps below 25F.
I must be lucky then. I've had a 50s Co-Op fridge in the garage for 26 years now and it keeps on going. I do have to keep a small light in there on a timer to keep the PBR above 20 or so to keep it from slushing up...never cared for chewy beer.
 
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Old 03-03-16, 09:35 AM
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Newer units have synthetic oils in the sealed system which will tolerate lower temps without gelling.
 
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