/ Food & Drink, Home & Energy

Putting your freezer in a garage? Use a degree of caution

Red garage door

The garage might seem like the ideal out-of-the-way place to park a bulky and unsightly ‘big white box’ appliance. But keeping your freezer in a garage – or an unheated room – could actually cause it to break down.

Why? In a nutshell, freezers work by transferring heat inside the compartment outside. In cold room temperatures, this heat-transfer process can cause condensation on the outside of the freezer. If these water droplets find their way into the freezers’ innards it can damage the insulation, which can cause the appliance to pack up.

Fridge and freezer climate classes

Most of the freezers you can buy simply aren’t designed to work in rooms that get colder than 10°C. All refrigeration appliances have a climate class which tells you the range of room temperatures it’s designed to work in, and 10°C is the absolute lowest on the room-temperature scale (covered by the class ‘SN’).

When you consider that the average UK minimum temperature in February is barely more than 1°C, picturing a chilly garage being less than 10°C is absolutely no stretch for the imagination. Clearly then, this rules out garages and outbuildings as suitable homes for your freezer, and even calls unheated utility rooms into question.

There are exceptions to this rule: Beko says its freezers will work in colder temperatures, and claims that some can withstand room temperatures of down to -15°C.

Keeping your freezer in a garage

However, the obvious question is why do most manufacturers make appliances that aren’t geared up to work in the way people want to use them?

Of course, lots of people have kept freezers in garages for years without any problems. So perhaps the climate class system’s 10°C errs on the safe side, meaning that it might not be much use in the real world. This may or may not be true (and is something we’re looking into), but it’s important to point out that going against the climate class advice and keeping a freezer in an unheated room could invalidate its warranty.

To help us get an idea of whether the 10°C rule has much bearing on real-life experience, I’d really like to hear from anyone who keeps their freezer in a garage. Did you know that doing this might just shorten its shelf-life? Has your freezer ever broken down, or has it been running fine for years?

Do you keep your freezer in your garage?

Yes (84%, 2,180 Votes)

No (16%, 425 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,605

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Comments
Guest
Graham says:
24 March 2014

Purchased a chest freezer from Bejams many moons ago, and have kept it in the shed for nearly 20 years, with no problems.

Guest
Roy Harrop says:
12 June 2014

We had kept a 1980-vintage Philips (Whirlpool or whatever it was called) upright fridge/freezer in our attached garage since 1985 without any problems. It was a twin-compressor model (i.e. separate compressors for fridge and freezer. I use past tense because John Lewis collected it the other day. It was to be replaced by a Beko, which they subsequently failed to deliver. (Big Story; don’t go there!)
My (unscientific) research tells me that the reason (most) manufacturers now tell you not to put their appliances in unheated outbuildings is because a machine with a single compressor, and its thermostat is in the fridge, when the ambient temperature falls to 4 degrees, the fridge is quite happy that its internal temperature is right, so it switches off. But so too does the freezer – and it’s supposed to be at -18.
Apparently Beko have a way of running the compressor when the ambient temperature falls, and this keeps the freezer frozen.
Nothing to do with the refrigerant – they all seem to use the same stuff and have done for many years.

Guest

Roy, from an earlier post:
Fridge in garage – Fridge normally operates to 5C. If the ambient temperature drops to 0C or lower food may freeze and spoil.
Fridge/Freezer – these, as has been pointed out, often only have a fridge thermostat (5C) and if the ambient falls below this the fridge no longer needs more cooling, so the compressor does not operate. The freezer is then not cooled and will rise above its normal -18C temperature – food may thaw and spoil. BEKO offer a Freezer Guard to many of its models; this is additional circuitry that in low ambient switches the compressor on for between 5-20mins every 2.5 hours to maintain the correct freezer temperature. The downside is that the fridge may then drop below 0C and freeze food that could spoil; they recommend using the top shelves for such food. They give -15C as the minimum ambient. Prices do not seem excessive with this feature.
Freezers – these will not suffer these problems as they work at -18C. Zanussi “recommend our chest freezers which have a minimum ambient temp of 0 and will be OK in temp of around -18 degrees”. They go on to say that “Freezers and refrigerators in a cold garage can have the lubrication oil in the compressor get so stiff that the compressor won’t start and will trip out the auto reset breaker. In an extreme case the compressor motor can burn out because it doesn’t turn. In either case the freezer temp goes to ambient.”
AMDEA (The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances) publish “Guidance on the use of refrigerators, freezers and combined fridge-freezers in a garage or shed” on their website (amdea.org.uk). On freezers they imply they are OK in low ambient because UK temperatures do not normally drop below -18C. They suggest however that electronic circuits may not be able to operate at very low temperatures (?) and, separately, “And the other thing to consider in a garage/shed is moisture – not just in terms of water + electricity, but also potential corrosion of components over time.”

Guest

Thanks for the information re Beko freezers, Malcolm. I expect that the purpose of running the compressor periodically is to maintain fluidity of the lubricant in the refrigerant. It does not matter if the freezer temperature falls below -18C as a result.

You are right to question the point about electronic circuits possibly not working at low temperatures. New Scientist has a page that often includes this sort of unexpected observation.

AMDEA also reckon we should consider replacing appliances with modern ones that are more efficient on environmental grounds. Only if you ignore manufacture, product life and disposal.

Sorry for clicking the wrong ‘thumb’ but I will come back later and make amends.

Guest
Kevin99 says:
29 November 2014

We have kept the same AEG upright freezer in the back of an attached garage underneath a bedroom for the last 20 years without any serious problem (the only item that failed very recently – in last couple of years) was the power-on light and that’s never concerned us since the visible thermometer always confirms it is working at the correct temperature. It does seem that given 84% to date say that they do keep their freezer in their garage or shed that manufacturers are being a) conservative and b) unhelpful to many consumers.

Guest

There are, as there always are when this topic comes up, large numbers of people with freezers in their garages having no problems.

However, most of those freezers are older ones (I have one myself in the garage, and it’s 25+ years old) and it’s completely irrelevant that they work fine.

The problem is entirely with more recent models – after the change in refrigerants took place. Posts about old models are pretty pointless – there never was a problem with those.

I’d be very interested to hear about freezers under, say, 3 years old, though. I’ve just put a new one in the garage and it’s very much fingers crossed for when the temperature dips below 10 degrees. If necessary I’ll have to bring it inside or heat the garage for a while!

Guest

David, when I looked at this erlier in the conversation “The refrigerant used (for about 20 years now) is isobutane (R600a) and I am told this is not an issue in low ambients.” The reason manufacturers don’t list low temperature operation seems partly because the standard testing regime does not encompass it.

Guest

It would be good if Which? could give us some authoritative advice about so that we can make an informed decision about whether or not keeping currently produced freezers in unheated garages is likely to result in premature failure. Obviously using a freezer below the minimum permissible temperature could void the warranty but that might be a risk worth taking.

Guest

Which? had plenty of opportunity to investigate the facts, particularly when prompted by information contributors had obtained, but appeared to have stood on the sidelines of the issue. I would prefer Which? to take a leading role in these issues, do a proper investigation, arrive at considered conclusions even if that means doing fewer things but doing them better. Once they concentrated on products; now they include services. That’s fine if they have the expertise and resources. Have they?

Guest
stanley says:
19 February 2016

Had two fridge freezers in the garage worked fine in the house, both packed in within 4 months in garage!

Guest
Peter W says:
19 June 2017

I wonder if covering the freezer with a blanket during cold weather may help.

Guest

That, Wavechange, is an excellent idea. It’s exactly the sort of thing that Which? used to be so good at – but seems to have given up on in favour of the more highly visible campaigning.

Don’t get me wrong – campaigning is fine. But not if it’s at the expense (which it is) of the sort of detailed advice and testing which Which? used to manage to do 20 years back.

Guest

Which is testing many more products than it used to do, largely because there is so much on offer these days. I take your point but I would prefer Which? to be pushing for ten year warranties on kitchen appliances than more exhaustive testing of everything.

In the case of freezers, it would be extremely useful if Which? could establish whether or not there is a problem with keeping them in unheated garages. If there is not a problem then perhaps pressure could be applied on the manufacturers to change their instructions. If there is a genuine problem, then perhaps we should be pushing for freezers that are designed for use in this environment.

It would be costly for Which? to contract long term testing, so I will offer to accommodate a nice new freezer in my garage, free of charge, and to record its performance over the next decade. 🙂

Guest

I wanted an inexpensive freezer to keep in my garage. I bought a Currys Essential C99CFW14 chest freezer, product code 096198 which was advertised as “suitable for outbuildings”.
However on unpacking and reading the instructions the product is quoted in
the manual as having an operating temperature range of 10 to 43 deg C.:
this specification, in my understanding of how a refrigeration system
works, renders it unsuitable for outbuildings where the temperature may
drop below 5 deg C. I contacted Currys’ technical website “Knowhow” who, very unhelpfully, told me to contact Customer Services, who then consulted their own website which said it was suitable for outbuildings!! I will be monitoring the freezer temperature through the winter and report back to this site. I would also suggest that Currys change the name of their technical website. My own suggestion of name would unfortunately disqualify publication of this article.

Guest

I agree with your statement, I had same problem it would seam that currys are deceiving the public by stating it is suitable for outbuildings and on there Web sit it did not state the working temp it looks like this was done to sell the freezer like you I didn’t find out till I read manual which has me worried this should be reported to trading standard’s my be thay can sort out problem out

Guest
Marie says:
6 October 2016

How did it go? We just bought a second hand one for our shed.

Guest
Diane .raddock says:
5 February 2015

I bought a Hotpoint fridge freezer last August which we have put in the garage alongside a chest freezer and another upright freezer. The hotpoint has worked fine until this last few days and now the freezer will not drop below -2Centigrade. We have had to remove everything and place it in the other two freezers. We phoned Currys who told us that this is because the ambient temperature is too low and condensation may be causing the problem. Is there anything we can do to put this right? The other freezers are working fine.

Guest

Diana, the thermostat in the fridge part of a combined fridge-freezer will contol the compressor and stop it when the fridge is at the correct emperature (say 5C). So the freezer will no longer be cooled. This will happen when the temperature in your garage is below the temperature the fridge is set for – so if that is for prolonged periods the compressor has no need to operate and the feezer temperature will gradually increase.

BEKO do one that deals with this by operating the compressor occasionally to maintain the freezer tempaerature.

Guest
Diane Craddock says:
5 February 2015

Thank you Malcolm. I have read all the submissions on this subject and, of course, now wished I had read it before we went out and spent £300 on a fridge freezer to put in our garage. I have put a portable heater in the garage just to see whether the compressor will work again if I raise the ambient temperature to 10C. The old freezers appear to have coped with low ambient temperatures but now we are replacing them, it would appear that they are not designed to deal with this. Small homes do not have the room for the large upright fridge freezers – hence 84% now being housed in outbuildings. We need manufacturers to produce a product that works in that situation and we need Which to campaign for that and press all manufacturers on behalf of consumers.

Guest

Diane (not Diana – sorry!), a freezer (no fridge) should generally, it seems, be fine in a garage because the compressor will operate to keep it at the right temperature. Should be no need to replace those. It’s only a combined unit – fridge/freezer – with a single compressor that can cause the problem. Although I’ve a fridge/freezer in my garage that has been perfectly fine for the last 5 years – maybe my garage stays warmer than yours.

Putting a heater in your garage to raise the temperature will keep the compressor going and the freezer working, but your electricity bill is likely to shoot up.I reckon you could spend £300 on electricity just in one winter. Why not keep freezers in the garage and just fridge or even two – say under counter – in the kitchen if you have room. More convenient as well?

Guest
Diane Craddock says:
7 February 2015

Malcolm – no apologies needed. Yes, from your explanation we realise now what has happened and temporarily using the heater has confirmed it. However, our electricity bill is big enough so we are now calling the unit a “summer freezer”! We will just freeze less in the winter. I presume the fridge part will continue working ok if we leave it switched on but it means the freezer will also switch on when ambient temp. Is over 10C. Pity we can’t switch the freezer off and keep the fridge on but the designers hadn’t thought if that. Perhaps they only design for the Mediterranean region. I wonder how many others have had problems during the past week’s low temperatures! Thank you for your help.

Guest

Just bought a new freezer for outside utility room , to replace old freezer which worked for 20 years and its defrosting frequently . Put in heater and still defrosting . Read handbook and says minimum temp of 16 ! Checked curry s website and it says not suitable for outdoor usage . Never thought it would be an issue and left with brand new useless freezer . Upset doesn’t cover it .

Guest

If you don’t use the car door much [or at least not during the cold spell] it might be worth seeing if using some old material, blankets, cardboard, pipe insulation, to cover gaps around the doorway might just help to keep the garage at around 5 deg C. Whatever else you do, don’t be tempted to put a duvet over the fridge-freezer.

Something to watch out for in a very cold garage or shed is paint. I lost a lot of brand new paint awaiting a redecorating job because of frost action.

Guest
Diane Craddock says:
15 February 2015

Malcolm and John – another week has passed and with ambient garage temperature varying, we are getting an on and off situation when it is just under or over 5C. BUT more worrying is that we have been getting an oily smell when the compressor started again. I will be monitoring this over the coming days to see if it continues. Could this perhaps be as a result of the compressor not working for several days when temperatures were down to 0C.?

Guest
Keithice says:
16 February 2015

Diane, you shouldn’t smell anything from a fridge circuit as it is sealed….

John, for just the frost reaction you stated, not many people, outside the transport industry, are aware that chiller/freezer wagons can be used as heat pumps to keep the trailers above 0 degC for this reason…. for example a trailer full of paint, shampoo or conditioner (separate on freezing) from the UK to Germany or Scandinavia in the middle of winter would arrive as a trailer of rubbish otherwise….

Guest
JT says:
3 March 2015

I worked for a Northern electricity company from 1983 for 15 years. As staff we were very well trained in the correct usage & competence of ‘White & Brown’ goods (eg. kitchen appliances = ‘White Goods’, TVs, computers, stereo equipment etc = ‘Brown Goods’).
In addition to ‘Brown’ goods being ‘brought up to room temperature (yes, really!!!!) for 24 hours before plugging in &setting up, we were ALWAYS instructed that freezers & fridge-freezers were sold only on the premise that the customer was fully forewarned by the sales assistant that placing such appliances in unheated outbuildings (including conservatories & porches!) could result in the failure of the appliance to do it’s job safely & correctly when the ambient temperature fell below it’s intended setting.
This was 30+ years ago, & from the questions being posed, I thought I should maybe point this out.
As a ‘rider’ to my comments, I should add that I raised this EXACT point when my husband recently bought a temporary f/freezer to put in the conservatory whilst we waited for our new kitchen to be fitted.
Needless to say, during the cold spell we’ve experienced lately up here in the North, the freezer packed up and we lost all the food ! The fridge, however, functioned perfectly the whole time. Enough said!
Can’t offer any other advice on the Beko products & how well they perform, though!

Guest
geoff says:
18 March 2015

Jess has done a great job of raising an important topic – but after two years I would have expected some firm expert conclusion. At the very least I would expect to hear what the appliance manufacturers are intending to do in response to the clear need for a modern chest freezers that can operate at temperatures from 10 deg C to minus 15deg C. The lack of clarity on this astounding. As far as I can tell, only a couple of the lower end manufacturers are making a claim to operate at low temps – why ? I can’t be the only person not buying a chest freezer because of the uncertainty around this issue. Yes I know Beko and Zanussi claim to support low temps – but they dont have the other features I would consider important such as lock, external temp monitor and long (72+ hours) power out safe storage time, and – I hate to say it, looks and reputation. Take this to conclusion Which. Any freezer manufacturer that wants to lead the pack or get an easy boost in sales only needs to be able to address the issues raised in these comments.

Guest
Diane says:
29 December 2015

While reading all the information I have been in and out checking on my small chest freezer in the garage which sweats terrible when the weather turns cold, ( that’s why I was reading ) I have opened the garage door and it seems to be reducing in the fresher air , I did put old towels over it but not sure it worked as they got wet. the person who I bought it off said he never had a problem and we live next door with identical garages. He positioned it at the back of the garage away from the main door and I have it within a foot of the main door where it is colder. It is possibly more than 10 years old now and I have noticed the lid doesn’t seem to shut with a suction like it used to. I now perhaps need to buy a new one and have taken on board what all the points made

Guest
Chris Stones says:
20 January 2016

we have recently bought a new smeg fridge freezer so decided to put the whirl pool f/f
in the garage for more storage space and i noticed lately that food was starting to go soft
which prompted me to discard all the food into the dustbin all soggy/.
I have just phoned a fridge expert and they have confirmed that F/F are not suitable for outside temps particularly frost free ones are more prone to this. Costly mistake i think

Guest

Chris generally your are right ,but on US website -daillac/coolers, when the same point is mentioned Beko -grade SN freezers go down to –=-15C (external ) and the comment was made double insulated chest freezers will work at low external temperatures .

Guest

Generally I believe a freezer is OK in the garage, but a fridge freezer with a single compressor may not be. In cold weather the low ambient in the garage if below the 5 deg the fridge may be set for will not activate the compressor so although the fridge temperature remains OK, the freezer temperature will rise. BEKO have a device that senses when this happens and brings on the compressor from time to time to maintain the freezer temp.

I’ve a donated Hotpoint Fr/Fr in the garage and have never, however, had a problem with it.

Guest

The reference to “double insulated” may require further clarification. This statement usually refers to an aspect of the electrical design that has nothing to do with the temperature in which it is operated.

Guest
Devadiva says:
28 January 2016

Thank you Malcolm r for your older /recent explanations regarding F/F in garages. Essential knowledge.
Our Thorn Freezer No. 01977 dated 02/74 died 25/01/16. It lived in our linked garage all those 42 years without failing.
Plunged unceremoniously into “ambient temperatures”, SN -T , “only Beko” , “invalid warranties” “probably won’t be a low temperature issue” comments my conclusion like others is that the manufacturers are not providing the right product for 84% of users. WHICH, please press them to address this. None of the Beko F/F are best buys.
Now my husband is clearing the garage roof in order to insulate that and the up and over door as well and we will chance a “house only” model with the “extras” we want.
Incidentally a friend recommends switching his freezer off for a day now and then in order to “rest” the compressor? What’s that about?
Thanks everyone for your comments as its been so helpful.

Guest

Hi Devadiva – Your old freezer is likely to use R-12 refrigerant, a CFC that has been phased out but can be safely recovered if taken to a recycling plant. Many old freezers are still in use in unheated garages. I have an Electrolux freezer in mine and that dates from around 1981.

The running costs of freezers in garages will be less than if they used in a warm room. Maybe that is less important now that insulation has been improved.

Perhaps Which? could discuss the problem further with manufacturers and large retailers because there is a definite demand for freezers that can be used in garages.

Guest

The main problem I have found is not so much with freezers but with fridge freezers where the cold temperature in the garage prevents the compressor operating because the fridge is cold enough, and so the freezer is no longer cooled adequately. BEKO have a device that triggers the compressor to cool the freezer under these conditions.

I believe that this is more of a “standards” issue than necessarily a real problem for freezers. The standard only lists ambient temperatures for testing purposes of, from memory, 10 deg C or over, assuming use within a dwelling. Perhaps we need Which? (BEUC) to push for an amendment to the standard to also allow approval, where merited, at lower ambient temperatures? When I dug around this issue a couple of years ago there seemed to be no inherent problems with freezers operating on low ambient temperatures – certainly not with the refrigerant.

Guest

I’m discussing freezers – the subject of this Convo. Using a freezer in a colder environment than it is intended for is misuse or abuse and will invalidate the manufacturer’s guarantee. That’s whey we need to push for freezers that operate either in the house or in the garage.

Fridge-freezers are another issue. Since there are many who don’t realise that the freezers of single-compressor fridge-freezers are likely to thaw if used in an unheated environment, perhaps there should be prominent information in advertising and product information.

Guest

The relevant standard for testing freezers I believe is EN 15502. It requires testing to take place in a “climate class” relevant to the country of use. In the UK this would be in an ambient of 10 deg C I understand. Hence as the manufacturers do not test, presumably, at lower temperatures they may not honour a guarantee if used in this way.

The earlier parts of this conversation showed that the large majority of those who have freezers in unheated buildings such as garages have had no problems, with many years of use.

As I said above, in view of the likely amount of usage in garages I would like Which? to try to discuss the test standard to see if it could include approval, if the manufacturer so chose, in a garage type environment at a specified temperature and in the humidity likely to be present. BEKO (whatever you think of their reliability, Which? score them as 75%) are unlikely to have unique technology in models that operate in ambients down to -15 C.

Guest
Wendy Brown says:
14 May 2016

We bought a Hotpoint fridge/freezer from Currys in July last year. We didn’t know about the problems of keeping it in our garage and the saleperson didn’t ask where it would be located. Curry’s delivery men placed the fridge/freezer in our garage and took away the old appliance from the garage where we had used it. They also didn’t question it’s location. In the installing instructions supplied with the appliance there was no mention that it shouldn’t be kept in a garage. When it broke down in January this year, we called Curry’s who told us to contact Hotpoint as it was still under warranty. We phoned Hotpoint and described the fault, saying that the ice-cream etc in the freezer had thawed out. They said they would send an engineer to have a look at it, and they also didn’t ask where the appliance was kept. There was also no mention of a call-out charge and as it was still under warranty we assumed this would be free.. As soon as the engineer arrived and we showed him in the garage, he said that it was not working because it was too cold and left. We then wrote to Curry’s asking why they are selling fridge freezers that don’t work in the garage and why their salesman hadn’t asked where it was to be placed. They said that it was our responsibility to check before purchase and that they have a notice on the fridge freezers on display that CAN be kept in an outbuilding. But as we didn’t know that this problem existed, we didn’t know to look. Now, 4 months later, we’ve had a bill from Hotpoint for the call-out fee! We will obviously challenge this and do not intend to pay it. The only advice we have been given is to heat the garage when the weather gets cold. We can’t believe that in this county these appliances are being sold without the customer being asked by the salesperson where it will be used. We chose Curry’s as we have always relied on their expertise, but this relationship has now ended and when our washing broke recently, we bought from another well-known store, so they have lost at least one sale because of their refusal to advise their customers before selling them inappropriate appliances.

Guest

As can be seen, not all fridge/freezers are unsuitable for use in a garage, and not all garages are unsuitable for a fridge/freezer. In our previous house the garage also had the boiler in it which kept it above freezing and also had a frost thermostat to start it up if the heating had been turned off for a spell. There was never a problem with the freezer we kept in there.

If a garage is going to be used for domestic purposes it does make sense to stop any draughts and to insulate the door area [just some bubble wrap and some old curtains will do and it can even be just for the winter months]. In our present garage which is used for some storage [but not a freezer] a fan heater is set to come on if the temperature drops to near zero.

Guest
Lesley Read says:
26 July 2016

I kept a freezer in the garage for a few years, but did notice during very cold winters, that it had defrosted everything overnight and then re-frozen in the day time when temperatures rose a bit. It’s possible that those who think they have had no issues, haven’t noticed this aspect.

Guest

That is a good point Lesley, and worrying if some foodstuffs have cyclically thawed and refrozen.

Guest

Just bought a bush fridge freezer a couple of weeks ago to keep in the shed, as soon as the temperature dropped to 0 some nights the freezer started thawing and re-freezing and the fridge started freezing stuff, (great if you want a cola slushy), so we are switching it for one of the beko ones that are supposedly safe for shed use.

Guest

All brands of fridge-freezer with a single compressor and single temperature control will suffer the same problem, Jay. The explanation has been given several times in this Convo.

A twin compressor model would do the job but these have been largely phased out because they are less efficient. The alternative is to use a separate fridge and freezer, but bear in mind that you could invalidate the guarantee/warranty if they are used below the minimum temperature specified by the manufacturer.

Guest

Jay, the BEKO F/Freezer has a function that energises the compressor from time to time even if the fridge does not need cooling, to stop the freezer thawing. They also rate their appliances that are so equipped down to -16C (speaking from memory when the earlier Convos were active).

The standard assumes these appliances will be used indoors and therefore only requires them to function correctly at appropriate ambient temperatures – again speaking from memory this is 10C. So technically they should not be used in environments below this, and manufacturers are quite in order to refuse to honour guarantees if incorrectly used. However many others seem to keep them in outbuildings satisfactorily. I’ve had a single compressor Hotpoint F/F in my garage for many years without a problem, without the BEKO gizmo.

Guest

Sheds are much more prone to frost and temperature extremes generally than garages so are not good places for refrigeration equipment of any kind. Some kind of thermal insulation around the appliances might help though – the sandwich-type cladding used for house insulation might be suitable as it can be sawn to fit the space and has its own rigidity; underneath the appliance could be the most important area to protect.

Guest

The other problem with sheds can be condensation – they can become very damp places in winter. Your insulation idea might be extended to line the walls and roof inside the shed with insulation.

Guest

I am thinking of doing that in our shed-c*m-summerhouse although we don’t have any appliances in there. I stored some emulsion paint there once and lost most of it due to frost. I was hesitant to suggest enveloping the shed in insulation to Jay because the cost could negate the economies of long-term frozen and chilled storage but if the circumstances justify having an outdoor fridge/freezer then I would recommend it.

Guest

I am not keen on installation of electrical appliances in a shed – unless one of them is a dehumidifier. The insulation suggested by John – e.g. Celotex or Kingspan – is very effective but this will not keep the temperature above freezing in a prolonged cold period.

Malcolm – How does your fridge-freezer continue working in your garage when it becomes as cold outside the fridge as inside it?

Guest

In reply to your last question, I do not know. I am simply reporting that, like many others, I take the chance and it works – for many years through some very cold spells. Maybe the freezer is sufficiently well insulated to survive a long cold night before the ambient temperature rises sufficiently to start the fridge. Nor does stuff spoil in the fridge. This suggests it may be that my brick-built garage helps minimise the length of very cold internal ambients. I do keep a regular watch on it just in case.

Guest
Jenny says:
9 December 2016

We bought a Beko freezer specifically because it can be used in a garage but twice recently, when it has been milder weather, there has been condensation on the outside & the garage floor has obviously got wet. I worry that the freezer may have stopped & restarted but would that mean there as time for everything to defrost & re-freeze? The outside of the freezer (haven’t looked at the back) is very wet.

Guest

Jenny – If the air is humid and the temperature falls, condensation will form on the coldest surfaces.

Guest

Put the external probe of an electronic max/min thermometer into it and learn how to use it.

Guest

I keep my freezer in the garage, it’s a brand-new freezer that’s only about a month old. The recommendation by the manufacturers and suppliers is that it can be kept in the garage, the freezer warranty should then hopefully cover this, if not then I feel I have some comeback with the supplier or with the manufacturer if the appliance goes wrong.

Guest

You should not have any problem with warranty claims provided that you comply with the terms & conditions. Can you tell us the make, Threebee? With many manufacturers saying that their products are unsuitable for use in garages, others may be interested in learning about those that are suitable.

Guest

Jenny, some years ago when I visited New Orleans with its hot and humid climate, I noticed that all the shop windows had condensation on the outside (street side) of the windows and not on the inside (store side) as is common in our climate. It took me a little while to figure out that all the stores there had their air conditioning set at a temperature much lower on the inside of the store (i.e your freezer) than that of the outside of the store (i.e your garage).

If the manufacturer claims your freezer can be kept in the garage, you are covered, but I would check the contents at regular intervals just to make sure they are still frozen until you are satisfied the manufacturers claims are indeed valid. I hope this helps.

Guest

A maximum and minimum thermometer is more useful than standard fridge and freezer thermometers. They don’t cost much and I have one that was kept in my garage freezer for 34 years. I scrapped the freezer when I moved home because the compressor was becoming worn out and running more than it used to in warm weather, but the temperature control remained good. Maybe a useful Christmas gift.

Guest

I used to have an old metal/mercury greenhouse one from the 30,s but I bought a maplin LCD one for £6 but is discontinued , there is an update -and larger than the earlier one I bought with LCD display i still have mine working after 30 years . The new one is code- L55AJ but it is £20.

Guest
Lmac says:
4 January 2017

I am a service engineer of 38 years, working for a top leading brand, and experienced this problem many many times. now retired , believe it or not i forgot about this problem and went out and bought a fridge/freezer for a utility room separate from the main building. and needless to say i had the same problems many of your reader have had, after alot of thought i a have decided to try out a work around.
Im going to purchase a freezer thermostat and place the capillary tube from the stat on the freezer evaporator. so instead of sensing the fridge temp it would now sense the freezer temp, the average on time for cycling is roughly 3 to 4 times per hour, im guessing this would give me a fridge temp of somewhere between 2-5 c , and getting the freezer temp bang on what i set it at. you have a working temp range of -18 to -24 on freezers, with this range im sure i will be able to match the required fridge temp of 2-5c. In theory this should work, now the unit thinks it is a freezer only.

Guest

You know what you are doing and will keep an eye on the temperature, but it’s normal to have the thermostat in the fridge for safety. Varying the temperature of a freezer by a few degrees is not a safety issue, whereas fresh food in the fridge can spoil quickly if the temperature rises. It would be interesting to add the second thermostat but leave the original in place. Some of the fresh food could freeze but that would be better than having the freezer compartment defrost.

Guest
Lmac says:
5 January 2017

I know what you are saying, but if the new freezer stat is set at -18c (minimum freezer temp, this would cover any problems with the unit shutting down) this would run in parallel with the original thermostat, with running two stats together both units fridge and freezer are going to guarantee the right temperature for each unit although theoretically it is possible the fridge could go into 1c or under temperature (very little under by the way due to the small evaporator and frequent opening of the door ) but i think this is a reasonably trade off to the complete unit shutting down and defrosting the food and then refreezing without the consumers knowledge of what is happening, and bear in mind this problem could be happening on multiple occasions this could be a lot more harmful to the consumer than the occasional (if at all) fridge freeze you could theoretically experience. By the way this would more than likely increase running cost over the year but it it would be very little indeed.

Guest

I will be interested to hear how you get on with your experiment.

My understanding is that twin-compressor fridge-freezers have been phased out because they use more energy than single-compressor models. To me, the logical solution would be to be able to route refrigerant to either the fridge or freezer evaporators, much in the same way that the three port motorised valve in a heating system sends hot water from the boiler to the radiators or to heat water. Do any domestic fridge-freezers work in this way?

Guest

I believe you are correct the two compressor units stopped long ago due to production costs.
Regarding to routing of the refrigerant through the different evaporators this was used on the more expensive models years ago (gosh you are taking me down some old roads) when it worked it was great but the failures we experienced were solenoids going o/c and more common was the valve would jam and giving it a quick knock sometimes got them moving again but obviously they required renewal and that involved regassing of the unit which you really didn’t want to do as this could bring its own problems on. As far as i am aware i dont believe they use this technique any more but perhaps one of your followers may know different. i have received this very minuet my new freezer thermostat through the post, so guess what im doing today by orders of my wife, when this is all fitted it is going to take i guess a week or so to balance the temps out in the two cabinet, this will be achieved by a digital thermostat for more accuracy but could be achieved with a normal thermostat reader. you obviously seem well versed in refrigeration so what i write here is easy for us to understand but there are readers out there who are desperate for a work around may not understand, and i want to say to them this isn’t difficult to do , after completing the test it may be worth explaining this in laymans terms and sharing the part no. of the stat and settings if anyone is interested. i have read many posts about ways around this problem from wiring the internal lamp permanently on to putting expensive heaters running during the cold weather, to be honest i really do believe these are unacceptable work arounds as they do not work all year round no matter what the temp is summer or winter. this hopefully should cure the problem its a one off job and you will be able to forget any defrosting problems. I hope you find this post helpful. Take care.
Lmac

Guest

Lmac your freezer should be a mean temp of -18˚C so it will cycle -/+ about 10-15% of that normally. Below about -21/22˚C you will get issues and the * rating will be affected below that or of the temp rises above about -16/17˚C-ish. So you may well not be able to trust the storage times on the foods as they will degrade faster than is stated if it’s not bang on, you could potentially use food that is spoiled quite easily.

Fridge needs to be about, generally speaking, an average of +2-+5˚C either above or below is a problem with food storage and especially more fragile foods. Below +2˚C is fine for most drinks and most meats, fish but not good for many other things and you risk freezing or partially freezing some foods, which can be a very bad thing when subsequently cooked.

I often say in respect to mods to get round this problem, it’s all fine till someone gets salmonella, then it doesn’t seem such a bright idea after all.

Interesting, seems you were fixing the old Zanussi/Lux cabinets with the stupid changeover valves as well. 😉

They’re all but gone now.

Twin compressors are a thing of the past, best bet in low temps is a unit designed for it obviously, if you can find one of course or separates as that gets round most issues but not moisture forming on the anti-condensate or electrics. Fizz, bang or the insulation gets moisture in it and the party’s over at that point.

Aside that in temps outside the climate rating the run times can be all over the place and throw up all manners of weird stuff happening.

No domestic unit sold in the EU or most of the world can be operated in under an ambient temperature of less than +10˚C according to the international standards, they are not designed for it.

Beko say some of theirs can be and Bosch especially do the light on thing but, in my opinion, these are fudges to try to appease people that want to put refrigeration in places they really shouldn’t be in. Whilst that may make the cabinets operate, it doesn’t negate the other issues nor does it guarantee they operate as they optimally should.

But for non fridge guys to start messing with thermostats and rewiring without being able to understand the food safety stuff and how to temp test is highly, highly inadvisable.

Then there’s the electrical safety also!

If it’s not wired right the danger is it’ll run continuously though or not at all, you get get issues with phial placement so inaccurate or incorrect temp maintained and on most modern units this isn’t possible anyway as they use electronics, thermistors to gauge the temperature so it’d be a non-starter in one of those without severe modification.

I’m quite relaxed about it though, if people want to do this in the face of all the advice that tells you not to, that’s fine. Just don’t complain if you get ill from the food in it or heaven forbid, someone dies due to it.

K.

Guest

Kenneth-There are several really high end fridge freezer manufacturers that do twin compressors both here and in the US but as expected prices are “high end” as well.

Guest

None I’ve seen recently Duncan.

Wolf/Sub Zero might, Viking (proper) might I don’t think they do but for domestic in general terms now, no. Even Liebherr (who make Miele) no longer make twin compressor models.

Most US refrigeration I’ve ever seen going back even decades is all single compressor. Even back to models from the 70’s.

I look up parts for them all day long Duncan, I do know about them. 😉

K.

Guest

Thanks Lmac and Kenneth for the information about models with solenoid valves.
As a microbiologist, I very much agree about the need to keep freezers and especially fridges at the correct temperature. I do not understand why it is not a requirement for both to have conspicuous temperature gauges. I use maximum and minimum thermometers. My preference is for separate fridges and freezers, especially now that twin-compressor fridge-freezers are uncommon.

A friend bought a Gorenje fridge-freezer that I believe has twin compressors.

I kept a chest freezer in a dry garage for over 30 years. I did this deliberately to lower the running cost and I assume that it prolonged the life of the compressor.

Some have heated their garages to allow single-compressor fridge-freezers to operate in winter but that seems an expensive solution. A low power electric heater in the fridge compartment should keep the compressor working enough to prevent the freezer defrosting but there are obvious food and electrical safety considerations.

Guest

If you think about it it’s pretty obvious why a heater in there is a bad thing.

First you then heat eh cavity, with food in in, that you’re refrigerating, that’s now probably already too cold anyway.

Next the whole system is balanced in refrigerant charge, run time, compressor rating and stat cut in/out points to maintain the correct freezer temp. If you mess with that in any way the danger is it all goes sideways.

Hence my comment that I regard the light on thing and a few other tricks as mere fudges, not a true solution to the problem.

i completely understand to people that have little technical or field knowledge might think this is okay to do but really, it isn’t.

K.

Guest

It depends how you do it, Kenneth. Manufacturers put heaters in many fridges for automatic defrosting.

Guest

No, it really doesn’t.

Defrost heaters are used in old falling air fridges but are very low power and designed merely to melt ice formation on a rear wall evaporator. That is controlled by the stat, the like of an old VT9 or VT93 will give you rough specs that apply to most.

Those units are old, very old and it’s a very uncommon system to see in the past decade or two at least.

They are no energy efficient is the biggest reason and generally will be using R12 or R134a as a refrigerant so, not polar bear friendly.

Defrost heaters are more commonly used in frost free refrigeration on the freezer evap to clear ice build up on a timed schedule, not usually through detection by a thermostat as it’s hard to detect that way or at least, cheaply it is.

Typically they kick on in 6, 8, 12 or 24 hour increments for domestic use and will run for 10-30 mins normally.

Almost every “self defrosting” fridge you see now (most the past 15-20 years) will use what we refer to as a “wet wall” falling air system that relies wholly on the thermostat being right and the ambient room temp or, it will fail without doubt. Hence, ambient is critical.

For that, no heat in the fridge compartment is required hence, hardly any now will have a heater in the fridge, it’s unnecessary.

Or it’s air driven on better machines so you get a more stable temp in the fridge compartment using air drawn off from the freezer to chill it. This system is far superior to falling air on a number of levels.

Again, as all the refrigeration is carried out in the freezer, no heater is required in the fridge.

K.

Guest

The problem remains that people are putting fridge-freezers in unheated places such as garages and finding that the freezer defrosts when the cold weather sets in. Since you can safely run fridges and freezers in an unheated room or building provided that it is dry, it would be good to see the industry producing suitable appliances.

Guest

I’ve run a spare upright fridge freezer in my unheated garage, at my own risk, for several years and it has worked well. You can run freezers in garages (I believe) so I’d suggest if anyone needs to use an outbuilding, preferably one that is dry, this is what they should do, and use BEKO if necessary. A fridge can usually be put under a worktop in the kitchen. Keep them separate would be my advice if you don’t want the risk of a malfunction.

The problem with putting a fridge in an unheated outbuilding is, as Ken has pointed out, if the ambient temperature drops below around 2C the contents may spoil. So unless you want fridges with heaters to ensure the temperature stays between 2 and 5C this seems a problem you will not overcome.

Guest

Yeah I know, it’s a common thread here and in Northern Europe, Northern US and so on.

The problem you have is that it’s a heat exchange but it’s not really working that way in some regard. In principle draws the heat out the cavity and dispels it into the room.

That obviously produces heat and, when heat meets cold simple physics tells us, you get moisture, condensation. Sadly, unless someone can alter the laws of physics somehow, what people want to do and, what actually is will continue to differ.

That’s one element of it.

The next is that you’re running two cavities at two different (at least) temperatures and cutting the cost so that you only need on compressor and control system. Oh and one cabinet so, often one insulation thickness and so on as well.

That ain’t gonna work and, that’ll be that.

It’s physics you can’t get round, not design.

You can get outdoor units for sure that are all protected and sealed up etc but they cost fortunes and are much larger than a normal domestic unit. Even a basic fridge for outdoors use is hugely expensive and generally used in warm to tropical climates as, the ambient is high enough to cope.

Maybe the new magnetic refrigeration thats still in development will get around the temperature issue but, it will not get round the condensation issue.

Condensation in the insulation, unit is scrap.

On the electrics, fizz… pop… bang or a fire.

Every year I see scores of reports where a fire has started due to a refrigeration unit in a garage or outbidding and, I do mean scores of them.

So yeah, go ahead and do that if you want to take a punt that it won’t happen to you.

I won’t. I also would never advise anyone to take such a huge safety risk as it would be tantamount to negligence on a professional level.

K.

Guest

Well Kenneth you seem to know all the negative things, I wonder do you have anything positive to say, please do not quote me refrigeration temperatures, i have worked on domestic refrigeration for 38 years I havent seen it all but there’s not much i haven’t seen, but let me remind you of what i said previously as long as I get a MINIMUM temp of -18 in the freezer cabinet and 2-5 c in the fridge cabinet (this is very short term until the manufacturers thermostat recovers because these thermostats are running in parallel with each other) the unit is doing exactly what it was produced to do. I am not talking of major modifications here just adding a second thermostat. this stat would only call when the freezer temp drops below -18 no way am I altering any of the original components or wiring it is purely there to catch a temporary less than -18 temperature condition, this would only activate during the very cold winter months, ( as its running in parallel with the original thermostat.) This would not be suitable for any frost free freezers . As to your statement about nobody should put freezers in places they are not suppose to go , personally I would say thats complete nonsense , there is nothing wrong with siting a freezer in a dry garage or conservatory or unheated kitchen, or outside utility rooms where do you draw the line, you need to wake up and join the real world, 84% of freezers are sited in cold buildings , nowhere in refrigeration handbooks does it state these units can only be sited in places where there is high ambient temperature . If you want to blame somebody blame to retailers that sell you these units without asking where they are going to be sited.
I never said the freezer should run above -18c , I am watching the readings very carefully, a stat is a stat they all have tolerances , and it is very important you work within these temperatures, that’s why I am running two digital thermometers at the same time one sensing each cabinet. Regarding the capillary tube , this is sited below the bottom third of the freezer cabinet on the liner thats where all freezer thermostat capillary tubes are fitted, we are not talking about thermistors which are strapped to evaporator pipework . Also I never said I worked on Zanussi/Lux I didn’t and the changeover valves were far from stupid valves, when they worked they did a good job. You seem very doom and gloom with the salmonella and death warnings, this is purely what i consider for myself to be the safest alternative to a freezer going on and off in cold conditions.
If I have purchased a fridge/freezer costing anywhere from £200 – £500 and this occurred, throwing the unit out would not be a option, neither would putting up with the annual nightmare of this thing going on and off without my knowledge. ( if anything could do you harm that would)
I am not saying anyone should do this work and I am certainly not suggesting they should do any additional wiring unless they are electrically competent, after all this is only one thermostat and two wires, but I understand this would be difficult to many people who have no electrical knowledge especially when they dont know where to connect the two cables.
Im sure we are all aware of the dangers of high temperature with refrigerated food we are all just trying to work around a very difficult and frustrating problem with our fridge/freezers.
I am just sharing what I have done and not suggesting anyone does this work, I’m simply sharing my experience and thats all.
Lmac.

Guest

Well said Lmac. If you know what your are doing, understand the potential dangers and are only doing this for yourself, I don’t see a problem. I have modified plenty of equipment to suit my needs or to make it safer and not once had a problem.

Guest

You misunderstand I think.

It needs to run at a mean of -18˚C, not as a limit.

Go look it up if you don’t believe me, the ideal storage temp for frozen food domestically is -18˚C. That’s pretty much it I’m afraid so, that’s your target temp.

As to not being positive, not at all I’m just realistic and have a good understanding of the principals, design and engineering of refrigerant systems for domestic use from manufacturing through to service. I therefore understand completely that putting them in low ambient environments is asking for trouble.

And I’ve been working on them since before I left school some thirty odd years ago but that counts for nothing, the knowledge of them does.

But heh, as I said if people want to take the risk, knock yourselves out.

If you become another fire statistic or get ill from spoiled food just don’t say you weren’t warned.

K.

Guest

Let’s have a look at the science involved. Freezing stops the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms, but does not kill them. If kept at a temperature of -18°C, food can be stored for years without becoming a hazard to health, but the quality can deteriorate for other reasons. Physical changes including dehydration (freezer burn) and chemical changes such as oxidation (fats can become rancid) can occur, especially if food is not packed well. Some of the chemical changes are catalysed by enzymes, which remain active at freezer temperatures. Home gardeners are advised to blanch produce by plunging it into boiling water to prolong storage life in the freezer. This works by inactivating enzymes present in the food.

The recommended -18°C temperature for domestic freezers is a compromise between what does the job best and what is practical. Lower temperatures help preserve food quality but that means the compressor has to run longer, increasing the running cost and risk of breakdown. This temperature will help cope with the user adding unfrozen food and power cuts without the danger of thawing.

As a matter of interest, biological scientists often store valuable materials at between -70 and -80°C. The freezers have two compressors in series using different refrigerants.

Guest

Kenneth-Some of the companies with dual compressors are-as you say-Sub Zero/Thermador/Gorenje .

Guest

Give me model numbers please and I’ll check them Duncan, no problem. But not all models will have, scant few will I expect.

All side by side models are single compressor, usually single evap with diverted airflow.

Thermador is Bosch and not sold outside the US and Canada, they do not have twin compressor models to my knowledge and SBS models are likely made by Daewoo for them.

I sincerely doubt Gorenje still make a twin pot model but, give me the ART number from then rating plate and I’ll check it on the tech system, no problem.

Sub Zero is a closed shop. But then, if you’ve got the best part of £10K to spend on a fridge I’d guess you don’t much care.

This is my field Duncan and a particular area of expertise within that field, you won’t trip me up on it. 😉

K.

Guest

Then they should stop advertising their products for sale Kenneth .

Guest
Donde Hagberg says:
4 April 2017

Put a brand new freezer in an unheated garage and it didn’t even last a year. Thats the second one. So don’t do it.