/ 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

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

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.

Then they should stop advertising their products for sale Kenneth .

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.

Unless these freezers were intended for use in an unheated garage then the retailer can refuse to take action under the guarantee or your statutory rights (as set out in the Consumer Rights Act) because the appliance has effectively been abused.

It would be helpful if Which? would point out which models are not suitable for use in garages (the majority) so that we can make an informed choice.

BEKO sell freezers for low-temperature locations.

Beko are mentioned earlier in this discussion.

A freezer should be cheaper to run in an unheated garage compared with a warm kitchen because the compressor does not have to work as hard.

Older designs of freezers seemed to work reliably in garages and apart from the change to CFC-free refrigerants, I wonder what has happened to the design to require a warmer environment for freezers.

When I used to grow fruit and vegetables I needed a decent size freezer and the garage was clearly the best place to put it.

My research earlier showed nothing in their construction or mechanism that prevented freezers being used in garages – apart from the effects of condensation. Fridge-freezers are a different problem. However the international standard gives operating ambient temperatures and this typically covers a cool house, not a cold outbuilding. this may well be why the guarantee is restricted. I’ve had a fridge/freezer working perfectly happily for years in my detached garage.

Patrik says:
6 November 2019

Actually this sounds like good reasoning but unfortunately the physics work the opposite way:

When I ran my Samsung American-style fridge in the garage (annexed to the house, no damp cars in there etc, lowest ambient temperature about 5C, and not over 25C in the summer) it used about 3.6kw/h per day, while in the house I now use only 1.9 kw/h per day – figure this !

“How do I know?” – I hear you ask…. I put an electricity meter between the socket & the plug.

KEVIN says:
27 November 2017

My rcd is blowing on my fuse board could it be my freezer in garage help thank you.

Kevin you missed one vital piece of electrical engineering out –WHICH RCD fuse is showing overload . While I have an extremely good intuition bordering on physic I don’t have mental telepathy with your fuse board . Step one> pull fuse -step two> check if freezer is “dead ” electrically -step three > with it unplugged plug in mains radio/lamp etc -step four >RESET fuse -step five > check if radio/light /etc works in that socket .

r clark says:
10 December 2017

If you tape up the door switch to the light in the fridge ,will the light produce enough heat to tell the fridge to stay on?and keep the freezer going.

Taping up the switch would normally keep the light off.💡 Some have reported that keeping the light on has successfully been used to prevent single-compressor fridge-freezers from defrosting but it would be better if all manufacturers would offer models suitable for the purpose. At one time, twin-compressor appliances were readily available but have largely been phased out because they use more energy.

Many fridge freezers do seem to work very satisfactorily in an outbuilding, unless it gets too cold. Beko sell them with, I believe, a -15C limit.
(“Place your fridge freezer anywhere in your home
Whether you need to place your fridge freezer in your garage, your basement, or anywhere else in your home, our Freezer Guard technology ensures your freezer will always function properly, keeping your frozen food frozen whatever the outside temperature – even if it drops to as low as -15°C.”
).

Alternatively, just use a freezer separate from a fridge. I’d take the risk; Our Hotpoint F/F is still going strong after 10 years in the garage.Our main problem is forgetting what we’ve stored in it – it is a back up usually only used for Christmas.

Wavchange please elaborate for me . Do the latest fridges interior lights now operate via a programmed chip ? my old fridge just has a light that operates from the mains via a door switch . I checked many fridge bulbs are either 230 V AC /120 V Electricity not low voltage .

My fridge has a LED light and appears to be operated from a simple switch operated by opening the door. I cannot see a reason for electronic control.

Still confused Wavechange when you said -single compressor fridges /freezers are prevented from defrosting ?? That implies they have two electronic sensors or electro-mechanical ones – one that switches the compressor/on/off due to temperature change and another connected to the door lamp circuit to sense the door is opened by additional current drawn and operates the compressor ?

Duncan, my Electrolux single compressor fridgefreezer has a “low room temperature” switch that makes it suitable for use in lower ambient temperatures.

That setting is supposed to prevent the freezer compartment from defrosting, even if the ambient temperature is such that no compressor action will be needed to keep the fridge at about 6 celsius.

I suspect it just makes the compressor work every so often, even if the fridge temperature is OK. How it does that, I don’t know.

With a single-compressor fridge-freezer the thermostat is in the fridge section and this means that the freezer section is cooled every time the compressor runs. If the garage is below the thermostat setting (normally 4-8°C) the compressor will not run and the freezer defrosts. Some people have bypassed the door switch on their fridge-freezer so that the heat produced by the lamp (often 10W) raises the temperature and the compressor turns on periodically and prevents the freezer from defrosting. I hope that makes sense, Duncan.

As stated in the introduction, most fridge-freezers are not intended for use below 10°C. Beko explains how its fridge-freezers cope with use in unheated rooms. I don’t know about Derek’s Zanussi but my guess is that the switch turns on a timer to activate the compressor periodically.

So does ours, but it also starts to flash if the door is left open or ajar, so some simple electronics are involved..

There is I believe a circuit to activate the compressor to keep the freezer temperature correct even when the fridge makes no demand. >https://www.beko.co.uk/lifestyle/freezer-guard However this may cause the fridge contents to freeze, as would prolonged temperatures below 0C

The best solution to keeping both parts of a fridge-freezer at the correct temperature is to use a valve that will direct refrigerant to the compartment that requires cooling. This is analogous to using one boiler to provide both hot water and heating at the correct temperature and is normally achieved using a three port motorised valve or separate valves on each circuit. I’m not aware that this is used on domestic equipment.

bishbut says:
11 December 2017

NOT all fridge freezers sold are able to be used in every situation or building you must tell the seller where it is going to be used ( Kitchen ,garage etc ).then if you have problems you have redress Chest freezers should work anywhere as makers know they are often placed in outside buildings They might have problems in a very warm room

If you explain to a retailer how you want to use a product then this forms part of the contract and could be used to claim a refund if the goods proved unsuitable. It’s best to get this in writing as the retailer could deny what was said. As explained in the introduction, most fridges and freezers are intended to work at a minimum temperature of 10°C, so providing this is in the instructions the manufacturer might not reimburse the retailer if the facts were known and the product failed during the guarantee period.

As you say, freezers can struggle in a warm room. It makes good sense to place an infrequently opened chest freezer in a dry garage because the running cost will be lower than it would be in a warm kitchen. We just need all manufacturers to produce suitable models.

Pendlebury says:
19 February 2018

We have put a fridge freezer in a shed with disastrous results . Is there any way to make the freezer work. It keeps defrosting

Beko produces fridge-freezers designed for use in unheated rooms and garages. There may be other companies that do the same and there is certainly a need.

I would not be happy about mains supply in a shed on grounds of safety, certainly not a normal wooden one with a felted roof that could fail and allow water to enter.

I see no problem in providing a supply to any outbuilding, providing it is weatherproof and the supply is properly earthed and protected – workshops, greenhouses are frequently supplied with power.

In practice, electrical installations and use of electrical tools in sheds can be dangerous: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2011/07/new-research-identifies-shed-dangers-putting-lives-at-risk/

Without knowing if an installation is safe I think it is wise to err on the side of caution.

They say “it is critical that shed devotees check wires and plugs for damage before using equipment and ensure that they have RCD protection – a safety device designed to help prevent you getting a fatal electric shock by rapidly switching off the flow of electricity.“. As I said above, properly protected. It is wise to check wires (leads) and plugs for damage on any electrical device, shed or no shed.

As with any electrical installation have it done by a professional, and if you have done it yourself in the past as an informed and expert amateur, have it checked by an electrician.

No, if the ambient temperature drops below 10˚C then it will do that or, most will.

Domestic units are not designed to operate in ambient temperatures below that and doing so can prove disastrous on a number of levels, in some ways it can even be dangerous.

K.

Is it common to install appliances in garden sheds, Ken? I’ve not seen this done but I have seen power and lighting supplied via a length of ordinary twin & earth cable stretched between the house and shed, no RCD protection and sometimes damp conditions inside.

BEKO say: “Traditional fridges have a minimum ambient temperature of 10°C and are not recommended for use in low temperatures. However, Beko’s unique Freezer Guard Technology means that many of our frost-free freezers are suitable for use in ambient temperatures of -15°C, guaranteeing them suitable for outdoor use, even in winter.

For Beko fridge freezers with Freezer Guard, the freezer compartment will continue to work in low ambient temperatures, however the food in the fridge may freeze.
……….
What is Freezer Guard Technology?
Our Freezer Guard technology uses sensors to ensure the freezer carries on working even when the surrounding temperature drops to sub-zero temperatures.

Whether you need to place your freezer in your garage, conservatory, outbuilding or anywhere else in your home, our Freezer Guard technology ensures your freezer will always function properly, keeping your frozen food frozen whatever the outdoor temperature – even if it drops to as low as -15°C.

Electricity in damp conditions… not a good idea. On so many levels.

Yes, seen the Beko thing and I remain unconvinced as whilst it may address some issues it doesn’t address them all, as above, damp conditions!

I’m also not entirely convinced it actually works or maintains a decent temperature so you don’t end up with salmonella but heh, if people want to take the gamble despite the advise stating not to do that then so be it. Jus too long as they accept that it is at their own risk and peril.

Some things you see, you wonder how nobody’s been killed through what can only be described as abject stupidity at times.

Appliances in outbuildings are ill advised at best, extremely dangerous at worst and my standing advice is, don’t do it. They are not designed for such environments and those that are, cost many thousands of pounds to be hardened for such conditions, with reason.

(NOTE: Many fires you see, the appliances are in outbuildings, garages etc… kinda says it all really)

K.

I think it depends what we mean by an “outbuilding”. I’be a single-skin brick built double garage with a dpc, steel doors, properly wired and protected. I’ve a Hotpoint fridge freezer in there that has operated satisfactorily for many years, but more importantly my workshop electrical machinery and tools that are rust free. So damp is not an issue, only temperature – and it does get cool in winter.

I have the same arrangement and it stays dry because I don’t put wet cars in it.

If a manufacturer states that appliances are designed to operate at or above a minimum temperature it might not be wise to ignore this information and doing so could invalidate the guarantee or warranty. When I did have a freezer in a garage, the instruction booklet contained no information about ambient temperature range and it carried on working fine for over 30 years, but that used a different refrigerant.

I don’t know how many people put appliances in standard garden sheds.

“I don’t know how many people put appliances in standard garden sheds.”

A lot.

I’ve seen them in greenhouses including plastic ones, conservatories, sheds, open outbuildings, damp cellars and more that would frighten you silly as it is so, so dangerous.

Therefore the standing advice is “don’t do it”.

To try to explain caveats and workarounds for that advice if you’ve got a blah built hut/garage, with XXX heating, particular insulation and whatever else is just vastly too complex for most people so the simple answer is, don’t do it.

That way it’s safe.

Any other, all bets are off and my view is to err on the side of caution.

K.

Thanks Ken. I guess I don’t look in many garden sheds. Have you any idea why most manufacturers specify a minimum ambient temperature of 10°C for refrigeration appliances? I’m wondering if there is a technical reason or if it may be to encourage installation in houses rather than garages and other unheated buildings.

Yes, I’d give a link but…

Basically under 10˚C you run into issues with cut in/out temperatures on thermostats so you can need aux heaters or additional insulation, ambient sensors and so forth so for a domestic it’s not really practical and most certainly not cost effective.

Plus you get condensation issues, same as you get in high ambient temperature but in high ambient you also get extended run times so that brings a whole world of new hurts to the party. And usually when it’s low ambient in the UK you get the opposite in summertimes, too high an ambient just due them being stuffed in places that suffer extremes of temperature.

In short, it’s technically possible of course but very costly to build units to operate and survive in such environments and people won’t pay for it outside commercial (or Oligarch) use.

Therefore the answer is, don’t do it.

K.

The safety aspects of putting electrical appliances in sheds and garages concerns me and I can appreciate the risk of condensation and corrosion. Nevertheless, Beko does advertise appliances that are suitable for use in garages. Like other Beko products, they are not expensive. `Beko appliances might not be the finest on the market but it’s a large company and these products have been on sale for a few years.

It may be that a fridge freezer will stop working in your house if you go on a winter holiday, for example, and don’t have any heating (or switch it off). If the house drops below around 7C the compressor may not operate off the fridge thermostat and your freezer will start to defrost.

How time flies – I commented 28 Jan 2016: “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.

I had earlier done a count up of those who had reported a problem or lack of when putting a freezer in an outbuilding – 10 had problems, 72 had not.

Neil says:
4 March 2018

Be warned.
I have previously had chest freezers in a garage or even once, in an old donkey stable that was essentially open to the elements as it had no door! – never had any problems.
HOWEVER. Bought a brand new Hotpoint chest freezer not more than 3 months ago and have been keeping it in my garage. Discovered today that the entire contents has defrosted at some point over the last several days. Nobody could have got in and turned the power off except me, and we have had no power outages or RCD tripped during this period. In fact, it appears to be working, as the motor is running, and frost is on the inside surfaces.
The only explanation is that during the spell of very cold weather we have had these last few days (down to about -3, plenty of snow etc.), the freezer shut down either due to a fault, inability to work in low temperatures, or some safety mechanism.
Sadly it was filled with expensive fish, and seafood – about £500. I can claim, but it will affect my premiums. As I said, be warned.

Your claim might be contested if your freezer was unsuitable.

Some BEKO freezers are sold to work in such conditions.

I wonder if the compressor lubricant got too thick and it ceased working? The Daily Telegraph 14 Jan 2014 answered a reader question as follows:
In general however, there seem to be three principles that would prevent a freezer operating efficiently at low ambient temperatures. One is that a low temperature in the compressor and the condensor coil (the “warm” coil on the outside of the freezer) means a lower pressure is generated, resulting in less of a cooling effect. Another is that the compressor lubrication oil can thicken, or turn to sludge. The third, and probably most significant, problem is that modern freezers are designed to be more energy-efficient than their predecessors, and this is achieved largely by sophisticated electronics, incorporating sensors and relays, and controlled by software. At low room temperatures, water droplets condensing on the cold electronic circuitry might result in incorrect switching of the compressor.

One further issue is specific to frost-free freezers. These have the evaporator coil (the cooling element) in a separate compartment outside of the insulated cabinet, and use a fan to blow cooled air around it. The appliance defrosts the evaporator coil periodically by heating it, and if it is kept in cold, damp conditions in a garage, the coil might not defrost properly, and hence lose its ability to cool the cabinet efficiently.”

pedro says:
28 July 2019

just buy fresh or salt the meat and bury underground