Fridge in the garage during winter

I have put my old refrigerator in the garage. It’s great for stocking up on beer and soda, etc. My question is what will happen during the winter months when the temp outside reaches below freezing. Will beverages inside the fridge freeze? Will the insulation keep that from happening? Should I just turn it off in the winter? If so can I still store things in it? I would appreciate anyone with any experience giving me their expert opinions.

If you live where it gets that cold, yes, things inside will freeze. In last month’s Consumer Reports© they tested refrigerators made to live in unheated areas. They have heaters in them CR said they weren’t worth the high price. But, they didn’t have any suggestions on cooling your beer, either, except to unload and unplug for the winter.

There can be a problem.

My parents use on unplugged fridge in the garage for cold dinks during the winter. However, that is in Mississippi. The fridge is going to insulate against below cold freezing but only for a little while. If it only for a few hours a day, then you will probably be ok. I don’t know the weather in your part of Illinois to know any more.

I have had several people suggest that a way to avoid this problem is to plug in a 25W light bulb near the coils of the fridge to create enough heat to keep it from freezing.

I have seen quite a few coca-cola vending machines in outdoor locations in the middle of winter and was wondering the same thing…

So they DO have heaters?

Unless you live someplace REALLY cold (and by REALLY cold, I mean close to the arctic circle cold, not “it sometimes snows here in february” cold), a fridge in an unheated garage is fine. Really. Me and everyone I know has a fridge in our garages, and nobody I know has every had a problem with things freezing.

Generally these garages are insulated, but not heated. It’s below freezing here for a good 4-6 months out of the year. I’ve never had anything in the fridge freeze.

Another problem not mentioned is, if the temp in the garage is between 32 & 45 degrees or so, the contents of the freezer will thaw. Why? Because the thermostat is in the refrigerator and the compressor will not run often or long enough to keep the freezer section frozen.

IIRC, the comressor has a flap, in cold weather the compresser cools the outside air and the heat generated warms the inside.

Um, no, that doesn’t happen.

Look, I dunno the reasoning behind why fridges in garages in cold regions in the winter work fine, but I can tell you, they do. And I can pretty much line up about a gazillion more people who will also tell you that their garage fridge works fine. Garage fridges are popular up here; where else do you keep your beer?

I’m not vouching for non-insulated garages, or fridges left outside exposed to the elements. But the ones in unheated insulated garages (both attached and detached from a house) work just fine, both the fridge and the freezer section.

My garage is not insulated, and I have a stand alone freezer that has never “thawed” at temps between 32 and 45. I guess I’m more interested in what will happen to my fridge, because it’s not unusual in really cold years past to have the cases of soda I’ve stored on the garage floor to freeze if the tempature gets cold enough.Usually I’ve only boughten[sub](is that a word?)[/sub] enough beer to store in the indoor refridgerator, but now that we have one in the garage,we have really been stocking up on all sorts of beverages for us and the kids. I’m really hoping I can continue to store beer and wine all year long (so what if the kids soda freezes ;))

OK, this is a heat transfer question, and an answer requires some quick and dirty numbers. A low energy fridge consumes 157kWh per year (from here).
157 kw/hr per year = 157 * 3600 / 365 kJ per day
= 1550 kJ/day

Let us assume it operates at 3C in a typical houshold ambient temperature of 21C. This is a delta_T of 18C.
The heat transfer rate is 1550/(18) = 86 kJ/day.C

Let us now assume we stock it with 100 cans of liquid pop at 0C. We will stick it in a garage at -5C. This is a delta_T of 5C. How long will it take to freeze?

Volume of liquid = .33 *100 = 33 litres
Mass of liquid = 33 kg
Latent heat of ice = 333 kJ/kg
Latent heat of our pop = 333 * 33 = 10989 kJ

How many days will it take to freeze over completely = 10989 / (86 * 5)
= 25 days

If you have a crappy old fridge it will happen quicker, as it will if you have colder winters than -5C or less than 100 cans of pop.

Yes, although your use of it is not the most common usage, and it’s considered more dialect than standard English. Most common use in the Northern states meaning “as opposed to homemade”, ie, “boughten bread.”


[sub]Youse guys need to all move up North, where the proper use of ‘boughten’ and garage fridges are common knowledge[/sub]

Well I would argue that answer! I have a brand new fridge in my garage and the freezer is NOT working, which would make sense since my garage is not heated and the thermostat is reading a cold temp thus not kicking on my freezer.

I was hoping to find a quick fix, but I believe I recall the salesman at Lowes tell me that if this thing doesnt freeze for you in the winter, you will need to buy an add on thing for the thermostat so that it continues to freeze even if the temp in my garage is 20 degrees…

Argue away. My garage fridge and separate full-size freezer in my unheated garage continue to keep the half-pig I’ve been buying every fall fully frozen all year round. And yes, it gets plenty cold here in da UP.

I’m with Athena. I don’t have a fridge in my unheated garage in Ottawa, but plenty of people I know do have one. We sometimes are below zero © for weeks, perhaps months at a time, and I’ve never heard any complaints from anyone. Maybe keeping a decent stock in the fridge, and adding room temperature stuff occasionally, like beer, is enough of a moderator. It seems to work out OK here.

My parents had a old fridge in the garage for soda and other refreshments. Some deer meat in the freezer section. We had plenty of nights in the 20’s and the fridge always worked fine.

As other mentioned, garages are always warmer than outside and you don’t have wind chill either.

Maybe if you left the garage doors open at night then you’d have a temperature problem. But not for long because someone would probably steal the fridge. :wink:

Or, at least, the beer in the fridge. :smiley:

Actually, in an uninsulated garage in the winter, a freezer that’s above a fridge will thaw. It only runs when the refrigerator runs, so if it’s a consistent 33-40 degrees in the winter like it is here in Washington, the fridge may not run (thus the freezer won’t run). My kegerator is outside, and while the beer stayed perfectly cold, I just lost a bunch of stuff in my freezer due to thawing. Perhaps in the U.P. it’s cold enough throughout the winter to keep your stuff frozen w/o the fridge running. I’m going to keep the fridge running with a low-wattage light bulb and see what happens. I tried it w/a 40-watt bulb, but the fridge ran all the time…that would get expensive.

Assuming this is directed at me (from the UP part of it) I specifically said I wasn’t vouching for uninsulated garages. Nobody I know has uninsulated garages or cabins.

I have yet to hear of anyone with a fridge in an insulated, unheated garage having any problems though. Our winter temps range from -10 to maybe 30 in a normal year. We also have a propane fridge/freezer in a cabin. It’s insulated, but gets very, very cold as there’s no heat unless someone is there feeding the woodstove (and most of the time in the winter, they’re not). The freezer works fine.