Can You Put A Fridge or Freezer In A Garage? (outbuilding refrigeration guide)
Many of us like the idea of having an extra fridge, freezer or fridge/freezer in our homes to stock up on extra food supplies and save on so many trips to the shops. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the space in the kitchen to put another appliance. This inevitably leads to us thinking about the garage or another outbuilding and whether it’s possible to put a fridge or freezer out there.
You can put a fridge, freezer or fridge/freezer in a garage or outbuilding as long as certain parameters are met.
How Does A Fridge Control Temperature?
Most modern fridges operate by sensing the air temperature surrounding the fridge and adjusting their internal temperature accordingly. On fridge freezers, the temperature inside the freezer is adjusted to the outside air temperature and the freezer diverts cold air into the fridge directly from the freezer.
If you live in an area with a large difference between Summer and Winter temperatures, this can cause problems in uninsulated garages or outbuildings. If the temperature gets too high or too low it can affect how the fridge/freezer will operate. So before you rush out to buy an appliance for your garage, consider the climate in your area first.
Most fridges, freezers and fridge freezers are designed to operate between a set range of temperatures. And the majority of manufacturers will not guarantee their appliance if they are operating in temperatures outside of that set range. This means putting a fridge, freezer or fridge/freezer in a garage could invalidate your warranty.
Will The Fridge Work In A Cold Garage?
If the temperature in the garage drops below a certain point, the thermostat in the fridge detects that it is cool enough and stops working. This means the freezer doesn’t work either and so everything inside the freezer will eventually thaw out. Plus, if the temperature in the garage gets too low, the food inside the fridge could freeze due to the outside air temperature.
It is possible to buy a garage heater kit to place over the thermostat of your fridge to combat this issue and there are a number of designs available. You’ll need to check on the exact one for your fridge, freezer or fridge/freezer.
Will The Fridge Work In A Hot Garage?
During Summer months the temperature in an uninsulated garage or outbuilding could soar. If it gets too hot, the compressor has to work far harder to try to keep the temperature inside the appliance at the optimum working level. This means not only will you be paying far more to your energy company, but the appliance is likely to wear out quicker too.
If you were to position a pedestal fan so that it blows across the coils at the rear of the appliance, it will go a long way to keeping the unit cooler during hot periods.
Ways To Prevent Temperature Anomalies
If keeping your extra appliance is only going to be an option if you use the garage or outbuilding, and the fluctuating temperatures are going to cause you problems, there could be a number of ways to make it work.
Insulate The Area
One possible solution to prevent the food from freezing or the appliance packing up is to insulate the area the appliance is kept in. We understand that insulating a whole garage can be expensive, but have you considered just insulating the area the appliance is in. Maybe boxing off a small area just large enough for the fridge and whatever cupboards etc you have.
Use A Fan
Aiming a pedestal fan at the rear of the appliance will increase the airflow which should mean the appliance won’t get so hot during Summer months.
Use A Heater
During the colder, Winter months you could use a small heater to raise the temperature just enough around the appliance to trick it into working normally.
Remove All Of The Dust
Keeping the coils of the fridge clean and dust free will help to ensure there’s a decent airflow around the appliance. This will help it to operate properly.
Maintain A Level Fill
Fridges and freezers maintain their temperatures better if they are correctly stacked. Avoid storing items too near the vents or fan to allow proper airflow. Keep the shelves fairly full so that if the power did go off the contents of the appliance will help to maintain the temperature inside the unit.
Keep The Appliance Away From Windows Or Doors
To help your appliance maintain a steady temperature, you will need to keep it away from sudden temperature fluctuations including sunlight through windows or sudden temperature change areas like near doors.
Why Do Some Fridge/Freezers Thaw In Cold Garages?
The problem with many fridge/freezers is they only have one thermostat which is usually in the fridge. This means that once the room’s temperature drops below a certain point, the fridge detects that it no longer needs to generate any cool air and so shuts off. This leaves the freezer without power and everything in the freezer begins to thaw.
The best type of fridge/freezer for use in a garage will have separate thermostats for both the fridge section and the freezer section. This ensures that both stay at their optimum operating temperatures regardless of what the other is doing.
Or better still, instead of a fridge/freezer, buy two separate units, a fridge and a freezer. Because they will both be operating independently of each other, there will never be any issues over a shared thermostat.
With that said, there are certain models by certain manufacturers that are guaranteed to work under typical garage conditions in the UK. You’ll need to check with your supplier before purchasing the model you like the look of as many brands only have one or two models which are suitable for use in an outbuilding.
What About Cold Kitchens?
If you own a fridge/freezer which has a shared thermostat, and it’s in your kitchen, what happens if you go away on holiday during Winter months and don’t leave the heating on? What happens to the fridge/freezer?
The answer is you could very likely come home to a freezer full of spoiled food. But how many of us leave the home in the Winter without leaving the heating on at least 15 C (59 F)? So this is not likely to become an issue. However, potentially it could happen.
This is at least something you should consider if leaving the home for extended periods during Winter months. You will either need to run down supplies in the freezer, or ensure the heating is left on at a low setting.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can put a refrigerator in an unheated garage but there’s a chance in Winter that the thermostat will cut out and the food inside the refrigerator will not be kept cool. This is because the thermostat will sense that the temperature in the room, in this case the garage is cool enough and the compressor will not cool the contents of the appliance.
You can buy refrigerators which are garage ready. When deciding on what kind of refrigerator to put in your garage, ask in store about garage ready models.
Unless you intend to insulate your garage, you will need a special garage ready refrigerator if you live in an area which has extremes of temperatures during Summer and Winter.
A refrigerator in an uninsulated garage will use more electricity especially during the Summer months. It might not operate at all during extremely cold Winter months.
The difference between a garage ready refrigerator and a regular refrigerator is that a garage ready refrigerator has been designed to operate at a wider range of temperatures. This is because the ambient temperature of your garage is likely to fluctuate far more than your kitchen.