Living in a particularly cold part of the country, I was worried about putting a large chest freezer in my garage. But I’m pleased to say mine has been working fine for years now, so I want to share with you what you need to do to ensure your freezer doesn’t break.
It’s fine to put a freezer in a garage so long as the garage is well insulated and climate-controlled. Without insulation and climate control, the freezer will become damaged due to exposure to extreme temperatures. Ensure that the garage is dry and that there’s plenty of room for the air to circulate around the freezer.
Many manufacturers advertise their freezers as being “garage-ready.” However, it’s important to understand what to look for to avoid being taken in by the wild claims made by some big brands.
How Garage Temperatures Affect Your Freezer
A freezer works by moving the heat from the inside of the freezer compartment into a fluid that flows to a compressor on the outside. As the fluid compresses, it heats up and disperses it through a radiator to the cooler air.
Most home appliances have an operating temperature that is between 110°F and 0°F (43 to -18°C). Outside of this range, the appliance will either overheat or freeze up, causing it to stop working. Your garage can exceed either end of an appliance’s working temperature.
Though hot summers can put a strain on your freezer, it is more common for it to stop working due to extreme cold. You can try putting a space blanket over the top of the freezer, but this may overheat the appliance if it covers the radiator coils.
You can put a freezer in your garage, but you need to know the temperature range of your garage or buy a garage-ready freezer. A garage without heating and with no exposure to the sun can be far colder than the outside air temperature.
A home the has a subsurface garage can have a greater problem, causing a cold sink. This is where frigid air flows down from the coldest parts of your home – forcing the heat out of your garage.
Why Are Some Freezers Not Suitable for Garages?
The Extremes of a Hot Summer
In the summer, a freezer may struggle to cool itself and release the heat into the air. Objects stacked in front of a freezer’s air vent or it being too close to a wall will prevent it from radiating heat.
Owners also allow more heat to re-enter the freezer each time they open the door. This means that the freezer’s compressor must work even harder to bring the temperature back down.
The Extremes of a Cold Winter
In extreme freezing conditions, certain sensors in common appliances begin to fail. Ice can condense around thermostats and cause them to warm above the garage’s air temperature. A confused thermostat may cause irregular cooling and even a full shutdown of the machine.
If the compressor cuts out for extended periods, the food inside the freezer can warm and begin to thaw. Combinations of high humidity, poor airflow, and being at the lowest point in the home will work against the efficiency of your freezer.
How Do I Get My Freezer to Work in My Unheated Garage?
- The walls that back on to the rest of your home will have the most consistent temperature, so these are the best freezer locations.
- If your garage is already cold, choose a higher setting on the thermostat. Choose the least demanding setting and save electricity – this will also prolong the lifespan of the compressor pump.
- If you have other appliances running in the garage that is in constant operation, you may want to consider moving the freezer next to them. The ambient heat from the motors and other electronic components will heat nearby objects.
- You can try heating your entire garage, but this is expensive and unnecessary in most situations. You can insulate the garage or make a smaller room around your household appliances to make the air temperature more consistent.
- Another way to prevent a freezer from stopping is by making sure that you keep it full, even if it is with ice cubes. A full freezer will keep a consistent temperature and take less time to return to the correct temperature when you add or remove items.
- Changing the pump or putting a regular heater near your freezer may cause damage and invalidate the warranty.
- A dehumidifier prevents ice from building up on the freezer’s pump and radiator. A dry room will prevent the rusting of the freezer box and its components. The dehumidifier will also heat the air in the garage and prevent mold from growing in the drip tray under the unit.
- A simple method you can try is aiming a desk lamp at your freezer’s thermostat. A slight increase in temperature may be enough to prevent your freezer from shutting down.
- Manufacturers often sell aftermarket heaters that attach to your existing freezer. Though these are simple addons, you will need to call out a professional to install them for you.
- If you know that the winter is coming and the freezer is going to struggle, organize it to protect the food. Place the most perishable food at the base of the freezer where it is the coldest – this way, if it does fail, you have time to save the food.
What Does “Garage-Ready” Mean for a Freezer?
Garage-ready or garage-optimized freezers come with unique features. These features allow the freezer to cope with extreme temperatures. You can also find these features on other appliances that bear the garage-ready mark.
Often garage-ready means that the freezer has a heater near the thermostat. This heater brings the temperature of the freezer back up to operating temperature.
This is a simple technique that prevents the compressor from shutting off and stops the food in your freezer from thawing. This will also avoid any damage to your freezer by preventing bearings in the pump and motor from ceasing up.
Which Freezers Are Suitable for Garages?
The best fridges and freezers for a garage are those that have compatible garage installation kits. Garage-ready freezers heat the thermostat and pump so that your appliance will continue to work in the winter.
Garage-ready freezers, such as newer models from Frigidaire, work with their garage kits. These kits connect to the power supply on your appliance and activate below a threshold of around 34°F (1.1°C).
A garage-ready freezer has an extra thermostat. This thermostat activates the heater and prevents damage to the compressor when the air temperature comes back up.
In the summer, the thermostat on the garage kit turns off the heater so that your freezer does not overheat. Frigidaire freezers can come with these kits pre-installed and ready to go – this also keeps your warranty intact.
The cost of this small addition is far less than the cost of having to replace a freezer full of food. A garage-ready Frigidaire freezer will keep your food for longer and help to prevent the damage a frosty winter can cause to your appliance.