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Can a Refrigerator or Freezer Be Kept in an Unheated Garage?

Refrigerators and freezers are appliances that help keep food and other goods fresh by regulating the temperature and keeping them low. However, to maximize their efficiency – they need to be placed in their best suited location. This article describes whether you can keep your freezer in an unheated garage or not.

Refrigerator or freezer kept in an unheated garage

You should not keep a refrigerator or a freezer in an unheated garage if the temperature of the garage reaches 50 degrees or lower. Typical refrigerators and freezers have an operating temperature of between 68 to 71 degrees so in an unheated garage the freezer’s thermostat will malfunction.

Whether you should keep your refrigerator in an unheated garage depends on how low the temperature of the garage has reached – if the temperature of the garage is too low, then the refrigerator might face some issues since the operating temperature of the freezers are usually between 68 to 71 degrees. Therefore, if the winters in your area tend to have a significantly low temperature, it is recommended to not keep the freezer in an unheated garage.

Despite the operating temperature of the freezer, if the temperature of your unheated garage is within 50 to 55 degrees, the refrigerator will still work and keep the food and beverages inside cold – however, it will not be as effective as it would if the temperature was between 68 to 71 degrees or higher.

The reason why a refrigerator does not work in an unheated garage is due to the way it operates. The thermostat inside the fridge detects the temperature and then turns on the cooling mechanism if the temperature is high and turns itself off if the temperature is low. In case of unheated garages during winter, the thermostat causes the freezer to turn off and thus the freezer stops working – as a result, this tampering of the thermostat causes damage to the compressor.

In order to keep the freezer running, you can emulate high temperature around the freezer to trigger its thermostat into keeping the freezer on. This can be achieved by putting a space heater near the freezer’s thermostat in order to make the thermostat read high temperature readings and keep the compressor running. Do not set the temperature too high – just set it high enough to keep the freezer running.

Keeping the temperature of the heater to be between 60 to 65 degrees is often appropriate to keep the freezer’s compressor running.

Although you can accommodate your freezer to be kept in an unheated garage, it is suggested that you keep some crucial factors in mind such as humidity, insulation as well as space requirements. If the humidity of the unheated garage is high, it may be damaging to the freezer because of the tendency of rust to develop on the coil – keeping the area dry is important.

Another factor is whether your garage is insulated or not, since a lack of insulation will keep the temperature of the garage low and thus interfere with the thermostat’s readings – causing it to malfunction. This is especially important if the temperature of your area tends to be low, so reducing heat loss is a crucial step to saving energy.

Finally, you need to consider the space your freezer takes up in the garage. You cannot keep your freezer in a cramped-up location, it needs to have 1 inch gap in all directions to have sufficient airflow around it.

Does it hurt a refrigerator to be in a cold garage?

Being in a cold garage causes the thermostat to send signals to the compressor to turn off and shut down the freezer – but that is not the only problem caused by low temperatures in the garage. Few issues that may be damaging to the refrigerator is the excessive frost that develops on the walls of the refrigerator and damages the layer of insulation present on the refrigerator. Damages done to the insulating layer can be bad for a freezer since it will make it difficult to regulate its internal temperature.

Another reason why a cold garage is bad for your refrigerator is the defrosting that occurs inside the freezer when the compressor is shut off – this causes the food and other things in the fridge to thaw and go bad.

Lastly, cold garages can trigger the thermostat and cause it to turn the compressor on and off causing it to malfunction and be seriously damaged. Therefore, if the freezer is kept in a cold garage without proper insulation, it may badly affect the freezer’s lifespan.

What happens when you put a refrigerator or freezer in an unheated garage?

Keeping your refrigerator or freezer in an unheated garage will undeniably cause damage to it and also may cause you to face several inconveniences, some of these symptoms are:

Defrosting and thawing of food:

Unheated garage causes the thermostat to turn off the compressor, thus the freezer stops cooling the internal compartment. As a result, the food and other items inside start to thaw and defrost and the ice starts melting. Many foods require to be in a frozen state to retain their freshness – in which case, those foods would go bad.

Malfunctioning of the thermostat:

Unheated garages are prone to the temperature fluctuations if the outside temperature fluctuates as well, which means the temperature is not regulated. This change in temperature can cause the thermostat to take drastic readings and thus result in malfunctioning.

Outer insulating layer gets damaged:

very low temperatures on the outside can develop frost on the outer walls which may damage the insulating layer on the refrigerator. Damaged insulation layers make it difficult for the refrigerator to regulate its internal temperature.

Compromise in compressor lifespan:

If the compressor gets turned on and off by the thermostat frequently due to the changing temperatures, it will slowly damage its internal parts and therefore reduce the overall lifespan of the compressor.

What is an insulation blanket for a garage refrigerator?

Insulating blankets for garage refrigerators are insulating materials that provide insulation for temperature-sensitive items such as food. Using the insulation blanket prevents drastic temperature change and helps regulate constant temperature.

An insulation blanket can be used for a garage refrigerator in cases such as power failure or being in an unheated garage where the outside temperature can interfere with the freezer’s internal temperature.

The insulating blanket keeps outside temperature from influencing changes of the internal temperature and vice versa.

How do I keep my fridge running in a cold garage?

Below stated are the ways how you can keep your fridge operating in an unheated garage:

Create a separate compartment for the freezer:

If regulating the temperature of the garage is difficult, it may affect the performance of the freezer and prevent it from working optimally. As an alternative to this, you can create a separate compartment for the freezer in your garage where it would be easier to control the temperature of the surroundings of the freezer.

Creating a compartment will allow you to control the temperature of it as well as keep the temperature of the compartment constant if you insulate it properly. Doing so reduces all the problems that a freezer faces if kept in a cold garage.

Set up a fridge heater:

One factor that determines whether the freezer will stay running or not is the readings received by the thermostat of the freezer – if you can control the readings of the thermostat, you can keep the freezer running in a cold garage. You can achieve this by using a heater and setting it near the fridge where the thermostat is located.

Order a custom freezer for your garage:

If buying an additional heater or building a compartment seems too much work, you can order a custom freezer for your garage which would take in account the temperature of the garage and make sure it is well suited to run in your personalized environment and setting.

Ensure enough room for the freezer:

Keeping your freezer in a dirty and crammed location can also cause it to face issues regarding temperature. Keep the surroundings clean and put at least 1 inch gap around the freezer to ensure proper air flow.

Final Thoughts

If the garage is unheated and the temperature drops to 50 degrees or lower, you shouldn’t keep a refrigerator or a freezer there. The typical operating temperature for refrigerators and freezers is between 68 and 71 degrees, thus the freezer’s thermostat will malfunction in an unheated garage.