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Fridge in garage in winter?

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by mychalg9, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Advocate (685) Illinois Apr 8, 2010

    I'm getting mixed opinions when I google this question. Is it ok to keep a fridge in the garage if temps in winter get down to 0 for a month or two? I live outside of Chicago and it's my first winter with a garage fridge. I dont want my beer to freeze!
  2. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (380) New York Sep 1, 2004

    the job of the fridge is to remove heat and to keep the cold air insulated in a box. that's it, nothing more. if the ambient air is significantly colder than the temperature inside the box it, both temps will eventually equilibrate. if the ambient air is too cold for too long you must add heat to the refrigerator, something the appliance is incapable of doing. 0 degrees for even a few days is too cold for beer. 20 degrees, maybe. 0 no way. if i had to guess.

    you can, and should, use an outboard temperature controller. you will want to use a 2 stage model. set the controller to turn on at a cold temp and off at the warm temp, opposite of the typical fridge setting. use a small lightbulb as a heat source. once the temps get above freezing go back to using the fridge compressor.

    both a fridge and a freezer really don't work very efficiently when the temp drops too much. this is more of a concern with a freezer since your food will thaw. at about 30 degrees or so the expansion and compression cycle of the coolant starts to get screwy.

    cheers.
  3. Actually, most chest freezers will do just fine in freezing ambient temps. Nothing will thaw.
    The notorious 'garage problem' is unique to consumer level refrigerator/freezer combinations. Through a feat of engineering genius, IMO, they are able to maintain two boxes (refrigerator and freezer) at two very different, but completely appropriate temperatures (0-ish and 40-ish), using a single compressor and thermostat. The problem is that they only do this well at nominal room temperature. The reason for this is that the thermostat controls only the temp of the refrigerator section. The cold air is directed through the freezer box, and a small amount is allowed to bleed into the fridge. By the time the fridge reaches 40 degrees, the freezer is near enough to zero (in the most common arrangement, the 'fresh food' or similarly labeled knob controls the thermostat, while the 'freezer' knob controls a damper between the two boxes). As the ambient temp drops, the compressor is called upon less and less, resulting in insufficient cooling in the freezer box, and the freezer temp begins to rise. When the ambient temp is below 40, the thermostat is happy and the compressor is never called into service. The result is that the freezer eventually settles in at ambient temp, too.
    So, as long as you can live without the freezer compartment, and you have some way to add heat in the winter, an old refrigerator/freezer makes a fine garage kegerator.
  4. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Advocate (685) Illinois Apr 8, 2010

    So if I choose to just move everything inside in the winter and leave the fridge empty and unplugged, will the cold affect anything internally on the fridge while it sits there? Will it be ok to use again come spring?
  5. barring any other issues, it should be fine.
  6. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Savant (365) Missouri Jun 10, 2008

    Is your garage attached or separate from your home? It really makes a difference. I live in St. Louis. Our temps are a bit better than yours, but over the years we have had temps in the low teens to single digits a week or more at a time. In my attached garage, where I keep my kegerator, I have never had an issue with beer temps dipping below 36F. The radiant heat from the home keeps the garage bearable. If you have an unattached garage, you may need to monitor the situation closer.
  7. I live in Chicago and had a garage fridge with 3 taps on it for a few years. Finally died due to a flood inside the garage. Now I have a chest freezer out there. I couldn't use the beer lines in the winter but the beer was fine. Thsi was homebrew in kegs though. A fridge or chest freezer in the garage is perfect for lagering in the winter.
  8. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Advocate (685) Illinois Apr 8, 2010

    The garage is attached, yes. It is our first winter in this house so I am not sure how well insulated the garage is or how cold it gets, but the fridge does share a wall with the house so maybe it will be like you say and get some of the radiant heat from the house.
  9. Garagepro

    Garagepro Initiate (10) Nov 8, 2013

    It should be fine but you may want to check on your freezer temperature a few times when the temperature drops below 40. The compressor may stop running (cooling the freezer) due to the thermostat sensing it's cool enough in the fridge. This can cause the temp in the freezer to rise and thaw your groceries. They do make a thermostat heater kit that fits most Frigidaire, Kenmore and few other refrigerators. In really cold garages it's recommended to install a crankcase heater on your compressor too, but I've never found that necessary.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2013
  10. roger617

    roger617 Savant (330) Indiana Jun 1, 2013

    Just curious what you ended doing OP. I'm in the same situation this Winter, and am curious if you had success leaving everything in the garage. I've got a deep freezer that I'm going to convert, and plan on using it for both a kegerator for my homebrew and to store some bottles from my cellar.
    Cheers!
  11. BrettHead

    BrettHead Advocate (525) Nebraska Sep 18, 2010

    Even if it is 0 outside your attached garage should still be above freezing from my experience living here in Omaha.
  12. Depends on the insulation - the garage walls/door and the house walls. In my garage, the vegetables start getting frosty when the outdoor temp dips below 10. The beer and Coke get slushy around zero.
  13. hopsandmalt

    hopsandmalt Savant (310) Michigan Dec 14, 2006

    I used one of these on my taps in a detached garage in the winter in Michigan where the temps got down to 0 for up to a week straight and I was always able to pour a beer.

    http://www.grainger.com/product/FROST-KING-Faucet-Cover-48H486?s_pp=false

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