Using a Freezer as a Refrigerator

April 16, 2023
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Turn Your Unused Freezer into a Fridge

Imagine having more space to store your food without buying an additional refrigerator. You might be surprised to learn that you can use a freezer as a refrigerator, providing extra storage for perishables while saving energy and space in your home. In fact, converting a freezer into a high-efficiency fridge can be a cost-effective solution, especially for those with smaller living spaces or limited budgets.

While it might seem like an unconventional idea at first, converting a freezer into a refrigerator is actually quite simple. All you need to do is purchase a refrigerator thermostat and install it in place of your freezer thermostat.

Changing the thermostat allows your freezer to operate at refrigerator-like temperatures. This will give you the extra fridge space you need without having to buy a new refrigerator.

Before you begin the conversion process, it's essential to know the proper steps and precautions to take. This will ensure a successful transformation and help you avoid any potential roadblocks along the way. So, let's dive into the details of how to use a freezer as a refrigerator and why this versatile solution might be just what your household needs.

The Benefit of Using a Freezer as a Refrigerator: Cost Savings

Cost Savings

One of the primary benefits of using a freezer as a refrigerator is the cost efficiency. If your need for frozen goods is minimal and your freezer is going largely unused, it may make sense to repurpose your freezer into a fridge.

According to the State of Minnesota Division of Energy Resources, refrigerators are the second largest user of electricity in the home. Only air conditioners use more energy.

Dedicated freezers - both upright freezers and chest freezers have more stringent insulation requirements than refrigerators. Freezers do a much better job of keeping things cold than refrigerators.

Insulation is measured by something called an “R-Value”. An R-Value is the measure of an insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. For example, the R Value for walk in coolers in commercial settings is R-32 for freezers, and it is just R-25 for coolers.

The additional insulation within a freezer usually means that your freezer won’t have to work as hard to keep your items cool as a refrigerator. This means less electricity, which means a lower overall cost to you when compared to using a refrigerator.

Converting a Freezer into a Refrigerator

This process mainly involves replacing the freezer thermostat with one meant for a refrigerator, making it an accessible option for those looking to save energy.

Choosing the Right Freezer

The odds are good that you already have an existing freezer that you’re considering converting into a fridge. Here are some considerations to consider when deciding what type of freezer will work best in your home.

Upright Freezer vs Chest Freezer

You’ll obviously want to make sure that your existing layout can support the footprint of the upright or chest freezer that you’re converting.

An upright freezer may be your best bet to convert into a fridge. Upright freezers look and function like a regular vertical refrigerator. They also don’t take up much floor space when compared to a chest freezer.

It is also easy to put food items into an upright freezer - and take them out. It can be a bit back breaking constantly bending over to reach into a chest freezer to retrieve items.

Chest freezers do have one big advantage over upright freezers in that they’re more energy efficient.

Footprint of Your Appliance

When considering the conversion, make sure that the freezer you’re converting fits your needs and available space. The capacity, dimensions, and energy efficiency should be taken into account when deciding which freezer to convert.

Temperature Control Devices

To successfully transform your freezer into a refrigerator, you'll need a temperature control device. An external thermostat is your best bet. This device will allow you to regulate the internal temperature of your new refrigerator, keeping it cool but not cold enough to freeze your food.

There are various temperature control devices available on the market, such as plug-and-play options or models that require hardwiring. Ultimately, the choice depends on your budget and comfort level with the installation process. External thermostats are the most common and user-friendly option, as they simply plug into an existing wall outlet, and your freezer plugs into the thermostat.

Installation and Setup

Don’t attempt to convert your freezer to a refrigerator unless you have experience with electrical components and wiring. Hire a professional contractor instead.

The step by step video below explains how to perform the conversion.

Will Barton of RV Boondocking Adventure Converts a Chest Freezer into a Refrigerator

Energy Efficiency

When considering using a freezer as a refrigerator, it's important to understand the energy efficiency implications. This section will discuss two important factors in energy efficiency: insulation and temperature stability, and electricity consumption.

Insulation and Temperature Stability

Use the external thermostat to set your converted freezer to the appropriate temperature. The ideal temperature is between 34°F and 40°F (1°C and 4°C). Temperatures of 40 degrees and above can enhance bacteria growth on food and potentially result in food poisoning according to the US Department of Agriculture. Your freezer should also be strategically placed away from direct sunlight and heat sources to maintain temperature stability and reduce energy usage.

Electricity Consumption

Selecting an energy-efficient freezer is vital if you plan to use it as a refrigerator. Look for freezers that have an ENERGY STAR certification, as these models are usually about 9% more energy efficient than non-certified models. This can lead to significant energy savings over the lifespan of your appliance.

Here are some tips to reduce electricity consumption when using a freezer as a refrigerator:

  • Limit the number of times you open the freezer door. Doing so will prevent warm air from entering the freezer and reduce energy consumption.
  • Check the door seals regularly to ensure they are tight and in good condition. This will prevent cold air from leaking out and reduce energy usage.
  • Make sure you keep your condenser coils clean - when they get dirty they can inhibit the performance of your converted refrigerator
  • Proper space management (described below) can also help you lower your the power consumption of your converted freezer

Space Management

Effectively managing space inside your freezer turned refrigerator can be quite beneficial for conserving energy and keeping your food fresh. In this section, we will explore organizing food items and shelving and storage solutions to make the most out of your converted freezer.

Organizing Food Items

Start by categorizing your food items and grouping them together. This way, you can easily locate and access what you need. This means that the freezer door won’t be open as long, and less warm air can get in. As a result your converted freezer won’t have to work as hard to keep things cool.

Here are a few suggestions for organizing your food items:

  • Keep frozen food items in one corner, and fresh produce in another.
  • Allocate a separate section for beverages to avoid spillage.

Remember to regularly take inventory of what's inside, ensuring that older items are consumed before they expire and newer items are placed towards the back.

Shelving and Storage Solutions

Maximize your storage space by using a combination of shelves, bins, and containers. Here are some ideas for shelving and storage:

  • Adjustable shelves can help you customize the internal layout based on your storage requirements.
  • Use clear, labeled containers to store smaller items, making them easier to find and preventing them from getting misplaced.
  • Utilize vertical space by adding stackable storage solutions, such as racks or baskets.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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