Convert a Freezer into a High Efficiency Fridge
Convert a freezer into a high efficiency fridge and you'll save about $150 per year in electricity costs.
Refrigeration costs contribute to over 10% of most household electricity bills. This simple upgrade allows you to slash this usage down to a negligible amount.
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However, the following information will show you how to complete a conversion. All you need is a regular refrigeration thermostat which can be purchased online.
Jump to: Installation Guide (PDF)
Slash your usage by up to 90%
I have converted both new and old, upright and chest, small and large freezers into highly energy efficient refrigerators using this simple thermostat retrofit.
The best results achieved have been in converting a brand new ~100 litre upright freezer into a bar fridge. Electricity consumption for this fridge (after the conversion) stabilised at just over 50 Wh per day. That's less that $5 per year in electricity costs.
At the other end of the spectrum I have converted a relatively large ~20 year old upright freezer into a fridge. Results were still fairly impressive, with usage stabilising at around 250 Wh per day. This is still about 75% less energy than a regular upright fridge or fridge / freezer combination.
The thermostat is going great! It turned a chest freezer into a beer fridge, and life hasn't been better. It was relatively easy to install (having never done anything of the sort before), and it's keeping everything lovely and cold, even at the lowest setting. I will definitely recommend your product to the envious friends of mine who are looking at creating their own beer fridge.
- David R.
How and why does it work?
The reason this upgrade works so well is simple: insulation.
Have a look at your refrigerator at home and then look at the freezer compartment. You will notice that the insulation thickness for the freezer is about twice that of the refrigerator.
This simple fact means that when you raise the temperature inside a freezer to that of a refrigerator, the compressor hardly needs to do any work to keep the contents cold. In fact, once you have converted your freezer into a fridge you will notice that the compressor only needs to switch on for a few minutes each hour.
Compare that to a regular fridge where the compressor might be on for around 20 to 30 minutes per hour.
What can they be used for?
Your converted freezer can be used as a regular refrigerator. Obviously, it's not quite the same as one that you buy from the shop because it still has the freezer coils and other physical limitations inside. But in most cases that is not a problem, some uses include:
- Households for regular, wine or drinks fridges
- Small business owners (eg. shops and restaurants) looking to slash costs
- Home brewers for beer fridges (aka 'Kegerator')
You can use this thermostat to operate a very low temperature fridge (about minus 2 degrees C) or a warmer wine or drinks fridge (about 8 degrees C). If you just want a regular refrigeration temperature of 4 degrees it is perfectly suited to do this as well - right in the middle of its range.
- Capillary tube length - 1 metre
- Warmest setting - switch on at 10 degrees and off at 5 degrees
- Coldest setting - switch on at 3 degrees and off at minus 4.4 degrees
How is it installed?
How to Check Your Results
After you've done all that you are probably going to want to check if it worked out. Or maybe you just want to check your current refrigerator's power usage to see if this idea is worth pursuing.
For some 'before and after' testing I'd highly recommend the use of a simple plug-in power meter (such as the item pictured below). I'd also use a thermometer to check your new set-point temperatures are working as expected..... ....