Putting Your Old Fridge In The Garage: The Good, Bad, & Ugly

More people are moving their refrigerators to the garage for various reasons. Apart from freeing up space inside the house, a garage refrigerator can hold more than the average kitchen option.

Is it a good idea to keep a fridge in the garage?

Keeping a refrigerator in your garage is not bad if you understand all the complications of that decision and prepare appropriately for them. Suppose you live in an area that gets very cold in the winter or very hot in the summer. In that case, you must ensure your refrigerator can handle extreme temperatures.

The rest of the article will show what happens when you keep a refrigerator in the garage. Also, watch out for tips to remember if you move your refrigerator to the garage.

What Happens When You Keep a Refrigerator in the Garage?

The mechanism in modern refrigerators is very sensitive to temperature changes.

Therefore, a fridge in a garage will have to work harder than one in the kitchen, for example. Especially if the ambient temperature in the garage starts to veer towards extremes.

Generally, most manufacturers will recommend using a refrigerator only in temperatures between 0°F (-17°C) and 110°F (43°C).

When you live somewhere where the temperatures reach (or surpass) these limits, your fridge doesn’t work as efficiently. 

The garage is always hotter or colder than the living areas in your house.

In hot weather, the compressor constantly runs to keep the compartment cold. This will lead to higher energy consumption and quickly wear down the refrigerator’s parts.

This is even more pronounced for fridges with a freezer section or garage freezers.

During winter, the compressor will cycle on and off more frequently to balance the effect of the chilly ambient weather against the temperature inside the refrigerator.

In this scenario, you might find frozen food thawing faster than you’d like. If the weather gets too cold, the thermostat may fail to turn on the refrigerator.

Tips for Keeping a Fridge in the Garage

Suppose you’ve decided to keep a refrigerator in the garage.

In that case, here are a few tips to ensure it will keep working as it should.

Check Your Manual

As you’ve seen above, most refrigerators have instructions on the temperature ranges they can work in.

Check your user manual to see what operating conditions are recommended and confirm that your typical temperatures fall within the acceptable range.

Most weather services like weather-us.com or accuweather.com will have historical estimates based on the month.

You can also keep a simple thermometer like a Newentor Weather Station or AcuRite Monitor to keep tabs on weather changes in the garage when the time comes.

Insulate the Garage

You can lessen the impact by insulating your garage if you know your garage will be too cold or too hot for your refrigerator.

If you can’t afford complete insulation, you can focus on the walls alone. Remember, you are only trying to keep the temperature comfortable for your refrigerator.

A cheaper alternative is to create a small partition for your refrigerator and insulate that instead of the entire garage. There are plenty of examples online where homeowners insulate the area around their garage water heater.

Many people insulate the area around their garage water heater, so plenty of examples are online. Don’t forget to leave enough room for the heat from the refrigerator’s operation to escape.

With proper insulation, the refrigerator will no longer be affected by freezing cold or scorching heat.

Keep the Thermostat Warm

Suppose insulation isn’t an option, but you live in a climate where you are only worried about freezing temperatures in your garage.

In that case, you can install kits like the Frigidaire 5303918301 or Wadoy 5303918301 to keep your thermostat warm enough to continue functioning normally under freezing temperatures. 

However, this method will require you to have the wiring skills needed to tweak the control box on your refrigerator.

You’ll also need all the right tools to get the job done, so it’s probably best to call in a professional at this point.

If you choose to insulate your garage, you might not need such a kit as the ambient weather inside will be warmer than the temperature outside.

This is especially true if you have some heating in the garage. A small portable heater combined with the insulation is enough.

Protect the Refrigerator

Your garage is generally dirtier than your kitchen. You should ensure that your refrigerator is protected from debris and dust.

Clean the area around the fridge properly and ensure clean airflow around it. For example, carpentry work in the garage can cause sawdust to lodge inside your refrigerator’s exterior components.

Additionally, you need to ensure no flammable items are near the refrigerator.

The coils transferring heated refrigerant can trigger a fire if they raise the temperature of highly flammable materials like gasoline or cleaning items.

Keep your garage safe by moving these items away from the area directly behind the refrigerator, at the very least.

Keep the Compartment Full

If your refrigerator is full, keeping the temperature colder is easier.

Your fridge won’t have to work so hard to maintain the temperature inside the compartment as there would be no room for warm air (or chilly air in the winter) to disrupt things.

A few gallons of water can do the job if you don’t have enough pantry goods to fill the refrigerator.

Consider Getting an Outdoor Refrigerator

You can buy an outdoor refrigerator if you don’t want to modify your garage to prepare it for a fridge.

While more expensive, these models typically have super-powered compressors and other components to run for extended hours and work effectively, even in extreme temperatures. They also come with thicker insulation, which makes them more immune to ambient temperature fluctuations.

Other features of an outdoor refrigerator include anti-corrosion, weatherproofing, and UV protection.

The first two features are vital if you keep your refrigerator in a garage where water can seep in. The UV protection will be useful if the fridge in the garage is near a window that lets in direct sunlight.

However, outdoor refrigerators are costly, so you need to take your time to weigh your options to be sure you really need one.

You must also confirm that the outdoor refrigerator will work fine where you live, as “extreme outdoor weather” has different meanings in different places.

Wrapping It Up

Keeping a refrigerator in a garage is not a bad idea. However, you must pay attention to all the necessary details to ensure your fridge in the garage works correctly.

The most crucial piece is ensuring that your garage’s temperature is acceptable in winter and summer. Insulating your garage will definitely help here.

Once you’ve made the garage a comfortable spot for your refrigerator, keep the appliance protected and clean the garage regularly to avoid accidental damage to external components.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.