Growing up in Pennsylvania, a lot of my neighbors had freezer chests in their garage. A lot of them used it for bulk food storage. Many were hunters and would store venison for months after the season. Either way, the garage had a lot of free space and seemed like a perfect place for a large freezer.
But is it really OK to put a freezer in your garage?
It is okay to put a freezer in the garage if you are certain that it won’t be exposed to extreme temperatures. Exposure to temperatures hotter than 110°F (43°C) and colder than 0°F (-17°C) may get it damaged. In a properly insulated garage, the freezer will not work under these unfavorable conditions.
Freezers work by transferring heat inside the compartment to the outside. In the extreme temperatures common in a garage, the process can be altered.
In order to understand why your garage is a good spot for a freezer chest, it’s important to know just how a freezer works, and how extreme temperatures can cause it problems.
Freezer Climate Classifications
Most freezers and refrigerators are designed to work within a specific temperature range. Anything outside of that range and they might not work correctly.
You’ll usually find the absolute lowest and highest temperatures that your freezer can operate in labeled clearly on the unit itself. Another option is to go to the user manual or the manufacturer’s website to see the recommended range for your particular model.
Once you know the temperature range it can work in, just compare it to the normal highs and lows for where you live.
I recommend adding and subtracting 15°F to the upper and lower boundaries, respectably. Temperatures will vary, sometimes considerably from those ranges.
We all remember ‘that one summer’ when the temperatures spiked higher than it normally did. Plan for those extremes and you’re less likely to run into problems down the road.
If you haven’t purchased the freezer yet, look for “garage ready” freezers that have climate ranges between 0°F (-17°C) and 110°F (43°C).
Otherwise, you may only be able to use your freezer if you insulate your garage – which isn’t as scary as it sounds. I’ve added a lot of insulation to my garage and I explain many of the pros and cons here.
What Happens to a Freezer in the Garage in Extremely Cold Weather?
It’s counter-intuitive, but when temperatures drop below freezing, your freezer’s thermostat won’t be able to work as well as it should.
Cold weather outside the freezer tricks your freezer into thinking that it’s already freezing inside. That causes the freezer’s thermostat to shut off more often than it should, or even stop working completely. When that happens, your stored food could start to thaw.
In most cases, this won’t cause your food to spoil (unlike the next scenario below). It’s not unheard of, however.
More importantly, cold weather can cause frost to build around the freezer’s insulation layer. As the freezing and thawing continues, that insulation inside the freezer will gradually get damaged.
Eventually this causes the freezer to not hold temperature as well. The compressor will end up working harder to compensate for that, leading to higher energy bills.
What Happens to a Freezer in the Garage in Extremely Hot Weather?
Extremely high temperatures in your garage can be much worse on your freezer.
The hotter the temperature, the more your freezer has to work to keep it below 0, right? As the compressor works harder, the cost of running the appliance will spike. Expect to pay as much as 50% more on your electric bill if you keep your freezer in your garage in hot climates.
With this extra workload, you may find yourself replacing parts earlier than you’d expect. Often, this happens in the summer, when you need your freezer the most. A failure here can lead to hundreds of dollars in spoiled food.
Tips for Using a Freezer in a Hot or Freezing Garage
If you must put your freezer in a garage where the temperatures can go as high or low as the recommended upper and lower limits of 110°F (43°C) and 0°F (-17°C), here are a few things you need to do.
Don’t Leave It Empty
Here’s something else that may seem counter-intuitive. You can actually help your freezer work better and be more efficient by keeping it fully stocked.
You don’t need to fill it with groceries, though. A few gallons of water can fill up the space and help the freezer to maintain its temperature as the door is opened multiple times during the day.
Remember your mom telling you not to stand there with the freezer door open?
Any time you open your freezer door, warm air rushes in from the outside and lowers the temperature. Then the freezer has to work harder to cool it back down.
Keeping the freezer full leaves less room for the air to settle. Plus, the frozen items in the freezer actually help to keep the temperature cold. This ensures that the air inside can return to the normal temperatures quickly when the door is closed.
Ensure It Has Enough Power
This is important. Your kitchen fridge and freezer normally have a dedicated circuit to power them. This typically includes a 115 volt, 60 Hz, AC-only electric outlet.
That’s not common in most garages unless it’s specifically installed. If your garage doesn’t have a dedicated circuit with enough power for a garage freezer, you should definitely have that installed first.
Without enough power, the freezer may trip a circuit or the condenser inside may not work properly. Even if your freezer appears to be working properly, that could lead to the quick burnout of vital parts.
Monitor the Temperature
As you’ve seen above, running the freezer at temperatures higher than 110°F (43°C) or lower than 0°F (-17°C) is not a good idea. This is why you should keep tabs on the temperature in your garage at all times.
If the temperature in your garage keeps going outside your freezer’s recommended range, it is time for you to consider ways to moderate the temperature.
I’ve discussed garage insulation earlier, and it can be a great inexpensive option, depending on how you do it. Simply adding a garage door insulation kit can lower the temperatures in your garage by several degrees.
Another option is to air condition your garage, even with a portable AC unit. If you don’t want to invest in air conditioning for the entire garage, you can create a small partition in the garage around the freezer. It is easier to cool down or heat up a smaller space than the entire garage.
Don’t forget to always keep the garage doors closed to avoid undoing your efforts!
No matter which solution you choose, you should always have a thermometer to check the temperature in the garage. Govee Thermometer, Newentor Weather Station, and AcuRite Monitor are some affordable options if you don’t have one already.
Check Your Manufacturer Warranty
Finally, it’s important to check your warranty. Depending on the manufacturer, using your freezer in a garage could actually void your warranty.
Proving to them that the temperature in your garage is within the recommended limits might be difficult, so you need to weigh your options carefully at this point.
The garage is a great place to keep a large freezer chest or second unit.
However, it’s important to look at how extreme the temperatures get where you live and get a freezer that can work in them.
The key is to ensure that your garage won’t get too cold or too hot for the freezer at any point. If your garage is already insulated or air conditioned, then you should be good to go!