Growing up in Pennsylvania, a lot of my neighbors had freezer chests in their garage. Many used it for bulk food storage, but some were hunters that 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.
We’ve already covered why it’s not a bad idea to put a fridge in your garage, but what about a freezer?
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.
What is a Garage-Ready Freezer?
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. If not, another option is to go to the user manual or the manufacturer’s website to see the recommended range for your particular model.
Garage ready refrigerators and freezers are designed to work in a wider temperature range.
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).
Once you know the freezer’s allowable temperature range, 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.
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.
Can You Keep a Freezer in an Unheated Garage During Winter?
It’s counter-intuitive, but freezing temperatures are actually bad for your freezer.
That’s because cold weather outside the freezer tricks your freezer into thinking that it’s already freezing inside the freezer.
When the outside temperature is below freezing, it causes the freezer’s thermostat to shut off more often than it should. Occasionally, it stops working completely.
When that happens, the food inside may start to thaw.
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 hot temperatures in your garage can be much worse on your freezer.
Hopefully this makes sense.
The hotter the temperature outside, the more your freezer has to work to keep it below 0 degrees. As the compressor works harder, the cost of running the appliance increases.
Keeping your freezer in your garage can use up to 50% more electricity than normal. This depends greatly on where you live and how hot it gets. You can lower this if you have an insulated or air conditioned garage. Newer freezers are more energy efficient, which will also help.
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.
How Much Electricity Does a Freezer Use in a Garage?
Freezers and refrigerators have seen a massive improvement in energy efficiency in the last few decades.
A new freezer will save you around $215 to $270 per year compared to an older freezer.
Older freezers use between 750 to 1000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per year. This works out at $97-130 per year, using the national electric rate of 13 cents per kWh.
When you put your freezer in your garage, where it has to battle higher humidity and temperatures that cause it to work much harder. Hotter temperatures means that the compressor on your freezer will have to work a lot harder.
According to EnergyStar.gov, for every 1°F (-17°C) change in the temperature in the garage, compared to the ambient weather in your home, your freezer’s energy consumption will increase by 2.25% to 2.5%.
At 90°F (32°C), the freezer uses up to 50% more energy than when the temperature is 70°F (21°C).
The bottom line is that older freezers are already less efficient than newer models. Using freezers (or fridges) in an uninsulated garage will increase your electricity bill even further.
That’s a great reason to consider insulating your garage.
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.
Monitor the Temperature
First, you need some way to monitor the temperature in your garage. It’s normal for the temperature in your garage to be up to 15 degrees different than the temperature outside.
Without some way to monitor the temperature in your garage, you’d never know how hard your freezer was working.
Personally, I have the AcuRite thermometer which also keeps track of relative humidity. Another option is the FirstAlert Carbon Monoxide Detector, which also has a temperature readout. You can see my review of that here.
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.
Make Sure Your Freezer Can Handle Extreme Temperatures
As we discussed earlier, the temperature where you live has a huge impact on how much electricity your freezer uses.
Most freezers will work in temperatures up to about 110°F (40°C). However, your manufacturer may have a different limit, so be sure to check your manual. Then, find the average summer temperature in your area.
If the historical maximum temperature doesn’t get hotter than your freezer’s threshold, then you’re good to go. However, anything you can do to lower the ambient temperature in your garage will help your electricity bill.
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.
When 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
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. You can find out the cost of installing another outlet in your garage here.
Without enough power, the freezer may trip a circuit or the condenser inside may not work properly. When that happens, it could lead to the quick burnout of important components.
Insulate or Air Condition Your Garage
If, like me, the temperature in your garage is too high for a freezer, the next step is to either insulate or air condition your garage.
I’ve discussed garage insulation earlier, and it can be a great inexpensive option. As long as you do it right.
It made a huge difference when I insulated my garage walls. Simply adding a garage door insulation kit lowered the temperatures in my garage by several degrees.
If insulating your garage still doesn’t bring the temperature down to where it needs to be, the next step would be air conditioning.
However, air conditioning your entire garage can get pretty expensive. Full garage systems can cost several thousand dollars and even a portable air conditioned can cost several hundred dollars.
For more information on garage air conditioning, check out my in-depth guide where I go over the pros and cons of each type of garage air conditioner. I also offer some recommendations, specifically for the garage.
No matter whether you insulate your garage or air condition it, you’ll want to keep as much warm air outside as possible. Keep your garage doors and windows closed at all times and seal up any leaks you may find.
Upgrade Your Old Freezer
If you have a freezer older than 2004, consider upgrading to a newer model. absolutely have to keep a freezer in the garage, consider replacing the old model for a new one. Not only will this help you save $50 a year, but you could choose a garage freezer with a better operating temperature range.
Unfortunately, nearly 15% of people have freezers over twenty years old. That means the freezer is nowhere near as energy efficient as newer models. Using an older freezer in a garage with temperature extremes will most certainly add to your electricity bill.
To get an estimate how much you can save, use the Energy Star Flip Your Fridge Calculator.
Finally, it’s important to check your warranty. Depending on the manufacturer, using your freezer in a garage could actually void your warranty.
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.
Keep in mind that using a freezer in your garage will likely use more electricity than you expect – sometimes up to 50% more!
It makes matters worse if you have an older, less energy efficient freezer.
The key is to ensure that your garage won’t get too cold or too hot for the freezer at any point. Replacing your old freezer can save some money on electricity, but insulating your garage will have the biggest effect.