Off Grid Home Forums Technical Discussion Chest freezer to fridge conversion-it works!

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    Day 2.5 using the chest freezer fridge conversion, and it works just fine, we set the temp to 40F.


    1. It keeps food at the temps you set without using up a lot of your power (great for off-gridders with limited power)

    2. The chest freezer holds the cold air inside when you open the door (this is only true for the ones that open at the top)

    3. Plenty of room for food

    4. Doesn’t take up much space

    5. Gets down to temp within 15+/- minutes

    6. Once down to temp, it only runs a minute or two each cycle

    7. More efficient than the standard refrigerator


    1. No shelves, makes it less convenient to store food

    2. You have to bend over to get to the food

    3. Water condensation on the inside walls

    4. Can’t store anything on top of the unit, or you have to move it every time you want to get in it.

    So far I’ve been very happy with it, as far as the condensation goes, I wipe the inner walls when I think about it, I suppose that eventually we may have to do something about that, our chest freezer does not have a drain plug, it’s possible to put one in if need be.

    Using a point and shoot laser thermometer, I tested the temps inside, we have the external thermostat set on 40F, I found the inner box to be between 35 and 42 depending on where I measure.

    I am going to have to find some wire or plastic baskets to put inside the unit so getting food out will be easier. Other than that, it’s been a real pleasure. When I first hooked it up, the freezer ran for 17 minutes, cycled off for 2 minutes, then ran for 1 minute, 3 minutes later it ran for 1 minute, then 3 minutes later ran again for 1 minute, 3 minutes later it ran for 25 minutes then cycled off. At that point I unplugged it because I didn’t have anything in it, I was just testing it. The ambient air temp was about 90ish.

    PB turned it back on the following day, I wasn’t aware of that so I don’t have any specs on how it ran then, but I suspect it ran just like it did the day before, we have had it going ever since. My regular dorm sized cube refrigerator would run for 10-15 minutes each and every cycle, and it cycled a couple of times per hour, even more if we opened the door. With the chest freezer design, we can open the door and the majority of the cold air stays inside the box with no problems.

    This is a link to the external thermostat I purchased



    I inherited a top opening freezer in 2002. In the summer I would keep it at low for refrigeration and not freezing. In the winter it would turn into a freezer on its own without power. I used a dozen 9/10 full gallons of water from recycled plastic milk bottles, with a piece of OSB on top for thermal mass. This helped to lengthen the time before it used power. I had to install a hasp lock because the bears knew there was food inside. The other problem was on repeated cloudy days in the summer, I would have to shut it down. Eventually (last year), I got rid of it and relied only on our 8 cu ft. Servel propane ref/freezer, and a couple locking top coolers for winter freezers, useful for when frozen foods are on sale.


    We pulled a propane fridge out of an old travel trailer, unfortunately the ammonia leaked out so it’s not any good. We have a possibility of getting a practically new propane fridge for free, it also runs on electricity (12 volt and 110), I’m not holding my breath, but it is a possibility. At any rate, we have been running the chest freezer fridge conversion for almost a week now, with several partly cloudy days with no problems at all. It does get condensation inside, I put a towel in the bottom, and I still need to get some wire or plastic baskets to make it easier to get the food in and out. It runs about 1 minute per cycle, and so far, it hasn’t run out the power in our system. I’m very happy with it so far. :)



    The almost new propane fridge ended up being a no-go, the good news is the freezer-fridge conversion is working great. We have it pretty well filled, I am working on organizing the foods so that the ones we access more often are in the top basket, and the other foods are in the bottom. One thing I do worry about is raw meat, no matter how carefully packaged, they tend to leak, I certainly do not want to get sick or make anyone else sick, I need to get a leak-proof container that will work well in the space to hold the meat before I cook it, it needs to be glass or metal so that it will be easy to clean and sanitize.

    We have had some days with little sunshine, and 2 members of my family are out visiting for a month, so we are using more power than normal, last night we did run out of power in the middle of the night, the inverter woke us with that terrible buzz it makes when the batteries are low. I turned off the power and went back to bed, it was only a few hours until sun-up so the fridge didn’t warm up very much, the freezer box kept the temp quite nicely. With the cloudy days, the batteries haven’t been able to charge up fully, and we don’t have a generator that works (at the moment), gotta work on it, another thing on the list of things to do…

    I put 2 small towels in the bottom of the freezer to catch the water condensation, it’s a minor problem and we will probably just install a drain line to take care of that. One of the towels is barely damp, the one in the very bottom is more damp, I’m also hoping that once we are past our rainy season and the humidity goes back down, that will be less of a problem.

    I’m still very happy with the whole thing, it typically cycles on for a minute or less each time, perhaps once or twice an hour depending on how often I open it, I can handle that sort of power usage. When we go into winter, I’ll not have to worry about keeping foods cold, I’ll just have to wait and see how this works out all year long.


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