Kicked my freezer-fridge conversion out

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Not away, but outside, I’m still using it, but with the colder temps and the more overcast days, I decided to let nature work for me instead of against me. A couple of weeks ago, PB moved the chest freezer to fridge conversion out on the front porch, it’s right next to the grill, it seems my front porch is really turning into an outdoor kitchen minus the plumbing.

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I might decide to leave the freezer outside, but I’ll definitely want to mouse-proof it, I do not want rodents getting inside the box and eating the wires, they can’t get inside the food area, but they could do a lot of damage to the electronics if they get in there.

Since putting it outside on the porch, the unit rarely turns on, in fact during a particularly cold snap AND overcast days, I had it unplugged altogether and the food inside stayed at a good temp, I have a point and shoot thermometer, the food stayed at safe temps and it didn’t freeze inside. If you live somewhere where it gets down really cold and stays that way, I don’t think I’d recommend doing this, you wouldn’t want your milk and veg to freeze, but for us, where it rarely gets too far below freezing overnight and always warms up into the upper 30s and 40s (F) during the day, it’s perfect.

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I have it plugged up now, and it rarely kicks on, in fact I worried that we might have broken something in moving it outside, so I plugged in the freezer directly, it came on, then I plugged in the external thermostat and turned down the dial until the freezer kicked on, so no worries.

I have been using this chest freezer to fridge conversion for a number of years now and I absolutely LOVE it, the biggest plus is it doesn’t use up much power, we have a very small solar system so every watt counts. The method is simple, you take a chest freezer, it needs to be a top opening chest freezer because of simple physics, cold air is heavy, it sinks, so when you open your front opening fridge or freezer, all of that cold air falls out of the box onto your feet, now your box has to work harder to generate more cold air. The freezers also have more insulation than a standard fridge.

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To turn the chest freezer into a fridge, I use an external thermostat, it’s a really simple and inexpensive device, it has a copper temperature probe that goes inside the freezer box, the thermostat part goes outside of the box, you set the temp you wish, I have mine set of 35 degrees F, there is a power cord that comes out of the thermostat with a male and female connector, you connect the freezer’s cord to this, then plug that into power. When the inside of the freezer box hits the temperature you set, it cuts off the power to the freezer box. It truly cuts the power, there are no phantom loads eating up my precious power.

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One thing I did have to do was I inserted a short length of 1 inch PVC pipe into the freezer box, I inserted the copper probe into that, that helps protect the probe against potential damage from the food and baskets jostling around, it also keeps the probe from touching the inner wall of the box, which gets really REALLY cold when the unit kicks on, that keeps it from short-cycling.

There are a couple of disadvantages, more inconveniences than anything else, since it’s a box that opens from the top, you have to be more creative about how the food goes in, there are no fancy shelves, I use the wire basket that came with the freezer, I also use plastic baskets that fit inside.

Also, about once a month I have to take everything out of the box and clean the water out of the bottom, you will get condensation forming on the walls, when it was used as a freezer, that condensation created ice that had to be removed, since you aren’t getting down to freezer temps, the water condensation trickles down the sides to the bottom of the box. It’s really not a big deal, in fact it’s a good idea to clean out the box on a regular basis lest some forgotten leftover become a science experiment to be discovered later.

I did read about another off-gridder (will need to find the source for that story) who uses a chest freezer as their freezer (it’s still very efficient), they freeze containers of water and place these into a regular cooler each day to keep their refrigerated foods cold, this is ingenious because they can make ice and keep things frozen and still have a way to keep refrigerated foods cold, that is something I am seriously considering doing, will just have to find a big enough cooler…. that’s in the future though.

You can read more about my chest freezer to fridge conversion here:

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5 Responses

  1. I have done extensive research on the freezer/frig conversion kit….just check out youtube…tons of videos ++ you can get the kit/adapter on Amazon. Will save you a ton of $$$…a little inconvenience but save $$$.

  2. Hi, Wretha –
    That’s a clever setup. Reaching down into the fridge makes much more sense, and I like the fact that the thermostat turns itself off mechanically.

    I have a small DC fridge in my pantry, but I don’t run it much between October and April. Up here close to the 49th parallel, we get almost zero solar energy at this time of year — the days are short and dark — so I only run the fridge for an hour a day, while I have the generator on, charging my batteries. The fridge is installed so most of it is outdoors, with only the door inside the pantry, so it stays pretty cold.

    I also have an outdoor pantry which I put produce in, as long as the weather isn’t too far below freezing. (Frozen lettuce is depressing.)

    I lived with no refrigeration at all for eight years, and learned that most of the food-spoilage scare stories are myths. However, a fridge is a luxury I enjoy now. In the summer, it’s great.

    1. Thanks Besty, I enjoyed reading your post in the forums, you have several replies (including mine), we would love to hear from from you and how you live. And yes, frozen lettuce is depressing, I have to be careful not to allow delicate foods like that to come in direct contact with the walls of the freezer, they ice up when the unit is running, that’s enough to damage fruit and veg…


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