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Old 11-07-2019, 10:10 PM   #1
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Saving power by using air from outside to keep refrigerator cool?

I was thinking about cutting a couple holes in the side of my small electric refrigerator and, by way of small electric fan, ducting in some cool air from outside to save power. It's often cold as hell in the winter time where I live and it seems counterproductive to force my refrigerator compressor to fight my wood stove when there is plenty of cooling potential outside the walls during the winter months. Any thoughts?
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Old 11-07-2019, 10:24 PM   #2
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I have thought of this too.

Might want a thermostat on the fan though, and a way to plug the holes for summer time use.
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Old 11-07-2019, 10:24 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SolomonEagle View Post
I was thinking about cutting a couple holes in the side of my small electric refrigerator and, by way of small electric fan, ducting in some cool air from outside to save power. It's often cold as hell in the winter time where I live and it seems counterproductive to force my refrigerator compressor to fight my wood stove when there is plenty of cooling potential outside the walls during the winter months. Any thoughts?
You have to worry about hitting refrigeration lines. If you can figure out where they are and not hit them, then sure. But are you going to save that much electricity by doing that?

Maybe a better way would be to build a standoff for the door, like a wider gasket and attach the duct to that to try it out. That way if it doesn’t do much for you then you can put it back the way it was.
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Old 11-07-2019, 10:25 PM   #4
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And you can cut holes in the door without hitting refrigerant lines
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:04 AM   #5
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And you can cut holes in the door without hitting refrigerant lines
There are no lines in the doors.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:39 PM   #6
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Don't think of the refrigerator as fighting the wood stove in cold weather. They're working together.


When a refrigerator runs it pumps heat out of the box and into the surrounding room. There's some extra heat added to the room as well. When the compressor stops, heat from the room leaks back into the box and eventually the compressor runs to pump the heat out again.


The refrigerator could be viewed as an electric heater. I wouldn't go to the trouble of making it an ice box cooled by outdoor air unless the electricity supply is a big problem.
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Old 11-09-2019, 08:09 PM   #7
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Don't think of the refrigerator as fighting the wood stove in cold weather. They're working together.


When a refrigerator runs it pumps heat out of the box and into the surrounding room. There's some extra heat added to the room as well. When the compressor stops, heat from the room leaks back into the box and eventually the compressor runs to pump the heat out again.


The refrigerator could be viewed as an electric heater. I wouldn't go to the trouble of making it an ice box cooled by outdoor air unless the electricity supply is a big problem.
First thing I learned about living off grid was to eliminate as many power needs as possible. I feel you could significantly cut energy consumption by using already cooled air during winter months. Every little bit helps2˘
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:02 PM   #8
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First thing I learned about living off grid was to eliminate as many power needs as possible. I feel you could significantly cut energy consumption by using already cooled air during winter months. Every little bit helps2˘
I bought an old 3.8 cu ft Avanti upright chest freezer that I'm going to use as my fridge with a thermostat gadget that keeps it at 37F instead of freezer temperature. It has an external radiator on the back (unlike newer ones which have it in the base) and mostly for aesthetic and space reasons I'm going to see if I can relocate the radiator to the underside of the bus. In cold weather (which is what I'm mainly concerned about surviving - I love warm and hate being cold) this will improve the efficiency of the fridge since the radiator will benefit from the larger temperature difference (but TANSTAAFL the opposite would be true in summer, except I generally live without AC so the temp inside my bus won't be any cooler than the temp under my bus).

Edit: heh, just found an exact duplicate of my freezer - https://southjersey.craigslist.org/a...011020908.html . I'm thinking I should maybe get a replacement for when I destroy my first one.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:34 PM   #9
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Do you know how old these freezers are?
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Old 11-09-2019, 11:47 PM   #10
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Do you know how old these freezers are?
Maybe 15 to 20 years? Not sure. They're pretty efficient when running as fridges - I set mine up in my garage this summer with a kilowatt meter and it was averaging about 16 watts. Four cubic feet is small by fridge standards, but without all the shelves and crisper drawers and whatnot, you can really fit a lot of stuff into the big cube.
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Old 11-10-2019, 09:40 AM   #11
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"Most manufacturers do not recommend placing a refrigerator in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so could cause the freezer portion to thaw frozen food, the refrigerator portion to freeze food or both. Additional precautions include allowing the fridge to adjust to room temperature before turning it on after it's delivered or moved. The most efficient room temperature for a refrigerator to operate in is between 68 and 71 degrees. Typical refrigerators have one thermometer located in the fresh-food section. Some refrigerators have two thermometers: one in the fresh-food section and another in the freezer section. This type of refrigerator has a wider temperature range and is better suited for locations with fluctuating temperatures. Check the owner's manual for information regarding your model. Manuals typically state the refrigerator only is to be used indoors.

Thawing
When room temperature raises above the setting for the fresh-food section -- for example, 36 degrees -- a typical refrigerator turns on and starts to cool. If the temperature in the unheated garage drops below 36 degrees, the refrigerator shuts down and stops cooling. This also shuts down the freezer section, causing it to warm up, thawing frozen food. Even if the refrigerator continues to operate without freezing or thawing as the outside temperature fluctuates, efficiency drops. Refrigerators with two thermometers are less likely to have issues with thawing, freezing and inefficiency -- but they're not immune to them. Refrigerators without a freezer section shut off and the contents will freeze if it gets cold enough outside."

While prepping for a trip in cold weather, I have turned on the fridge a few days before only to find a cool fridge, certainly not cold. Now I turn it on the morning we leave then stock it or run the heat.
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Old 11-10-2019, 01:09 PM   #12
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That's all good information, and reading it has reinforced my determination not to have a normal fridge.

I also intend to convert a small chest freezer into a fridge, and when I've been looking at information on freezers, I've noticed that some freezers do not cope well with being placed in an unheated area. I think it's GE that has several garage ready freezers.

But what made me wonder about how old these freezers were is the 1948 Frigidare I am looking at right now. It has a cover over the tubing in the back to protect it. And this fridge has now spent at least 30 years in a mostly unheated area above the garage, where my Dad filled it with apples every fall and it's still working just fine, never been serviced, still has the original coolant it came with in 1948.
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolomonEagle View Post
I was thinking about cutting a couple holes in the side of my small electric refrigerator and, by way of small electric fan, ducting in some cool air from outside to save power. It's often cold as hell in the winter time where I live and it seems counterproductive to force my refrigerator compressor to fight my wood stove when there is plenty of cooling potential outside the walls during the winter months. Any thoughts?



Ducting cool air around the condenser would make sense, however I would be skeptical about ducting to the inside of the fridge.... to many issues....air leakage, cleanliness, pests, dust, change over from summer to winter, etc. Why not use the traditional methods of just putting the food in a cooler (for protection) and set it outdoors or set the refrigerator outdoors in the winter. All that being said it is just a waste of time in the winter because the heat rejected to the inside of the house/bus by the fridge just helps warm the bus. Your fridge is warming your bus, the electricity is not being wasted, however it may be putting more wear on the compressor, shorter life?. Perhaps it is too close to your wood stove? It is the summer time when you have a energy problem.
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:43 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
I bought an old 3.8 cu ft Avanti upright chest freezer that I'm going to use as my fridge with a thermostat gadget that keeps it at 37F instead of freezer temperature. It has an external radiator on the back (unlike newer ones which have it in the base) and mostly for aesthetic and space reasons I'm going to see if I can relocate the radiator to the underside of the bus. In cold weather (which is what I'm mainly concerned about surviving - I love warm and hate being cold) this will improve the efficiency of the fridge since the radiator will benefit from the larger temperature difference (but TANSTAAFL the opposite would be true in summer, except I generally live without AC so the temp inside my bus won't be any cooler than the temp under my bus).

Edit: heh, just found an exact duplicate of my freezer - https://southjersey.craigslist.org/a...011020908.html . I'm thinking I should maybe get a replacement for when I destroy my first one.

that "radiator" is the condenser, most newer units just attach the condenser lines to the inside of the outer skin (for protection, sleeker appearance, and possibly more conductor and radiator surface) which is why the skin feels warm when it is running. It is wise, with exposed coils like that to keep them clean for best heat conduction and efficiency.
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:01 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by 2kool4skool View Post
"Most manufacturers do not recommend placing a refrigerator in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so could cause the freezer portion to thaw frozen food, the refrigerator portion to freeze food or both. Additional precautions include allowing the fridge to adjust to room temperature before turning it on after it's delivered or moved. The most efficient room temperature for a refrigerator to operate in is between 68 and 71 degrees. Typical refrigerators have one thermometer located in the fresh-food section. Some refrigerators have two thermometers: one in the fresh-food section and another in the freezer section. This type of refrigerator has a wider temperature range and is better suited for locations with fluctuating temperatures. Check the owner's manual for information regarding your model. Manuals typically state the refrigerator only is to be used indoors.

Thawing
When room temperature raises above the setting for the fresh-food section -- for example, 36 degrees -- a typical refrigerator turns on and starts to cool. If the temperature in the unheated garage drops below 36 degrees, the refrigerator shuts down and stops cooling. This also shuts down the freezer section, causing it to warm up, thawing frozen food. Even if the refrigerator continues to operate without freezing or thawing as the outside temperature fluctuates, efficiency drops. Refrigerators with two thermometers are less likely to have issues with thawing, freezing and inefficiency -- but they're not immune to them. Refrigerators without a freezer section shut off and the contents will freeze if it gets cold enough outside."

While prepping for a trip in cold weather, I have turned on the fridge a few days before only to find a cool fridge, certainly not cold. Now I turn it on the morning we leave then stock it or run the heat.

Do you have some references for this? It doesn't make sense to me.


Older, really older, fridges just go by freezer temps. Many new fridges will not work properly out doors or in garages because they have undersized condensers since they are designed strictly to work in air conditioned spaces, older fridges were designed when most people did not have air conditioning. There are also, still, fridges designed to work in garages/porches/outside. In my experience, fridges with 2 thermostats usually have the compressor turned on/off by the freezer temp and have a fan controlled by the fresh food temp to move air from the freezer to the fridge section. No telling whats going on with computer controlled messes.



Quote:
"Thawing
When room temperature raises above the setting for the fresh-food section -- for example, 36 degrees -- a typical refrigerator turns on and starts to cool. If the temperature in the unheated garage drops below 36 degrees, the refrigerator shuts down and stops cooling. This also shuts down the freezer section, causing it to warm up, thawing frozen food. Even if the refrigerator continues to operate without freezing or thawing as the outside temperature fluctuates, efficiency drops. Refrigerators with two thermometers are less likely to have issues with thawing, freezing and inefficiency -- but they're not immune to them. Refrigerators without a freezer section shut off and the contents will freeze if it gets cold enough outside."


It seems to me, that for this to be true, there would have to be an extra, external thermostat measuring the external room temperature to turn it on "When room temperature raises above the setting for the fresh-food section -- for example, 36 degrees -- " and turn it back off when "the temperature in the unheated garage drops below 36 degrees" 3 questions... Why would a refrigerator be controlled by room temp instead of refrigerator temps? Why design a refrigerator that only works when the room temperature is at 36 degrees or the temp of the "fresh-food section" (on if > 36, off if < 36)? How would the freezer section ever work?


"Refrigerators without a freezer section shut off and the contents will freeze if it gets cold enough outside.".......Yep, unless you have a heater built in, it will freeze if left at freezing or below freezing temps long enough. So will a refrigerator with a freezer or with power turned on (unless you have a heater built in). LOL
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:12 AM   #16
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that "radiator" is the condenser, most newer units just attach the condenser lines to the inside of the outer skin (for protection, sleeker appearance, and possibly more conductor and radiator surface) which is why the skin feels warm when it is running. It is wise, with exposed coils like that to keep them clean for best heat conduction and efficiency.
Yeah, I'm planning a removable cover for the condenser (I'll use the correct term from now on, thanks) when I'm driving (I wouldn't have it turned on then), although that might be a reason for me to not do this, as it would be a bit of a hassle and easy to forget.
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Old 11-21-2019, 02:10 PM   #17
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Do you have some references for this? It doesn't make sense to me.


Older, really older, fridges just go by freezer temps. Many new fridges will not work properly out doors or in garages because they have undersized condensers since they are designed strictly to work in air conditioned spaces, older fridges were designed when most people did not have air conditioning. There are also, still, fridges designed to work in garages/porches/outside. In my experience, fridges with 2 thermostats usually have the compressor turned on/off by the freezer temp and have a fan controlled by the fresh food temp to move air from the freezer to the fridge section. No telling whats going on with computer controlled messes.



Quote:
"Thawing
When room temperature raises above the setting for the fresh-food section -- for example, 36 degrees -- a typical refrigerator turns on and starts to cool. If the temperature in the unheated garage drops below 36 degrees, the refrigerator shuts down and stops cooling. This also shuts down the freezer section, causing it to warm up, thawing frozen food. Even if the refrigerator continues to operate without freezing or thawing as the outside temperature fluctuates, efficiency drops. Refrigerators with two thermometers are less likely to have issues with thawing, freezing and inefficiency -- but they're not immune to them. Refrigerators without a freezer section shut off and the contents will freeze if it gets cold enough outside."


It seems to me, that for this to be true, there would have to be an extra, external thermostat measuring the external room temperature to turn it on "When room temperature raises above the setting for the fresh-food section -- for example, 36 degrees -- " and turn it back off when "the temperature in the unheated garage drops below 36 degrees" 3 questions... Why would a refrigerator be controlled by room temp instead of refrigerator temps? Why design a refrigerator that only works when the room temperature is at 36 degrees or the temp of the "fresh-food section" (on if > 36, off if < 36)? How would the freezer section ever work?


"Refrigerators without a freezer section shut off and the contents will freeze if it gets cold enough outside.".......Yep, unless you have a heater built in, it will freeze if left at freezing or below freezing temps long enough. So will a refrigerator with a freezer or with power turned on (unless you have a heater built in). LOL
https://www.hunker.com/13409794/can-...nheated-garage
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Old 11-21-2019, 02:57 PM   #18
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I am sitting here right now looking at an old fridge. On the door there is an emblem that says, "GM Frigidaire, Made Only By General Motors". I know it's a 1948 or 49 model because my parents bought it new just before they got married in December 1948, so it's a year older than me.

It has never been serviced and still has the original freon. The enamel exterior is slightly chipped along the leading edge of the door, but otherwise it's in excellent condition. This fridge has been in a mostly unheated garage since the mid-1960s. It has even been unplugged and left sitting for months on more than one occasion, because for many years the only time it was used was a few months after apple season.

But my mother died 3 years ago, and Dad passed away this summer, so my brothers and I are getting ready to sell this place. None of us want the fridge AND have room for it, but I hate to see it get scrapped while it's working perfectly. So I would give it away to anybody who wants to come and get it.
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Old 11-21-2019, 05:03 PM   #19
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Good chance that GM is an ammonia unit.
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Old 11-21-2019, 05:18 PM   #20
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My dad said it was freon. He usually knew what he was talking about. He had somebody look at it back in the 60s after it stopped getting cold. They tried to convince him it needed a recharge. Dad thought it didn't need recharged, so he tinkered around with it, found an electrical problem, then fixed it.

I forgot about this episode. I was like 15 or 16 and paying as little attention as possible to what went on at home. Is there an easy way to tell if it's freon or ammonia? A clue may be that it has nothing hanging off the back, no tubing, just flat sheet metal.

Or does it really matter whether it's ammonia or freon? It's probably just going to get scrapped anyway. I will be living in my bus and a storage unit for at least a little while, so I have no room for this old fridge. I just like the way the door sounds when it closes, solid, like a 1948 Chevy.
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