Will a Freezer Work in an Unheated Garage in Winter?

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A chest freezer or "deep freezer" isn't always convenient for keeping inside the house, but it is quite common to keep one out in the garage. The chest freezer can help you store meats, vegetables and other perishables for as long as you need until you are ready to prepare them. But keeping this type of freezer or the freezer built into a refrigerator in the garage may require further considerations. As winter approaches, there may be some concerns about whether the freezer will work properly in an unheated garage.

Proper Freezing

  • You may know that people generally think of 32 degrees Fahrenheit as the freezing point. It is true that water freezes at 32 degrees, but everything doesn't freeze at this temperature, including many foods. In fact, ice cream will not freeze, and some meat may not be safe from bacterial growth at this temperature in your freezer. The recommended temperature for food storage is zero degrees Fahrenheit. This is important to know before discussing how well freezers work in the garage.

Thawing

  • When the ambient temperature in the garage drops along with the colder weather outside, it may seem reasonable to think it is helping the freezer out. But it is not. In fact, the outside temperature can greatly affect how well the freezer works. To cool itself to the proper level, the compressor must turn on. But if the outside temperature cools the unit down to much less than 50 degrees, the compressor will only occasionally kick on. It may never come on at all. This means that eventually the freezer will be only as cold as it is outside. Unless you live in a place where the temperature in your garage is below zero, some of your foods will thaw.

Compromise the Insulation

  • Cold outside air can cause frost to build up on the outside of the freezer and outside of the insulation layer inside the freezer case. This freezing and thawing can do damage to the insulation in the freezer that is not apparent at the time it happens. But the following summer it may be very obvious, when the freezer has more trouble maintaining its temperature and costs you more on your electric bill because it has to run the compressor far more often than it should.

Depends on Climate

  • If the climate you live in has mild winters, having the freezer in the garage may be helpful to your freezer. If you live in coastal Hawaii, for example, having a freezer in the garage isn't a bad thing. Since the overnight lows even in wintertime rarely drop out of the 60s or high 50s, the cooler ambient air actually makes the unit more efficient. But if you live in the upper Midwest, where winters can be frigid, the compressor is not going to work properly, and cooling efficiency may be affected.

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