Which Fridges and Freezers can be placed in an Unheated Garage, Shed or Outbuilding?

First question which comes into our mind is Why spend extra money when we can simply shift our regular fridge or freezer into our Garage or Outbuilding? Right? Well, By doing so, you will be asking for trouble. Nothing more! Here’s why you need to be clear about this stuff.

What role does the Compressor and Thermostat play?

To understand why keeping a regular fridge or freezer in an Unheated Garage/Outbuilding is not a good idea, We need to understand the roles of compressor and thermostat. A thermostat controls the cooling process by monitoring the temperature and then switching on and off the compressor as per the requirement. When the sensor senses that it’s cold enough inside the refrigerator, it turns off the compressor. If it senses too much heat, it switches the compressor on and begins the cooling process again. The compressor is the "heart" of a refrigerator. To be short and precise, it pumps a cold refrigerant which gets converted and reconverted into gas and liquid as per the requirement. The conversion of liquid refrigerant into gas is what cools the refrigerator.

Why Using regular fridge/ freezers in Unheated Garage or Outbuilding is not a good idea?

Let’s understand this by taking a simple-cliched example. Would you be able to work efficiently in the scorching sun or in freezing snow? Not really! Because we require an optimum temperature to work in. Same is the case with our appliances. They require an optimum temperature to deliver desired output. Image source: google The most suitable temperature range for refrigerators is 60°-78° Fahrenheits. If you live in moderate climate regions, then this might not be a problem for you. But in regions of extreme climatic conditions, using a regular Fridge in Uninsulated garage or Outbuilding is a non-starter for sure.

Climate Class

This is the room temperature that the fridge/freezer can operate in. You can easily find it on the rating label or instruction manual. Image source: Google There are four climate classes ranging from the minimum temperature of 50 degree Fahrenheits to a maximum of 109 degree Fahrenheits. Image source: Google In extreme heat the compressor has to work overtime, which is going to cost you more and also cause wear and tear of the appliance leading to shortening of its life span. When the temperature inside the Garage/Outbuilding drops down 37 degrees Fahrenheit and stays like that for a long period of time, the thermostat won’t turn on the compressor which will cause the fridge/freezer to warm up.

Using Refrigerator Garage Kit

Image source: Pinterest A refrigerator garage kit is essentially a small heater. It generates enough heat around the thermostat area to trick the thermostat into thinking that it’s warmer than it actually is in the refrigerator. It causes the compressor to turn on and leads to the restoration of the cooling cycle. Here are few premium Refrigerator Garage Kits to help you out: https://www.amazon.com/garage-refrigerator-kit/s?k=garage+refrigerator+kit

Things to keep in mind while Finding the best refrigerator for your Unheated Garage/Outbuilding or Shed

While Garage kits can be of some help, they can’t entirely solve the problem. The best option would be to find a suitable fridge for our purpose. The most important factor in determining the best fridge/freezer would be the temperature in your Garage or Outbuilding. Storage, Budget, additional features like adjustable shelves, defrosting features would be the other relevant factors. How will you know if your fridge can handle the right temperature or not? Don’t simply trust the marketing and manufacturer to let you believe that your fridge is garage ready. Always check the Owner’s manual on the manufacturer’s website. You can also check the "installation" section for "instructions" or "warnings" about the operating temperature range in the location you want to install your fridge. Image source: Pinterest You can find a warning like this.

Garage refrigerator- freezer

Pros and Cons

Separate thermostats and better insulation.

Most refrigerators have one thermostat in the fridge section and freezers have a constant temperature of -18 degrees. Image source: 3goodones.com The refrigerator section here gets its cooling from the freezer. When the temperature gets too high in the fridge, the air from the freezer is brought down. Then the compressor turns on to keep the freezer frozen. But when the location is already cool enough, the fridge doesn’t need to work in order to keep the food inside cold. In that case, it never turns on the compressor. Thus the temperature in the freezer rises and the freezer becomes more like the refrigerator section. One way garage refrigerators get around this dilemma is by having separate or dual thermostats. Twin thermostat Fridge Freezers have separate thermostats for the fridge section as well as the freezer part. It enables us to control the temperature separately. Additionally, garage refrigerators freezers will be insulated better against extreme temperature changes. This keeps not only your food and drinks cold, ice frozen, but also keeps the electrical components in their shape by operating at consistent temperatures. A single con here would be that the Garage refrigerator comes little overpriced.

Suitable conditions to place a refrigerator in Garage or an Outbuilding

  • The ideal place to keep your fridge or freezer would be on a flat, dry and cool floor. Freezers that are put in cool places tend to save energy.
  • Aim to keep it away from windows, to avoid temperature variations. But the top and bottom of the fridge should get enough air circulation to prevent overheating.
  • Allow the fridge or freezer to adjust to the room temperature for a few hours before turning it on after it’s delivered or moved.
  • Your appliance will stay in good shape with regular maintenance scheduled.
  • DIY Tip: You can build a small insulated area just for your Refrigerator.

This would be highly efficient in case you tend to open the Garage door a lot, bringing cool air inside. It seems impossible and quite out of budget to insulate the whole room. So, you can seal off a small area just for the refrigerator. It could be as simple as a small plywood shed inside the garage that’s just large enough to contain the fridge with a little extra space for air circulation. The important thing is to keep ambient temperature around your fridge. It will be much easier to do this in the small shed than in the entire garage. Maybe, it will give a makeover to your garage too. (A little bit of creativity won’t hurt) Utility-closet design I found on www.garagejournal.com

Garage refrigerator vs Outdoor refrigerators

This is one myth we need to break here that garage refrigerators and outdoor refrigerators are one and the same. They are NOT! The fact that people believe this is because they think being in the garage is kind of like being outside. But, the classification is slightly misleading. As the Outdoor refrigerators are those which are approved by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) as weatherproofed against wet weather. They are designed to be used outdoors in warm to moderate climates. Whereas, Garage refrigerators are not weatherproofed against wet weather. They are designed to work indoors, protected from weather, but in colder temperatures of an Unheated room like a garage or Outbuilding. So, decide wisely which one out of the two refrigerator ranges you require.

Product recommendations on Which Fridge/Freezer would be best for Unheated Garage/Outbuilding/Shed

Pros •Frost free •Compact sized •Proper interior lighting •Great value for money •Energy efficient and good temperature control Cons •Too little •Initially noisy while cooling

Pros •Reversible doors •Adjustable shelves •Great temperature control •Great space according to compact and sleek design •No noise •Suitable for Garage •Highly recommended Cons •Space might be a problem if you need bigger space.

Pros •Big capacity •Compact design •Quiet Cons •Bit pricey •Little inadequate shelves

Pros •Worth the money •Highly efficient in energy usage •Great design and space Cons •Won’t work over 100 degrees Fahrenheit

Pros •Highly recommended •Garage ready •Great energy usage ratings Cons •Improper interior lighting •Frosting issues


While the refrigerators suitable for Garage/Outbuilding or Shed come pricey and can put a dent in our pocket, We highly recommend one if you truly need them. An additional fridge or freezer definitely won’t hurt, especially in times of Covid, when you can’t afford the risk of going out often to fill your stock of meat, ice creams or beer. In times of a house party or if you like to work in the garage or basement, it would prove to be of great help. But, before ordering one, definitely go through all the details like Energy usage efficiency, Interior lighting, Manageable temperature control, Defrosting, Space and capacity etc. Hope this article must have solved all your doubts regarding Fridges and Freezers for Unheated Garage, Outbuilding or Shed. Feel free to drop any query which comes into your mind.  

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