Can I Put a Refrigerator in a Garage?

Refrigerator in garage

Putting a refrigerator in the garage is a convenient way to store extras like soda, beer, meat, and more for many families. So, do refrigerators work well in a garage?

Not always. The unique temperature extremes found in a garage can wreak havoc on a standard refrigerator. You might end up with soaring power bills or even an utterly broken-down fridge.

Here’s a closer look at how you can keep a fridge in the garage, what potential problems to watch out for, and everything else you need to know.

Can You Put a Fridge in a Cold Garage?

Can you put a fridge in a cold garage? Yes, but cautiously.

Major manufacturers typically recommend that you avoid placing a refrigerator in any location where the temperature is below 50°F. Low temps can trick the fridge’s temperature regulator, causing the compressor to stop.

If the compressor stops creating cold air, two things happen—first, the food in the freezer section thaws. Second, the food in the refrigerator section either freezes or thaws, depending on the exterior temperature.

Can You Put a Refrigerator in a Hot Garage?

As with excessive cold, high temperatures can also damage a refrigerator. You can keep a refrigerator in a hot garage, but only up to a certain point.  

Don’t place a refrigerator where the temperatures regularly exceed 110°. If temperatures are too hot, the fridge ends up working too hard, which can cause the motor to burn out from overuse.

Also, keep your fridge away from direct sunlight. Your garage might typically feel temperate, but if your fridge is exposed to the sun’s rays, it can become significantly hotter than the surrounding environment.

What Are the Ideal Conditions for a Refrigerator in a Garage?

While specifics will vary by brand, most standard refrigerators work best in an area with an ambient temperature between 68° and 71°. It’s a range that allows the fridge to run at maximum efficiency.

The further temperatures stray from the ideal range, the greater the demands placed on the refrigerator’s motor, which increases the likelihood of damage or even total breakdown.

Garage Refrigerators vs. Outdoor Refrigerators

The terms “garage refrigerator” and “outdoor refrigerator” each have a specific meaning.

An outdoor refrigerator is designated by the Underwriters Laboratories as safe for use in wet environments. While they can handle rain and other water, they have no special protection against extreme cold or hot temperatures. They’re meant for outdoor use in mild climates.

Garage refrigerators are different. While not waterproof, they have special features such as larger compressors, built-in heaters, and extra insulation. You can use them in unheated, uninsulated locations, including garages.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a Refrigerator in the Garage?

The average refrigerator in the garage costs $95 a year to operate, while the average refrigerator in the kitchen costs $84 a year.

Additionally, many people place their old fridge in the garage when they get a new one for the kitchen. Older, used fridges, especially those made before 2001, are far less energy efficient than recent models. Even when used inside, an older fridge costs more to run than a newer model.

Consider reading: Best garage ready refrigerators

Things to Consider When Keeping a Refrigerator in Your Garage

Do refrigerators work well in a garage? They can, but you’ll need to make a few preparations beforehand to ensure efficient and safe operation.

1. Placement

You want to put the refrigerator in an excellent spot with adequate ventilation to operate at maximum efficiency and with minimal strain on the motor.

Place it in a location away from direct sunlight. Also, leave one or two inches of space between the refrigerator and the wall to allow consistent airflow.

2. Where You Live Matters

Unfortunately, you’re going to run into far more fridge problems if you live somewhere with extreme temperature shifts, such as freezing winters and scorching summers.

Mild, temperate climates work best. If you live in Southern California, Hawaii, or wherever the average temperature tends to hover around the 60s and 70s, you might be able to keep a garage in your fridge without modification.

3. How You Stack Foods Will Affect Your Refrigerator’s Performance

Keep your refrigerator as full as possible. When the shelves are stocked, the fridge has less space to fill with cold air, so it doesn’t have to work as hard. 

The fullness of your fridge is imperative if you keep your fridge in a hot garage. When you open the door, warm air rushes in, and cold air flows out. However, if the refrigerator is full, less air can enter.

If you don’t have enough food to fill your garage fridge, fill containers with water and place them on the shelves. They not only take up space, but they can help keep the interior cool, too.

4. Consider a Garage-Ready Refrigerator

Is it OK to put a refrigerator in an unheated garage? If you want the best performance, consider one that’s designated as garage-ready. 

A garage-ready refrigerator is made to withstand colder and hotter temperatures than what’s found inside the average home. They have extra insulation, built-in heaters, and larger compressors. Note that garage-ready fridges aren’t waterproof, so you can’t keep them outside.    

5. Regulate the Temperature Around the Fridge

Are you asking yourself, “how can I keep my fridge in the garage without spending a lot of money?”

There’s a way. Consider using a few sheets of plywood to create a mini-shed for your garage fridge. You only need to seal a small area with room for your fridge and some extra space for insulation.

If your garage is consistently hot or cold, you can add a small fan or heating element to your in-garage shed. Remember, you don’t have to keep the area as comfortable as your house. You only need to regulate the temperature enough to stay away from the extremes.

6. Heat Up Your Fridge’s Thermostat

Instead of purchasing a garage-ready refrigerator, you can make a few simple modifications to the fridge you already own. Most major appliance manufacturers offer heater-coil kits that let the refrigerator operate in temps as low as 32° (although typically not in below-zero conditions).

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