Why does my freezer stop working in the cold?

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  • Why does my freezer stop working in the cold?
  • Legoman
    Member

    In the garage we’ve got a Bosch upright fridge/freezer and a cheapo upright freezer.

    As soon as the temperature drops to low single figures the Bosch seems to stop working – I assume it can’t condense. But why does the cheapo one soldier on regardless?

    P-Jay
    Member

    Stop working as in broken and defrosting, or stop working as in it doesn’t need to run constantly to maintain -18c (or so) when ambient is +2c?

    fifeandy
    Member

    Freezers have feelings too
    I would also stop working if left in the garage in single figure temperatures.

    Legoman
    Member

    seems to revert to ambient temp, meaning the stuff in the freezer starts to defrost.
    Once the external temp picks up a bit it’s fine again.

    Legoman
    Member

    I share their pain fifeandy – my turbo trainer is right next to them!

    Rockhopper
    Member

    Most won’t work below 10 degrees ambient.

    Beko apparently are the ones to go for – as long as it doesn’t burn your garage down..

    https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/freezers/article/best-freezers-for-your-garage

    Premier Icon phiiiiil
    Subscriber

    It’s to do with how each particular make of freezer is meant to work; a lot of brands monitor the fridge temperature and have the freezer set to be “like that but colder”. This means if the fridge is at the right temperature without running at all, the freezer doesn’t run and returns to ambient as well. Other models (eg. Beko, IIRC) monitor the freezer temperature, so both halves will either work fine or you’ll end up with a freezing fridge.

    squirrelking
    Member

    Not entirely sure, probably something to do with the refrigerant used, they will be different types with different boiling points. I assume the Bosch has a better heat exchanger that drops the refrigerant temperature so low that it doesn’t boil off properly in the freezer and thus won’t remove heat (the removal coming from the energy removed in the phase transition). I could be wrong but to be honest it would be easy enough to google.

    At any rate, anything using refrigerant usually recommends not to use below about 5*C

    My hotpoint fridge/freezer is in an unheated kitchen. The freezer part is unusable during the winter 🙁

    Premier Icon deadkenny
    Subscriber

    My fridge does this sometimes. Milk going off early and the freezer compartment defrosts. I’m not certain but have been thinking it may correspond to a low ambient temperature. However it’s in the kitchen and thermostat can be down to around 18C in the hall when it’s cold.

    Rockhopper has it, ambient temps colder than approx +10C mess up the cooling process for most fridges and freezers, with at least some Beko units being an exception (kind of ironic, as back 10+ years ago, most of their white goods were considered cheap and cheerful).

    One of my roles in an old job was checking the functionality of donated fridges to a charity. Bitter winter played havoc with testing, because the large open warehouse got very chilly overnight, so when I went to check temperature readings they would often be way above the safe maximum of +4C (which ordinarily would mean trying a new thermostat, to rule out any problems with the gas cooling system).

    We could test a few units in separate office area that stayed much warmer, but nothing like as many as we could in the warehouse.

    stumpy01
    Member

    phiiiiil – Member

    It’s to do with how each particular make of freezer is meant to work; a lot of brands monitor the fridge temperature and have the freezer set to be “like that but colder”. This means if the fridge is at the right temperature without running at all, the freezer doesn’t run and returns to ambient as well. Other models (eg. Beko, IIRC) monitor the freezer temperature, so both halves will either work fine or you’ll end up with a freezing fridge.

    It’ll be this.
    The thermostat is in the fridge. The action of keeping the fridge cool is good enough that the freezer section also gets a boost of cold & stuff stays frozen.
    But if the ambient is close to, or below the fridge set temperature for any length of time, then the thermostat won’t trigger & the freezer will defrost.

    I had this when we moved to our current house – there’s no space in the kitchen for a fridge/freezer, so we stuck it in the garage & bought an under-counter fridge for the kitchen – all good, I thought. It was fine until the winter when the freezer started to regularly defrost.
    I ended up running a 20W bulb into the fridge compartment on a timer. It would come on every few hours for 20 mins of so & put enough energy into the fridge compartment for the thermostat to kick in.
    Only needed to do it when the weather was properly cold for sustained periods.

    As mentioned above, there are very few fridge/freezers that are rated to work in garages etc. Beko are one of them that are.

    ossify
    Member

    Rockhopper – Member

    Most won’t work below 10 degrees ambient.

    Beko apparently are the ones to go for – as long as it doesn’t burn your garage down..
    That’s their secret then – they control the ambient temperature 😉

    spooky_b329
    Member

    Stumpy is right, its nothing to do with the refrigerant etc.

    Cheap fridges have one stat in the fridge, when it asks for cooling, the freezer gets cooled as well (to a greater extend). If the room is 3 degrees, and the fridge is 3 degrees, it will never warm up and the fridge will not run. So the freezer warms up to 3 degrees.

    If you get a more expensive fridge or one designed for cold areas, there will be separate thermostats (and controls) for the fridge and the freezer. So even if the fridge is happy, the freezer can still ask for cooling.

    A short term solution may be to press the fast freeze button, but then your fridge will just run constantly and gobble loads of power.

    TheDTs
    Member

    Some fridges and freezers are sold as suitable for outbuildings. The rest are not suitable for colder temps.
    It is on one of the drop down options on the Currys website
    214 not suitable for outbuildings 4 suitable.

    neilnevill
    Member

    As stumpy says, something to ‘warm’ the fridge to force the stat to turn the cooling cycle on is what you need. I have a second fridg frezer in the conservatory and can have this trouble in cold weather, A bowl of boiling water put in the fridge is enough to kick it on.

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