Can you put a fridge freezer in a garage?

Keep-frozen If your fridge-freezer has developed a fault where the freezer has defrosted, or is not getting cold enough and it’s in a garage, and the temperature is very cold, it could just be that it isn’t suitable for putting in a garage..

.. A surprising number of fridge-freezers in the UK end up in a garage or in an outbuilding. However, did you know that many are not capable of running properly if the temperature surrounding the appliance drops too low?

When winter comes, many people find that their freezer starts to defrost. However, it’s also possible for unrelated faults to cause the freezer part of a fridge freezer to defrost or not get cold enough, so don’t automatically assume the cause is as described in this article


All refrigeration has what’s called a climate class rating, which states the minimum and maximum temperature the appliance is designed to work within. I believe the overwhelming majority of consumers have never heard of climate class so surely its the responsibility of retailers to advise customers about it when selling refrigeration?

Which fridge freezers can defrost in a garage?

Garage It’s combined fridge-freezers. If a combined fridge freezer has only one thermostat (or sensor), which is sited inside the fridge section, it is likely to be affected by this problem. If the ambient temperature of the room it’s placed in gets to around freezing, then the fridge thermostat is likely to shut off. When this happens on appliances with only one thermostat the freezer also shuts off. If the temperature remains cold for several hours then the fridge thermostat will not come back on.


It doesn’t need to because inside the fridge compartment will be plenty cold enough. In really cold weather it is possible for the fridge thermostat to stay off for a long time. Whilst ever the thermostat for the fridge remains off the compressor will stop running and the freezer will eventually start to warm up, at least to roughly the ambient temperature of the garage, which although cold, is not cold enough for frozen food.

As a rule of thumb I would say that if you can set separate temperatures for your fridge and the freezer section I would assume there are separate thermostats controlling the freezer and therefore this issue shouldn’t affect your appliance. (Article continues below..)


What about chest freezers?

Chest freezers should not suffer from this specific issue because they have their own thermostatic control and do not try to control the temperature of two separate compartments. However, if the temperature in the garage significantly exceeds that of its climate class it can’t be guaranteed to work without any issues. Also, if there is little ventilation and or condensation it can cause premature rust and even damage to components inside. I have seen many chest freezers in garages over the years that seem to fair reasonably ok although modern ones may not be so well built.

Is this a bad design? – Problems below 10 degrees?

Thermometer Manufacturers would say they design them to be installed in a kitchen. However, to me it does seem less than ideal to rely on only one sensor or stat to control two different parts of the appliance (just to save money). Many fridge freezers do have separate stats. As saving money is the only possible advantage I can think of it’s therefore presumably more likely to affect the cheaper range of fridge freezers.


Also, there are reports that many refrigeration appliances are not guaranteed to work properly if temperatures drop below 10 degrees centigrade. I would imagine many people have appliances in parts of their homes and even in some kitchens where the temperature can drop below 10 degrees during the night or – what about when on holiday in the winter when the heating may be left off or on low enough only to prevent freezing?

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If an appliance is installed in a kitchen and temperature drops during the night or holiday periods cause it problems I would say that’s a design issue. You cannot be expected to keep the heating on 24/7 to keep an appliance running. However, if installed in an out building or garage I would think you have much less of a claim other than why weren’t you asked at the point of sale where you would be installing the appliance?


What can be done about it?

A fridge freezer with only one thermostat operating inside the fridge compartment is not suitable to run in a particularly cold environments. If affected you need to either exchange it for a fridge freezer with two thermostats controlling the fridge and freezer independently, or swap it for a separate fridge and freezer, or you need to somehow stop the environment from getting below 4 °C (which is likely to be impractical).

Do I have any comeback if my fridge freezer doesn’t work in my garage?

Consumer rights The short answer is probably not, at least not with the manufacturer, you have placed it in an environment it is not designed for. If it was me I might be annoyed though that the person I bought it from did not enquire as to whether I intended to place it in a garage or not. I would argue this problem is in no way common public knowledge, but most retailers are well aware of it because they get called out to them all the time.


All manufacturers and aftersales engineers also know about this issue because they too get called out lots of times under guarantee and have to tell the customer there’s no “fault” on the appliance and it’s not covered under guarantee. Some might say it’s the responsibility of the shop you bought it from to advise at the point of sale that it is not suitable for fitting in a garage or other outbuilding because the companies (not necessarily individual sales staff) know that so many people place them there. I don’t know whether trading standards would agree or not.

At one time, Comet, one of the largest UK retailers of such appliances carried out a survey where they found that around 15% of call outs to fridge freezers were caused by them being placed incorrectly in a garage or another building subject to very cold temperatures. This being the case, I would have thought it common sense for all their sales staff to be instructed to ask any customer buying such a fridge freezer where they intended to site it but they never were.

This is not only in the customer’s interest but in the interest of the retailer as any customer affected by this problem is likely to be pretty upset about it. At the end of the day it’s unlikely that any retailer is legally obliged to check on these matters but personally I believe they should because it’s very common for people to site fridge freezers in their garage and they should know that.


If affected, is my appliance damaged, or will it recover if moved to somewhere warmer?

If the freezer is defrosting due to the room being so cold it switches off the thermostat inside the fridge – and the fridge freezer is only controlled with one thermostat in the fridge (no stat or sensor in the freezer) then no damage should be inflicted. The freezer has only stopped working because the fridge stat has stopped working. Once temperatures increase it should work normally again. However, make sure you don’t wrongly assume this is the cause of a defrosting freezer as of course faults can occur causing freezers to stop working too.

Could a fridge-freezer start to defrost in a kitchen during winter months if the heating isn’t on?

Winter This question has been asked a few times and I am presuming yes, there could be a problem if you have a fridge-freezer with only one thermostat controlling both the fridge and freezer and you go away on holiday when its cold. I’m not sure how most people do it, but normally when we go away we leave the heating off but we’ve never gone away in winter. If you went away and didn’t leave the heating on low (say around 14 – 15 degrees) then potentially during prolonged cold periods if the ambient temperature in the kitchen drops low enough (around 0 – 4 degrees C or colder) the fridge thermostat or sensor is likely to shut off as the temperature in the fridge becomes cool enough.


This won’t be an issue for the contents of the fridge because of course it’s reached the correct temperature. But if the freezer compartment is also controlled by the stat inside the fridge then this will stop the freezer coming on too. Therefore if the temperature remained cold enough to not require further cooling inside the fridge compartment then freezer compartment will not get any further cooling and after sufficient time has passed will start to thaw out.

The chances are if this did occur then unless you have an appliance with a warning light or sound to indicate the temperature of the freezer has warmed up enough to adversely affect the quality of the frozen food you might not realise the food has partially defrosted compromising its quality.

My advice would be that if you think you could be affected then if any food inside the freezers seems a little off when you thaw it out to use then throw it away. If you do have a fridge freezer that sounds or displays a warning if the temperature has been compromised you should assume the food has been partially defrosted even if it is rock solid when you come back.

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166 thoughts on “Can you put a fridge freezer in a garage?”

  1. Does anyone know what it is in the Beko fridge-freezer design that makes it unique in being able to perform in cold temperatures such as would be found in a garage? Does it have separate thermostats/compressors for fridge and freezer?…or what? Are they significantly more expensive than other makes?

  2. Good question Steve. It must have separate stats for fridge and freezer but most other manufacturers say temperatures of even 10 degrees C can cause problems – presumably due to the type of refrigerant used?

  3. Hi – useful commentary. I need to buy a compact Freezer and the only one I can find is a Zanussi with a min operating ambient temp of 16 degrees. If I’ve read this thread correctly this should not be a problem if its in a flat that gets somewhat below that level – or have I misunderstood?

    Thanks

  4. Today in total exasperation ran through these comments in complete disbelief, my daughter received a cream Next fridge freezer as a wedding present January 5th 2012, could not afford Smeg or whatever. I know this is all related to garages outhouses etc but when an engineer(very moody and offish) was eventually tracked down, 7 days, due to defrosted freezer via customer services, via department after department (another story on its own) his diagnosis was ‘need to keep the kitchen temperature minimum 16C’!
    After calling back customer services to complain, this is impossible, how can this be? ‘No Sir I have referred to technical information this fridge freezer needs to be in a room minimum of 16C (which makes it a class N). We need to monitor the temperature, turn the heating up!
    Well its been monitored during the time waiting for the engineer to come and it starts to freeze and then thaws.
    We’re sure by reading all these threads he’s going to be right what choice do we have turn the heating up, never for the convenience of the F/F how crazy is this?

    Now this F/F is in a large kitchen completely refurbished, new double glazed windows, centrally heated in the usual manor with thermostat on time clock set for am and pm.This no garage! With both occupants at work in the day heating is off.
    The minimum night time outdoor temperature we have had in this part of the country so far in the last few weeks has been 4C. The daytime is higher.
    The temperature in the kitchen has been comfortable and would of been sufficient without this fridge freezer needing extra comforts.
    They’re well and truly covering themselves its our fault if the temperature is not in the right range.
    The thought of asking for refund, compensation for spoilt food etc?
    Looks like we have been lumbered with a very expensive piece of scrap.
    They should not be allowed to get away with this.

  5. Romeo, I completely agree with you and have covered this in previous comments. How can they sell a fridge freezer, which defrosts the freezer when the temperature of the kitchen gets below 16 C? In winter, many kitchens can easily drop below 16 degrees. I certainly don’t keep the heating on all night. Apart from the cost, we wouldn’t want the noise of the radiators and floorboards creaking as it heats up and cools down and the noise circulation pump running.

    As you say this is not a garage, which is more of a grey area, this is in a kitchen. If your appliance is not working properly in your kitchen, specifically because you don’t keep your heating on 24/7 then I would say the appliance is not fit for purpose. Under the Sale of Goods Act it’s the retailer who is responsible and not the manufacturer so don’t waste your time on them.

    Beko make fridge freezers that they claim will work down to well below 0 degrees and I’m sure there are other fridge freezers which have separate thermostats for the fridge and the freezer so this doesn’t happen.

    Retailers need to find out which of their fridge freezers have this stupid design flaw, which causes the freezer to stop maintaining temperature when the fridge thermostat has switched off, and stop selling them or advise customers about this ridiculous anomaly. A minimum temperature of 16 degrees or else the freezer starts to defrost should not be acceptable in a country that has periodic very cold weather. It may well be that a very well insulated house may not get too cold during the night but clearly there are going to be plenty of houses (especially old or rural ones) where temperatures do get pretty cold during the night in cold winters so people should be advised not to buy one of these appliances.

    I’ve just checked my own house. I have a detached house with modern loft insulation and cavity wall insulation. The temperature outside is currently 9 degrees C and the temperature in our hallway is 17.5 C and we have the heating on (admittedly only low). Therefore it’s likely that during the night in winter the temperature in my kitchen would easily fall below 16 C. This means any fridge freezer that would have a problem with that is clearly not fit for purpose!

  6. Same problem here. In the short term I am going to heat the outside sidewall of the fridge using an old homebrew brew belt. This shhouod trigger the sensor and ensure the freezer freezes. Hopefully an internet search will help me id where the sensor is situated. Insulation alone won’t help raise the average ambient temp. It is a crazy silly waste of energy and money though so I am tempted to buy a 2 nd hand freezer and not use the freezer section of my fridge freezer. We should all make our feelings felt. It won’t help us individually but might get this ridiculous issue addressed in the long term .

  7. Best of luck Stu, not sure if you’ve read my comment earlier this year about me having to run a convector heater on at the back of the fridge freezer all the time during winter whilst it was in the garage … augmented by a cardboard housing I built around the freezer ! …. if you do find the location of the sensor, I did read somewhere about a neat little workaround that involved positioning a small low voltage electric light bulb near the sensor end and the heat that was generated by the bulb when turned on was enough to keep the sensor ‘fooled’ and the freezer running ok. The sensor is normally the free end of the small silver coloured soft copper capillary tube that is connected, during manufacture, to the thermostat switch i.e control switch normally found in the fridge. Hope this helps – and if it gives you any comfort and aids your resolve I’ve fitted two new thermostats complete with new capillary tube sensors and a new fridge freezer timer switch that allows such wonderful things as defrost cycles to take place ….. all without any previous experience but with thanks to the big library and much appreciated helpfull people that on the internet.

  8. Don’t know if anyone has mentioned this here because there it just too much to read most of it saying exactly the same thing but…

    John Lewis salesman explained to me that in addition to the thermostat issue (one or two) since the gases used in the compressor have been changed to comply with new regulations to prevent global warming on disposal, the gases that are now used are better for the environment but are not capable of working at lower temperatures. This maybe why, if you are old enough, this whole concept of a fridge freezer not working in colder weather is a relatively new one. It was a new one on me!!

  9. Does anyone know then what the gases are that are used int he Beko fridge/freezers that are claimed to work well below 0 degrees centigrade? and do they actually function as advertised?

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