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. It’s not the gas. It here in the UK Fridge Freezers just needs a dual thermostat.

    I have a Beko model which uses modern gas and works just fine down to -15C.

  2. This main specific problem discussed on this article is caused by a single stat controlling a fridge/freezer, but it’s possible some of these modern gasses are shaky at “low” temperatures which are relatively high such as 14 C too.

    I don’t know how Beko get theirs to work at much lower temperatures, presumably they still have to use the modern “environmentally friendly” gasses by law.

  3. Hi washerhelp

    I know. But from everything I am reading it is not a simple as that. Many are sold as twin stat but specification on ambient temps states 10 degrees c as minimum. Beko are the only brand I have found so far (UK) specifiying ambient operating temps down to -15 degrees c and may of those seem to be single stat!

    At the moment I am still bit skeptical and not a little confused as to wether this is wholly an ambient temperature rating issue or a twin/single thermostat issue, or a bit of both!

    I am really wishing that someone could help clear that up for me. But nothing I read anywhere is giving a clear definitive guide on this.

  4. Apologies. David has confirmed that twin stat beko works fine down to -15 degrees c.

    Thanks David. Beko here I come.

  5. Thanks to all correspondents for their interesting comments, especially Washerhelp!

    1. So do I conclude that the Climate Class specification is only applicable to fridge-freezers with a single thermostat control? If so, why does my cheap new Argos freezer have a plate specifying climate class N (the smallest temperature range) ?
    2. I understand that BS/EN 153 specifies the meaning of these figures. Has anyone actually read it or got a copy? It has to be purchased. Perhaps it can be found in a library somewhere.
    3.The plate on my freezer shows two contacts (with a dotted line round them labelled ‘thermostat’ ) in series with the motor (in addition to the motor protection). One has the symbol ‘theta’ next to it (conventionally a temperature sign), the other has a line with a little cranked end, presumably to indicate a manually operated switch. There does not seem to be a switch on the rotary thermostat setting control, so what is this switch?
    4. Is it possible that the compressor would not work too well if the temperature drops below the minimum ambient specified? I would that is unlikely.
    5. We are left with the question ‘why does a single appliance freezer carry the same climate plate as a fridge-freezer’? Could it be one of those situations where the figure only apples to relevant products, but is universally used to show the high temperature limits? I wish I had EN153!

    Just realised I haven’t scanned all the latest comments, so forgive me if the answers are already listed.

  6. Hello needtoknow: Climate class applies to every single refrigeration appliance. It states the temperature range the product is designed to work optimally in. It’s possible the compressor would be affected if temperature drops below the range due to the gasses used.

  7. Thanks for the quick reply. I thought that you were very clear that the problems related directly to fridge-freezers, where only one thermostat and control system operates both functions. I can understand why the low temperature limit defined by the climate class is relevant to that situation. But how can it be relevant to a single function unit like a fridge or a freezer? I can only conclude that the low temperature limit on a freezer is irrelevant, unless the ambient drops so low that the freezer motor or compressor stops working. That surely has to be much less than 10 deg C. Are you suggesting that the low temperature limit applies to different effects on a fridge-freezer rather than a freezer alone? Seems unlikely to me. What does BS/ EN153 say about it?

  8. You might be interested in the reply I got from Miele. I still doubt it is the original reason for the specification. Any decent product, especially the electronics, can cope with a small amount of condensation.

    ‘ Thank you for your recent email regarding Miele refrigeration.

    If the ambient air temperature drops below 10 degrees this can cause condensation. This can damage both exterior and interior of the appliance, so could mean that the electronics could be effected and cause the appliance not to function correctly.

    We hope this is of assistance to you, but should you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us on 0845 330 2660. ‘

    I can certainly understand why thousands of people with freezers in their garages have no problems.

  9. Reply to David Penn
    Hi David
    From their website: Beko use an ‘Electronic temperature control system ensuring the freezer carries on working even when ambient temperatures fall below -15 degrees C”. Looking at the specification of products on their site that show this feature they still state “Minimum ambient temperature required for satisfactory operation – Freezer Only”.

    They must have to comply with same environmental laws on gases as all other manufacturers.

    Can you confirm then that the Beko ‘Electronic temperature control system’ is effectively a twin stat? They certainly do not state this on their website for any of the relevant models and I would have thought they would.

  10. Currys website for a beko mdel states:

    “Unlike many single thermostat freezers, Beko’s freezers can be stored in a garage, thanks to their Freezer Guard technology. This technology uses an electronic temperature control system to make sure the appliance continues to work even when the surrounding temperature is as cold as -15ºC.” So maybe it is not a twin stat method….?

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