Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

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  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Update. The chest fridge has now been on the Kill a Watt for just over 96 hours, that's 4 days and 4 nights, continuously, holding an average internal temp of about +1 degree C, (33 F), while operating in a room where the temp ranges from about 70 degrees F, up to 79 Degrees, averaging about 74, and getting used, not just sitting there looking pretty.
    During this 4 day period, the Kill A Watt unit has recorded a grand total of just 1.16 KWh used. At the rate we pay here, (12 cents/KWh) that works out to just over $12.00 per YEAR to operate the thing!

    This is proof that there IS a better way, we just have to take the plunge.

    Wayne
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Having used my "chest fridge" a converted chest freezer for over 2 years now, I have to say, I've been very happy with it. No fan was necessary as the evaporator tubes are near the top of the food compartment. I did install a catch for any moisture running down the inside, to drain it outside for elimination. Moisture only forms on the top foot of the inside wall. A great surprise for me, is that everything lasts far longer in this chest fridge than any traditional fridge I ever had anything to do with for over 50 years. The high internal humidity keeps vegies perfect for months, very unlike the "wilter" sections of standard units. Bread can last for a month before going moldy, that kind of thing. Mainly because I have the temp set very close to the freezing point, and the temp remains very stable compared to what we're used to. Ice water is ice water without the ice, not just chilled water. I definitely was not expecting this and would not want to go back to an upright fridge. Every time I lift the lid, I'm aware that food lasts much longer, yet I'm only using 1/3 kwh per day to run it. The best of both worlds.
  • crewzercrewzer ✭✭✭✭ Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Wayne,

    Excellent report -- and great performance! Do you have a separate freezer?

    Regards,
    Jim / crewzer
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    So does anyone know where to get Thermometers with relay and battery powered??
  • BB.BB. admin Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,632 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    I have had good luck with this mechanical switch for controlling temperatures (made my own environmental chamber a couple times with this one).

    Go to www.grainger.com (you do have to have some sort of business as they only sell "wholesale") and search for 2E206 which can be used for heating or cooling, a 30-110F range, and 3.5 temperature differential, for ~$49.00. I mounted the whole thing inside the freezer and just ran the wire through the door seal. The contacts are rated at 120+ vac and 16+ amps (click on the "page" and you can see the catalog page).

    Another mechanical controller that might work is "3UC71" ($107) Honeywell with remote bulb--20', 8 amp, 120 vac.

    Another might be the "4E407" which has a -10-110F range..

    The only industrial electronic type I could find in my catalog went only down to 24 vac.

    For solar/saving power, I would try the mechanical types as they don't use any electricity. For DC applications, I would only use these types for controlling an external relay/switch and not the inverter input directly (limit to 1-2 DC amps maximum).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • crewzercrewzer ✭✭✭✭ Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator
    So does anyone know where to get Thermometers with relay and battery powered??
    There are several available that run off grid power... no batteries required. This Google search string turned up quite a few hits: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=freezer+temperature+controller&btnG=Search

    This vendor sells both analog and digital models: http://www.northernbrewer.com/temp-control.html

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator
    crewzer wrote: »
    Wayne,

    Excellent report -- and great performance! Do you have a separate freezer?

    Regards,
    Jim / crewzer
    Thanks, I'm very happy with it. Yes I do have a separate chest freezer and now have a pure sine inverter to run it. Working on getting that going, but may have to wait till the days start lengthening - very little sun here mid Nov, to Jan. Not only do the days get very short, but lots of dark, stormy days too.
    The fridge I don't worry about, it only runs 10 minutes out of every 100, so the compressor hardly has time to get the chill off it, even with MSW.
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Thanks Bill & Jim,
    Yes i was lookin at grainger earlier but i am trying to find one that will run off AAA or AA
    LOL proly will have to get a 24vac or line voltage one.

    Thanks again,
    Johnny
  • BB.BB. admin Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,632 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    There are lots of process controllers too out there, some that run down to 4.5 volts DC... Just a random page I found on the Internet (know nothing about company or their products).

    You probably just need to find a local distributor or good catalog to price some of these other options. Some of the questions include how accurate and how much temperature differential you need (all costs search time and money of course)...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • quid_nonquid_non Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Hi All!
    New Guy here. Thanks for the excellent report and sharing. How big in the inverter? How about the battery bank? I've been wanting to do exactly the same thing, but have stalled 'cause some report issues of the compressor not starting due to the high power needed for star-up. Most of these are 12A systems??

    Thanks for the info ... and great forum!
    Best
    Wayne
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Forgot to update on this ..

    Here is my link to my story of my chest fridge i built and am still happily using today.:D

    http://www.shtfmilitia.com/viewtopic.php?p=538#538
  • skflyfishskflyfish Registered Users Posts: 20
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Gosh has it been over 2 1/2 years since I started this thread? Boy does time fly.

    I am still using mine, though I threaten to replace it with an 10 cu ft Danby refrigerator. I haven't done it yet. I do have a 4.3 cu ft Danby that I use for a cheese cave and it uses about .5 kwh/day at the warmest setting, which is still a bit too cold for cheese. I have to add a Ranco controller on it too. I had to go with this because the chest frig is too humid inside and holds too many rogue bacteria to age cheese.

    The 7.2 cu ft chest frig still uses about .25 kwh/day which is one of the reasons why I haven't ditched it. I disdain cleaning up the water in the bottom and only use the top third for a frig most of the time. These units are not designed for refrigerator use and I am getting some rusting on one of the sides where the cooling coil is.

    I really wish one of the manufacturers would design one for refrigerator use. I would like to see deeper baskets, more insulation on all sides, and a drain that drains to a pan under the compressor, like a refrigerator does. And of course a built in temp controller. And better paint too or powder coating.

    Overall it is working for this bachelor, but I wonder how a family would like using it. It is better than not having some cooling for perishables. For a weekend cabin, it would be the berries.

    Thought I would share also.

    Jay
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    My update and will touch on a couple of issues mentioned in the last 2 posts.
    I've been using my converted 5 cu ft chest fridge now for going on 3 years. Am I happy with it? You bet I am! Yes, it's a bit on the small size, but I work with it.
    1) re hard starting. Yes, "normal" fridges and freezers are notorious hard starters and needlessly so. With both my fridge and my freezer, I've added a starting capacitor in series with the connection going to the start winding of the compressor. The result - - night and day! They both start now with no problems, even under full back pressure.
    No more hummm=click
    hummmm-click any more if the power is cut for a second while they were running. Just another instant start. Such a simple thing.
    2) I took care of the dampness very early on, by gluing a V shaped drip catch to the inner wall, about 12 inches down from the top, and did it in such a way that any water that enters it will run to the end, where it drips into a plastic tube, that goes through the lower wall, below any freon tubing, and leads to an evaporation tray outside the fridge. Since almost all condensation takes place in the upper foot of the inner walls, problem cured.
    3) Rust. Also took care of that right at the first. Expecting rust to be a problem, I put a bead of Silicone seal over all internal seams and joints. Result? only one small spot of rust where I scratched the painted inside wall, but that's now taken care of too.
    4) Bacteria. Not a problem at all. I run it very near the freezing point. I love ice cold milk etc, and I have it :) Bread will keep for 3 weeks without going moldy. I've NEVER seen that in any other fridge! Probably because they don't run as consistantley cold.
    5) Almost forgot, the question of inverter size and compressor failure rate.
    IF you install a starting capacitor (I found 200 MFD worked great on the 12 cy ft freezer, but 150MFD worked best with my Chest Fridge) A 1000 watt, or perhaps even a 600 watt inverter should work just fine. I'm actually right now using a PureSine 300 watt inverter, but this is a special case with special starting circuits I designed myself.
    Running either compressor for any length of time on MSW will cause overheating and lead to early compressor death. That said, my Chest Fridge only runs about 10 minutes at a time and is them off for 45 minutes, so heating is not a problem. Not so for the freezer, or a normal fridge. But heating aside, the units both use about 20% more watts when running on MSW.
    As for the inverter size needed to start a fridge or freezer without a starting capacitor installed, I'll leave that up to someone else, but I would guess probably a 150 watt unit would start them.
    By the way, one thing I considered, but didn't need to try, but would likely work if you're short on money for a larger pure sine inverter, have the freezer start on a big, cheap MSW inverter and use a timed relay to click the compressor supply over to a smaller pure sine inverter after a couple of seconds. I know this requires skills many don't have, but if you do have the skills and are short on money, give it a try. When the relay clicks over, it happens so fast that the compressor doesn't have time to slow down before it's reconnected to the pure sine, so all the pure sine inverter has to do is run it, without ever having to start it.
    So, to sum up, I've had far fewer problems than I ever expected. I've had far greater satisfaction than I ever expected and still use less than 1/3 kwh per 24 hours. Would I go back to a regular fridge? NO!

    So there you have it, my report after almost 3 years.

    Cheers
    Wayne
  • BB.BB. admin Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,632 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Wayne,

    I forgot, did you put a small mixing fan in your fridge conversion or not? I remember some people had issues with stratification (cold air sank to bottom).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    No Bill, I had thought I'd have to, but it proved completely unnecessary. The evaporator (cooling) coils are located in the upper foot or so of the wall, so it's real cold at the top and that cold sinks, making the whole thing A-OK :)
    Awesome!
    Wayne
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    hi all, new guy here. I've been watching this chest freezer thing for quite awhile now and was happy to see waynes update. I have a couple questions. are you still using a relay to toggle the dedicated inverter on and off with the freezer? this sounds key and is it still working well? also as far as adding additional insulation to the freezer has anyone tried removing the outer skin and insulating around the coils,leaving the coils exposed? true this wouldnt be very handsome but we're just a bunch of guys in baja wanting to keep our beer cold. thanks guys mark
  • BB.BB. admin Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,632 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    In general, in my humble opinion, modifying a fridge/freezer's insulation is usually not going to give good results. Typically, the boundary between the old and the new insulation is not well sealed and eventually water condenses between the layers--causing rust and saturation of the existing insulation--and overall, just making things worse.

    In Baja, it is very dry there, and if you are looking for a "beer fridge"--it may be dry enough that you will have less sweating problems.

    But, in general, you would probably be happiest with a good freezer and a separate temperature controller keeping things near 32F. In any case, it will probably much more efficient than any fridge you will ever find.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Hello everyone,

    This has been the best source for chest freezer --> fridge conversion information that I have been able to find so far. Well done!

    I had read the original design by Tom in Australia, and his design incorporated a battery-powered thermostat and a shutoff so that no power was drawn until the thermostat kick-started things.

    For those of you using the brewer's controllers and have a Kill-A-Watt (Jay? Wayne?), are you noticing any power draw when the compressor ISN't running? If so, what portion of the overall monthly use do you think it would be?

    Thanks! I'm hoping to put a chest fridge together in the next month.

    SneakyB
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Just figured i would update my chest fridge as well as it has been working GREAT since november 2007, i am too lazy to repost so here is the detail here

    http://www.shtfmilitia.com/viewtopic.php?t=176
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    WOW!

    I've bought a NEW chest Freezer, and I'm ready to roll.
    But, noone really has posted a step by step.

    Jay looks like he achieved the best results.
    Can anyone post a step by step....
    simple procedure for doing this, including where you bought your thermostat?

    Thanks,

    `Sean
  • nielniel ✭✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    the last time jay was on the board was feb. 19 of this year so i don't know if and when he may return to answer you.
  • skflyfishskflyfish Registered Users Posts: 20
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Well I can step you through it, but I must tell you that about a year ago I abandoned the chest refrigerator for a Danby 11 cu ft freezerless refrigerator. Proportionally it uses about the same amount of electricity and is much more convenient. The 7.2 cu ft chest frig used 200 watt hours per day in the winter and 250 watt hours per day in the summer. The 11 cu ft freezerless frig used 300 watt hours per day in the winter and 400 watt hours per day in the summer.

    Danby (made in Canada, Wayne) has the cooling coils in the top of the back wall, which is made of plastic, not metal, and has a built in drain for condensation. The chest fridge had the cooling coils in the top of the freezer, but the freezer liner is thin sheet metal that is powder coated. It started to rust at the cooling coils area after a couple of years.

    I find the upright freezerless fridge much more convenient than the chest fridge, though there is some thermal gradients that you must account for. Top shelf runs 42F and the bottom shelf runs 34F. Beer high, meat and milk low. ;-)

    Okay, the steps. Purchase a Ranco digital temp controller. Here is one place. http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/store/ranco-etc111000000-prewired-digital-temperature-controller-p-87.html?osCsid=9f365831d6adf20007bc09a28803773b

    Plug the freezer into the controller and the controller into your 120VAC source.

    Place the thermocouple from behind the unit, through the hinged opening and into the top 6 inches of the inside of the fridge, usually behind a removable basket.

    Program the controller. If I remember right I had it come on at 37F and off at 40F.

    You will get some freezing of moisture at the cooling coil area. It wll melt and run down the sides into the bottom. If I had to do it again I would put the fridge on small blocks, permanently open the drain in the bottom and put a pan underneath to catch the run off water.

    HTH,

    Jay
  • mike95490mike95490 ✭✭✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 8,415 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    Refrigerators
    Last reviewed: May 2009 www.ConsumerReports.org

    This article is the archived version of a report that appeared in the May 2009 Consumer Reports Magazine. Visit our refrigerators page to see the very latest information on refrigerators.

    In May and June, stores hold sales to make room for new fridges, so it's a good time to get a deal. We tested 80 models in four categories to help you find a refrigerator
    that delivers high performance and efficiency at a good price:

    --

    So - the online version is out, and has efficiency listings.
    Mike
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • nielniel ✭✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    unless you're a subscriber, cr doesn't show anything.

    added-also of interest may be this list that you can also narrow down for specifics from energy star.
    http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=refrig.search_refrigerators
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