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Old 06-04-12, 10:02 AM   #2
MN Renovator
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1. My refrigerator survived two winters with temperatures sitting at around 5 degrees when I was out of the house or sleeping and I spent a bunch of time out of the house. Seems fine, I had to adjust its mix control to max for the freezer and turn the refrigerator colder because the refrigerator was close to ambient and the refrigerator has the thermostat and the freezer was just a air opening that gets bigger or smaller depending on the temp setting. I don't think you'll have an issue.

If I plug in a warm mini-fridge in a 25c house in the summer it will run 25 minutes to get to 17 degrees(set to coldest setting). When I did the same with it in a 5c house last winter it ran for 5 minutes and the condensor coil wasn't even a normal room temp when I was done and the compressor wasn't standard room temperature yet. Oddly enough both the mini-fridge and full size fridge both use 150 watts.

1A. You won't need thermal mass inside, your food is the thermal mass. Get a unit that is properly sized so it is almost always full or close to full.

2. 60 watt light bulb versus 60 watt IR bulb, both are just as efficient at generating the same amount of heat. If you want to use a 60 watt light bulb or a pad heater you will burn far more energy than the freezer will when running in a cold basement and also extend the runtime duration because that warm compressor is going to heat the refrigerant. Also keep in mind that as soon as it fires up, it will be circulated with the cold refrigerant in and around the freezer too so the compressor might cool right off initially. I don't think its worth trying to heat the compressor unless you are getting to below freezing. Even a straight 30 weight non-detergent oil is rated for about 5c, I don't think the oil will have that much trouble circulating.

Bonus. I'd search whatever is the same as Craigslist in Poland for a used unit and see if its model shows up on the Energy Star list(if its also sold in the US), or whatever energy rating system would apply to you. If saving money in the short term is a big deal, get a used one but if you can't find something efficient, I'd buy new and get an efficient model otherwise you'll pay more in the end. I'm facing a similar issue, I have a new fridge that was put in my house as a replacement to a 25 year old one prior to them selling the house and paying the full price on a new efficient fridge versus one that not too long ago had its government energy regs updated to force it to be more efficient is a tough choice as the payback period is long. ...but if you don't have a freezer in the first place and need one then the decision is easier. My vote is new unless you have a way of checking a used one if its rated for efficient energy use.
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