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Old 07-31-12, 10:49 AM   #1
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Default Is 14 degrees too warm for a freezer?

I've recently gone through a bit of thought of ditching my refrigerator/freezer combination and going straight to using a freezer only.
[Skip to 'The plan' if you don't want to read a bunch]

The interesting part of this thought process came about when I was removing the dust from the bottom of my current side-by-side fridge/freezer and then realized that I really might not need a refrigerator.

Background: I haven't had any milk in the house for about a month because I generally go through the gallon of milk in exactly the time it takes for it to go bad. Usually with me drinking a few extra glasses once the milk is a week past the sell-by date and normally I buy the stuff and rake through the grocery store shelves for the milk with the date that extends out the farthest. I also realized I usually buy and consume eggs in the same way. I don't like cooking them because it heats up the house in the summer quite a bit. I just got my June-July electric bill. 30 days and 266kwh($40) of usage and quite a bit of this is from reducing the electric load through the dew point control and running the a/c at the most efficient points of the day.

So basically I buy milk for those occasions that I need to cook with it and generally don't drink from the cow teat much more than that and drink the rest so it doesn't go to waste. I've been going on vacations and don't buy milk if it means that it will go bad and currently that's where I am now between two vacations where I will be gone enough to where that milk, if bought, would basically go to waste or I'll drink it just to get rid of it before it goes bad.

Current fridge contents: A whole bunch of water in various jugs, open wine bottles, sports drink bottles, etc as thermal mass the fridge ballasted and cycles as long as possible. There are some pickkes, maple syrup and some ketchup in there but I don't use many pickles and ketchup lasts a long time. There's also a little bit of butter and cheese in there too.

The plan: Finish off the ketchup, pickles, butter and cheese. Take the three loaves of bread out of the freezer and make plans to eat it before it molds, eat some of the hamburger that has been in the freezer for over a year and consolidate the freezer contents. Then I want to load the freezer contents into a mini-fridge set at its coldest temperature, which happens to get quite cold, it holds at 14 degrees F and unplug the refrigerator upstairs. The refrigerator is usually hanging out where its often 80 degrees and downstairs is always about 70 degrees. The runtime is much shorter for the mini-fridge(especially when the mini-fridge is in a colder area) and they both consume 150 watts when running.

The question: Can the frozen food handle being at 14f for a long time? In the winter my refrigerator/freezer can only hang around roughly this temperature with the fridge damper closed and the contents of the refrigerator on the brink of freezing which makes me think this is okay.
What do you guys think? Would this conservation plan work out? The bonus is that this frankenfridge doesn't defrost, no matter what the circumstances, every 10 hours for 23 minutes like the fridge does. I also won't be opening the fridge every time I feel hungry just to see, every time, that I never store food in it. I'm really not sure what food people put in their fridge or why a refrigerator is bigger than a freezer because I've always had a challenge with trying to cram food in the freezer but never have anything to put in the fridge. I stopped drinking sugar water in its various forms and drink water and beer but I've come to enjoy my favorite imported beers warm, which is the intent in many countries outside the US where this stuff is made.

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Old 07-31-12, 11:01 AM   #2
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I should add that this will likely be temporary, not that I think about it because when my garden comes times to harvest that will be how I'll keep the harvested food edible for a longer period of time but for now it seems that for the next few months, at least through the next two electric bills and any other higher summer electric bill that this might be a better idea. I also think that I could insulate the door, top, the back(except for compressor area), and the side that the condenser isn't on to insulate against the warmer ambient temperatures.
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Old 07-31-12, 01:14 PM   #3
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MN Renovator wrote:

"I also realized I usually buy and consume eggs in the same way."

"There are some pickles, maple syrup and some ketchup in there but I don't use many pickles and ketchup lasts a long time."

When I had planned to do some extended time on a sailboat I had discovered a few things. No all things need to be refrigerated. To my suprise eggs don't nessisarily need to be refrigerated expecially the ones right out from under the chicken. The protective membrane beneth the shell keep the insides protected. However washing the egg may provide a way for bacteria to enter. It is suggested to just wipe the egg clean with a dry cloth and consume with in a month.

Other foods such as things pickled don't require refrigeration. Thats how food was preserved before the time of refrigeration.

However the products of dairy & meat need to be close to the ice.

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Old 07-31-12, 01:24 PM   #4
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Sounds like an interesting idea. Certainly food will go bad faster at 14F vs colder, but if you keep that in mind I don't think you should have a problem.
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Old 08-01-12, 12:23 AM   #5
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Well, turns out that this isn't going to work as expected. When I figured the mini-fridge would work, I didn't realize the door made it difficult to pack things inside and the 'knee wall' of the refrigerator prevented certain things from fitting inside. I also realized I would need to give up frozen pizza and ice cream. Frozen pizza is one of those things I like because I can cook it outside on the porch without heating the house. I figured this might happen but it turns out that it really is half usable size that I really need otherwise I'll be grocery shopping on a weekly basis and consuming the entire 'freezer' instead of grocery shopping once a month like I'm used to. I also realized that I have people over often enough to where I really should have a place to chill beer or make ice for drinks and I can't use a cooler unless I have ice, which I don't have room to make in this thing. I also realized after testing today that the 14 degrees actually spans to 20 degrees and I figured it's not worth the risk of getting sick.

...so what this means is that soon there will be a new thread including pictures of improving my refrigerator efficiency.

Thanks for the advice though. I am considering moving the refrigerator/freezer to the basement now though just because it does use more power upstairs where it typically gets 80 degrees or hotter during the day and the runtime and frequency of operation are noticeably longer. Kill-a-watt meter says it would be 637kwh/year if these conditions were year round, or about 53kwh/month so moving it downstairs for the 3 hottest months could be significant.
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Old 08-07-12, 03:11 PM   #6
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Interesting post.
How do you could frozen pizza outside? On the barbeque? I have a couple in the freezer and I don't use the oven in the summer. Too hot.
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Old 08-07-12, 06:26 PM   #7
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I cook frozen pizza outside on a rotary pizza cooker. Here's a link showing pictures. I basically put it on a chair with the pizza on it, set it for 15 minutes, open the sliding glass door, put the chair/pizza cooker outside, plug it in and I usually chill on my laptop inside while it cooks and glance over to make sure rodents aren't taking off with my pepperoni and once it's done I unplug it and pull it inside. I do the same thing with cooking bacon or anything else that would either smoke up the place or make lots of heat, except for that, I use an electric griddle on a small table. It works great and 15 minutes of a ~1500 watt appliance is fairly small usage compared to needing to both heat the house with the oven and then air condition it. I haven't fired up my oven for a few months, avoiding it like the plague since burning natural gas not only adds heat to the house but also lots of humidity.

https://www.google.com/search?num=10...ac.Y9R66UN1IxU

As an update, I'm gathering pictures and a story together to create a new refrigerator conservation thread showing my efforts toward added efficiency for a non energy star fridge. I've modified my fridge and monitored performance for a week now and I like what I see. Stay tuned, the post will be a separate thread in the conservation section.

Last edited by MN Renovator; 08-07-12 at 06:28 PM..
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Old 08-07-12, 07:31 PM   #8
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that pizzaz thing's hilarious. i just tried frozen pizza on the barbee and it took awhile but it came out okay. with my solar system I don't know about 3-400 watts to cook a pizza. that's three hours of watching the olympics or one movie on the tv.

look forward to the post on fridge insulation. good luck.
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Old 08-07-12, 10:46 PM   #9
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I didn't and won't be insulating the fridge. One of the things I did was conventional, another wasn't. I almost got the pictures together but my SD card reader was having some trouble earlier but that's working now. I'll see if I can get things together and post tomorrow.

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