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deep freezers out in the frost, or in root cellar

Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
I'm getting a lot of conflicting information on whether a deep freeze can survive low temps outside (ie below freezing temp of the refrigerant which i think is -4C or so). Increased viscosity of compressor oil seems like a problem too. Older freezers seem tougher than new ones. The freezer guys say it can't be done, some neighbours say it's fine. I am off grid, and being able to run the freezer outside in the fall off solar while there is still sun and then using mother nature's big deepfreeze for the rest of the winter has a lot of appeal.

So I thought it would be good to gather a bit more anecdotal evidence...anyone have any stories about this?

A second thought i'm having is putting the deep freeze in a root cellar...it would benefit a lot from being in the cool, especially in the fall and spring...and the heat output might help keep the root cellar from freezing as well..could be regulated with a vent... it's still a lot more electricity though.
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
ps if there is thread drift towards how propane freezers work as well, that would be interesting too..
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
we have a deep freezer outside under our deck, it handles temps below freezing all the time. a few years running no problems. well the only problem once was a little water from rain got under the seal when some wind blew our cover off. after that water got in and froze near the bottom. freezing all our stuff in a solid block.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
I'm off grid too and I've found it simpler to keep a freezer at a friend or two's house.

I have a sunfrost with a very small freezer - the fridge part doesn't get cooler than 50. I'm using a cooler in the mud room as my fridge and a cooler outside as a (not too deep) freezer.


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Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Cory Arsenault


Joined: Mar 03, 2011
Posts: 55
Location: Ottawa, Canada
    
  10
My friend and I were discussing this the other day. Here in Canada I know a lot of people who keep freezers and fridges in their unheated garages.
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
Hubert, do you bother to unplug it when the temps start to dip and then restart in the spring, or do you just leave it plugged in?

verde.. you have a point, we can't be islands... a freezer or two seems like a big imposition, but maybe i can work out a deal with someone. I could eat so much better and more economically if i could get some perishables through the autumn. I'm going to make a root cellar next year and do more canning. It would sure be nice to keep some of my beef and chicken though, instead of selling everything. Or moose, even. And some things are so much easier to freeze than can...like tomatoes.

Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
2 free range chickens should equal a year's worth of electricity for a chest freezer.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote: I'm getting a lot of conflicting information on whether a deep freeze can survive low temps outside


It depends on the freezer. Some do fine in very cold weather. Others don't. Older freezers tend to be more rugged and handle the cold better.

I have one that is about 50 years old and it is outside on our porch. We get as low as -45°F some years. It regularly gets to -10°F or even -25°F. The freezer uses very little energy in the winter since it doesn't have to do much work.

Ironically, we have a modern "energy efficient" freezer of the same size (both are 25 cu-ft chest freezers) also on the porch and both used the same way. The newer freezer uses TWICE as much energy as the old freezer. So much for the myth that modern freezers are better.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
Greg Hickey


Joined: Dec 24, 2011
Posts: 21
Kari,

Propane freezers work just like a typical mechanical (compressor) model. The difference is they use heat from the burning fuel to create pressure in the tank rather than a compressor to build pressure. The upside is no moving parts to wear out. The down side is they are more expensive to purchase at present.

There are a lot of off grid cabins in WA that are run entirely off propane. From lights, to frig, to hot water heater. While most gas appliances are "RV sized" there are a few companies out there making full sized appliances, including up to 21 cu. ft freezers. If you do put it outside, know that it will surface rust/stain with the higher humidity outdoors. If it is covered it will take longer, but will eventually. Not a mechanical issue, just cosmetic. However, gas appliances are expensive to sit out and rust.

Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
thanks for the replies

Of course i must be confusing boiling and freezing points! ... that was stupid, i need to do my homework better on this, it's just so busy right now..

Probably they were making the point that at -4 things don't work right...i suppose if it's too cold for it to boil the compressor or condenser isn't able to work properly.

I want to look at the energy requirements of a tough oldschool craigslist freezer and see how much of a solar power upgrade i'd need to run it in warm weather during late august and september...then compare that with the price of a large propane unit ( i like the idea of no moving parts, it sounds like it might do well sitting outside all winter).

regards
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8

wow, you're not kidding they're expensive....8 cubic feet which isn't really big enough, in propane, looks like $2000...plus it's only getting 16 hours run time per pound of propane

high-end 12V freezer (from off-grid company) that size is closer to $1100 and would burn something like 500 to 600 watt hours / day, which i could manage by adding on one more PV module. But it's an expensive freezer and it would suck if i killed it by running it frozen in the winter.

or maybe less efficient craigslist freezer, run off inverter, maybe add some extra DIY insulation, and run it outside in the winter just to see what happens....wish I knew how much it would draw though, to get a handle on what i would need to add for panels...
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3625
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  49
I ruined one after a few months. Our wet winters were to blame. Moisture damaged the motor which didn't kick in enough to stay dry.


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kent smith


Joined: Sep 05, 2010
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
I used to use an old refrigerator on the deck on the north side of the house we had in the mountains of colorado. By summer the compresser would run and I used it as a refrigerator. In the winter in the shade on the north side of the house it would stay frozen with out the compresser ever running. I never change the temperature setting, just adjusted how I used it spring and fall. It ran like that for years and it was still running when we moved.
kent


Kent
Norm Nelson


Joined: Dec 18, 2011
Posts: 7
A bit late to the game here...

We've got a small Kirkland (Costco) freezer (I believe built by Whirlpool?) that an off-grid friend recommended to me because she researched it and found out it has a Danfoss compressor. Long story short, I've been running this freezer for about 15 years, the first 13 it was inside at a couple of different houses, and the last two it has been outside on the north side of our cabin. We've seen lows of about 15F, but not regularly... winters here (northwestern Washington State) are fairly mild except for the precipitation. I will say the freezer has rusted a lot more in the past year than it has its entire life. I'm in the process of building a mud room and the freezer will come back inside when that's done...

@Kari, if you have a friend that has a freezer similar to what you're considering, those Kill-A-Watt meters from P3 are a relatively cheap ($20 online, $28 at my local Home Depot) way to get a VERY accurate measure of power usage over time... they work great for inconsistent loads like fridges and freezers, they will record usage over time and you can predict from there...

-Norm.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
The kill-o-watt meters are great. I've had one since they came out, and cost a lot more. Now I see them for $20. As a homeschool project we used them to measure every load in our house and map out our usage. Very interesting.
Linda Brewer


Joined: Sep 18, 2012
Posts: 2
Our freezer is on the back deck, has been since a remodel a few years ago. What's great is that it uses so little electricity all winter, if any and not very much in the milder weather. I'm in Zone 6A. There until shed is cleaned out.
 
 
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