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Does Room Temperature Affect My Refrigerator?

With the kind of heat and humidity we’ve been dealing with in Wisconsin this summer, the temperature inside your home may vary greatly. Or maybe you have a fridge in your unheated garage or uninsulated shed outside. Does room temperature affect your refrigerator? That’s an important question, and while refrigerators generally work fine in spaces that have a wide range of temperatures, there are certain considerations you should know.

Extremes Damage Refrigerators

The temperature of the room that a refrigerator is in should be between 60ºF and 95ºF. That’s a really wide range, and you might think there’s no way your refrigerator could be in a situation where the ambient temperature is either that high or that low. But you live in Wisconsin. If you don’t have AC, or you do and it breaks down, the inside temperature can easily get above 95ºF. In the winter, having a refrigerator in an unheated space simply turns it into a freezer. Extreme temperatures can damage the compressor or sealed system. Below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the oil could become thick and not circulate properly. Above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the oil could overheat and break down.

Fridges in Hot Temperatures

If the refrigerator is located in a room where the temperature is over 90ºF and it is opened frequently, then the efficiency will decrease significantly. When the outside temperature is so warm, it can cause other problems, too. The consistency of the cooled temperature inside the unit may vary widely and your food may spoil more quickly.

Fridges in Cold Temperatures

Having a refrigerator in a partially heated space might seem like a good compromise. While the unit may not actually break down, you might reconsider that choice. Refrigeration systems rely on the boiling of refrigerant under pressure and heat. When the ambient temperature is below 60ºF, it takes more energy to make the refrigerant boil and change into a vapor. And the energy consumption increases with the decreasing temperature until at 32ºF, there’s no cooling capacity at all. So even when it continues to cool, you’re spending a lot more money than you need to.

Other Considerations

Remember that the room temperature can be quite different from the outside temperature. Your well insulated garage can be 10 – 20 degrees colder or hotter than outdoors. If you do decide to have your refrigerator in a place that isn’t ideal, take steps to mitigate the loss of efficiency. Your refrigerator placement can help with that. Your fridge shouldn’t be pushed against the wall. It needs a little space behind it so that air can circulate freely and the heat from the condenser can dissipate. Keeping the grill clean and the door seals tight ensures that it’s working at peak efficiency too.

If you’re wondering whether room temperature affects your refrigerator, the answer is yes. You probably don’t have it in a space where the extreme temperatures will cause a breakdown, but you should be aware that its efficiency will be affected by the ambient temperature. If you have any continuing concerns, call the experts at Dave’s Appliance; we’ll be glad to help.

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Helpful Hints

Things to check before you call:

  • CHECK for a blown fuse
  • CHECK that the appliance is plugged in
  • CHECK that the dryer vent is clean
  • CHECK that refrigerator controls are at the proper setting