The answer is yes, you can put your refrigerator outside. Technically speaking, all refrigerators are air conditioners.
They use a compressor to turn the heat in the inside of the fridge into the cold air and push it out through vents on the back and front of the unit.
The only problem is that if it’s hot enough outside for you to need an air conditioner then you’re going to have trouble keeping your food fresh in most refrigerators because they just don’t work well when it gets too warm.
Can You Put A Refrigerator Outside?
Yes, a refrigerator can be placed outside, but there are some precautions to take.
For example, the refrigerator should not be placed in areas where it will get direct sunlight. The sun can heat up the fridge to very high temperatures which can cause damage.
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Another precaution is for people who live in cold climates to make sure there is no water on any of its surfaces because this could lead to condensation and eventually create rust.
Let’s dive deeper and distinguish between indoor and outdoor refrigerators.
Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Refrigerators
You’d be forgiven if you assumed that all refrigerators were the same.
While the basic science is the same whether you’re inside or outside, each refrigerator is designed for a specific environment. Different temperature ranges necessitate different cooling strategies.
Because the average household never deviates much from 55-80 degrees Fahrenheit (13 – 27 degrees Celsius). Outside of this temperature range, indoor refrigerators lose effectiveness.
Your refrigerator may even seize and stop working completely if temperatures fall below freezing!
So, as I previously stated, yes, you can move your fridge outside. There is, however, a reason why patio and garage refrigerators are typically reserved for beverages. You’ll probably have some issues during the hotter and colder months.
Outdoor refrigerators have safeguards against the kinds of problems that indoor refrigerators don’t have. Outdoor refrigerators can function reliably at a wider range of ambient temperatures.
They’re also made of tough, weather-resistant materials. This type of refrigerator, however, can be expensive.
Let’s assume you’ll be putting an indoor refrigerator outside:
Problems With Using A Refrigerator Outside
What issues might you encounter if you put a refrigerator outside? It all depends on whether you run it in January or July!
Extremely hot or cold weather will cause different problems.
Furthermore, the extreme temperature swings of Autumn and Spring can cause a variety of issues. First, let’s look at it in terms of weather.
If It Is Too Hot
When I talk about heat, I’m referring to temperatures that are higher than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Until that point, most manufacturers will guarantee proper cooling.
It may surprise you, but it is quite simple to keep the contents of a refrigerator cold once they are cold. Assuming you aren’t leaving the refrigerator door open or getting a new drink every 5 minutes, most hot weather simply means slightly higher electricity bills.
However, when the temperature rises above 110 degrees, problems can begin to arise. The refrigerator must work harder, putting additional strain on the hardware.
The hotter the temperature the hotter the components and gaskets/seals are. This can reduce their effectiveness and hasten their deterioration.
However, when the temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you will begin to have serious problems.
If It Is To Cold
Cooler weather (between 32 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit) is ideal for chilling beverages in your refrigerator. The fridge doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the contents cool, lowering the overall electrical load.
While this may appear to be a good thing, it has a cost. The mechanism that keeps the freezer cold doesn’t work nearly as well because the air going through the compressor is never sufficiently heated back up.
Because of the decrease in efficiency, the freezer will struggle to keep foods frozen.
Cold weather reverses this inefficiency, but you run the risk of the compressor freezing in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the freezing temperatures outside will keep your food and drinks cold for the time being, you should double-check that your refrigerator is running at its optimal levels when the weather warms up again.
Can you leave a refrigerator outside in the winter? No, leaving appliances outside in extremely cold temperatures (below freezing) can cause serious issues such as cracked pipes, water pumps, valves, and drain lines.
Tips To Keep Your Fridge Outdoors
Even if you’ve let the elements take their toll on your outdoor refrigerator, you can still take precautions to keep it running smoothly outdoors.
Here are some pointers to help you.
Adding more insulation to the refrigerator will reduce the amount of work required to keep the internals running and in good condition.
If possible, consider constructing an entirely insulated (but still ventilated) enclosure for your outdoor refrigerator.
Keep Out Of Direct Sunlight
This is a simple process. If you have a covered porch or screened-in patio, simply place the refrigerator beneath it. If you don’t have one, try moving it to a shaded area of your patio or outdoor space.
Protect Your Fridge From The Weather
This may be covered by #2, but it is critical that your refrigerator is not directly exposed to rain or snow.
This can cause rust and damage to the internals of your outdoor refrigerator. If you have a problem with standing water on your patio, I recommend building a small platform to keep the fridge off the wet ground.
Here’s an adjustable model from Amazon that should do the trick (link), depending on the weight of your fridge and the amount of food inside.
Can You Leave A Mini Fridge Outside In Winter?
Most mini-fridges and beverage centers aren’t built to withstand changing outdoor temperatures.
As the fridge works overtime to keep up with the cooling demand, the components will quickly wear out (and may not keep its contents cold enough regardless). It will also draw more energy, which translates into higher electricity bills.
Since mini-fridges are typically made for indoor use only, you shouldn’t leave them outside any longer than it takes to move them from one place to another.
Protect your investment by storing the fridge in a dry basement or garage during winter months, and moving it back inside before the next heating season begins.
If you’re looking for a way to get cold drinks from your fridge into your pool, there are special fridges designed to operate in harsh outdoor conditions that can work well.
You Can View Them HERE
You may be able to leave your fridge outside, but it will depend on the type of refrigerator. For instance, refrigerators with built-in compressors can’t operate when they get too cold and must be kept indoors.
If you have a stand-alone or portable cooler that runs on gas or electric power (most do), then these are usually safe for outdoor use; however, every product has different specifications so always check before leaving it out in the elements!