Due to the recent pandemic and the economic turmoil that followed, a lot of Filipinos have gravitated towards home-based food businesses to supplement their income. This usually necessitates having a second refrigerator or a separate chest freezer to store the ingredients and finished products in. Sometimes, people place these additional appliances outside their homes because there is no more space inside.
But can you really put a refrigerator outside of your home?
While yes, it is common to see a refrigerator or freezer placed outside for business purposes, we should also be aware of the impact of the elements on our fridge and its operation.
Note: placing your refrigerator or freezer outside may fall under “customer misuse” and can void your warranty. Check your warranty card for more info, or ask your sales person or a customer service representative from the brand to make sure.
- How refrigerators work
- Ambient temperature range of refrigerators
- Other problems you might encounter
- Tips to keep your refrigerator in tip-top shape even if it’s located outside
How refrigerators work
Refrigerators work by harnessing the power of the evaporation process to cool down its compartments. It does this by continuously evaporating and condensing a refrigerant gas that runs through copper tubes inside the refrigerator. This gas is circulated throughout the refrigerator’s copper tubes by a device called the compressor.
To maintain the temperature inside the fridge, the refrigerator’s thermostat tells the compressor to either stop or start when it gets too cold or too warm. This is why you hear your refrigerator roaring back to life after a few moments of it being silent.
Additional sources of heat – like stoves, windows, other appliances, and the ambient temperature – can be picked up by the refrigerator’s thermostat and will interfere with its temperature regulation.
Ambient temperature range of refrigerators
Ambient temperature is the air temperature of the environment where the refrigerator is placed.
Refrigerators are designed to work optimally in a specific range of ambient temperatures called climate classes. These categories are:
|+10°C to +32°C
|+16°C to +32°C
|+16°C to +38°C
|+16°C to +43°C
Since the Philippines is a tropical country, it follows that the models available in our market is in the Tropical class. However, there are some models that are designated as Subtropical as well.
If your refrigerator keeps running under the conditions which it is not designed for, it will have a severe impact on its performance and its lifespan.
An area where the ambient temperature is most pronounced is outside of our homes, where there is no insulation from the elements and from direct sunlight.
Why you should follow the refrigerator’s ambient temperature range
Here are some reasons why you should not expose your refrigerator or freezer to temperatures outside of its prescribed range:
- Reduces efficiency – the ambient temperature – if unmitigated – will increase the temperature inside of your refrigerator, causing the compressor to turn on more frequently and thus increasing your energy bill.
- Insufficient cooling – Because the compressor is struggling to maintain the temperature inside. This could lead to excessive condensation and spoilage of food.
- Reduces the lifespan of compressors – to compensate for the increased temperature inside your fridge, the compressor will turn on and off more frequently (short cycling). This will quickly add wear and tear to your compressor, which can damage it or completely break your refrigerator
Other problems you might encounter
Besides the efficiency issues, there are other problems that you’ll encounter when placing your refrigerator or freezer outside.
Direct sunlight is bad for most appliances because of its UV radiation. This radiation can eventually break down matter over time. For appliances – especially those colored white – this manifests itself when the appliance turns yellow over time.
It’s not just cosmetics – the heat from the sunlight can slowly damage your refrigerator’s parts as well. When the compressor is exposed to sunlight during operation, it can get too hot and overheat.
Corrosion from humidity and rain
Yes, most refrigerators are made of stainless steel or painted with a special coating over a metal base that prevents it from rusting. However, the other hardware parts like nuts and bolts do not have the same protection. These parts will oxidize and rust when exposed to water or from too much humidity.
Also, while the special coating will protect your unit from rust for a while, it may start breaking down especially when exposed to direct sunlight. It will also corrode the metal body from the inside when the coating is damaged or scratched – revealing the unprotected metal inside.
Keeping your refrigerator or freezer outside may fall under the “customer misuse” clause in your warranty policy and may void your claims if it is proven that you did not follow the manufacturers prescribed use of the unit.
You’ll be left on your own when the compressor or any other part of the fridge breaks down. This will result in more expensive repairs or even purchasing a brand new unit to replace the one you broke.
Lack of a power outlet
A lot of small home-based businesses are guilty of using an extension cord for their chest freezer or refrigerator. However, using an extension cord for can be a fire hazard especially if you used the wrong kind of cord. You should always plug your refrigerator in a dedicated outlet.
If you have no other choice but use an extension cord, opt for the #10 extra heavy duty gauge cord with a three-prong socket for safety.
Note: using an extension cord for a refrigerator – even if it’s gauge #10 – will void your warranty. Proceed with caution.
The outdoors are dustier compared to indoor air. These dusts can stick to the condenser coils outside of the fridge. The dust buildup on the coils will hinder the heat exchange process because of limited ventilation.
You can easily solve this by wiping the coils down (unplug the refrigerator first!).
Tips to keep your refrigerator in tip-top shape even if it’s located outside
Admittedly, there are a lot of disadvantages when you put your refrigerator or chest freezer outside. Here are some tips to give it the best possible chance to survive and run as efficiently as it can:
Protect it from the elements
Keep it away from sunlight as much as possible. The best place for it is beneath a covered patio or porch. You should also surround the unit with at least two or three walls to better shield it from the sun, rain, and wind compared to just placing it in the open.
You should also put your refrigerator on top of a platform to keep it dry if the area you’re putting it on has standing water issues.
Perform regular maintenance
Performing preemptive maintenance will save you from headaches (and a lot of pesos) later on. You should have it checked by a technician at least once a year to keep the problems at bay.
Clean your unit’s condenser coils to ensure that it is performing optimally. Wipe down your unit when it gets splashed by water, when it rains, or when too much condensation forms on the body of the refrigerator.
Maintain proper ventilation space
Even if it’s outside, you should still maintain the proper ventilation space around your freezer or refrigerator.
If a refrigerator is fully enclosed inside walls or cabinetry, it will have a hard time dissipating heat from its body – this will result in a overheating and higher electricity bills.
While you can place your refrigerator or freezer outside of your home, you should always remember that this will most likely result in a voided warranty.
To lessen the damage and wear and tear on your unit, follow best practices like regular maintenance and maintaining proper ventilation space around the fridge to give it the best change to perform optimally.
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.