Cold Weather Refrigerator

I had a 35 year old GE in my garage for the last 2 years. It conked out this past fall. I was trying to decide whether to try and fix or or buy a new basic model for the garage.
Here's the problem: My understanding is that the newer refrigerators use a different type of coolant and are not recommended for use below 50 F. It easily drops down to the high teens and 20s in my garage in the winter. I was told the older ones would stand those temperatures because of the older type refrigerant.
Does anyone know if this is the case? I don't want to waste $400 on a new refrigerator and have it die the 1st winter I use it.
What are my options here? Should I try to repair the old one and suck up the higher energy cost to run it? We don't have any room inside for another fridge, anywhere.
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My sears says not to operate in a room of less than 50 or 55f. New refrigerators might be 4-5 times more efficient than your unit. I only need one unit.
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I would repair the old one for several reasons, if the problem is not a leak in the foamed-in plumbing.
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cheaper to operate a new one. search outdoor refrigerator: http://images.google.com/images?num0&hl=en&lr=&newwindow=1&safe=off&q=outdoor%20refrigerator&sa=N&tab=wi
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dennis wrote:

freezer section. Model 60722 $479
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Knowing me, I'm sure I'd fix the old one, but if you really can't run a new one when the temp is below 50, you can put in a thermostat that turns the new one off when the garage temp is below 50. A couple ways to do that. Ask here.
My questions is, what is one supposed to do when it is 35 to 49 IN the house and you don't want food to thaw or to spoil.
The notion of a heater so you can heat it up in order to cool it off doesn't go over well with me. And that's only one model. What about people who don't plan for such a situation and find themselves in it anyhow. Say the furnace works but not well enough to heat the house fully. The furance is broken and the fireplace and Franklin stove only heat the house to 45, etc. etc.
What if things aren't working well and someone leaves his house when it is still 60, because he's afraid it will be too cold for his child or mother that night. He doesn't know for sure what the weather will be and for sure doesn't know how cold the house will get. Is he supposed to turn off the fridge when the house is at 60 in *case* it drops to 49. What do they expect people to do? Does it make sense? And how prominently do they warn new buyers that there is even an issue here?

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It doesn't matter if it has the new or the old type of refrigerant in it, they both work basically the same. Without it being a special refrigerator designed to operate in cold temperatures, you should NOT try to use it. The way that the refrigerator works is there is a compressor that pumps the refrigerant gas through the system. The refrigerant gas gets turned into liquid else ware in the system, but must change back into gas before returning to the compressor. At low operating temps, due to the properties of the refrigerant, it wont be able to turn back into gas before returning to the compressor. The compressors will then become damaged and quit working.
As someone else mentioned, you might be able to wire up some kind of secondary thermostat to shut off the compressor if your garage drops below 50 degrees. Then, if you really wanted to get fancy, you could add some type of heaters to the inside to prevent the food or beverages from freezing if the temp drops below 32 degrees. This is how outdoor soda machines and refrigerated semi trailers work.
Good luck
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On 9 Apr 2006 00:08:21 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Well that's ok then. I thought from what the OP wrote that they had changed to a less versatile design**.
It also means that maybe warnings would not need to be as big because they haven't taken away a feature people were used to.
OTOH, if they instructions say only "Operating temp, 50F to 110F" I think it woudlnt' hurt to have a couple text sentences that say specifically the same thing, and what happens when run lower than 50.
**My mother had a spare refrigerator in the garage from 1957 to 1966. In Indianapolis, where it got down to zero F some days. It wasn't a heated garage, but it was attached and the gas furnace was in there. I'm trying to remember how cold it was in there. I'm pretty sure it was below 50 even in the daytime. The floor was slanted so there was a 3/4 leak under one side of the two-car door. No insulation on the front wall surrounding the door or on 1 1/2 other outside walls.
I think it was a Crosley Shelvador (meaning shelves on the door) made in maybe 1953. It was self-defrosting even in 1953. It had a dial with which to set the time, and then at 3 in the morning, it heated the freezer walls for a bit to melt the frost. The freezer door was inside the refrigerator door.
Maybe it didn't work between 49 and 36, but by 40 the fridge would stay cold enough, and by 30 the freezer would stay cold enough.

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It doesn't matter if it has the new or the old type of refrigerant in it, they both work basically the same. Without it being a special refrigerator designed to operate in cold temperatures, you should NOT try to use it. The way that the refrigerator works is there is a compressor that pumps the refrigerant gas through the system. The refrigerant gas gets turned into liquid else ware in the system, but must change back into gas before returning to the compressor. At low operating temps, due to the properties of the refrigerant, it wont be able to turn back into gas before returning to the compressor. The compressors will then become damaged and quit working.
As someone else mentioned, you might be able to wire up some kind of secondary thermostat to shut off the compressor if your garage drops below 50 degrees. Then, if you really wanted to get fancy, you could add some type of heaters to the inside to prevent the food or beverages from freezing if the temp drops below 32 degrees. This is how outdoor soda machines and refrigerated semi trailers work.
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dennis wrote:

My old GE side by side worked at least 10 year after having been moved to the garage, until it finally died. Replaced it with a new model last fall. Everything was fine until he day the temperature went near 32, the new refrigerator stopped working and the freezer warmed up.
Called the company, they pointed that working temperature is between 50 and 102, and that the compressor does not start below 40. He did not say anything about possible damage outside the range.
I heated the garage and presto the compressor started around 50! So I enclosed the refrigerator with foam panels, stuck a thermostat control small heater in the back. The heater comes on when the temperature drops below 50 and it worked for this winter season.
I put in wireless thermostat inside the freezer and its reported during the winter temperature swings between -4 to +20, so the food stayed frozen.
BTW I am in Rochester, Minnesota and we had a mild winter this year.
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Lionel C. Abrahams wrote:

I worked for a number of years as a service engineer for a refrigeration company in the UK (So we don't see your extreme temps). However the phenomina of 'low ambient lockout' in cold places was noted on occasions. One maker (LEC) deviced a modification that consisted of a thermostat wires in parellel to the lamp inside. When it sensed low ambient temps it turns on the lamp inside, which brings up the temp enough to call the compressor in.
I don't think it's so much an issue with the refrigerant. I appreciate that R134a is not as efficient as R12 was, but low temp is not really an issue for it when you consider it's boiling off at below -30 C in those pipes.
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What I gleaned from the last time we had a go-around on this subject was that a refridgerator-only box will be find in an unheated area, because it doesn't RUN when it gets cold enough to affect the working parts, although long cold snaps will cause the contents to freeze.
If you've got a fridge/freezer combination, then you've got a problem because the temp-sensor is in the fridge-section, temperatures between happy-fridge and happy-freezer will cause the freezer section to thaw.
According to the owners manual for fridgidair's 29.5 cuft chest freezer (AFFC2528D):
"The freezer should be located where surrounding temperatures will not exceed 110F (43C). Temperatures of 32F (0C) and below will NOT affect freezer operation. Additional compressor heaters are not recommended."
Since this isn't listed as a special feature, I assume it's common across the range of their freezers.
--Goedjn
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