1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Power Failure and Refrigerator

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by velvetfoot, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,949
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    We lost our power yesterday morning. I came home early evening and started a generator. The 7 year old side-by-side refrigerator freezer section got down to around -3 to 0 F, as measured by an digital indoor/outdoor thermometer with the outdoor sensor in the freezer section. It was plugged in about 3.5 hours until bedtime. This morning, after about 7.5 hours, it read 43F. The ice cream was liquid and the ice cubes in the ice maker were melting, although plenty left .It didn't take much to get things cold again.Luckily we're not big meat eaters and don't have a bunch of expensive stuff in the freezer.

    Is this the best I can expect with my refrigerator? Even though the generator is small, I don't want to run it overnight and would also prefer to turn it off for periods during the day.

    Maybe somebody's out there with experience who can tell me how they ran their fridge during a power outage.

    Thanks.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Messages:
    615
    Loc:
    Eastern Long Island, NY
    During Hurricane Sandy, my parents lost power for about 2 days and they managed to keep their refrigerator cold and frozen. It is a newer LG model, 3 years old, side-by-side like yours.

    I thought they would have lost some stuff, but everything kept fine.

    Even the freezer stayed frozen. I am thinking it was because the freezer is packed with heavy, frozen items that acted to keep everything cold. That and they limited opening the doors to as little as possible.
  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    9,409
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    If the freezer is empty it will cool off much sooner. Thermal mass and also a phase change from frozen to liquid absorbs a lot of energy. If your freezer has empty space, fill milk jugs with water and let them freeze in there to take up the space. This should reduce the fridge cycling, will give you more cold reserve, gives you water when they thaw, and will give you an ice block for your cooler in the summer.

    Check your seals. Don't open the door when power is off.

    You shouldn't need to run the genny overnight. We don't and have never lost ice cream (the horror!) overnight.
  4. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,854
    Loc:
    SE PA
    During Sandy, my 7 yo side by side went 12 hrs repeatedly without even the frost on stuff melting. I.e. I shut the genny down overnight, as you want to.

    Of course, it is loaded with frozen stuff, and we put several 1-2 cup containers of water in the freezer a couple days before.
  5. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,949
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    Yeah, I could have more mass in there.
  6. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Why didn't you put the freezer items outside?
    gmule likes this.
  7. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    2,122
    Loc:
    Northern CT
    Not cold enough outside.
  8. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Ah... Didn't even think if thst. Been colder than freezing for several months out here. Kinda forget that some places don't have winter.
  9. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    2,122
    Loc:
    Northern CT
    Compared to you guys up there, we are in a perpetual springtime!

    We lost power last year during the winter, and I was fretting about the freezer warming up - then I realized the porch was a good freezer, and the snow and ice brought in from outside kept the refrigerator nice and cool, too.
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,949
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    Laziness
  11. CTguy9230

    CTguy9230 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2011
    Messages:
    311
    Loc:
    Northwest CT
    i,m not an expert by any means but i say your door seals arent quite as tight
    as they could be.....7 hours isnt that long to have the temp go up that much
  12. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Messages:
    615
    Loc:
    Eastern Long Island, NY
    Good point, CTguy. The seals may be bad and costing a lot of energy year round. I put a Kill-a-watt meter on my fridge and found that in a month I spent only $4. I don't know how else you would test the efficiency.
  13. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,949
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    When I run the genny, it doesn't take a long time to get it cold again. I'll look at the seal, maybe clean it. I've been tol the fridges with the bottom freezers keep the cold longer.
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,601
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Our GE refrigerator is pretty new and much better at keeping food cold than the old one. It has a bottom freezer that will only lose about 15 degrees over 10 hrs. We've gone several days without power, running the generator 2 hrs in the morning and 3hrs at night and not lost any food in it. Most importantly though, no one opens it while the power is off.
  15. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    7,109
    Loc:
    N.E. Penna
    It's best to keep a fridge or freezer full at all times. There is a work refrigerator that usually only has the lunch of 2 people in it. The poor thing used to run all the time. I put 3/4 full milk jugs, 2 liter bottles, in the freezer and fridge to fill the empty spaces. Now that sucker hardly ever comes on and we just pull the jugs out and set them to the side if we need the room.

    Also, make give your door gaskets a good look over that they seal properly. Sometimes (especially where people hand can hit them when closing the door) you'll find tears in the gasket.

    pen
  16. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,949
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    There was actually a fair amount of food in the freezer and fridge. It' be hard to justify replacement at this point.
  17. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    7,109
    Loc:
    N.E. Penna
  18. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,949
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    I just downloaded a energy guide for a side by side and a bottom freezer. Annual usage is 540 and 403 kwh per year. respectively.

    Attached Files:

  19. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,718
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    A trick to extend a freezers ride through a power outage is add rock salt to the water containers that you freeze. THis drops the freezing point of the water. When the salt water thaws it thaws at a lower temperature and keeps the freezer cooler.
  20. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,949
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    Now that you mention containers for ice, our fridge has an icemaker. I had to dump out the congealed ice and then it occurred to me: if it all melted there'd be water all over everything! I guess one could disconnect the thing and put a bag around everything. All this either presupposes either long notification of a possible outage or a generator to cool things down after doing the machinations. This could be another argument for icemakers, one more thing to break down, leak (water supply), etc.
  21. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,854
    Loc:
    SE PA
    I have an icemaker.....didn't have any leaks during Sandy. But I did turn off the icemaker when on the genny (it boosts the usage significantly when it melts the ice in the tray).
  22. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    Messages:
    733
    Loc:
    media, pa
    fridge/freezer will warm up fast! The FDA does provide guidance on it. They say as a general rule 12 hours on a freezer and 4 hours for the fridge. At least that is what i remember.

    I lost power over the weekend, in an hour and half, the fridge went from 37 to 42, i forget the freezer. It took the generater about an hour and 45 min to bring it back to to the setpoints.

    of more interest to me. The insert was cruising at about 350F (where i can measure the temp on top, in the airflow). Power went oout, and in 15 min I had the generator out, and running. In those 15 min the fireplace, which was at a steady state cruize went from 350F to about 515F. Man that blower pulls off a lot of BTU! Wonder where it would have stabalized...
  23. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,949
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    I had also read that FDA thing about 4 hours and I tend to agree.

    Did you have the air closed all the way? How/where are you measuring the temp on your insert? I shine the IR gun on mine here and there in no organized fashion, but I can tell things are warming by the temp of the wall above the insert, as measuring by my hand; it does get warm with no fan.




  24. gmule

    gmule Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Messages:
    452
    Loc:
    Conifer Colorado

    That was my first thought too. But then I remembered that not every place has real winter temps
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    29,051
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Back before I bought the generators I had our fridge items buried in a snow bank for a week. I like just pulling the rope and plugging in the cord a lot better. Especially in the summer. We had two extended outages this summer.

    In fact when we lose power for days this winter, we always do lately, I am gonna devote the little 2 stroke genny to the fridge and run it around the clock. Thing just sips gas and my neighbor's generator is so loud they will never hear it and they run the thing all day and night to power their propane central heat. !!!

Share This Page