Specialty freezers designed for outdoor use, such as under-counter outdoor freezers, can be used in many climate conditions outside. Regular deep freezers and chest freezers designed for indoor use, though, should be kept indoors in a conditioned space. Modern freezers designed only for use indoors require relatively warm air on the outside of the unit to function properly. Temperatures found in extreme outdoor environments may cause this type of freezer to malfunction.
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Some freezers, which are designed for outdoor use, properly work in varying climate conditions that are found outside the home; but most conventional deep freezers, which are designed for use inside the home, should be kept indoors.
Cold Weather: Compressor Malfunction
The compressor on a chest freezer may be hidden from view, but it is not within the freezer compartment — it's exposed to the temperature of the air surrounding it. During below- or near-freezing weather, the compressor on both new and old freezers may stop working if the freezer is kept in such a cold environment, if the freezer is not designed for outdoor use.
Hot Weather Problems
Many chest freezers are designed to be used only in a conditioned space — between 55 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, for instance. Extreme heat can cause the freezer to malfunction, just as extreme cold can. The hotter and more humid the weather, the harder the freezer must work to keep the food inside frozen. Even if the freezer keeps functioning properly, it uses more power during extreme heat and humidity than it would during moderate temperatures, resulting in higher utility costs.
Other Outdoor Concerns
Besides fluctuations in air temperature, exposure to direct sunlight, piles of leaves or even rain or snow will affect the performance of the freezer. The exposed areas of the freezer must have adequate airflow around them at all times to function properly. Debris such as dry leaves may even pose a fire hazard.
Exceptions to the Rule
Sometimes, a freezer will function just fine in an area away from your home, such as in a garage, workshop or even a covered outdoor kitchen area. If the climate stays in the moderate range at all times — essentially in a comfortable "room temperature" range — and the freezer stays clean and out of the elements, it may function just as well as it would indoors. An insulated, clean heated garage provides one such area where the freezer may be safely used.
Chest Freezers Designed for Outdoors
Freezers designed to handle temperature fluctuations or extremes are safe to use outside or even in an unheated garage. Outdoor undercounter freezers are perfect for use in an outdoor kitchen or living area, or under the workbench in your shop or garage. As with regular indoor freezers, outdoor models require at least a little space for ventilation; check the manual or manufacturer's website for specifics.
Read the freezer manual's installation instructions, no matter what kind of freezer you have or wish to purchase. The manufacturer typically indicates the optimal operating conditions for that specific model.