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rwalter7

How does a refrigerator circulate cold air?

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Got a refrigerator question.  TS Isaias took our power lines down on Tuesday.  We've been on back up power since.   Freezer is on top and frig on the bottom.  I've been struggling with the refrigerator section trying to keep things teeth cracking cold like it is on mains power. Keep in mind that at night the generator is turned off out of respect for my next door neighbor.  I put a wireless thermometer in it to monitor temp and loaded it up with water bottles to increase thermal mass prior to the storm.  Same with the freezer section.  I'm thinking cranking up both controls was a mistake.  Freezer is nice and cold but not so much on the bottom. It's highly sensitive to the quickest door open/close.  Trying to get temp saturation has been difficult and frig has been running non-stop.  I backed off on the controls and put them at the "energy efficient" setting that Frigidaire suggests and things finally seem to be settling down in less time. In fact, the frig is cycling now at 38 degrees. I couldn't get it below 40 with max settings.  So this begs the question, how does a refrigerator circulate cold air or manage cold air.  I'm thinking the freezer does the bull work and there is some sort of flapper or damper to allow cold air to convect do the refrigerator section.  The frig temp setting feels like a thermostat and clicks as its rotated but the freezer control feels mechanical in nature and I can hear something "sliding" or moving as it's rotated.  There's no clicking sound like the other control. So it makes me wonder what is the ideal setting and how the system works.  Setting wise, I'm thinking backing off on the freezer setting and allow more cold air into  the refrigerator section.  Seems counter intuitive. Thoughts?

 

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The answer is it depends on the fridge. Classic top freezer units typically only have the evaporator coils in the freezer and a blower that circulates cold air from the freezer to the fridge section. Newer and fancier units have separate evaporators and fans in the freezer and fridge.

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"loaded it up with water bottles to increase thermal mass prior to the storm"

This may be you problem.

Mine has vents that if blocked will allow the temp of the fridge to rise,I learned not to over pack it after a big shopping day.

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One thing I did not consider is the defrost cycle which it is in at the moment.  The frig runs so quiet it is hard to tell when the compressor running.

 

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Whether fan forced or simply a vent most fridges simply draw colder air from the freezer section. When the fridge stat calls the compressor cycles and frigid air is fan forced into freezer where there is usually a simple vent going to fridge section to lower temp to cycle comp. off. Since you are killing power at night it may take most of the day for the fridge to chill all the contents back to whatever setting you have set. Then when it finally gets there you are killing power to start the whole process again. If you must kill power at nite I suggest you switch some of the frozen bottles with the water bottles whenever you repower genny. This way you are helping to chill fridge air while refreezing water bottles in the freezer. The frozen bottles will also help keep fridge contents colder over night.  

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Remember the stat in the fridge doesn't lower the temp of the air the compressor puts out, it only runs the compressor for a longer duration. Same as an ac unit. It relies on the recycling of the chilled air for the temp to drop. so the warmer the air & contents at the start of the cycle the longer it will take to recover.

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On 8/8/2020 at 10:21 PM, Jetty Jumper said:

"loaded it up with water bottles to increase thermal mass prior to the storm"

This may be you problem.

Mine has vents that if blocked will allow the temp of the fridge to rise,I learned not to over pack it after a big shopping day.

When I refill after shopping I always put in frozen water bottles to give fridge a little help catching up.

In my downstairs fridge used for fresh quartered deer the freezer is always filled with as many qt. gatorade bottles as it can hold. Since the deer is body temp warm going in I take bottles from freezer and put them in door racks & around deer quarters to help chill deer quicker.

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I just went through the same thing.  Air vents between freezer and refrigerator iced up.  Defrost cycle gets out of whack with intermittent power.  Solution was to move stuff to coolers and leave it off with doors open for a day.  

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good tips everyone. Thanks. I'll remember for the future. hopefully we won't have another 8 day outage. That's a new record since living here.

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