You want to make your outdoor area a little better, maybe you want to pick up some patio chairs and maybe even a hot tub, you just want to make the backyard space more enjoyable. One thing that can make your backyard area pretty cool would be a refrigerator. Outdoor refrigerators aren’t super popular, and they do cost a bit more than indoor fridges, but now I have you wondering if you can use an indoor refrigerator outside?
Yes, you can use an indoor refrigerator outside, however, it’s probably not going to be the most effective, or efficient option that’s available to you. Indoor refrigerators are not designed to withstand the outdoor elements and are more likely to rust and malfunction when used outdoors.
Safety Concerns with Using an Indoor Refrigerator Outside
A refrigerator comes with a little more responsibility than a tv when used outdoors, feel free to read our “Can you use an indoor tv outside?” article if you are interested. The reason I say that is because a fridge holds food we eat, making it a cause for concern, we don’t want our food going bad!
Anyway, the biggest hesitancy for people to use indoor refrigerators outside are the numerous safety concerns that come along with doing so. First and foremost, indoor refrigerators are not built to handle the extreme weather fluctuation that comes with being outdoors. This means that if you leave your indoor fridge outside, then there is a good chance that the food, or the unit itself could become damaged or unsafe. Outside of the safety concerns that arise from not having fresh food, if temperatures drop below a certain degree, then the fridge could break entirely.
In hotter climates, the fridge needs to work twice as hard, but then in very cold temperatures, the fridge can get confused, and just shut off. This becomes even more common with indoor fridges. Also, for safety reasons, you should never use an extension cord for any major appliance, and since it can be hard to find a nearby outlet outdoors, this presents another potential problem.
Leaving a Fridge Outside in the Summer VS the Winter
Depending on when you leave your fridge outside, you’re going to feel far different effects. For example, extremely hot weather can cause different problems than extremely cold weather. For extremely hot weather (110°F +) will require a proper cooling in order to function as designed. It’s pretty widely known that hot weather is going to lead to slightly higher electricity bills, but especially when temperatures begin to creep up to these absurd levels. This causes the fridge to have to work harder to keep everything cool, causing more strain on the unit as a whole.
Also, the hotter temperatures will heat up the interior components, as well as the gaskets/seals, which will reduce the effectiveness of the product, and increase the rate of wear in the process. On the other hand, cold weather can also play a vital role in the matter because even though you would want colder weather in order to keep your drinks cold, the refrigerator will not work nearly as well. If the fridge doesn’t have to work as hard to keep everything cold (due to the low temperature outside), then the compressor will never heat up to the point where it’s actually doing anything.
This lack of efficiency means that you’re going to struggle to keep food cold. So, it is true that extremely hot or cold weather can dramatically affect the efficiency of the unit. However, if you are going to be leaving a refrigerator outside for an extended period of time, be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight, and make sure to limit its exposure to the elements.
What is the Best Way I can Use an Indoor Fridge Outside?
While outdoor refrigerators are built to handle more extreme weather conditions, all refrigerators should be kept out of direct sunlight and safe from the elements, regardless of their initial purpose. This will help to enhance the overall performance and lifespan of the product. However, you’re also going to also need to consider your environment when trying to figure out the best way to use an indoor fridge outside.
If the outdoor temperatures drop below that of the interior temperature and/or fridge, then the unit will no longer be able to regulate temperature, and may even shut down entirely. This is why indoor refrigerators shouldn’t be stored outside if they will be subject to more severe weather conditions. Also, take into account how long you’ll be leaving the fridge outside. If it’s going to be a temporary solution, like for a family get-together, or outdoor party, then you should have no problem placing an indoor fridge outside. So long as it’s properly protected from the elements, and has a safe electrical connection nearby.
Keep in mind that hot temperatures can place unnecessary stress on the appliance, and drive the energy bill way up. But at the same time, extreme cold can thicken the oil and shorten the lifespan of the compressor. So, it’s really about finding the right balance based on your environment.
Can I Use a Mini Fridge Outside?
If the mini-fridge is designed for indoor use only you will likely have issues with the performance. However, buying an outdoor grade mini fridge is a great option to have a mini outdoor refrigerator at your fingertips. They take up little space while still providing you a cool beer or beverage of your choice.
Do they Make Outdoor Refrigerators?
While it is possible to use an indoor fridge outside, it is by no means the optimal solution. However, the good news is that we’ve come up with our very own list of the 10 best outdoor refrigerators for this year, which you can follow by clicking the highlighted text.
Is There a Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Refrigerators?
When it comes down to the primary differences between indoor and outdoor refrigerators, we must look specifically at the overall flexibility, construction, finish, and price of the two options. Outdoor refrigerators are designed to operate between much greater temperature ranges, which is why you can use any outdoor fridge indoors, but you can’t use any indoor fridge outdoors.
Typically, a refrigerator is built to operate between 55°F-80°F, but outdoor models are heavily insulated to help reduce the impact of extreme weather conditions. Which also helps to ease the strain on the motor and compressor in the process. Also, constant exposure to the elements can cause an indoor refrigerator to rust, whereas an outdoor model typically comes with more durable materials (ex. 304 stainless-steel). However, arguably the biggest difference between the two is the price. Outdoor refrigerators cost significantly more on average (due to the various advantages listed above).
What’s The Verdict?
All things considered, if you absolutely must use an indoor refrigerator outside, and you have no other options, then you should be fine, so long as you take the proper precautions. Understand that indoor refrigerators and outdoor refrigerators are made with different purposes in mind, and are therefore made with different materials.
These materials and functions are what allow them to withstand the nasty weather elements (rain, snow, UV rays, etc.). So, if you have no other option then to use an indoor fridge outside, then go ahead. Just keep in mind that you could be saving yourself more money in the long run by investing in a durable product that lasts.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.