This is an experiment to turn a small dorm refrigerator into a chest-type cooler/freezer. My reasons for this are quite simple. With a chest-type you don’t lose the “cold bubble” every time you open the door and so the compressor runs less. And less is good when your running your fridge off of batteries and an inverter.
This is the standard dorm style fridge purchased from a big box store. This particular one is the Haier mini refrigerator that Walmart sells. The cost of these range from $60-$110 depending on the size. I’m working with the smallest size since space is a premium in the van, and since I bought this one from good friend for this experiment.
******** S A F E T Y N O T E *********
WEAR GLOVES WHEN HANDLING BRACKETS AND WORKING AROUND THE RAW EDGES OF THE SIDES AND BACK. These parts are stamped from sheet metal and may have sharp edges.
DO NOT WEAR GLOVES WHEN USING ROTATING POWER TOOLS SUCH AS DRILLS. DO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES WHEN USING POWER TOOLS.
So, on with it.
I removed the mounting screws from the bottom plate and then began to move it to the new bottom. Work slowly and deliberately when moving the plate to the new side, er bottom. The tubing coming from the inside of the fridge is copper and is pretty strong. Bend it in an arc along it’s length being careful not to kink it. This is the hardest and most nerve racking part, so take your time. Protect yourself from cuts by covering the edges with a rag.
As you can see the copper tubing will have to be gently bent down, in the picture above, as the compressor and mounting plate are moved. I used the same screws I took out to secure the plate in this new position. Notice that the mounting plate has a raised portion in the middle. So this new bottom would not allow it set level.
Add a spacer of some sort to level up the bottom. In my case I used a scrape piece of wood flooring. And the project is basically finished at this point.
So how well does it work? I set the thermostat above half-scale and in about thirty minutes it was 35 degs. The best part is the compressor was not running for most of that time. It was actually cycling on and off. Now the real test. I turned the thermostat all the way to super cold. When I checked it later it was 28 degs inside and again the compressor was not running.
I can’t wait to see how it works in real use. The current draw is around 1.4 amp. Should be able to run off a 500 watt inverter. I can scarcely wait to get it in the new van for a trial run.
+++ Added footnote +++
As someone pointed out, I failed to mention that my fridge was left in it’s new orientation until the next morning BEFORE powering on. This wait period allows the lubricant in the Freon to drain back into the compressor before starting it. It’s a good practice anytime you turn a compressor from it’s upright position to allow a little time to redistribute the oils.
Thanks for pointing that out.
Get out, Be safe, and go adventure.