So, to give a little back story, the refrigerator in our house is an older GE (freezer above) full sized kitchen unit. It’s seen better days and the compressor is a bit noisy. I keep it set at “1″, however, during the heat of the summer I turned it up to “3″ or “4″, but most of the year “1″ keeps the fridge at 40 F & the freezer at 20 F.
We had a cold snap recently and I unplugged the noisy thing, thinking I could make ice (outdoors at night) to keep the fridge part cold and keep our freezer stuffs outside in a ice chest (but still contained from critters). Sadly (or fortunately) the days aren’t cold enough here in the mid-Atlantic. Partly, I think the fridge isn’t insulated enough to be a good ice box. Also, large blocks of ice are needed (to melt more slowly) and with nighttime lows in the 20′s or high teens, large blocks of water simply wouldn’t freeze through quickly enough. And then, to make matters worse, daytime temperatures caused the inside of the (outdoor) freezer chest to increase above freezing, thawing our frozen goods.
The moral of all this I think is 1) modern refrigerators aren’t actually that well insulated, 2) it needs to be pretty far below freezing at night to make large solid blocks of ice, and 3) it’s entirely possible to make this work if you live in a very cold northern climate but going outside to get frozen goods is annoying.
And then I found this amazing project by Paul – P^2 (via another project of his, a DIY Telecine for 8mm film footage) a hack to his unused freezer chest, which converts his freezer into a refrigerator using a “micro-controller powered temperature controller”, reducing its power consumption by a third (click the image to goto his Flickr write-up of the freezer/fridge controller):