Can You Leave a Fridge Outside in the Winter Unplugged

Can You Leave a Fridge Outside In the Winter Unplugged?

Last Updated on June 14, 2024 by Shari Mason

Taking advantage of the cold winter weather to cool down your refrigerator seems like a smart idea.

But can you leave a fridge outside in the winter unplugged?

Well, you can save electricity by unplugging it, but it could damage your fridge and cost you more. Here’s why.

Should You Leave A Fridge Outside In The Winter Unplugged? 

double door refrigerator

It is possible to place your fridge outside in the winter unplugged, but you might encounter some difficulties in your fridge after a while.

Your fridge also has to maintain an external temperature to function well. Placing it in an extremely cold environment would damage the fridge, especially its internal components.

Also, if you don’t use your fridge for a long time and keep it unplugged in winter, it might cause a reduction in its power output or, worse, stop it from cooling once it is plugged in. 

Why You Should Not Do It

It May Damage The Compressor

The compressor is the most common problem with most fridges. It might stop functioning in just a few weeks or less if you place your fridge at an extreme temperature, even if left unplugged.

The fridge’s compressor plays an important role in the refrigeration process. It is like the heart of the refrigeration system; if it is damaged, the fridge won’t function properly.

Find out if you can plug a fridge into an extension cord here.

It Will Stop Cooling Once Plugged In

In some scenarios, if you put your fridge outside in the winter unplugged for long periods, it stops cooling once you have plugged it in.

A refrigerator is not just for regular food storage but is intended to chill food items. So placing it unplugged and outside in the winter might cause it to malfunction.

Read: How Long Do French Fries Last In The Fridge?

Power Output Might Reduce

The question might focus on the cooling temperature of the freezing winter. But a cold climate might not be the only issue here.

If the appliance is not in good shape, it might not work as it should. The refrigerator could have a reduced power output if you’re not using it for long periods in a cold environment.

Safety Precaution When Leaving a Fridge Outside 

  • Detach the water lines. It is best to disconnect its water line feature if your garage fridge is still connected to a water supply. 
  • At a freezing point, water pipes could result in broken valves, water pumps, and drain lines. But if there’s ice built up, thaw out and clear up the excess water.
  • Insulate your entire garage. Adding insulation could moderate the temperature extremes if you leave your fridge outside in the garage. [1]
  • Put a heating element. Installing heating coils, work lamps, or a space heater would help the thermostat regulate the temperature. 
  • Winterize your fridge. Clean, unplug and turn off the circuit breaker of your fridge if you leave your fridge outside for long-term storage, especially in winter months.
  • Invest in a high-tech model. If you intend to leave your fridge outdoors, invest in a new fridge model with two thermostats or a garage refrigerator intently made for colder external temperatures.

Ideal Temperature Acceptable For Refrigerators 

Refrigerators have ambient and external temperatures to maintain, function well, and not get damaged. Ideally, you should maintain your fridges at around 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the external temperature of the refrigerator is not well-maintained, the ambient temperature can affect the refrigerator’s functionality or, worse, might stop it from working.

Read: How Long Is Cooked Corn Good In The Fridge?

“Make your refrigerator or freezer like a treasure chest.”

– Lidia Bastianich, Chef/Author

Freezing temperatures might produce cold air that surrounds your fridge. It might negatively affect the refrigerator thermostat and ruin its mechanics.

Also, even with the refrigerator plugged in, when the outside air is cooler than the air inside the fridge, it might not be able to cool its content.

Some brands produce and offer outside-ready fridges for places with freezing climates below 45 to 50 degrees in winter. But should you plug a fridge into an extension cord?


Can you store an unplugged fridge in an unheated garage?

Yes, you can store an unplugged fridge in an unheated garage, but it might not be useful. Also, your fridge’s internal components might get damaged if the garage gets to freezing temperatures.

How long can you have a refrigerator unplugged outside? 

You can put your refrigerator unplugged outside for a few months, but it won’t be efficient in chilling your beverage or storing your food. 

Also, some brands of fridges are not meant for cold temperatures and winter conditions.


You can leave your fridge outdoors in the winter unplugged. But it could damage your refrigerator in the long run, plus unplugging your refrigerators would not serve its real purpose. 

Your fridge has to be maintained around 50 to 90 degrees; lower than that might ruin it and would cost you more money for your fridge’s repair.

But if you still want to keep it outside in the winter unplugged, you can insulate the place or put a heating element in your fridge to help regulate the temperatures in the thermostat.


Shari Mason

1 thought on “Can You Leave a Fridge Outside In the Winter Unplugged?”

  1. The potential damage to the compressor is another reason why you should disconnect your garage refrigerator during the winter. The compressor oil may freeze in some locations during the winter season, which could lead to the component overworking and malfunctioning.

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