Super Fridge review - 5 years on

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Almost 5 years to the day after I wrote the piece on the 'Super Fridge', it has been my most popular post by far. The fridge recently died, which was very disappointing, even though I knew that this was an experiment. I had optimistically anticipated that the super fridge may last longer than a similar quality normal fridge because it was under less load. I was wrong about that.

Thought it would be good to do a bit of a review on how it performed and what the learnings were from it. You can see the original post here - read over it now, if you haven't already.

Drawers were wearing out the mounts and were difficult to open.
I estimated that the daily energy use of the original 'super fridge' was 165Wh per day. This was based on settings of turning on at 3ºC and off at 7ºC. I changed that later to on at 2ºC and off at 5ºC, so the use could be assumed to be a bit higher than 165Wh p/d - but I didn't measure this.
The cheap Aldi freezer that we purchased in 2013 (AU$299) was not ideal. The drawers were difficult to open and wore out the thin plastic mounts, revealing the insulation below. The drawers were thin plastic that cracked with the intense use we gave it. Having the elements on each shelf meant that we couldn't stand up bottles which was a pain. The rubber seals on the door were beginning to crack, and the door was difficult to open, often sticking.

Pipe rusting out because of excess moisture.
I noticed early on that water was condensing on the elements at the top of the freezer, which would drip into the top drawer. The freezer wasn't designed to be constantly moist, but frozen. It appears that one of the pipes rusted through and leaked gas - but I'm not certain of this. I started running for a long time without getting cooler though.

Total estimated energy use over it's life

Assuming that it used 175Wh p/d, that's about 64kWh per year. A conservative estimate of a similar sized fridge of that era could have used 800Wh p/d = 292kWh p/y. If energy cost 30c p/kWh, annual costs would be $19.20 VS $87.60. Over 5 years $96 VS $438. A $342 saving. But, you would expect a fridge to last about 15 years, which this one didn't. Even so, the energy savings in themselves would pay for a replacement freezer every 4-5 years - even less as energy prices go up. Not that I'm recommending that!

I'm currently giving thought to how I could take responsibility for the ongoing use of a large insulated box that I now have. Probably beer brewing...

Now that I have some more money saved up, I'm able to buy a better quality freezer and give it another go - learning from my experience. More to come.

See the Super Fridge take 2 post here.


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