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How to reuse old refrigerators
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Junk Shop Principle – Used Refrigerators and Freezers

Most refrigerators for “Off the Grid Living” are propane or even a few old ammonia based appliances. There are some locations equipped with generators sufficient to run refrigeration, but running a generator twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week can cause equipment failures and is often expensive based on available fuels.

Propane Refrigerators, with the selection of the proper, slightly larger Natural Gas or NG pilot light, can be fueled with Biogas generated on site without any expensive conversions or other adaptations being necessary. Even if the site is built in such a way that “standard” electrical refrigerators and freezers are prevalent, what is going to happen to all of the old shells as these appliances die off?

More importantly for the here and now however, refrigerators and freezers are readily available in working condition for very reasonable rates. When they do not function, they are often available for free. A good selection of broken down, irreparable refrigerators and freezers may not seem like an actual jackpot, but there are a great many uses for these that make them a valuable addition to any off the grid home-site.


How to use old refrigeratorsIMPORTANT NOTE: Any and all refrigerators and freezers that are stored on site should have the handles and/or latches removed so that it is impossible for anyone to become trapped inside them. All information herein is for informational purposes only.

The author and this site cannot be held liable in any fashion for any use of the recommendations herein. It is the sole and complete responsibility of the end user to adequately test any method listed herein to their own satisfaction and to perform any and all such due diligence as may be necessary to ensure that such practices will be safe based on the individual components as may be utilized by the reader.

There are so many uses for these articles that it is difficult to know where to begin. In this case, a simple, bulleted list seems to be sufficient, though many of these suggestions will also appear in DIY and HOW-TO articles in this column.



  1. Worm Bed – The insulation makes for a good worm bed platform, though there are also some limitations

  2. Pre-Starter for a Greenhouse or Garden Plants – Most plants when started from seeds, will greatly increase in their ability to germinate in dark, humid, warm locations … like in an old closed-up freezer or refrigerator. Once the sprouts are a few days old, they can be moved to the hothouse to begin the process where they will begin converting sunlight.

  3. Controlled Growing Environment – Want to increase the production of tomatoes, chili peppers or other small “kitchen plants”? Place them inside one of these units with a drop light turned on for roughly eighteen hours per day … or whatever the recommendations may be for whatever you are growing. (No, not that!)

  4. Fish Tanks – Old refrigerators and freezers that have an interior without major cracks or breaks can serve as an excellent platform for tilapia or bluegill farms.

  5. Ice Box – Before the days of powered refrigeration, people used an Ice Box, more akin to the modern day cooler. Even if the components for the refrigeration do not work, the insulation still makes this a viable modern day, very large cooler.

  6. Fluid Storage – Water or even some types of fuels can safely be stored in these units … make sure any and all requisite testing is done before adding fuels into the mix. Some fuels and some plastics may react harmfully resulting in injury or death if you do not perform due-diligence before attempting to store fuels in these units. Likewise, water may be contaminated if these units are left in direct sunlight or in certain other conditions. Again, it is up to the reader to perform due diligence and all necessary testing and decide from their own tests what will work and will not work for them.

  7. Dry Storage – Old dead refrigerators can be used as dry storage locations, relatively well protected from the elements and the weather. This is especially useful for storing items in locations where there are moths or vermin who will get in and eat up the cloth materials. Books, clothes and other items that are subject to being eaten or torn up can all generally be stored safely in an old, dead refrigerator.

  8. Secured Storage – Even once all of the latches have been removed, a chain and lock can serve just as well to deter anyone from trying to get into the treasures stored inside … whatever that treasure may be.

  9. Composter – While there are other, more ideal appliances for using as a composting tool, this one will most definitely fit all of the basic requirements. (You may want to move that one a little farther away from the house … yeah … and a little bit more please!)

  10. Bathtub – This is one of my personal favorites for the Chest type freezers. At the end of the day when everything is said and done, some hot water poured into the chest freezer will stay hot a surprisingly long time … Certainly long enough for a nice, long, hot bath for two … and two will fit easily into the tub with plenty of room to maneuver. The rest I leave to your imagination.

Let us know what you think please!

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