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Is a Frost Free Refrigerator OK to Convert?

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  • Is a Frost Free Refrigerator OK to Convert?

    I did a bit of searching, but did not really find much on this.

    I have arranged the purchase of a 10 year old fridge from Craigslist.

    It is a GE Hotpoint CTX16HABJRWW, that seems to be immaculate.

    I wanted something that looked half way decent in my family room (basement), and had other practical uses as well (like having extra freezer capacity to take advantage of grocery sales).

    I also thought that a newer model (yea, I know 10 years old is not exactly new) would be a bit more efficient than some of these old tanks that I see pretty often (converted).

    So I am having a few beers with the neighbor (who used to sell refrigerators for a living years ago) last night, and he told me that he had always heard that you can't use a frost free refrigerator for a kegerator.

    He said that a frost free unit actually has heating coils in it that come on while in defrost mode, and he thought this might have something to do with it.

    I don't really understand this. It seems to me that if it keeps food cold, it will also keep a keg cold.

    Am I missing something here?

    Even if this is true; couldn't I just bypass the defrost timer and (if it actually has them) disconnect the heater coils?

    BTW: He was also offering his old tank from his basement. It appears to be pretty darn old and more than a bit beat up, but he plugged it in and MAN that thing got cold!

    It has one of those little freezers with it's own spring loaded door inside the main cabinet. but it looks like that may have to come out in order to fit the keg.

    Unless there really IS an issue with the frost free fridge, I think I'm just going to go through with the purchase of the $150 GE unit tonight.

    Sorry for the long post.


    Last edited by Dan Erickson; 10-02-2008, 08:42 AM.

  • #2
    I would be just fine using it. It doesn't heat up so much or long enough that it's going to warm your beer up. Otherwise it would be worthless as a refrigerator for food, too.
    Our beer, which commeth in barrels, hallowed be thy drink
    Thy will be drunk, I will be drunk, at home as it is in the tavern

    Home Brew IPA


    • #3
      I converted a frost free freezer and have had no issues. Beer pours a consistent 37.5 degrees even when the air temp in the unit cycles up to the low 40 degree range in what I assume is the defrost cycle of the unit.
      "Live every week like a shark week."


      • #4
        Thanks guys.

        Got the unit home last night and it looks almost new aside from a few dings and dents.

        I looked at the schematic and it appears that I can make a very simple wiring alteration and the defrost timer (and in turn the heating element) will be out of the picture.

        If frost ends up being a problem, I can very easily change back to using the timer.



        • #5
          simple solution to that is just defrost it when you're betwen kegs.
          Our beer, which commeth in barrels, hallowed be thy drink
          Thy will be drunk, I will be drunk, at home as it is in the tavern

          Home Brew IPA


          • #6
            Originally posted by cubby_swans View Post
            simple solution to that is just defrost it when you're betwen kegs.
            Yea, I thought about that, but if I can fit a 1/2 AND a 1/6 in there (so I always have one on deck) that won't be an option.

            Anyway; we will see how it goes without it, and if it becomes a problem, I will hook it back up and see how it does with it working.




            • #7
              I would agree with cubby's first comment. The automatic defrost will have no effect on the units ability to hold temperature.

              If you disconnect the defrost your evaporator will freeze up into a solid block of ice in a short time & that will have an adverse effect on your temperature. Typically those units go into defrost 3 or 4 times (depending on model) in a 24 hour period for only about 20 minutes at a time. Leave it connected.

              THE ICEMAN
              My conversion ===------->> KILLER KEGERATOR
              "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
              -Dave Barry-
              "We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards.
              Strong beer is the milk of the old."
              -Martin Luther-


              • #8
                Just jumping in here to second the Iceman and third cubby - you'll be just fine with the defrost stat and heating element doing their jobs, and as Iceman mentioned, you'll end up with a block of ice on your evaporator (which could damage the evap) and a headache of ice to remove.


                • #9
                  OK, thanks to those who replied.

                  I will leave the defrost circuit alone.

                  Just curious...what keeps the evaporator coil on a NON-frost free refrigerator from freezing up?



                  • #10

                    I shut my Kegorator down for 1 hour every night, with a timer. Sometimes I have to reach behind the keg and "help" the ice away.
                    It makes all the difference.
                    I cool my tower with Beer.