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Manual defrost freezer comments?
Old 01-04-2009, 07:23 PM   #1
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Manual defrost freezer comments?

Greetings ERs and fellow wannabe ERs:

Not sure where to post this.

Hoping several will have comments.

1. Is a manual defrost freezer supposed to keep a fairly consistent temperature? Within, say, 4 to 5 degrees?

2. What should one look for when purchasing?

3. Any other words of wisdom?

Background:

Inherited a huge, already ancient Ben Hur upright freezer located in the garage when we bought the house. It worked for more than 17 years for us.

As it was finally acting up on a couple of fronts, we considered repair, but the fan went out and the compressor wiring was shot/brittle.

Purchased a Frigidaire manual defrost upright from Lowe's. I noticed the ice cream was soft, so kept turning the control to the colder/coldest setting. Ice cream still soft at times. Then started monitoring temps. There are wild temperature swings - sometimes 12 to 14 degrees (it is mostly full; we rarely open the door). Temps swing from 2 degrees to -15 (minus 15 degrees).

Lowe's says there must be three repair calls before they will deem it a "lemon" or do anything about it.

First repair call - order thermostat. Replace. Same problem persists.

Second repair call - repairman says "Oh, these do that. There's nothing you can do about it and if you exchange it the next one will do the same thing." He did admit that having the thermostat sensor near the front was a design flaw and thought maybe a GE had a better design.

Both repair techs initially tried to tell us it was our fault since such an appliance MUST NOT be kept in a garage, until they each looked up the specifications, which say the freezer is rated to operate in temperatures from 32 to 90 degrees. Our garage is insulated, never gets anywhere near 32 and never above 75 or 80.

We are wishing we'd further explored repairing the old Ben Hur, but isn't it always the case that some things "aren't made like they used to be".

I'm afraid I'm a bit skeptical of what the repair techs are saying, since my old manual defrost freezer always kept the ice cream hard, and since they immediately jumped to the conclusion that it's our fault because of where the freezer sits (until they read the technical specifications in the user guide).

If we get a chance to change it out, I'm not sure I want the same brand/design.

What say ye?

Thank you for comments,
spncity
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:12 PM   #2
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How are you measuring the temperature? I would expect the air to get quite a bit colder than the target temperature by the end of the cycle. Otherwise it would need to run all the time. It has to overshoot it a bit, so it can stay off for a while.

I'd put a thermometer in a small jar filled with vodka and set it in the middle of the freezer. Check that from time to time, after a day to let it adjust. That will give a bit of thermal mass to it and give you the average temperature.


As far as ice cream, ask the experts:

IDFA - Keep it Cool

International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)
Quote:
  • Your freezer should be set at between -5F and 0F. Ice cream is easy to dip between 6F and 10F, the ideal serving temperature range.
So, if it is coming on at +2F, it is probably maintaining an average temp a few degrees below that. Sounds about right to me. But 15 degree swings sound high, depending where you are measuring, I guess. I'd expect about 5 degree F delta.

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For the love of Ice Cream........
Old 01-04-2009, 10:15 PM   #3
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For the love of Ice Cream........

I don't see where its causing any problems other than the ice cream. Even 2 degrees F seems cold enough to keep the ice cream hard, so I wonder how warm it's actually getting. How are you measuring?

I am sortof surprised you can find a manual defrost freezer anymore or why you would insist on one except I'm sure they are probably cheaper and more efficient.

We disposed of a manual defrost model that was a Kenmore we bought used in '87 and it quit running in 2000 (right after sitting unused in storage for 12 mos). It kept everything frozen solid.
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:19 PM   #4
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At least there isn't a food safety issue--your food is being kept plenty cold.

The guy at this link asked the same question, but no one has offered a response yet. Maybe the temp range is normal if you and he are both seeing it.

The Samurai Appliance Repairman has the best DIY appliance site I've found. I think if you post your question there you'll get an answer, along with recommendations for any replacement freezer you might need.

Regardless of how this turns out, you can be sure you saved a lot of money in energy costs by getting rid of the old dinosaur freezer.

Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post

Regardless of how this turns out, you can be sure you saved a lot of money in energy costs by getting rid of the old dinosaur freezer.
Not necessarily. I been meaning to post this, but wanted to collect some more data first - but I got a Kill-a-Watt a few months back and one of the first things I measured was our old dinosaur 20 year old upright freezer. I was surprised.

At 10 cents/KWhr I figured it would cost $76 per year to run. 6.68 Kwatts over 76.83 hours. It was not some fancy, high end freezer, just a very, very basic model. But I did look at the EnergyGuide charts that were posted when I bought it, and I have it with the manual (they estimate $82/year @ 10 cents/KWHr). How much cheaper can a freezer get?

I monitored for about 3 days in moderate temperatures (it's in the garage). Duty cycle was 56%, so even if it ran full on for a few weeks in summer, it can't be more than double that rate for that time. I need to measure it again, now that it is cold in the garage.

As long as this thing runs this well, I will keep it. Why risk getting a new one that might possibly bite the dust after a few years? Are new ones this long-lived on average?

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Old 01-04-2009, 11:37 PM   #6
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whats the matter with soft ice cream??
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Old 01-05-2009, 02:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz4cash View Post
...I am sortof surprised you can find a manual defrost freezer anymore or why you would insist on one except I'm sure they are probably cheaper and more efficient.

We disposed of a manual defrost model that was a Kenmore we bought used in '87 and it quit running in 2000 (right after sitting unused in storage for 12 mos). It kept everything frozen solid.
We have a manual defrost freezer because it keeps food in better condition: an auto defrost cycles above freezing temp air through the freezer compartment once/day as it does it's frost stripping cycle - a manual defrost has no need to do so.

Older freezers and fridges tend to die if they are allowed to sit without running for an extended time - was told that acids in created in the freon/oil mix are harmless unless the gasses and fluids are allowed to stratify - then one ends up with the acid in one layer in the condensor coils and nice pinholes which allow the freon to go away = dead freezer-fridg.
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:39 AM   #8
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If you are keeping it in the garage and it gets cold (close to about 40 degrees in the garage) the refrigerator may "take a rest" as in not cooling. If that happens then the insulation in the refrigerator wall will allow the temperature inside the refrigerator to rise. The rise will be relative to the settings of the refrigerator and it will be first felt in the freezer. We have ours in the garage and really wished we had put it in the basement for that reason. DW drives me nuts in the winter when the bread she freezes gets "soft". IMO there is nothing wrong with the refrigerator (and, you have heard this before, "that is the way they work"). When we were in Florida we did not keep the refrigerator in the garage because of the heat (mold and mildew factor also) although the higher temperature did not seem to be a problem there. Of course you could try putting a heater new the refrigerator to keep the temperature around it higher - I thought of doing that but could not see wasting the money to run the heater - wouild be simpler to just put the da** thing in the house.
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:23 AM   #9
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We have an many yrs old manual defrost freezer in the garage also. It's been a while since I took temperature readings but I don't recall any short term temp swings like you mention (I assume you mean short term.....I haven't or least don't remember taking temp readings at extremes of ambient temp on purpose. After an annual defrosting , I do monitor temperatures for a few days . One thing is different in our case.......we have a small chest freezer. I am guessing you have a large ? upright. One thing I noticed in our relatively new refrigerator ......(double French doors, freezer on bottom). The temperature can be stable for days/weeks and relatively uniform spatially , then suddenly have about the same average temp but the bottom shelf will get very cold with frostbitten lettuce and semi-frozen stuff and the top shelf will get warmer by about the same amount. Days or wks later, things return to normal. I have never fixed the problem but it does seem to me that things get worse when the refrigerator is crammed full.............like the flow patterns are being disturbed by the load. Perhaps something similar is happening in your freezer. Have you monitored the spatial temp pattern?

For a new one, perhaps Consumer Reports has a relatively recent review that you can read.
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:40 AM   #10
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I'm pretty sure the OP is talking about a freezer, not a refrigerator/freezer.

A refrigerator/freezer is a whole different beast, due to interactions between the two compartments.

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Old 01-06-2009, 05:22 PM   #11
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Thanks for comments!

It is a large upright manual defrost freezer. Manual defrost keeps food better longer than does frost free, and you don't get those ice crystals.

The new one is not as large as the old one which was huge. Seems the biggest freezer one can order in manual defrost these days is around 20 cu. ft.

We measure the temps in a couple of ways - thermometer hanging in freezer and the infrared (?) device where you point and shoot.

Hard ice cream is a personal preference.

I just don't think we should have hard ice cream "sometimes", and really soft ice cream "sometimes" (as in a Klondike bar being so soft you can hardly hold it) when the setting is the same.

spncity
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:35 PM   #12
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I've gotten really wacky readings in the fridge or freezer with the infra-red device. Keep in mind that the infra-red devices measure the surface temperature.

I think for some things, as soon as you open the door, the surface can quickly take on the temperature of the air that rushes in. That could be it, and/or it reads the 'steam' rising off , and I think that will be right around 32F, or you get some combo of those. I could get 20F deltas just pointing in different areas - I don't trust it for that.

The infra-red things are great, but it really only works when the surface has settled in on the temperature you are trying to measure. Shiny surfaces throw it off also - I was told to put some tape on unpainted metal surfaces to read them. They are some geeky fun though.

Where are you keeping the ice cream? In the door? I'd bet if you kept it in the middle of the middle shelf, surrounded by other thermal mass, you'd be OK.

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Old 01-06-2009, 05:45 PM   #13
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I'd return that piece of junk to Lowes. A good freezer will keep your stuff rock hard. My manual defrost is 30 years old, and I dread the day when it will fail. Not sure what I'd buy today if I had to have one......
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:17 PM   #14
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Ah, there's the rub. One more repair visit and theoretically I can return the freezer to Lowe's.

But what do I buy that will be better and where do I find it?

Our friends have an Amana refrigerator/freezer that had problems and the repair tech told them he does a lot of Amana repair and to avoid that brand.

A repair tech told us he thought GE might have the temperature sensor located at the back which is a better design than the Frigidaire.

We find that sellers don't have manual freezers in stock. They have to be ordered...
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Old 03-12-2009, 07:15 AM   #15
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Well, after five service calls, they finally agreed to replace the freezer.

When asked, a couple of repair techs and the store manager and appliance dept. supervisor all said "Whirlpool". So that's what we got.

So far, this one seems to be doing better.

Thanks all for comments!
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