How to Convert a Mini Fridge to a Chest Refrigerator

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Introduction: How to Convert a Mini Fridge to a Chest Refrigerator

It's just awful that when I open my refrigerator, all the cold air falls out. This makes me sad. So, I turned my refrigerators word upside down, or at least 90 degrees. Now, when I open the door, more cold air stays inside and this makes me happy - it increases my quality of life in fact.


For the rest of you with a large refrigerator.... I, and my partner in crime have something cooking for you. But, it's going to take a month or so as I want data showing this big refrigerator modification works. As you read meters are whizzing and collecting :)

Step 1: Aquire Fridge

This particular model was discovered in the annals of the UCF dumpsters during dorm move-out. The funny thing is, it was found, in the dumpster, with ice inside.

Step 2: Unscrew Compresser Assembly

To speed up production time, the compressor is assembled on a compressor mount separately from the rest of the unit. So, unscrew the compressor assembly from the fridge.

Step 3: Rotate Compressor

Firmly grasp the compressor and rotate it 90 degrees so that the top of the compressor faces what will become the bottom of the refrigerator. Try not to move it too much to prevent damage to the lines coming in and out the compressor.

Please note, it will take a fair amount of force to rotate the compressor assembly. This is normal.

Step 4: Support

If your refrigerator is designed like mine, the compressor assembly will not fit back into the space provided by the fridge manufacturer. I scrounged up 4 1/2 inch PVC couplings to act as spacers. I'm also using a spare bit of 1/2" PVC pipe and two 90 degree elbows to make feet.

I used 5 minute epoxy ($1 from harbor freight) to secure the feet and coupling risers.

Step 5: Turn Fridge Upright - Ignition

And by upright I mean on it's back - the new bottom :)

Before turning on, you'll probably want to let the compressor sit upright for a few hours, to make sure any oil settles back at the base. I'm not quite sure this is completely necessary as I believe the lubrication is in the refrigerant itself, but perhaps its best to play on the side of caution.

Now, plug your chest refrigerator in and turn it on :)

Step 6: Freezer Modification and Stock Up

For those wanting to turn a refrigerator into a freezer, it shouldn't be too hard. The only thing you'll need is a new thermostat that is connected to your compressor. As mine will be used, for now, as the beer fridge with spirits locker - I will not be converting to a freezer.

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    79 Comments

    The whole point of this instructable is to show you how to rotate the compressor so its new upright position is in line with the refrigerator being on its back. You have to read the rest of the steps. I think it's a great idea. Can't wait to try it on my mini-fridge.

    any issue with condensation
    dont refrigerators use some kind of gravity drain that drains into a condensation pan below the fridge?

    You've got the right idea. Most refridgerators have a condensing motor/pump that needs to be right side up. But if this works, more power to them. If it fails, that's probably why.

    I am iranian.

    Hello.please send you file pdf for me .if you can.thanks.
    Email :nader etemadzadeh@yahoo.com

    Works great !!! Converted yesterday an today my beer is coooooold

    I know this is old, but I thought I should point out, no fridge uses suspended lubricant, they are all oil bath (any suspended lubricant would significantly reduce efficiency). That being said, the oil isn't that thick, and there's no need to leave it overnight, a couple hours will do nicely.
    Also the reason for letting it sit is not so it doesn't run out of oil, but because if the lines get full of oil (as it's so much thicker then the gas) it could clog the expansion valve, and that could damage the compressor.

    The small compressor on a fridge hold abought half a litter of (usually mineral) oil.

    Bit of a mistake.
    r12 and r22 systems use mineral oil, r12 was banned in 1995, but r22 is still used (supposed to be phased out by 2020), but most companies favor r134a and it uses peg oil.

    Great Idea. thanks for the instructions. I want to apply this to my large family fridge. How did you go with your large fridge data and conversion. I could not find it on the site.

    Have you posted anything further in relation to that?

    thanks for your great contribution.