Instructables

Make a dehydrator from a dorm fridge

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Picture of Make a dehydrator from a dorm fridge
How to make a food/fruit dryer from a dorm fridge using recycled materials.
Material list:
-dorm/bar fridge
-base from slow cooker/crock pot (found at dump)
-110V fan (though a 12V should work as well but then you'd need a power supply as well)
-thermostat assembly from an electric stove (found at dump) (save all the screws you take out to get the back of the stove and use them to mount the shelves etc.)
-neon indicator lights from same stove
-racks/shelves from old stove/fridge
-piece of aluminum angle cut into +/- 1" pieces for rack hangers
-on/off switch (a regular house light switch would work as well, but not as cool..)
-misc. wire, crimp terminals and wire nuts and misc. fasteners
-Mylar sheet/aluminum foil
-aluminum tape, duct tape
-screen material to cover vents and lay on racks
-And of course, some fruit to dry

Tool list
-wire strippers/crimpers
-screwdrivers
-drill, bits, holesaw
-utility knife
-And most important, basic common sense and the humility to ask for advice when needed.
 
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Step 1: Remove freezer and controls

Remove the freezer compartment and controls from the inside and the compressor etc. from the back. Keep the fridge power cord for the new set-up.
Cut around the door shelf to remove it and using a fishing wire leader or piano wire or a guitar string slipped in through the cut at the top, saw downward and cut the foam and remove door shelves.
zamo276 months ago
what can i use as a heating element instead of the crock pot element?
can you please suggest other heating devices please
(not necessary recycled ones)
jamilks (author)  zamo276 months ago
Aloha~ I have built a second unit using the heater/ blower assembly out of a dishwasher. This combines the two functions and I still have them on separate switches with the heater on a thermostat.

You could use a small hot plate food cooker but would still need to wire it into the thermostat so it would shut off the heat periodically but not the fan.

Hope this helps. Until later, be well. Jamil
thelunar9 months ago
Great help to domestic Food preservation and benefiting
KawikaSeri1 year ago
Cool. But it would be interesting to make one that uses the power of the sun. There must be a way and would safe money on elecricity. Something similar to a solar oven. Maybe painting the refrigerator in black
Just what I was looking for. I've got an old intergrated fridge that's a bit tired and unwanted.
I intend to remove all the electrics, compressor etc. and install a 12v system comprising two 12v automotive lamps, a fan and a thermostat. I can then hopefully use this as a drying Jerky/Biltongbox.
I'm also considering adding an inlet pipe to connect an external smoke box to make this also useful as a cold smoker.
armagedon592 years ago
great idea!!!
rimar20005 years ago
Good work, good idea. I have in the garage a fridge of approx. 60-70 years age. But it still functions...
That's the great thing about older machinery, lower build tolerances and design for use in rougher environments than they design for today mean the machines had to be servicable and tough enough to stand up to punishment. If you kept them in good shape though they could run for a super long time.
Here in Argentina, Christmas is full summer, and then that old fridge shows what is worth. We fill it with bottles of soda because the main fridge is busy with other meals. I think that it can last other 20 or 30 years, taking care of it a little. Nevertheless, it is easy to obtain old fridges that do not function. In fact, many people takes advantage of them to do carts, applying them a motorcycle wheels pair.
Good idea, old frig for parts. My uncle had a refrigerator door mounted on his basement wall with parts filling it.
I'm a big fan of re-purposing old things. I wish my own countrymen were as quick and creative to reuse something as they often can be to just go buy a new whatever they need. My home's fridge is much younger (only a little younger than I am) but in it's 18-19 years it's had minor repairs and maintenance that would have many people I've met simply give up on it and toss it out for a newer model. It seems they have to do this faster and faster each time as build quality goes down and people's willingness to treat things as disposable goes up. Very sad. Here's to hoping both of our fridges keep kicking for years to come.
Very nice instructable . I like it !!!
Kissker2 years ago
Most dehys have a vent of some sort to let the moisture out, the importance of the fan is to circulate the warm air - if it's cooling off the food, it's too powerful, it's just to keep the air circulating.

The moist air is actually bad for the process too - even 'finished' foods from this set up might grow mold if not eaten quickly after processed, due to the moisture.

A good way to do meats is to marinade/dehy at 140/155 F for several hours (dependent on the meat) then put into a preheated oven (275F) for 10 minutes, and then let cool to room temp. This dries your meats (jerky, etc) and then makes sure the internal temperature reaches 160F to kill any bacteria that could harm you later - as well as "finishes off" any lingering moisture.
Soupraok5 years ago
!!!! could you use this to make beef jerky??????? CUZ THAT WOULD BE SWEEET!
awang8 Soupraok5 years ago
I don't think so, because since it takes 24 hours to dry some pieces of pineapple, beef jerky would take ages, therefore rotting. I may be wrong though...
just pop them in an oven at a low temp
I make my own beef jerky using a box fan and an air conditioner filter. Works amazing
Hmm...someone watches Good Eats, apparently... :)
lol, yup..he made a goo dpoint XD
Partially wrong (I realize this comment is a year and a half old, but oh well) - as long as the beef is prepared correctly (ie, marinade the meat), the salt in the mariande will prevent spoilage during the drying process - but if you just threw the meat in there as is, then yes, spoilage would most likely occur.
ilpug4 years ago
well, this is a nice idea. the only problem is that all over the place, college students will now be turning their fridge into one of these as a cheap and hidden place to dry thier weed.
what a great idea!
Kaiven5 years ago
Niiiiiiiiice.
Erfunden5 years ago
Very cool! I hope you post some updates with photos after you finish tinkering and tweaking.
jamilks (author) 5 years ago
Please note'' that in Step 2 I've added a note about putting a piece of pipe to extend the upper vent hole away from the back so that it ends beyond the covering of the insulation on the back of the material. I was finding that the "steam" venting was getting behind the cover and dripping down in the area of the controls...not a good thing...Sorry 'bout that...