help me convert a mini-fridge into a foot-rest/fridge?
June 17, 2007 5:44 PM   Subscribe

will a mini-fridge ("cube") still function if turned on it's back (cooling coils downward-facing)?

i've got an excellent idea devious plan for a drink-holding ottoman. i basically want to build an ottoman around a mini-fridge turned on it's back, replacing the door with an insulated top that will carry a cushion for propping up one's feet. is such an idea bound to fail due to the design of the fridge itself?
posted by garfy3 to Technology (14 answers total)
Most, if not all fridges have a pan underneath that collects the condensation from the fridge allowing it to evaporate. If you tilt it on it's back, that stuff will just fall to the ground. Also, heat rises, and if those coils can't breath and cool down, your fridge won't keep anything cold.

I'd recommend against it.
posted by AaRdVarK at 5:54 PM on June 17, 2007

In addition, when we had a big freezer delivered to our lab, we had to wait 24 hours for the coolant to "settle" before turning it on, since it had been shipped on its side.

So it may not be a good idea to run your minifridge in a non-right-side-up position.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 5:57 PM on June 17, 2007

Best answer: Heat rises. If the external coils are directly beneath the cold-box, the heat will rise into the cold box -- which rather defeats the purpose, don't you think?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:00 PM on June 17, 2007

This would not be a good idea.
I have always heard that you should wait a few hours after moving a fridge to turn it on if its been on it's side.
posted by jammnrose at 6:02 PM on June 17, 2007

Try one of these instead.
posted by SansPoint at 6:07 PM on June 17, 2007

Wouldn't the cord running from the ottoman be ... trippy?
posted by RMD at 6:09 PM on June 17, 2007

Response by poster: the cord i can handle, not a problem in the current room setup.

the fridge design might be a bigger problem. perhaps i could rig up a small fan under the coils to circulate air around the hotty parts. but the circulation of coolant is still a question to be reckoned with.
posted by garfy3 at 6:31 PM on June 17, 2007

Best answer: Depending on how tool-savvy you are, you could also think about cutting the top off (or a hole in the top) of one of those mini fridges and turning that into the lid.

Obviously you need to be aware of any thermostats/contros when cutting, but in my experience the top of these fridges would just be an inner and outer steel shell filled with an expanding foam type material.

On reflection, it'd probably be easiest to just cut a round or square hole smaller than the top of the fridge. Trim up the cut edges, come up with a lid and you'd be in business.
posted by davey_darling at 6:44 PM on June 17, 2007

Further to SansPoint, answers to this question show how to convert a chest freezer to a fridge, using an external thermostat. I got one for about 50 bucks and the "kegerator" has run flawlessly for several years.

You might consider just cutting the top off the bar fridge and fitting a little padded wooden cover or something. Most likely it i just sheet metal and foam up there, but you might want to unplug it first. If it was a hatch, you could leave the side door on.

Finally, I wonder if there is device like an electic "immersible cooling element" that could be stuck into a small chest.

Or you could get a small inverter and look into the portable kinds designed for cars and boats: these are quite cheap, for example.
posted by Rumple at 6:48 PM on June 17, 2007

Best answer: The problem with turning the thing on it's side is simply that the compressor will starve for oil and/or the liquefied freon will end up in the wrong end and burst seals (like when you turn a can of 'air' upside down). All compressors are like this with the possible exception of oil less air compressors.
posted by IronLizard at 7:31 PM on June 17, 2007

could you use a thermoelectric cooler? I keep mine on its side all the time.
posted by nimsey lou at 8:00 PM on June 17, 2007

A peltier junction? A couple of those might work for a prototype, but beware: they suck major power due to their low efficiency.
posted by IronLizard at 8:32 PM on June 17, 2007

They do have peltier -effect thermoelectric fridges now, which will keep a beer cold. They won't chill anything very quickly, but should be suitable for your purposes.
posted by cgs06 at 5:40 AM on June 18, 2007

Response by poster: cgs06: those peltier-effect fridges seem to be getting aweful reviews...wonder if there's some 3rd way we haven't hit upon yet?
posted by garfy3 at 2:52 PM on June 18, 2007

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