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The Fridge as building block...

 
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Most  refrigerators I meet  are roughly rectangular, and about 5 feet tall.
Remove their guts and they are boxes of insulation with a metal skin.
I can imagine building a nice shed from junked fridges.
The most strait forward form would be two rows of them facing each other, a wooden bond beam atop each wall and a  shed roof covering everything.
Each fridge should probably be spaced a bit from the one next to it,  if we want to be able to use the doors.
This could be accomplished by scrap lumber or scraps of refrigerator.
Refrigerators cut up into slabs of insulation could fill in spaces, and maybe even used to create the roof deck.

The fridges  could also be stacked like cinder block, laying in their sides.
The irregularities in their dimensions might be more difficult to deal with in this orientation.

In any orientation the insides of our building blocks could be sealed off,  or open for use,  filled with soil, empty bottles,  and styrofoam,  or empty entirely.

I especially like the idea of using them for storage, but tapping their potential for solar thermal collection is also appealing.
A fridge with a window  and rocks could be like a trombe wall.
Swap the rocks for a black tank and you have a water heater.
Pile in window screen instead for a very deep solar thermal air heater.
Or line the space with reflective foil and use it to startplants or grow  cold weather greens,  switching it over to be a solar dryer/drhydrator in summer.

So,  just another crazy idea to consider, let me know what you think.
 
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I have been looking at batch solar water heaters and a refrigerator would make it simple. With a batch style, the inner tank is removed from the water heater and is put in an insulated box. No moving parts. Just connect cold water in, hot water out, and pipe the pressure valve outside the box. Put the tank in the box, drill 3 holes for the pipes, and cover with glass.

Its pretty brilliant and can be added to an existing hot water heater. The solar heated water would go into the existing tank preheated. Temps of 120 F seem to be easy to achieve.
 
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Location: Eastern Washington
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This idea of using old fridges as building materials is a great idea! I've been wishing for a way to make a frost free water point for winder livestock areas, Having the plumbing come up into a insulated fridge box might work well.
Make a little solar air heater "hat" for the fridge, to keep some internal mass warm enough.
 
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I think that anything that gets another round of use out of the embodied energy in a fridge is worth it. That said, if I was making a shed with a bunch of them, I would pay attention to where old pipes/fans/gaps are and block with scraps of metal to keep the mice and rats from setting up shop! I love the idea of a shed coming equipped with adjustable storage shelves/bins!
 
pollinator
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I’ve considered burying one I have that no longer works for an off grid root cellar, but yours is a better idea.
 
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Ben Zumeta wrote:I’ve considered burying one I have that no longer works for an off grid root cellar,



Hmm...I wonder if that could also be feasible as an insulated worm bin.
 
Jay Angler
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Burl Smith wrote:

Hmm...I wonder if that could also be feasible as an insulated worm bin.

I think I read about that idea somewhere. There are some chest freezers that actually have a drainage hole with plug at the bottom that might be a more suitable starting point. Fridges may not be as liquid tight in the horizontal position. Using either though would require consideration regarding air flow. Large worm bins I've seen out of bathtubs (Geoff Lawton-style for example) have loose enough lids for some air exchange, but fridges and freezers are designed to be sealed, so if the issue is keeping the worms warm, I would design the airflow to conserve warmth. If the issue is they get too hot in summer, I'd want the coolest air possible.
 
Burl Smith
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Jay Angler wrote: regarding air flow.



Ok, I recall reading that worms create a nutritious soup (fertilizer) that would need to be drained off somehow, but are you telling me that an earth bermed worm bin would require some means of air exchange?
 
pollinator
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I've had some ideas for projects like these, but the one blocking problem I always run into is how to deal with the Freon gas.

You look at fridge recycling projects online and down in the comments all the safety trolls are quick to point out that releasing Freon is damaging to the atmosphere, federally illegal, and personally dangerous.  
All true statements, but what you don't find (at least I never have) is what to actually do with the stuff?

I've also heard it's an expensive gas, so you'd think that somebody, somewhere would be thrilled to pump it out for free... but who that is and how to find them remains a mystery to me.
 
Jay Angler
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K Eilander wrote:

You look at fridge recycling projects online and down in the comments all the safety trolls are quick to point out that releasing Freon is damaging to the atmosphere, federally illegal, and personally dangerous.

My husband has looked into this and feels that the reality is that the reason most fridges stop working is that small leaks have developed and whatever gas has been used has in fact, already leaked out. He thinks that in response to environmental concerns, manufacturers are using much less gas in the modern fridges than in ones build 20-30 years ago. Thus, my old fridge from that era is still working, but the newer fridge a friend gave me quit at about 10 years of age and I've heard similar complaints from others.

 
Jay Angler
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Burl Smith wrote:

Jay Angler wrote: regarding air flow.



Ok, I recall reading that worms create a nutritious soup (fertilizer) that would need to be drained off somehow, but are you telling me that an earth bermed worm bin would require some means of air exchange?

I guess I'm really not sure what you're trying to accomplish and what it would look like? I have a metal garbage can compost that I used for things that are likely to attract rats and it has lots of holes drilled into the part which is buried beneath ground level (about half of it). The worms can get in and out through those holes and the top of the can is not tightly sealed. Fridges tend to have gaskets and are designed to be sealed to the air - that's why they shifted to magnetic latches so that no one could get locked in and suffocate. One of the reasons worms are so healthy for the soil is that they create tunnels for air and moisture to travel through (among all the other great things that worms do for the soil.) I suppose it is possible that if you opened the door on a daily basis to add more plant material that this would supply any needed air exchange, but you're in territory that's beyond my chemistry/decomposition/worm bin knowledge. I just know that when I researched building a worm farm at one point, the need for air vents was considered important.
 
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Smaller ones can also be used for insulated stock water tanks (I similarly used a cooler to insulate my goats water against freezing, this winter).
Hubs and I have been trying to figure out how to get a bunch of them, to line the interior of three goat barn, to help insulate it, craft above ground root cellars, and (after blocking all inlets), protecting livestock feed from rodent and bug infestations.
We've also thought about using them for aquaponics tanks.

For us, the difficulty is more about getting them home, than anything.
 
Ben Zumeta
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Seems like for the compost bin or a cellar, page 367 of the big black book (credit Mollison and Holmgren) is where I’d start:

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[Thumbnail for F9AD8192-1A56-4EC9-85D5-5BC215572804.png]
 
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