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Info: Fridge as PC Cooler

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
About once a week a thread pops up with the novel idea of using a refrigerator to cool a PC. A fridge is cold, we need a cool CPU, put the two together and it's pure genius! Right? Wrong.

So why won't it work? A refrigerator is basically a phase change system. It uses the idea of phase change to keep things cool. It is very important to differentiate this from cooling things down. A refrigerator will not be able to pull away the amounts of heat that a CPU produces, because it is actively producing heat. Your ham, on the other hand, is not.

To illustrate this point, empty your fridge and stick a warm 2 Liter bottle of soda in it. Wait ten seconds and pull it out. Is it cold? No. Put it back in, wait ten minutes. Is it cold? No. A refrigerator will take a relatively long time to cool down a 2 Liter bottle at ambient temperature. Putting something that actively produces heat, such as a CPU, will cause the fridge to constantly run, always trying to cool down air that it has no chance of ever cooling. This constant running will burn out the compressor by overstressing it in a matter of hours or, if you are lucky, days.

The operation of the compressor in a fridge puts another nail in the coffin of the fridge cooler. If you go to your fridge right now and listen to it, it may very well be silent. This is because the compressor does not run constantly. Rather, it runs for a few seconds, switches off, waits for a while, then switches back on. This suffices for refrigeration purposes since, during time for which the compressor has been off, no additional energy (heat) has been put into the system. The food will not warm itself up, so there is no need to constantly cool it. A CPU, on the other hand, will produce enough heat to burn itself out during the time for which the compressor is off. (Thanks lonnie - forgot about that)

To summarize, a refrigerator cannot cool something that is constantly producing heat. It is designed to keep cold things cold. It is able to take something from room temperature and make it cold, but just barely. If your fridge can barely handle a 2 Liter, what chance does it stand against a Prescott?

Now With Actual Data!
Somebody on the forums (mashersmasher) actually tried the fridge PC idea and timed it to see how long the compressor lasts. After a little more than a day the compressor burned to the touch and started to give out. While the fridge cooled the CPU to an extent (a bit over room temperature at stock settings) it was neither an efficient nor a particularly good cooler.
The thread can be found here.
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post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 
I see way too many threads on this and I thought I'd make an FAQ on it. If you have anything to add or anything you want me to change just post. I want this to be as complete, easy to read, and accurate as possible.
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post #3 of 11
good idea
    
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post #4 of 11
You also can't do this for other reasons. You probably can't seal the cords effectively enough between the door, and secondly, it would start to condensate in there, and otherwise killing your components. If you want to effectively use the concept of using the fridge to cool, you need phase change components and a little inginuity. Just look around for the parts and stuff and go from there, no sense even TRYING to escape the easy way by putting it in the fridge and leaving it at that, it wont work.
post #5 of 11
Nice but what i have seen effectively done is.. Drilling two holes in the top and putting a heat exchanger in the freezer part. This works
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post #6 of 11
I don't know much about refrigeration, but have seen AC units rated in terms of "BTU". Yet, I know that BTU's are a measurement of HEAT. How an AC unit can be rated in terms of heat is a question I have. But if the point is to prove that refrigerators cannot dissapate the amount of heat produced by a CPU, maybe it would help to show the BTU rating of an average refrigerator and compare that to the BTU's produced by an average computer.
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post #7 of 11
Just to add a little info: The compressor on a fridge is considered a "half-duty" compressor. Which means it runs in cycles. Which means it will run for a limited time and shut off. Which is why something that produces heat, like a CPU, will burn one out over a short time.

This FAQ is a good idea. Seems like every couple weeks or so someone asks the fridge question and it does seem to get quite old. Reps to ya!
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Updated FAQ - thanks lonnie - I forgot to mention that

@Lurch - I will add this if I can, unfortunately I have found it nearly impossible to find fridges rated by BTU. Since they really aren't supposed to remove heat (AC units are - kinda) I don't think that manufacturers usually give that data. If you (or anyone else) could find me data like that I can definitely do the math (or physics or chemistry or whatever). The only thing close that I could find was power consumtion stats.
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post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Updated to include mashersmasher's experiences
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post #10 of 11
A regular refridgerator may not work but if you had a Huge walk in freezer, then your in business! ( j/k )
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