To defrost or not to defrost…. Which is better?

I have a stand up freezer. I normally defrost it every 9 to 16 months usually at the point where the frost building up on the wire racks starts to bother me. It is one of those things that seem wrong to me when I see it so it just needs to be dealt with. If I was a neater person you might say a little OCD there. (cont)

I have talked to several of my friends that say their freezers always work best (i.e. use less energy and stay colder) when they are loaded full. They will load their freezer full of 2-liters with 70% full of water (soon to be ice) and brown paper bags containing old newspapers in the spaces not occupied with ice cream and those 4 year old zipper bags of blue berries.

I can understand the loaded theory. Every time you open a stand up freezer all the chilled air sinks to the floor outside of the freezer and is instantly replaced by moist air from the room your freezer is in. When the door is closed that air cools and moisture in the air is what is condensing as ice crystals on the racks. Less available air volume to exchange means there is less warm air that needs to be cooled by your freezer. That makes sense.

Another thing that leads to this thinking is that we rural people are occasionally without power for extended periods of time. I don’t think we lose power much more often that city people, but when it is out it can take a while for it to be restored. Small isolated outages may only be for a couple of hours, but when storms take out power for 50,000 people who gets service back first the 100 homes on one of the rural circuits or the 10,000 homes on one in the city? With the power off we start to think of our freezer like a cooler. The more ice the long it will stay cold. Right?

On the other side of things doesn’t more mass mean more energy is needed to keep it cool? I know that is how it works with a hot water heater. It is best to have the smallest you can get away with and have enough hot water for what you need. To over think this a little more I know heat moves from warm bodies to cooler, so it is the insulation power of your freezer that saves you the most energy. Right?

Well I guess I can’t procrastinate any longer. On to defrost…

— Update — September 19th, 2009 —

Well I did break down and defrost the freezer. I think it had been longer than I thought.
I aways hate the unloading processes. I never have enough cooler and fridge space to hold everything and I always discover something that I wish I didn’t have to throw out. Such as the mature steaks from seven years ago.

Freezer before defrosting

Freezer before defrosting

It could still be good right? After all they still eat mammoth that has been in the ground frozen for thousands of years.  I spent the next three hours with my head in the freezer and a small space heater on a card table to my aid. I appropriated a small pink plastic Easter pail and used that to contain the thaw. I drained at least three gallons of water. Most of it I put down the drain, but some escaped to make the floor a wet mess.
I then gave the freezer a good wipe down and plugged it back in. I have photographic proof that the freezer was clean. Don’t expect it to stay that way long, but I figure if I have a picture of it then maybe I will just hang it on front of the freezer next time. A picture is worth a thousand cleanings or something like that.
Clean and ready to go
Clean and ready to go

 Then onto the reload. I did sacrifice 40 pounds of outdated meet. I put the frozen veggies back in. I don’t plan on eating them so it didn’t matter where they are stored. I placed the two liters of water back in along with the collection of 20 oz bottles. They can be handy when you need something to help chill your cooler.  I also do believe it helps keep your freezer running efficiently.

I did learn that you should throw out meat the morning before the trash pickup. I did this a couple of hours after my garbage people visited. That gave it a 7 full days to brew. On top of that we got an extra day since the following week started with a holiday. Ugh!! It stunk so bad that my car reeked just by being parked next to it. The stench permeated and there was no escaping it. The rain that came in the open windows of my car may have helped, but that is another story….