Chest freezers with optional refrigerator modes are readily available. Why aren't you using one instead of an electricity-guzzling freestanding fridge? Kris de Decker extols the virtues of chest refrigerators' vastly-improved efficiency and lower power consumption. [via Hacker News]
Vertical doors in refrigeration devices are inherently inefficient. As soon as we open a vertical fridge door – the cold air escapes, simply because it is heavier than the warmer air in the room. When we open a chest freezer – the cool air stays inside, just because it's heavy. Any leak or wear in a vertical door seal (no seal is perfect) causes significant loss of refrigerator efficiency. In contrast, even if we leave the chest freezer door wide open, the heavy cool air will still remain inside.
He quotes Dr. Tom Chalko, who offers some advice on DIYing a conversion.
My chest fridge (Vestfrost freezer turned into a fridge) consumes about 0.1 kWh a day. It works only about 2 minutes per hour. At all other times it is perfectly quiet and consumes no power whatsoever. My wind/solar system batteries and power-demand-sensing inverter simply love it.
My suspicion is that a chest refrigerator would be quite fucking aggravating actually , and that this is sufficiently obvious to manufacturers to deter mainstream marketing efforts.