DIY walk-in cooler

DIY walk-in cooler

I’ve been emailing someone about the benefits of making your own walk-in refrigerator/cooler using factory made mechanicals. She said, “I really never did understand why people would spend thousands on refrigerators when the walk ins are so much better. Most high end refrigerators are nothing more than some styrofoam and plastic wrapped in some visually appealing finish. Since I’ll be growing most of my own food, I’ll need the extra space.”

If you’re interested in this idea, one good place to get started is the CoolBot website. The CoolBot is the electronic control system. They explain how to build your own walk-in cooler with a standard window air conditioner. From their website: “The CoolBot turns almost any brand of off-the-shelf, window-type air conditioning unit (purchased separately) into a turbo-charged cooling machine. Transform an insulated room into a walk-in cooler to keep your vegetables, meat, flowers and other products fresh and thermostatically controlled cool down to 35F!” These coolers can be built inside your home, attached to the outside of your home, built as a free standing unit, or even built as a mobile cooler (ex: truck or trailer conversation). Here’s a video by Earth Dance with step-by-step visuals.

So here’s something to think about. Imagine having a tiny house or small house where space is obviously at a premium. You could build a separate cooler – on a trailer, for instance. You could also build your other mechanical systems on a trailer (possibly on the same trailer as the cooler) as we’ve discussed in a previous blog post. At any time, for any reason – such as a dispute over land rights, unfair taxes, natural disaster, etc. you could just pack up and drive away. And, of course, having everything on trailers cuts taxes and skirts onerous building codes.

The CoolBot website has a good photo gallery of coolers people have built. Most are just what you’d expect as you can see in the photo above – a homemade structure with air conditioner, the controller and shelving. But one project – a cooler in Uganda — really stood out for me (obvious to anyone who has been reading this site for a while).

Stages in construction of a coolroom in Arua, Uganda

Stages in construction of a coolroom in Arua, Uganda

The coolroom in Uganda was conducted by HortCRSP and UC Davis working on a project to help provide cold storage to farmers in Honduras, India and Africa. Being able to keep food cool to prolong its freshness is enormously important in hot climates. These are pictures from construction in Arua, Uganda using two concentric mud brick walls (made with mud mixed with rice hulls) separated by a 30 mm cavity that was filled with plastic bags filled with rice hulls. As their report shows a cooler like this can be built for only 10% of a commercial refrigeration system.


DIY Walk-in Cooler — 4 Comments

  1. Yep, we’ve been trained to only buy food as we consume it and put it in our pretty little consumer fridges. Trained never to store much more than we need at the moment. It’s literally like the people in power are trying to build the most dependent unstable society they can; a society that can be thrown into complete chaos by minor kinks in the chains.

    • Other related facts: Grain reserves are at an all time low. I’ve heard those giant grain silos are no longer filled as in the past. Supermarkets can sell out in 1-2 days due to modern “just in time” delivery systems. Many farmers are going bankrupt and/or giving up the family farm since most young people would rather work in cities doing easier jobs. This means the US food supply is now largely controlled by a handful of giant agro corporations who primarily sell low grade items that you can barely call food. Most of it’s full of fructose, corn syrup, artificial colors, preservatives and dozens of chemicals no one except mad scientists can pronounce. No thanks. I’ll grow my own food (as much as possible).

  2. I never even considered building a walk-in cooler before, because everyone I know has a refrigerator in their home. The cool room pictures from Uganda really make me appreciate the fact that most businesses in the food industry have easy access to builders who can easily install cool rooms. There are other buildings in the picture, so I’m assuming they have access to electricity. Why don’t they have an actual refrigeration room?

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