An Obviously Good Idea – Save Money Save Energy – Freeaire

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Every once in a while someone comes up with an idea that is so astoundingly simple that you have to wonder “why didn’t I think of that.” Every year in this part of the country a remarkable thing happens. The leaves fall off the trees, the sun goes into hibernation, and the rain turns into snow, we call it winter. Global warming aside, its a pretty regular event that can be counted on every year. The number one feature of winter that most people notice is that, it gets really freaking cold outside. This is key to the workings of an invention by a company called Freeaire.

The Freeaire system is an add on product for existing walk in freezers, coolers, meat lockers, cold storage, and any other refrigerated space (I am sure you could modify it to work with a home unit, but its designed for commercial spaces). It works with all those large walk in coolers that are in just about every corner store in the world.

freeaire system

It has a little sensor and a fan, and when its really cold outside it pumps in cold outside air instead of turning the compressor on. Simple, cheap, why didn’t I think of this.

From the Site

The Basic Freeaire Refrigeration System can be used in walk-in coolers, freezers and cold storage warehouses anywhere in the world. A Freeaire system utilizes an electronic controller called the Cooler Controller to finely tune the operation of standard refrigeration equipment. The microprocessor inside the model 2001 Cooler Controller knows the exact temperature that you want and the best way to achieve it. It knows when critical refrigeration system components should run and it saves energy and money by knowing when they shouldn’t. It controls the condensing unit (compressor and condenser fan) and evaporator fans to keep a constant temperature throughout the space. It stops the evaporator fans when not needed, usually more than half the time, which also reduces the compressor’s refrigeration load. Proper airflow is maintained when the evaporator fans switch off by operating one or more of the Freeaire’s energy-efficient Circ circulating fans. The Cooler Controller regularly and thoroughly defrosts the evaporator coils, but for only as long as they need it. It allows heaters to defog reach-in glass doors, but only when necessary. Some Freeaire systems use highly efficient replacement Evap evaporator fan motors that use 30 to 40% less energy than standard ones. All of these measures combine to save you huge amounts of electricity and money, whether you live at the equator or the Arctic Circle.

But it’s in colder climates, where the words “snow”, “ice” and “wind-chill factor” are often heard, that the Freeaire has a special talent. It taps into the greatest source of refrigeration ever created: winter. The Freeaire’s Cool Breeze Outside Air Package can use fresh, cold outside air to cool the room, simply using what Nature has so considerately and freely offered, to give the whole condensing unit and evaporator fans the winter off. Simply moving cold air from the outside to the inside is much more efficient than making cold air with a compressor system, even when the outside air is only a few degrees colder than the air it’s replacing. In the northern United States, it is not uncommon for a walk-in cooler with a Freeaire system with outside air to use less than 10% of the energy needed by a compressor system for 150 days per year.

Here is a simple payback example of a client.




So you save money, save electricity, save greenhouse gas emissions, help the planet, your wallet, and you still get a nice cold pop to drink all year long. If you own a large walk in cooler, you owe it to yourself and the planet to check out Freeaire.

25 thoughts on “An Obviously Good Idea – Save Money Save Energy – Freeaire”

  1. Another useful invention would be a simple switch in the vent for your dryer that pumps the nice, moist, hot air into your house in the winter instead of venting it to the great outdoors.

  2. Alex, these exist. There are models at Home Depot, or it’s actually better to build your own (filtering). Anyway, the one big thing to watch for is the lint, which is very fine of course, and can get in your lungs, air ducts, etc. With good enough filtering and maintenance it works. We have one and switch it when it’s cold – it’s great.

    With the Freeaire, I’m wondering about insulation in the warm months – how effective is it, and whether humidity is a factor in either direction. Dunno – just asking.

  3. I will sell you such a device for $3000. I call it “unhook the dryer vent”. Say hello to warm moist air and goodbye to your lungs. Seriously bad to put all that lint in your air dude.

  4. I’m telling ya the truth! I am actually working on this. I also came up with those shoes with roller skates in them. DAMN!

  5. Dennis: check out the freeaire site (its ugly i know but full of useful info if you can slog through it all). They talk extensively about insulation on one of the many many pages linked on the home page. The duct work is highly insulated even to the point of them selling a giant 2 inch think rubber plug you can use to cap off the whole works (among other methods of insulation).

  6. I once saw a proposal years ago for a device that takes the heat from the refrigerator coil when it is in use and uses it to heat water.

  7. Isn’t outside air often too wet – you could end up with a defrosting problem on a scale you’ve never seen before.

  8. >>>Isn’t outside air often too wet

    Not in the winter it isn’t wet. At least not the winters where i’m from. Which reminds me maybe these refrigerators should run off that naturally occurring static electricity we get in the winter months.

  9. Great article,

    This is the kind of simple idea that will work, because it doesn’t need rocket science and everybody can understand it. We really need more of that.
    @mike : great idea to combine those two devices.

    In fact we would need to completely rethink the whole thermal usage in a home, it isn’t worth producing heat in one piece to use a refrigerator or Air Conditionning in the next room, you pay twice.
    Those devices in a chain should be fitted with (new) standard plug between them, in order to be able to buy or replace just a part of it.
    I note these ideas for later.

  10. My companies been selling such a system in the industrial spectrum for years, called Air Handling Units, they’ve been on industrial and commercial rooftops for years(20+). I write the control software and basically we look at outside air and demand air temps, then modulate vents to maintain a mixture. You just have to watch you don’t blow the walls out by overpressuring a room. Problem is, some places don’t want the outside air because it needs filtered/purified for food and bev apps.

    I wonder how this will catch on without some kind of hygenic filtration process?

  11. If humanity has been able to combine a printer, fax, copier, and scanner into one device, I think the ingenuity exists to combine a refrigerator and water heater, or a large commercial refrigeration unit with an office heating unit.

    Society has basically been enjoying a free ride on the multi-million year accumulation of oil and gas. These are starting to become harder to extract (why else is the price going up – do not be misled), and we will need to start think more carefully about each use of energy on a commercial and home level.

  12. Why Not Make a pipeline from Antarctica to cities across the world and pump cold air during the summer?

    Or from hot deserts to cold cities?

  13. And we can run those pumps using geothermal energy from underground and using the force of the escaping methane in the tundra.

    Just joking, no offense please.

  14. Just responding to the 1st 3 response where it is thought to be a good idea to unhook the dryer vent and pump it into the house. ONLY DO THIS IF YOU HAVE AND ELECTRIC DRYER. Gas dryers utilize this air path to also discharge the carbon monoxide. You don’t want that pumping into your house.

    For the electric dryer users, a good filter to trap the line is a pair of lady’s stockings that are no longer needed.

  15. hey guys just posting a comment to say what a grand job you have done with this… i think that you have great hope for the future


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