Locking the fridge or freezer when you are away or when you have little children in the house is a great way to prevent accidental touches to the controls.
Locking mechanisms can also be used to prevent air leakage which can put the contents of the fridge at risk!
What are the ways to lock a fridge or freezer? Most modern refrigerators come with a built-in child lock system that can prevent touches and can even disable the ice or water dispensing system. Some models also come with a physical lock that keeps the door shut until a code or key is inserted.
Read below to learn more about the different ways to lock the fridge or freezer, and how you can use these settings to prevent wastage.
How Refrigerators Work
Refrigeration technology has come a long way! Before refrigerators, humans used to heavily rely on preservation techniques to keep food safe and edible for longer.
Methods such as curing and brining were the go-to when it came to storing risky foods like dairy, meat, and vegetables. But there was a major disadvantage of using these methods: they usually affected the flavor and texture of food.
Don’t get us wrong, we love cured meat and other brined products, but you can’t practically depend on these high-sodium foods every day!
As our understanding of materials and manufacturing grew, we began experimenting with different ways to preserve food.
For example, early refrigeration designs used enclosed containers with ice. The container acted as a crude insulator that would slow down the rate at which the ice melted. This rudimentary design of cold storage worked well for the most part, but you had to keep a steady supply of ice around to use it!
During the early 1900s, engineers started to look at the issue of storage and refrigeration more seriously and decided to go the scientific route to solve this issue.
Advances in physics and chemistry led engineers to discover that they could exploit a simple phenomenon to get cool air quickly and effectively.
This phenomenon is called “Phase transition”. See, when a gas is compressed, it turns into a liquid, but before it does, this sudden change in its state also brings about a change in temperature in the liquid.
For example, when a high-pressure liquid changes its state to a gaseous or vapor form, it cools down.
When the gas turns back to liquid, it heats up again – and you can repeat this cycle multiple times in a system to produce a steady flow of cool air. This is the basis of refrigeration!
Every refrigerator has three simple but important components. The compressor, the evaporator, and the condenser.
A special refrigerant is used with specific properties that allow it to change its state under different pressure levels. The refrigerant first goes through an expansion valve that turns the refrigerant into a cool gas.
The gas circulates inside the refrigerator and passes through an evaporator. The cool air picks up the heat from the inside of the chamber and takes it to the outside of the fridge via pipes.
The gas then heads to a compressor that squeezes the refrigerant which causes it to heat up.
The heated liquid then goes through a condenser that radiates heat to the outside environment – and the liquid heads back again into the expander to repeat the cycle.
After the commercial success of refrigerators, manufacturers started to look beyond the initial problem of cooling food and began introducing new features. These features ranged from temperature presets, to water dispensers, ice makers, physical locks, and more.
In the old days, these features worked using tactile buttons and levers, which were quite intuitive and easy to use by anyone – but they could also be misused since, initially, there was no way to disable these features.
This meant that kids, out of curiosity, could “play” with the buttons and controls – which could adversely affect the setting and temperature of the appliance.
Even worse was the problem of leaving the fridge or freezer door open which could not only bring up the temperature of the food, but it could also promote the growth of frost and bacteria.
Essentially, a simple mistake could potentially ruin all your food within 6-8 hours! Luckily, refrigerator brands quickly started to install safety and locking features to prevent these types of accidents.
5 Ways to Lock the Fridge or Freezer
Here are the top ways to lock your appliance:
Physical locks were the old-school method of securing a fridge without any fancy equipment. These locks were simple and were usually built-in. For example, some fridge and freezer doors had a keyhole, much like a regular door.
The idea was to lock the door using the provided key to prevent air from escaping. This was by far the most effective way to lock the fridge – but it was also a bit risky. Imagine losing the key!
Unfortunately, this was a common problem and due to the design of the locks, if you lost the key to the fridge then you would need a professional to open it, and most of the time the lock had to be broken, which could cause damage to the appliance.
Physical locks still exist, but they have fallen out of favor due to their risks. If you are good at handling things and have a track record of not losing keys then this method might be effective for you. If not, then there are plenty of other options!
Child locks (like this great one from amazon) are a godsend for people with curious children. We don’t blame the children, after all, shiny tactile buttons look like they are just waiting to be pressed!
Fun as it may sound (to the kids), this also posed a risk because these buttons usually control the temperature settings and various other modes of the appliance.
Tempering with these settings could result in a drastic temperature change which you might only notice after the damage has been done!
To prevent this, manufacturers used two methods: the first one introduced a digital locking mechanism that would render the buttons useless until the system was unlocked, and the second method was the introduction of a small LED display that showed live temperature readings inside the fridge and freezer.
The child lock was a big hit and all it took to activate was for the user to press and hold a button for 3-4 seconds until the system beeped, which confirmed the lock.
This way, even if the buttons were pressed, nothing would happen – and if anything were to happen, you could quickly glance at the screen to see if the temperature is stable.
Control Lock/Lever Lock
Ice makers and crushers are great – until someone leaves the lever depressed! Not only can this problem cause wastage but it can also cause the icing unit to break down. To prevent this, some refrigerator brands use lever locks.
These locks completely cut off input from all buttons and levers. The difference between this type of lock and a child lock is that in a child lock, you could still access the lever and get cold water or crushed ice.
But with a control lock, you can lock everything using a combination of buttons. The best part is that you can also easily unlock the fridge or freezer too – which makes this a great option for people who want stricter controls.
Holiday Mode Lock
If your appliance has a dedicated holiday mode feature, then you can use this to not only lock your fridge but also to save energy!
The holiday mode essentially turns down the cooling in the fridge compartment and brings down the temperature of the freezer to the lowest possible (and coldest) temperature which maximizes efficiency and power savings.
This feature is great for people who plan on going away for a couple of weeks. Just make sure that you read the user manual before using this feature as turning on the holiday mode on some fridge models may turn off the fridge compartment completely!
3rd Party Locks
If your fridge doesn’t have adequate locks then don’t worry, there is a market full of fridge and freezer locks! 3rd party locks are gaining a lot of attention because of their features and accessibility.
These locks are perfect for people who want their appliances to be fully secure.
Some examples of fridge locks include keypad locks that fit around the handles of the fridge. You can also purchase simple cable locks for French or cabinet-style freezers. Similarly, latch locks are also a great and effective option for fully securing fridge doors!
Just make sure that you pick a lock that fits your needs.
We highly recommend that you stay away from key locks if you are prone to losing keys because the major disadvantage of using 3rd party locks is that they usually don’t come off easily, or at least without damaging the appliance.
There are plenty of built-in features and 3rd party locks that you can use to secure your refrigerator or freezer. Now that you know how here are some related questions:
Is It Better to Go With Mechanical or Digital Locks?
We recommend that you try the built-in digital locks on your appliance first. They are built according to the specifications of your model and it is usually very easy to reset the lock if you ever forget how to unlock it. Mechanical locks require a key or a code input which can be risky, especially with 3rd party locks.
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