Refrigerator and Freezer Temperature Settings Explained

1 March 2017
 Categories: , Blog


One of the most commonly experienced appliance issues is a refrigerator or a freezer compartment that won't seem to stay at the desired temperature. Oftentimes this is the result of a mechanical problem with the refrigerant or compression system. Other times, it simply stems from a misunderstanding of how the temperature setting knobs work. If you would like to ensure that your fridge and freezer remain at optimal temperatures, read on. This article will provide a useful overview of how your control settings work. 

Generating Cold Air

The first thing you need to understand is that all of the cold air flowing into your refrigerator compartment is coming from the freezer. This makes sense when you consider that the freezer has much more serious cold air needs than the refrigerator. What doesn't make as much sense is what happens when you adjust the knob responsible for setting the freezer temperature. You see, this knob actually controls an air baffle leading from the freezer to the fridge.

In other words, when you increase the coldness of the freezer, this simply reduces the amount of air flowing into the refrigerator compartment. By restricting this flow, the freezer temperature can be brought down to a colder temperature. Yet unless correctly compensated for, this will have the attendant effect of raising the temperature inside of the refrigerator compartment, thus creating as much of a problem as it solves.

Setting the Refrigerator Temperature  

Here it is useful to understand what happens when adjustments are made to the knob controlling the refrigerator compartment's temperature. This knob is connected to a thermostat. Yet by lowering the desired temperature, you don't actually increase the amount of cold air flowing into the refrigerator at any given moment. What you do is increase the amount of time that the compressor responsible for generating cold air will run.

Getting the Right Setting

As you can likely see by now, it can be difficult to ensure that both your freezer and your refrigerator compartments maintain an appropriate temperature. Any changes made to either of their settings will have a direct effect on the temperature of the other. The best way to make sure that your settings are ideally tweaked is to install thermostats in both the freezer and the refrigerator.

Your refrigerator should maintain a temperature of no more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while your freezer should remain right around 0. When adjusting the temperature of either compartment, taking into consideration the effect it will have on the other. Check the thermostats often until you have dialed in the ideal combination. If you've adjusted the settings and food is still too cold or too warm, talk to a professional like those at Affordable Appliance Repair for advice.