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I want to take apart an old bar fridge and use the components to produce potable water through condensation.

My plan is to remove the condenser, evaporator and compressor from the fridge as intact as possible and then let it run as normal, just in the middle of the room, instead of inside an enclosed compartment, probably with some fans blowing air across the evaporator. My hope is that water condensate would drip off the evaporator and I could then catch it some how and store it in a bottle.

Is this possible? Is it practical? Is it dangerous?

If this is something I could do, are there ways in which I could improve the efficiency/safety of this system? FWIW, the area I stay in has an average humidity of about 70%.

Thank you!

  • Or you could take apart an old dehumidifier, and convert it to an ad-hoc water collector. It's much better geared for that use. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 19 '18 at 16:22
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    Sounds like a good way to contract Legionnaire's disease. Make sure all you components are regularly disinfected. – ArchonOSX Jan 19 '18 at 16:44
  • ArchonOSX Was not aware of the potential for legionnaires disease, thanks for the info, will keep that in mind! Harper See my comment below Ecnerwal's answer. Is the dehumidifier more efficient at generating water than a refrigerator (don't worry about cost for electricity)? – Walter Jan 19 '18 at 17:13
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You don't need to take the fridge apart, and most people tend to break the refrigeration system when doing so, so don't. Just run it with the door open. Also leaves it in more salable condition when you tire of the science experiment.

To make it more efficient, use a new, not old, refrigeration system.

To make it easy, use a dehumidifier, which is already made to do exactly this. Or an air conditioner, which is like a dehumidifier but with the hot side placed out-of-doors - that's also where the collected water is generally drained to.

The collected water will in one sense be "pure" (it's effectively distilled) but in most others it's fairly foul (every bit of dust in the air can come along and contaminate it) so regardless of what you use, you're going to want to filter or treat (boil, for instance) the water before using it as "potable"

Finally, this is generally not a cost-effective method of getting liquid water, unless you happen to need a dehumidifier (or air conditioner) anyway.

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  • A refrigerator compressor isn't designed for continuous operation, so leaving the door open without replacing the thermostat control with a timer may burn it out. You should start with a duty cycle of 50% (15 minutes on/15 minutes off) and monitor the temperature of the compressor and either adjust the time up or down from there or add a fan to actively cool the compressor to keep the temps below 225 degrees F which is when the lubricating oil starts to break down a lot faster. – Dotes Jan 19 '18 at 16:49
  • So is a dehumidifier more efficient at generating water from air than a refrigerator? I'm more concerned about short term costs than about long term, water from air devices are expensive, so if I can re-purpose something else at the expense of a greater electrical bill, I'm happy with that. This is also a short term solution (I hope). – Walter Jan 19 '18 at 17:07
  • A dehumidifier is specifically designed to remove water from air. As such, yes, it's going to be more effective at that job than something cobbled together from a refrigerator. – Ecnerwal Jan 19 '18 at 17:20
  • the dehumidifier has axtra fans compared to a fridge, and the motor is designed to handle running 24X7, unlike a fridge with low hot air circulation. – dandavis Jan 19 '18 at 19:50

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