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What Is the Hottest Ambient Temperature at Which a Refrigerator Will Work?

Meredith Jameson

When using a refrigerator in a garage or another area where the temperature is not maintained, the ambient temperature can affect the refrigerator performance. Very cold temperatures may prevent the refrigerator from working, but so could very high temperatures. Understanding the maximum ambient temperature at which a refrigerator will operate may be useful.

Maximum Ambient Temperature

Most refrigerators will have to work harder to operate in high temperatures.

The highest temperature point at which most refrigerators will work is 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature reaches 90 degrees or higher, the refrigerator will run continuously to maintain the set temperature but at any point past 100 degrees, the interior temperature may not remain stable.

Refrigerator Doors

Another aspect that may affect the performance of the refrigerator in high or humid temperatures is the door gasket. If the doors are not shut firmly or the gasket has dried out, the seal may not be strong enough, allowing more hot air to enter the refrigerator. The refrigerator must work even harder and may start losing cooling effectiveness. Clean the gasket and apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to lubricate the seal if the gasket has become dry or brittle.


In very hot or humid weather, condensation may develop on the interior and/or exterior of the refrigerator. This is due to moisture that is created by the warm air passing over the condenser coils to keep the refrigerator cold. Since the refrigerator must work constantly to cool, an excess of moisture can develop. This is normal in high temperatures and can be reduced by turning the “Energy Saver” setting to “Off” to turn off the automatic heater between the refrigerator and freezer doors.


Help the refrigerator maintain accurate temperatures in high heat by turning the freezer temperature controls down, thereby allowing more air to enter the refrigerator. Clean the refrigerator condenser coils and fan on a regular basis to prevent the dust and dirt from accumulating, which can slow air flow and further reduce performance.