That's right, we're going Bill Nye "The Science Guy" on this one!!!
First, lets define thermal mass: "Thermal Mass is an object's ability to store thermal energy."
You: So what the heck does that mean?!
Me: Let me give you an example...
At work, I have personal mini fridge. The other day, it was completely empty and was holding a 38(F) temperature. I then added 64 room-temp bottles water. I was amazed how fast the temperature climbed....40(F), 44.3(F), 48.63(F), 55.71...it finally maxed out at 66.21(F). It took 14-hours for the fridge to return to its original 38(F) temperature.
A few weeks later my fridge was half empty of bottled water. I decided to refill it 32-bottles of water. To my surprise, the fridge temp barely rose above 43(F) and was back to 38(F) within an hour.
So...why was there a difference?
Interestingly enough, almost all existing products in a fridge or freezer will retain their thermal energy for a period of time. Other products that are introduced the fridge or freezer will not only be cooled by the appliance, but the thermal energy of other products, which will help decrease the temperature of the newly introduced products too.
You: So what's the point?
Me: A full freezer retains cold better than an empty one. When you open the door, the mass of frozen food will help keep in the cold, and the unit won't have to work as hard to cool empty space.
Accordingly, an overstocked cold storage appliance will struggle to keep products cold due to the lack of cool air circulation. So there's a fine line in too much or too litle product in a cold storage appliance.
The point is, thermal mass is not only good for your product -especially when stocking occurs. It's also help your appliance work less and run more efficiently.
We hope this information will help you mitigate food loss and reduce maintenance and repair costs in the future.