someone please tell me if there's any harm in doing this
Sometimes you can get away with laying refrigeration equipment horizontally, but only if you give the device some time oriented properly to allow the liquefied refrigerant to settle to its proper place. Check the manual, either in print or online.
And the settling time is typically overnight to 24 hours, not a few minutes.
so it is possible to do permanent harm? would you move a freezer on its side?
Why would you want to transport it on its side? Rent an appropriate truck and be done with it.
Yes, if you move it on its side, then stand it upright and immediately plug it in and turn it on you will probably damage it. The cautions I have read say to stand it up and let the coolent settle back down to the compressor. Suggestions I have seem say this takes overnight to 24 hours. Ask an applicance dealer or repair person. But as SP says, better to move it upright if at all possible.
I looked into this when I was trying to save the delivery fee on my new freezer. Permanent, possibly fatal damage can be done by laying a freezer or refrigerator on their side. Sometimes it's still the most expedient solution so here's some guidelines to help.
1. If you must lay it on its side, do so for the minimum time possible. That is, plan it and be ready to do it. Get it to its new location and back upright as quickly as possible. Don't for example, load it in the SUV and then go to lunch.
2. If you can transport it tilted up somewhat, not laying completely flat, then do it.
3. Let it stand up in its new location for a while BEFORE plugging it in. For example, if you lay it on its side for only a few minutes then and hour or two may be enough. If it is on it's side for an hour or two I would wait at least 6-12 hours before plugging it in. If you have to lay it on its side for more than a couple of hours I would rent the appropriate truck.
4. If you want to be even safer, wait 24 hours. It's cheaper than repairing or replacing it.
Well I am glad I am seeing some of these precautions and will follow them the next time just to be sure, but I can say that in the past year alone I've used my pickup to transport:
- a fridge that laid on its back at least 12 hours before driving 2+ hours, after which it was plugged in right after delivery
- a 300+ bottle wine fridge that was on its back for a few hours during transport but not plugged in until months after delivery
- and a full size freezer that was on its back for an hour or so and plugged in right after delivery
None were negatively affected such that I can tell, so my guess is that letting it stand for a while afterwards might be a good precaution, but laying it on its back is not necessarily the kiss of death.
Just found the attached link from GE. It seems to imply that this can be based on model. While they recommend against transporting fridges on their sides, they explicitly say not to do it with Monogram fridges and provide guidelines for their other fridges if they "must" be laid down:
"If it has been necessary to transport the refrigerator on its side, it should be stood upright for an equal amount of time as it was on its side before plugging it in. If on its side for more than a day, leave standing for 24 hours before running. (If laying on its side just briefly to service, clean or adjust, just a few minutes of stand time will be enough.)"
Here is a link that might be useful: GE fridges on the side