We lived without refrigeration for several years and if push came to shove could certainly do without again, but . . .
Part of our small (380 watt soon to be expanded to 760 watt) system currently includes a chest freezer converted to a fridge using an external mechanical thermostat. We've used this method for several years both off-grid and before that while on the grid and preparing for the transition. It works pretty well except for the condensation buildup in the floor of the freezer, difficulty accessing items and some rust problems. I would advise anyone considering this to go with a freezer interior that's aluminum or plastic. The freezer is sited on a covered breezy dogtrot. We don't use air conditioning so it's just as cool there as anywhere. We choose refrigeration at this point because we deal with several gallons of goat milk daily for several months out of the year and in the summer even our under the house root cellar is over 70 degrees.
Now for the actual question: Does anyone have any constructive thoughts or experience with super- insulating an upright freezer or a refrigerator, the kind with all the coils at the back? I know you can't do it with a chest freezer as the coils are in the walls. My goal is to have an efficient A/C refrigeration unit that doesn't cost an arm and a leg that is easy to access and doesn't leave food sitting in a puddle of water. The D/C units I've found are out of my price range right now.
Wish I could help you with suggestions, but I am confident someone here can answer your question.
What I know about refrigeration is that too much insulation at the wrong place can make it less efficient - something about it needing to expel heat? I know when we took the shiny bubble wrap away from our wine fridge that came with this house (now the egg fridge) we reduced our energy bill by about $30 a month. Could be coincidence, but we didn't change anything else electricity wise, and the reduction has remained as the years went on.
Off grid units may and probably are different than ongrid house units. It's just something to consider when insulating a fridge.
Slightly off topic, and it might need it's own thread later on.
My goal is to go off grid some time soon. One of the things I'm aiming for is to not need a fridge. My limited understanding of electrical systems is that cooling and cooking take the most power. If I can use non-electrical methods for both cooking and preserving food, then maybe I don't need a fridge, or only need a very small one for leftovers.
Mike, thanks. I'll check it out. Also found a post from 3 years ago where someone had done just what I'm thinking of.
R, refrigeration is our #1 power consumer. Even using the chest freezer on an external thermostat our system current 380 watt system is pretty stressed in the summer here in the southern plains. We have a mixed bag of cooking techniques. About 6 months out of the year (October through March) we use a Pioneer Maid wood cook stove in the house. When the weather warms up we switch to propane in an outdoor summer kitchen to avoid heating up the house since we don't have air conditioning. We also grill quite a bit and have a cob oven with an attached open fire area for Dutch oven cooking. We've done some experimenting with a solar oven but haven't perfected that yet beyond popping some leftovers in in the morning to be warm for a late lunch. Living off-grid is awesomely liberating and I can't imagine that I would want to live any other way. Probably the biggest challenge at least at first, and the one that gets people the most worked up, is the lack of air-conditioning in a climate where 100 degree summer afternoons aren't unusual. Once you acclimate, though, it's not that big a deal. We have large shaded decks and spend most of our warm weather time outdoors. Until we built our current 600 square foot house we slept outside most summers. The new house has 12 foot walls on one side with eave vents, lots of windows along with 3 doors and an open floor plan which helps us stay comfortable on hot summer nights. I use a small 12 volt fan at night because a woman of a certain maturity just has to have a little air moving to sleep well.