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Fridge for off grid  RSS feed

 
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Hey guys

Any tips for a refrigerator for living of grid?
I see in the US there are loads of very thickly insulated ones running off AC.

Anyone in Europe got any tips?
Thanks
Sebastian
 
pollinator
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I would say Top opening (chest) fridge vs regular fridge. The cold air doesn't flow out.
I would say only visit it once per day or at least as little as possible.
Store stuff outside the fridge (carrot, cabbage, etc)
Keep the Fridge as full as possible, so there is less air to lose/chill daily.
You can also make your own fridge too, buy the outside compressor+internal chiller from a boat shop vendor online.

As for the most efficient fridge in USA Daewoo FR-1020ARW $300.
Here is the full list https://www.energystar.gov/most-efficient/me-certified-refrigerators





 
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What's your climate like?  This will determine your cooling load (particularly peak demand - how hot does it get and for how long?).  And what are your other resources?  e.g., do you have a cold water stream/river nearby?  A lake that freezes hard in the winter?  etc.
 
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There is a _lot_ of refrigeration info on sailboat sites. Small sailboats, less then 45', run on a severe 12v energy budget. Nigel Calder wrote the bible on marine mechanical and electrical systems; I don't know when it was last updated, but it is well worth getting out of the library for a basic overview of what's involved.

Rufus
 
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It is easy to convert a chest freezer into a fridge with a temperature controller.  I have the Johnson Controls Digital Temperature Controller.  There are a few models, and there is a newer version of what I use.  The chest freezer I have is 16 cubic feet...maybe a little bigger....and it sips the watts from my battery bank.  I have't put a device on it to measure it, but it uses very little energy.

There are drawbacks to using this type of converted fridge though.
All the produce where it's touching the front wall, where the cooling lines run, freezes.
There's no pump to remove excess humidity and pooling water, so water pools on the bottom of the fridge.  I have mine set up so there's a slight slope towards the drain.
The fact that it's a chest fridge means that I have to stack stuff upon stuff.  Which is annoying when you want something that's on the bottom of the pile.

It's very handy for my small battery bank, though I do look forward to having something more practical/easy to use.
 
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If you do have an inverter, then any chest freezer with good insulation should work. If not, you will need a DC compressor…

It is possible to trade battery capacity for freezer capacity if you put in plastic bottles filled with brine or antifreeze. It will store energy as it transitions from liquid to solid and release it when the compressor is not running.
 
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We have an off grid place out in West Texas.  We use a propane fridge when we are there.
 
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I have used a propane fridge off grid for the last 40 years.  Starting with the old servels,  bear resistant, not very efficient .To the cheap plastic brazil made units and now for the last ten years we use a Diamond brand, Amish made 18 ' fridge/freezer.  Compared to all my others it is the most efficient, largest and just like a conventional a/c fridge. We love it.    
 
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https://www.whynter.com/product-category/refrigeration/portable-freezers/

It's made in china and ours lasted 7-8 years. They're portable freezers that have a 12vdc compressor. There's another brand called Edgestar that has identical stuff. Both are available on amazon. I think ours was the 85 quart size and just wouldn't quite run on a 5 amp 12vdc fuse. We had to use a 7.5 volt fuse. We had 3 medium sized solar panels that totalled 305 watts and we had 4 golf cart batteries. We ran the fridge, several 12vdc LED lights, charged a phone and a laptop but didn't use the laptop much. We used an inverter for electric can opener, TV and DVD player and once we got phone service, it ran a cordless phone and our router but we still couldn't use the laptop much. I imagine it would run a streaming box like a Roku or something. Electronics like TV or DVD player etc, don't take much power BUT they will take a little power 24/7 even when turned off, waiting for a remote control to tell them to turn on, so use a strip plug to turn all off for real.

There is a good brand name of 12vdc chest freezer/fridge but it costs 2-3 times as much as these china models.

https://www.amazon.com/Engel-Portable-Voltage-Fridge-Freezer/dp/B003TM2K0Y/ref=pd_sbs_265_26?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B003TM2K0Y&pd_rd_r=f54c4ee6-0ae8-11e9-8d7f-87faa9603f34&pd_rd_w=0grBT&pd_rd_wg=Dn0ce&pf_rd_p=7d5d9c3c-5e01-44ac-97fd-261afd40b865&pf_rd_r=TJF00F7SDTJ8C07MCZSX&psc=1&refRID=TJF00F7SDTJ8C07MCZSX

The edgestar and whynter are china knock offs of the Engel chest fridge. Truckers, preppers and recreational buffs use Engel.

Here's their website (products available on amazon and elsewhere)
https://www.engelcoolers.com/shop/12-volt-fridge-freezers.html

Someone mentioned converting a chest freezer to a fridge. There's an article on the web that's been out there forever and it's supposed to have good results. Something I've always wanted to try but the instructions didn't fully make sense to me and the person was in the UE so components were different than what I could get here.
 
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Hello Sebastian,

Here are a few ideas. (We're in South West France where I imagine it's slightly cooler in summer)

Wall fridge :
In old stone houses, there is often an recessed area under the sink (presumably the water from the sink kept the wall damp and cool) which was used as a space to store food.
I didn't want to live with wet walls so I copied this idea but used a slightly different principle and we made a recess in an uninsulated north wall beside our sink, with an insulated door which makes an effective fridge. (11-14°c in summer, 4-8°C winter)

Make a clay refrigerator :
https://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-clay-refrigerator-BEING-ECOFRIENDLY-/

Second-hand compression fridge :
A compression fridge uses very little power but they are expensive. We bought a good size Dometic freezer/fridge a few years ago but only use it in the summer.
https://www.olx.pt/anuncio/frigorifico-camiao-IDCsnVr.html#04dccf692f

We have a good sized 22 year old Gram low energy 24v fridge which uses only 3 amps and it doesn't come on very often, so it consumes very little power. We bought it for 350€ about four years ago.



Buy a Capillary Thermostat to convert a freezer :
"This is a great way to do it as the thermostat is not powered so has absolutely zero drain on your solar power.  It can work on any AC or DC powered freezer, as it is just acting as a switch.

Put the silver thermostat end in the bottom of the freezer. You can either simply tape it to the side at the bottom and then have the tube come up out of the top of the freezer, or you can drill a hole and insert it into the bottom if you want a neater/better job. Make sure you seal the hole up well afterwards.  If you are putting it just out of the top of the freezer you will want to put a little protection around the tube that comes out the top so that you don’t squash it when you close the lid (the digital option below doesn’t have this issue).

Then you simply use the terminals on the thermostat as a switch.  You can cut the positive wire on the power cable coming to the freezer and connect the incoming live side to the middle terminal, and the other side going to the freezer to the left hand terminal.

It’s a manual control from 0C so you can set it to the fridge temp you want."


Capillary Thermostat Temperature Control Switch, 0-40C 16A (AC or DC)
https://www.bimblesolar.com/offgrid/solarfridge/capillary-thermostat

Dig a cellar :

We dug ours on the south side of our house to stabilise a severe slope but it would work better on the shaded north side of a house. We had to cover ours with a gloriette and terrace it on the south side with a lot of shrubs and climbing plants for shade. It works well, wine comes out with condensation on the bottle.



In winter, I still leave things on a table outside in the cold, protected in a big pot.
 
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