We don't realize how much we depend on refrigerators until there's a power outage.
Read DC fridge cost analysis. Before buying a solar DC refrigerator it's VERY IMPORTANT to determine if you will use it only during an extended power outage, or year round. If you intend to install a solar fridge for full time use, then the logical choice would be to purchase an adequately sized DC fridge with a freezer to replace your existing AC fridge. If you only intend to use it as back-up for when the grid is down then you should consider purchasing a DC freezer ONLY. During a power outage you can make all the ice you need & replenish ice in well insulated basic coolers you would also have stored for just such occasions.
DC fridges will run on stand-alone solar using right size solar panel, a deep cycle 12v battery, and a charge controller. We recommend having a solar professional plan out the size solar panels needed and the amp/hour capacity of the 12 volt deep cycle battery based on regional climate (IE: mostly sunny or mostly cloudy), available orientation of the panel to sun, and also help you plan enough capacity for a few days without full sun due to extended cloudiness or forest fire smoke.
DYIers: If doing a stand-alone solar-powered DC fridge or freezer installation yourself be sure to get batteries with a high enough amp hour rating to provide power through a series of cloudy days. In Florida we plan for 4 cloudy days where the solar panel will be collecting only about 10 to 25% of the energy it would collect on a sunny day. Consider purchasing a charge controller with MPPT + equalization as those features will increase efficiency of your 12V battery(s). Be sure to purchase the correct gauge cables to connect the solar panels to the charge controller; and also the correct gauge cables to connect the battery to the charge controller. You won't find these items at a your local big box hardware store. A electrical supply store or solar supply store will have them. Lastly, to protect your upright DC fridge from a power surge, a standard automobile fuse will need to be wired to the positive (“+”) side of the system close to the positive battery terminal. For 12V operation typically uses a 15A fuse, and for 24V operation typically uses a 7.5A fuse, but always double check the manufacturer recommendation. Refrigerated coolers come with fuses installed, and replacement specifications are listed in the owners manual.
Having an energy independent refrigerator is excellent preparation to have done in advance of the next power outage.
- EcoSolarCool refrigerators are made in Europe. They are the 1st and only DC solar refrigerator in the world entirely UL250 & CSA approved to US and Canadian standards from top to bottom. Danfross DC compressor.
- Reviews of EcoSolarCool refrigerators are near 5 star. Sixteen customers are genuinely happy with this refrigerator. One customer had a problem with shipping. Read reviews for yourself on the Amazon listing.
- Uses one 46Ah 12v battery/ day. Operates on 12 or 24 DC volts. No converters required. It is reported to be the most efficient solar refrigerator when it was tested along side two of the other major brands also currently listed on Amazon. The comparison testing was conducted by a large solar supply distributor on the west coast.
- They are extremely energy efficient and will save you money on your power bill*. You will need a solar panel, battery and 15 amp solar charge controller to operate this refrigerator.
Super Efficient Refrigerators
There are three tiers of efficiency within Energy Star. The top tier appliances are designated as "Super Efficient" by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). While Energy Star fridges use at least 10% less energy than Federal Minimum Efficiency Standard models, CEE Tier 3 (CT3) fridges use at least 20% less (source). That's great for those who need to use distributed energy but want to be as efficient as possible. Green Kitchens will posting listings for some of the more popular "Super Efficient Refrigerators". Check back soon.
Note: Older refrigerators use a lot more electric to run then newer models, so if your fridge is more than 20 or 30 years old it may be worth upgrading to a newer model. How much IS that old fridge costing you?