When choosing an off grid refrigerator, there are many things to consider. T he biggest decision being; should your power source be propane or solar ? To ultimately decide on either propane or solar, you may want to answer these questions first:
Which is less problematic? How long do they last? Which is most efficient? And which is most cost effective overall?
With these questions in the forefront of our minds, we aim to answer them in this article. There is a lot to unpack, so let’s get started. So if you happen to live off-grid year round or even if you are only off-grid occasionally throughout the year with perhaps a summer cabin, fishing or hunting camp.
- You definitely need a refrigerator for your cold food storage.
- Hauling ice is a hassle, not to mention it is expensive! But what direction do you go? Should you buy a propane refrigerator or a solar one? This is a common question folks have.
- Our team has spent many years selling both types of refrigerators, and we’ve collected data from both sides of the isle.
Our opinion is this: the propane refrigerator is much more straightforward to use, and it is easy to maintain. Additional benefits of propane refrigeration are that it is much more durable, as well as overall a propane unit is more efficient, and cost effective than solar.
- 1 Is propane or electric fridge better?
- 2 Are solar fridges worth it?
- 3 How long will a 20 lb propane tank run a refrigerator?
- 4 Does propane or electric cool a fridge faster?
- 5 How much electricity does a propane fridge use?
- 6 How cold does a propane fridge get?
What are the disadvantages of solar refrigerator?
Solar refrigeration systems also have some disadvantages. As solar radiation is not available throughout the day, power production is not uniform. Again it depends on the intensity of the beam radiation.
Is propane or electric fridge better?
Today’s market offers consumers far more choices when it comes time to replacing or upgrading our home’s common household appliances. Typically people replace like for like. If you have an electric refrigerator you obviously replace it with an electric refrigerator, right? Well, not anymore. Did you know that:
Almost any appliance that runs on electricity can run on propane and do it more reliably and economically? Propane is America’s natural fuel source and we produce 90% of the propane we use right here at home. Over the last few decades, propane refrigerators have been designed and built with better fuel economy and low emissions in mind. Propane-fueled appliances require less maintenance, greater convenience and higher efficiency over electrically-operated appliances. There are no moving parts used to cool a gas refrigerator. This means that there are no parts to wear out. Electric and 12V refrigerators require freon and an electric compressor/pump. These moving parts can, and do, wear out. Inverters and generators also wear out and meet the same fate. Propane appliances offer a great return on investment. While they might initially be a little more expensive than their electric counterparts, you’ll use much less energy and save money by using less fuel.
The bottom line is simple. Propane appliances have a come a long, long way in both product design and efficiency. If you’ve got questions about replacing your electric refrigerator with a new generation propane refrigerator, call the experts at Warehouse Appliance at 928-636-1955
Are solar fridges worth it?
Quieter – Solar fridges are also much quieter than traditional refrigerators. They don’t produce any noise, so you won’t have to deal with the sound of your fridge running in the background. This is because solar fridges use a different type of compressor than traditional fridges, which makes them much quieter.
Is a propane fridge worth it?
So how efficient are propane refrigerators? – Propane refrigerators are highly efficient. While the efficiency varies per fridge, most last longer than 11 days running non-stop from a standard 20lb propane tank. You can increase this using our efficiency tips below.
How long will a 20 lb propane tank run a refrigerator?
Where are propane refrigerators most commonly used? – Today, propane refrigerators are popular options for recreational vehicles, cabins, lake houses, or any place that doesn’t have ready access to electricity. These units are economical and don’t require an outside power source.
- So how long can a propane refrigerator run? Most can run nonstop for 11 days on a standard 20 pound propane tank,
- Oftentimes users report longer run times – depending on outside temperature, how often the refrigerator is accessed, and materials inside the refrigerator.
- Under a worst-case scenario, a propane refrigerator could run constantly for a year with approximately 33 needed refills of a standard propane tank.
A propane fridge is an ideal option for travelers, or in areas that lack electricity or suffer frequent power outages. RV owners rely on propane to keep their refrigerators running on the road, and more reliable and effective than refrigerators running on battery power.
How long does a 30 lb propane tank last in an RV fridge?
How Long Does a 40 LB Tank Last in an RV? – Start by multiplying 91,502 by 9.4 gallons, the amount your 40 lb. tank has when full. Your answer will be 860,119. Again, we’ll divide that figure by our 40,000 BTUs of appliance usage. After that division, we get 21.5. That means that a 40 lb. propane tank can run our appliances for 21.5 hours before running out.
Does propane or electric cool a fridge faster?
Yes, an RV fridge cools faster on propane because propane rapidly heats the water and carries out the evaporation cycle quickly to establish a cold environment in the fridge as compared to electricity. An electric element takes slightly longer and requires an electrical connection.
How many solar panels do I need to run my RV fridge?
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Run a Refrigerator? – At home, you probably have an average household refrigerator. In order to power that fridge using solar power, you would need about two to three solar panels. Average solar panels produce approximately 250 to 400 Watts of power.
But you are not using an average refrigerator in your RV. Most likely, you need to power a 12V fridge, which is smaller. The best size solar panel to run a 12V fridge is 150 Watts into 200 Watts of batteries. That’s why a 300-Watt panel system is a great choice since you can be sure to collect and store more than enough energy for a continuous power supply.
That way if the forecast is not calling for sunny days, you can store more energy. You may want to read our article on best portable solar panels for RV, When shopping around for a solar energy system, be sure to check its wattage rating so that you get exactly what you need.
- Also factor in the amount of sunlight you typically get when traveling.
- Same with the time of year.
- The sun is closer and produces more solar energy in the summer, than in winter.
- And it’s stronger in southern states than northern.
- Truth is, only between 11 Am and 1 PM local time is when solar panels are most effective.
Super fancy systems angle themselves to catch more rays as the sun moves. Or if you are using portable panels, you can manually adjust their angle at various times. If you love to RV in dense forests or northern locations, you are going to get much less energy.
How much electricity does a propane fridge use?
Off Grid Refrigeration: Solar Electric Vs Propane If you live off the grid and need a refrigerator the two most common choices are Electric or Propane. Sun Frost manufactures high efficient electric refrigerators which are an excellent alternative for off grid homes.
They can be powered by either AC or DC power. Solar Power System The DC models can be powered by 12 V or 24 V batteries. One 100 amp hr 12V deep cycle battery will typically run the Sun Frost RF12 for 3 days without recharging. If a generator is run periodically it could keep the batteries fully charged or the battery could be kept charged by a single 135 watt Photovoltaic (PV) panel.
A PV Panel is essentially a battery charger; the 135 watt module produces 7.7 amps in full sun. The panel will provide the energy needed to run the refrigerator with about 4 hours of direct sunlight. On a cloudy day you will still get about 4 hours of equivalent sunlight, but over the whole day.
On rainy days part of the energy required would be provided by solar and part by the battery. In the northern states in mid winter there may not be enough sunlight (insolation) to keep the refrigerator running. Under these conditions the batteries could be topped off with a generator, or the refrigerator could be kept in a cool location to lower the energy consumption.
In a sunny state like Colorado a 135 watt module will supply energy and keep the refrigerator running all year. A DC solar electric system is fairly simple, the key components are the solar panels, batteries, and charge controller. The charge controller keeps the batteries from being over charged and also shuts off the load to keep the batteries from being totally discharged.
- Cabin Sized Solar System: If you live off the grid you may find it highly desirable to expand the solar array to a 2 panel system and to add an extra battery.
- This system can provide enough energy to operate a refrigerator, lights, stereo system, cell phone/computer charging, and a television/entertainment system.
The extra energy collected will typically be about 28 amp hours or 336 watt hours (28 amp hours * 12 hours). This is enough energy to run 6 10 watt LED’s for 5.5 hours. The light output of a 10 watt LED is equivalent to the output of a 60 watt incandescent.
- Except for the batteries, the refrigerator and solar array should provide 25 years of trouble free operation.
- Good quality batteries will last about 8 years.
- The Propane Alternative: A propane refrigerator uses what is called an absorption process to cool the refrigerator.
- This process is powered by heat.
The heat can either be produced electrically or by combustion. A 10 cubic foot propane refrigerator will typically consume 1.5 lbs, or,375 gallons, of propane per day. The energy content of 1.5 lbs of propane is 32,250 Btu or about 9485 watt hours. The Sun Frost RF12 consumes only 24 amps hours a day, which is equivalent to 288 watt hours a day.
- That is an astounding 32 times less.
- Advantages of Going Electric: Longevity, Safety, & Fire Danger From the information we are collecting new propane refrigerators last 6 to 12 years.
- Sun Frost refrigerators have proven themselves to last 25 years or more.
- The old Servels made in the 1950s could last 50 years or more.
However, they are currently being recalled because of dust and rust, often keeps the burners from burning cleanly. As a result they produce carbon monoxide and are responsible for 22 deaths according to the US Consumer Products Safety commission. The new Servels are connected to older models in name only.
On newer propane refrigerator the burner area still requires periodic cleaning and flame inspection. Inspection may be difficult if the refrigerator is plumbed against a wall. Even if the flame is burning cleanly it is consuming oxygen and producing heat, carbon dioxide and water vapor. In Canada, as a consequence of colder conditions, houses are built tighter; and propane refrigerators are required to have a direct outside air supply and exhaust.
This is a requirement in all providences except Ontario where a carbon monoxide detector with an automatic gas shut off is required. When propane refrigerators are used in RVs for safety considerations the American Gas Association recommends turning a propane refrigerator off when traveling down the road.
- There are about 3000 RV Fires per year and many can be traced to the refrigerator.
- Even if the fire was not started by the refrigerator its venting system can add air to the fire and accelerate its spreading.
- The two major manufactures of propane refrigerators have had many recalls.
- The recalls typically involve cracks in the cooling system near the area of combustion.
The cooling systems contain ammonia and hydrogen, both are combustible. Although the cooling will still operate when the unit is not level, the internal pressure of a unit is higher when the refrigerator is not level. The refrigerator will not always be level while driving, exasperating the leakage problem.
- Manufacturers recommend that rugs and flammable materials be kept away from the burner.
- RV enthusiasts will be glad to know with a Sun Frost performance is not sacrificed if the vehicle is not level.
- As a consequence of the inefficiency, a propane refrigerator produces a considerable amount of heat.
- Typically a 10 c.f.
unvented propane refrigerator produces the same amount of heat as a 1000 watt heater running 9.5 hours per day. While this may be appreciated in the winter, come summer your hot kitchen will only become more uncomfortable. Cost: When considering all the costs to keep a refrigerator running 25 years a solar powered Sun Frost costs about 3.7 times less,
- Over 25 years the total system cost for a Sun Frost would be about $3,456, including the cost of the solar system, refrigerator and replacement batteries.
- High quality batteries will need to be replaced every 8 years.
- The total running cost of the propane powered system over 25 years is about $12,800.
This includes the refrigerator replacement after 12.5 years. This is a generous estimate for a new propane refrigerators longevity. We assumed the cost of propane to be only $3.00 per gallon, a cost which at times has escalated to $6.00 per gallon. The total savings over 25 years with a solar powered Sun Frost is $9,300,
How cold does a propane fridge get?
Regulating a Propane Refrigerators Temperature Many consumers wonder how the temperature inside a propane refrigerator can be regulated. Given the process of heating the cooling unit creating the cooling vapor inside the fridge how can the propane refrigerator temp be regulated? There are a few different factors that affect the temperature of a gas refrigerator.
The desired temperature of a propane refrigerator starts with the heating element at the bottom of the cooling unit. The hotter the heating element the cooler the fridge will be. The cooling process starts with the propane freezer at the top of the unit. Regulating the temperature of the freezer is extremely difficult.
It generally sits at a certain temperature based on the desired temperature of the refrigerator compartment. For instance, the freezer compartment of a propane refrigerator will generally range between -5 degrees to 10 degrees. If your desired temperature of the refrigerator compartment is somewhere between 34 and 36 degrees you might see your freezer hovering between -5 to 0 degrees.
- If the propane refrigerators temperature sits between 38 and 40 degrees your freezer temperature may sit around 5 to 10 degrees.
- However, the ambient temperature cannot be ignored.
- Since most off-grid refrigerators require zero electricity regulating the temperature becomes a relative task.
- It should be obvious that during the warm summer months the propane refrigerator is going to consume more propane.
The gas thermostat will regulate the size of the flame below the cooling unit based on the thermostat setting. For instance, if the ambient temperature reads 90 degrees the element will consume more propane since the refrigerator compartment will require more cooling vapor to keep a desired refrigerated temperature.
- And vice versa when the ambient temperature is cooler.
- Consumers need to adjust their propane thermostat based on the ambient air temperature and their desired temperature inside their propane refrigerator.
- So, what are the keys to regulating a propane refrigerators temperature? Once a month get a temperature reading of the refrigerator compartment.
A wireless digital thermometer is a great way to follow this cycle. These thermometers are battery operated which works well when running a propane refrigerator off-grid. Adjusting the propane thermostat according to the digital thermometer and your temperature preference will help generally keep the propane fridge within a degree or two of your desired temperature.
Another option which will work well for long term use is to calculate the temperature of the propane refrigerator at a certain thermostat setting at a particular time of year. For instance, during the months of June, July, and August in order to keep your propane refrigerator at around 38 degrees your thermostat setting may need to be set to 4.
In contrast during the winter months in order to keep your refrigerator compartment at 38 degrees your thermostat setting may need to be adjusted to one. Calculating the correct thermostat setting based on desired refrigerator temperature and time of year will make it easier to adjust the thermostat to the correct location every time.
How much propane does it take to run a propane refrigerator?
How Much Propane Does An Absorption Refrigerator Use? – Newer RV refrigerators tend to be more thermally efficient than older units. Of course, size also increases overall energy demand. In general, a newer RV refrigerator with around 10 to 12 cubic feet of internal volume will consume around 1.5 pounds of propane per day.
- Newer units are more efficient in terms of combustion which also makes them safer while reducing vented emissions.
- Some RV enthusiasts who love to boondoggle will even set up their RV with dual fuel generator that also uses propane.
- Other things like frequently opening and closing the door and other factors can also have a significant impact on how much energy, and propane your RV refrigerator consumes.
How do I run my refrigerator on solar power?
Will You Need a Solar Battery and a Power Inverter? – Running a refrigerator off of solar power is not quite as easy as connecting it to a series of solar panels. Given the fact that refrigerators draw power 24 hours a day, it would be impossible to power one using only solar panels.
How does a solar fridge work?
The system simply uses photovoltaic cells instead of coal or nuclear power to generate electricity. It hits the temperature of any other refrigerator (around 38 degrees F, or 3 degrees C, for most people).
What is solar refrigeration system?
Use Of Solar Energy In Refrigeration Systems The negative environmental impacts of burning fossil fuels have forced the energy research community to seriously consider renewable sources, such as naturally available solar energy. Solar refrigeration technologies harness the energy of the sun and use it to run a cooling system.
- This type of solar application is an attractive option for the preservation of food and the refrigeration of vaccines and medicines in areas with a high intensity of solar radiation and no electricity supply.
- Refrigeration systems those use environment-friendly refrigerants provide a sustainability advantage when compared to other refrigerant selections.
However, the energy use associated with refrigeration system operation and the environmental impacts associated with its generation and distribution often outweighs the choice of refrigerant. To minimise environmental impacts associated with refrigeration system operation, it is wise to evaluate the prospects of a clean source of energy such as solar energy.
Solar energy Direct use of solar energy is attractive because of its universal availability, low environmental impact, and low or no ongoing fuel cost. Research has demonstrated that solar energy is an ideal source for low temperature heating applications such as space and domestic hot water heating.
Solar heating applications are intuitive since, when solar energy is absorbed on a surface, the surface temperature rises, providing a heating potential. The use of solar energy to provide refrigeration is rather less intuitive. The power from the sun intercepted by the earth is approximately 1.8 ×1011 MW, which is much larger than the present consumption rate on the earth of all commercial energy sources.
- Thus, in principle, solar energy could supply all the present and future energy needs of the world on the continuing basis.
- Also, solar energy is a clean source of energy, free and available in adequate quantities in almost all parts of the world.
- Types of refrigeration systems The refrigeration effect can be obtained using different principles and accordingly different refrigeration systems have been evolved.
Each refrigeration system has its own merits and demerits, and also, specific use. The most common refrigeration systems that can be used for multipurpose applications are vapour compression refrigeration system and sorption refrigeration system. Moreover, solar energy can be used here in different forms. In the vapour compression cycle, cooling or refrigeration effect is obtained in the evaporator as low temperature refrigerant entering the evaporator as a mixture of liquid and vapour at state 4 is vapourised by thermal input from the load. The remaining equipments in the system reclaim the refrigerant and restore it to a condition in which it can be used again to provide cooling or refrigeration effect.
- The vapour leaving the evaporator at state 1 in a saturated (1a) or slightly superheated (1b) condition enters a compressor that raises the pressure and, consequently, the temperature of the refrigerant.
- The high pressure hot refrigerant at state 2 enters the condenser (a heat exchanger) that uses ambient air or water to cool the refrigerant to its saturation temperature prior to fully condensing to a liquid at state 3.
The high pressure liquid is then throttled to a lower pressure, which causes some of the refrigerant to vaporise as its temperature is reduced. The low temperature liquid that remains is available to produce useful refrigeration. The performance of the system is expressed by a term called COP (Coefficient of Performance) which is defined as the ratio of refrigeration effect and the power input into the compressor.
- Photovoltaic cell operated refrigeration cycle Photovoltaic (PV) cell directly converts solar radiation to Direct Current (DC) electricity using semiconducting materials.
- Solar photovoltaic panels produce DC power that can be used to operate a DC motor that is coupled to the compressor of a vapour compression refrigeration system.
The major considerations in designing a PV-refrigeration cycle involve appropriately matching the electrical characteristics of the motor driving the compressor with the available current and voltage being produced by the PV array. Unfortunately, PV modules will operate over a wide range of conditions that are rarely as favourable as the rating condition.
- In addition, the power produced by a PV array is as variable as the solar resource from which it is derived.
- The performance of a PV module, expressed in terms of its current voltage and power-voltage characteristics, principally depends on the solar radiation and module temperature.
- Figure 3 shows current and power vs.
voltage plots for a 1.32 m2 single crystalline PV module at the reference condition and four operating conditions. Solar mechanical refrigeration Solar mechanical refrigeration uses a conventional vapour compression system driven by mechanical power that is produced with a solar-driven heat power cycle (Rankine cycle). A storage tank can be included to provide some high temperature thermal storage. Sorption refrigeration technologies Sorption refrigeration uses physical or chemical attraction between a pair of substances to produce the refrigeration effect. A sorption system has the unique capability of transforming thermal energy directly into cooling power. The component where sorption takes place is denoted as absorber Ab, and the one where desorption takes place is denoted as generator G. The generator receives heat Qg from the solar collector SC to regenerate the sorbent that has absorbed the refrigerant in the absorber.
- The refrigerant vapour generated in this process condenses in the condenser C, rejecting the condensation heat Qc to the ambient.
- The regenerated sorbent from the generator is sent back to the absorber, where the sorbent absorbs the refrigerant vapour coming from the evaporator E, rejecting the sorption heat Qa to ambient.
In the evaporator, the liquefied refrigerant coming from the condenser and expansion valve evaporates, removing the heat Qe from the cooling load. Absorption refers to a sorption process where a liquid or solid sorbent absorbs refrigerant molecules into its interior and changes physically and/or chemically in the process.
- Adsorption involves a solid sorbent that attracts refrigerant molecules onto its surface by physical or chemical force and does not change its form in the process.
- Absorption systems The absorption system is one of the oldest refrigeration technologies and began in 1700s.
- It consists of a generator, a pump and an absorber that is collectively capable of compressing the refrigerant vapour.
The evaporator draws the vapour refrigerant by absorption into the absorber. The thermal energy (may be solar or heat recovered from exhaust gases) supplied to the generator separates the refrigerant vapour from the rich solution. The refrigerant is condensed by rejecting the heat in a condenser, and then the cooled liquid refrigerant is expanded in the expansion valve before entering the evaporator to complete the cycle.
The refrigerant side of the absorption system essentially works under the same principle as the vapour compression system. However, the mechanical compressor used in the vapour compression cycle is replaced by a thermal compressor in the absorption system. NH3/H2O and H2O/LiBr are typical refrigerant /absorbent pairs used in absorption systems.
Each working pair has its advantages and disadvantages as listed in table 1. The absorption systems can be divided into three categories namely single, double and triple effect solar absorption cycles. Typical cooling COPs of the single-effect, double-effect, and triple-effect absorption systems are 0.7, 1.2, and 1.7, respectively.
For single effect absorption system with generator temperature of around 850C, flat plate collector may serve the purpose. But for multi-effect with generator temperature 1300C and above, compound parabolic and evacuated tube collectors are needed. Adsorption systems Adsorption technology was first used in refrigeration and heat pumps in the early 1990s.
Solar energy is the energy source of most adsorption systems operating with the basic cycle. A solar adsorption cooling system based on the basic adsorption refrigeration cycle does not require any mechanical or electrical energy. It just needs thermal energy and it operates intermittently according to the daily cycle. Comparison between absorption and adsorption Systems Solar solar-assisted absorption and adsorption systems may be more attractive in future due to pollution-free working fluids (instead of chlorofluorocarbons) being used as refrigerants. A comparison between the absorption and adsorption refrigeration systems is presented in table 2. The adsorption cycle can be operated at lower heat source temperatures than the absorption cycle, but its COP is also lower. Based on the coefficient of performance, the absorption cooling systems are preferred to the adsorption cooling systems. Solar thermal with single-effect absorption systems appear to be the best option, closely followed by solar thermal with single-effect adsorption systems.
- Prospects of solar based refrigeration systems Solar-powered adsorption refrigeration devices can meet the needs for refrigeration, air-conditioning applications and ice making, with great potential for the conservation of various goods (medicines, food supplies) in remote areas.
- Another possibility is to use adsorption systems as thermal energy storage devices.
For solar sorption systems, considerable reduction in unit cost or significant improvements in its performances at present costs are still required to increase their competitiveness and commercialisation potential. Additionally, the search for new working fluids those are environment friendly and require low operating temperatures is required.