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Lifestyles &

Most folks want some kind of refrigeration. A classic Energy Hog fridge (Avocado green oohh) would need thousands of dollars in extra solar panels and batteries to run. So, spending more on an efficient fridge will save you $$ on the solar system. You need to consider the total cost of the refrigerator and the extra power to run it.

Basically, you are going to pay $90 to $270 for each cubic foot of fridge space.

Link to table used to create above charts

You have three power choices: AC, DC, or propane.

AC- From the fridge shoot out chart, the lowest cost per cubic foot of fridge space is an AC powered Danby freezer converted to run at refrigerator temperatures. By raising the temperature from 0 deg to around 40 deg F, the compressor doesn't have to work near as much. The downside of the conversion is that is a chest style box, that isn't as ergonomic. They are a good choice for people that don't require much refrigeration.
Your next choice is an Energy Star rated 18 Cu ft refrigerator with top freezer (Kenmore, Maytag, Etc.). It's a full size unit with all the organizer drawers, ice maker, etc. for a very reasonable per cubic ft. price. A good choice that will keep everyone in the kitchen happy. Check the energy ratings, get the lowest possible rating in a fridge that will do the job. Try to stay under 320 kWh/ Yr.

Compare various Energy Star ratings

DC- Sunfrost: these are the traditional choice for off grid homes. The smaller versions are very efficient and since they run directly from the battery power (DC) , they save inverter power too. They do require a special DC circuit run from the power equipment to the kitchen.
Nova Kool offer small models and a do it your selfer kit. Amazing efficiency can be had by building a custom insulated enclosure and locating the compressor and coil to use outside air when colder.

Propane fridges completely remove this heavy load from the system. If a smaller fridge will do, and you might not be there all the time, a propane fridge is the way to go. It could cut the cost of your entire power system in half. The trade off is that you have to buy propane, usually less than 5 gallons a month for a 7.8 cu. ft Danby or Servel.

Installation, operation, & Maintenance Tips:

1) Always keep the refrigerator door shut! check all the seals. Oil the door hinges, It helps the door shut right.

2) Keep inside of fridge as warm as possible. Set the thermostats as warm as you can and still keep the ice cream firm. Refrigerators can be effective at as warm as 45 deg F. Use a thermometer, make gradual changes, and recheck every day or two.

3)Keep outside of fridge as cool as possible. Place in a cold part of the house. On a back porch in winter, some refrigerators will almost never run, while next to a stove or heater or in the sun, it could run most of the time!

4) Freeze gallon jugs of water in the winter and keep in the fridge. It turns your fridge into an old time ice box, and the compressor will only run enough to circulate the temperature.

These simple tricks could save you hundreds of dollars in solar equipment!

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