Love it or hate it, solar is here to stay. So let’s see what solar really is and how it could benefit you. Here is a quick summary of it: Solar power is called PV (short for photovoltaic), and like photosynthesis, it draws power from the sun. The energy from the sun is taken as DC power naturally, but the power we use regularly in our household is AC power.
AC power is and can be very deadly because it is at a high voltage, and most manufacturers of AC powered products are extremely inefficient because of these high voltages. This is the reason why most households have problems when applying solar. Most products people use are very power hungry when taken from DC and converted back to AC. The conversion process itself experiences energy loss too. So in turn, DC products were developed to take advantage of the lower voltage and increased efficiency opportunities.
For example, to be energy conscious, you can turn off and unplug everything you don’t need to in order to conserve energy. What’s left that you can’t turn off? That’s right, your refrigerator and/or freezer! They must be kept running in order to keep your food safe, and unfortunately they draw a huge amount of power because they run on AC (unlike a solar refrigerator which runs on DC!). Below are some of the other key advantages to owning a solar fridge.
1. You Become Blackout Proof
It’s a hot summer day, the humidity is thick and heavy, and everyone has their air conditioner on full blast. An ice storm, or torrential downpour with downed power lines, these are just some of the situations where rolling blackouts become a common occurrence. For the most part, you’ll make it out just fine for a few hours to a week without power, but what about the hundreds of dollars worth of food in your fridge and freezer? With a solar fridge, you’ll never have to worry about this problem again. They operate autonomously so long as you have sun at least once every few days. Even if the sun is covered by clouds, you collect power from its UV rays. The sun charges the battery bank, which in turn powers your fridge. Day or night, solar refrigerators are designed to work flawlessly all year round without any dependence from the power grid.
2. Greater Energy Efficiency
Why not just take a solar panel and get your current refrigerator that’s energy efficient to work the same way? It’s because solar refrigerators were designed to maximize the efficiency of solar operations. Solar fridges are wired and running on DC power as opposed to inverting the power back to AC power. In other words, a single 250 watt panel and two deep cycle batteries is generally all that you need to operate a solar fridge. No inverters are required, but if you have one in an existing solar setup, that is not a problem. To get your regular and equivalently sized refrigerator to operate can take up to 3 – 6 times the amount of panel capacity to feed that initial burst of power to get the compressor running. In short, a solar fridge will only require one panel, versus up to six panels for an AC fridge.
3. Increased Safety
Solar is widely regarded as one of the safest forms of energy generation. In keeping with this, solar fridges generally operate on only 12v/24v, instead of higher dangerous voltages. One of the key advantages to this is the ability to connect a solar fridge to an existing PV system, or connect it to a system that you are installing with it, without the danger that would come with working with voltages higher than 24v; a 12 volt refrigerator is extremely safe in comparison. Other alternatives to the solar refrigerator involve the use of higher voltages such as 110v/120v which are deadly to humans, or burning fossil fuels which will poison the air and create greenhouse gas emissions. No need to worry about things exploding, dangerous leaks, or deadly electric shocks that come along with traditional alternatives to solar fridges.
4. Plug and Play (Set it and Forget it)
If you have an existing solar system, installation is as simple as attaching the solar refrigerator to your batteries. Otherwise, if you are just building your solar system, once you connect a solar fridge to your batteries you then just have to ensure that you have your panels and charge controller connected. Then your solar fridge will operate autonomously, without requiring you to turn it on and off, change fuel, or worry about its operation. Want to install a solar fridge in your cottage and take off for a week/month/year? No problem. The two batteries ensure that energy is stored in case of a situation where there is no sunlight for several days, so that the solar fridge stays on and your food stays fresh.
5. Free Operation
It won’t cost you a penny to use your new solar appliance. The energy created by the one panel running a solar fridge is significantly more than the energy consumption of the fridge. Most of the power draw comes from initially starting up the compressor in the fridge. Once it is up and running, the operating power draw is extremely low. For a detailed energy consumption guide over 24h, check out the specifications at the bottom of this solar refrigerator
page. There is, of course, the initial investment in the solar fridge, but there are no hidden costs or special fuels to buy. If you have an existing solar setup you may not need any extra panels or batteries, depending on your system. If you are new to solar and you like how it is working, you can expand your system after the initial investment and take even more components of your life off-grid; your DC refrigerator can even serve as an RV refrigerator with some panels on your RV. Treat your solar fridge well and it will keep on trucking for years. Take that money you save from utilities and put it back into something you enjoy.
6. A Solar Fridge is Eco-Friendly
The most common and arguably the cheapest form of generating energy comes from burning coal. Nuclear also takes a large precedence in society, and we need to wean ourselves from that too. If it was safe, then there would be a proper way to dispose of our spent fuel rods. Any way to lower energy demands from the power grid would decrease our dependency and need to burn coal and bio fuels, as well as reduce our need for nuclear power. Using solar has a direct and indirect relationship with our environment. Like many things solar, a solar fridge will reduce the power consumed whether on-grid or off-grid when compared to all other alternatives, many of which have detrimental environmental effects.