Are you looking for an article that talks about a solar-powered refrigerator? If yes, this article would be of great help.
For those leaving off-grid or going camping, a solar-powered refrigerator will best suit such an area. Hence, its usage does not limit such an area.
However, even an area with steady electricity can also use a solar-powered refrigerator. This will help reduce the reliance on electricity and further reduce the cost of electric bills.
Thus, it serves as an alternative to electric-powered ones. Therefore, follow this article closely to understand a solar power refrigerator better.
Solar Powered Refrigerator Explained
Before talking about solar-powered refrigerators, I will be giving a quick explanation of refrigerators. When I say a refrigerator, I mean a food storage technique that preserves food by cooling.
Hence, it is a necessary household appliance that uses a cooling effect to store food or drinks. Also, a refrigerator is known as a fridge.
Thus, a refrigerator can be either electric-powered or solar-powered. An electric-powered type runs on the utility-provided AC (Alternate Current) power.
While the solar-powered type runs on solar energy to produce DC (Direct Current), however, a solar-powered refrigerator is a type of refrigerator that uses the energy from sunlight.
This energy can be in the form of photovoltaic or solar thermal energy. For instance, the solar-powered fridge keeps food like fish, meat, dairy, and so on from spoilage.
Not only that, it keeps essential vaccines at an appropriate temperature to prevent them from going bad. This type of refrigerator is suitable for an off-grid area where they lack utility-provided AC power.
Although, an area where there is constant electricity can also make use of this type of refrigerator. However, this type serves as an alternative to the previous type that uses gas or kerosene.
A solar fridge features a thick insulator and the use of a direct current compressor. It combines solar panels, lead batteries, and sometimes inverters.
This combination helps store energy for cloudy days and nighttime with no sunlight to help keep its content cool.
Advances in technology
For a long time, there has been the use of gas or kerosene-powered refrigerator in off-grid areas. Hence, in 1878 there was a production of ice using concentrated solar heat.
Since then, there have been several productions of solar-powered refrigeration. This type uses the solar panel, battery, and sometimes inverter to work perfectly.
Basically, there are two types of deep cycle batteries that work perfectly for a solar-powered refrigerator. They include a Lithium-ion battery and a lead-acid battery.
However, these battery tends to deteriorate and needs a lot of maintenance. Also, this battery needs replacement after every three years and needs to be disposed of as toxic waste, leading to environmental pollution.
Therefore, in the 1900s, NASA Johnson Space Center made an effort to advance solar-powered refrigerator technology. The new type used phase change material to store thermal energy rather than a battery.
Briefly, the phase change material is a substance that releases or absorbs enough energy at phase transition to provide helpful heating or cooling effect.
The phase transition means from one of the two basic states of matter, solid and liquid, to the other. Thus, this type uses thermal energy to solar power the refrigerator rather than using a battery.
However, this technology is now in the market for commercial and individual purposes to store food products and vaccines. Also, there has been an increased use of it in the remote to store vaccines and other related purposes.
Benefits Of Solar Powered Refrigerators
Here are some benefits of using a solar-powered refrigerator.
The solar-powered fridge makes use of a panel and batteries to operate well. This type was designed so that it maximizes the performance of solar operations.
Since the fridge runs on DC power, there is no need to convert it to AC power. This makes it more energy efficient.
Also, this type of fridge has highly efficient compressor units and a thicker lining.
Most solar-powered fridge has denser and other resourceful linings in their design that maintains their temperature and cooling. Also, they run on a meager amount of energy that will ensure effective usage with a storage bank.
Free from a power cut
With this type of fridge, whenever there is an interruption in the power supply, it won’t be a bother. It uses solar to run, so its contents will still be cold and fresh.
After buying the solar fridge, you don’t need a lot to run it. This is because the solar panel collects its energy from the sun, which converts to the power used to keep the fridge cool.
Also, after installing the solar fridge, the solar panel requires low maintenance. Hence, since this type of fridge does not require the use of fuel or gas, it involves little or no maintenance.
This fridge runs on solar power, making it safe and clean energy. In addition, this type does not run on any fuel, so it does not release any form of carbon into the environment.
Also, using a solar fridge will go a long way toward reducing the way we consume electricity.
Types Of Solar Powered Refrigerators
There are three types of solar Powered Refrigerators, and they include;
Solar photovoltaic refrigerator
This type contains solar panels with photovoltaic cells that convert the sun’s energy into direct current power. The DC power turns to alternate current power to operate its compressor.
This power further runs the compressor, spreading the refrigerant solution throughout the unit. Then, this gets rid of the heat within the refrigerator and retains its cool and fresh contents.
This type is the most common, and it is easy to use.
Solar Mechanical Refrigerator
This type consists of a Rankine engine. Thus, the solar panel absorbs the solar power.
Then, it makes use of this energy to heat the solution. Hence, this continuously runs the engine and keeps the compressor in motion. The next thing is that it generates cooling inside the refrigerator.
However, this type is not effective as the other types. This system depends on the temperature at a high level to run its engine.
The solar collectors that connect to the system generally reduce its performance because of the temperature rise.
Solar Absorption Refrigerator
This type makes use of an absorption system. It consists of a generator, pump, and an absorber capable of compressing the refrigerant vapor.
This type contains the absorption cycle to generate the chilling effect inside the unit. Thus, the unit uses solar power to heat the generator that switches the compressor.
After this, the refrigerant then turns into liquid within the condenser.
Solar Powered Refrigerator Vs. Traditional Refrigerator
The traditional refrigerator was also known as the Gas or Kerosene powered refrigerator. However, both the solar and gas-powered fridges are suitable for off-grid areas.
Hence, the solar-type is the advanced gas type form. However, the gas or kerosene fridge was downsides with many faults, which brought about the quest for an alternative.
Although, both the solar and the gas or kerosene fridge play the role of preserving food in an off-grid location. However, the gas-powered type had so many disadvantages.
The gas or kerosene fridge requires burning a liter of kerosene per day. Also, it requires a constant supply of fuel which can be costly and even smelly.
The use of kerosene or gas-powered fridge emits a large amount of carbon dioxide. This also causes environmental pollution.
Therefore, the invention of a solar-powered fridge helps overcome these problems, thereby creating a better-effective fridge.
Unlike the gas type, the solar-powered fridge is energy efficient. This is because it makes use of the unlimited power from the sun.
It does not produce any form of carbon, and it is eco-friendly. This is because it is safe and clean energy.
The function of both the gas and the solar fridge is not limited to food storage. It is also suitable for medical purposes like vaccine storage in remote areas.
Also, the gas or kerosene fridge can be challenging to adjust the temperature, resulting in the freezing of the vaccine, unlike solar power, which is easy to adjust.
In terms of maintenance, gas or kerosene-powered can be challenging to maintain, unlike solar-powered, which involves low maintenance.
How Does A Solar Refrigerator work
Like the electric-powered fridge, the solar-powered fridge also has the same components. These parts include; the compressor, extension tap, condenser, and evaporator.
Hence, these parts work together to give a proper functioning of the solar-powered refrigerator. Although it works depending on its type, they usually use a similar working principle.
A solar fridge uses a solar panel that absorbs the energy gotten from the sun. Thus, the photovoltaic cells or solar cells change the solar energy to electricity.
Hence, the battery further stores the electricity. This now enables it to power the fridge even at night, during cloudy times, or even when there is no power.
It is essential to know that it is not all solar fridge that uses a battery. However, those that do not employ the use of a battery make use of refrigerant.
The refrigerant is an alternative that changes gas to a liquid, creating thermal power that serves as an energy source.
A non-battery solar-powered fridge uses a PV panel, vapor compressor, thermal storage, and electronic controls.
However, the PV panel converts the energy from sunlight into DC power. Thus, the DC power drives the vapor compressor, which circulates the refrigerant in the compressor.
The vapor compressor also functions to extract heat from the insulator. This insulator involves thermal storage and a phase change material.
Hence, this material tends to freeze when the insulator extracts heat. Then, this further creates something called an ice pack.
This ice pack maintains the cold temperature inside the fridge when there is no sunlight. This whole process helps the fridge to remain cold throughout the year.
Electronic control is backup power from an alternative source like an electric grid.
Pros And Cons
- It uses solar energy, which makes it clean and renewable power.
- The solar-powered fridge uses solar panels, which can be quite expensive. However, after installing the panel, the energy it generates is free.
- Also, you can’t use up the solar energy it produces. It uses the sun’s energy, and it will continue to exist as long as the world exists.
- The fridge uses solar energy, and it does not pollute the environment. Hence, it is eco-friendly.
- The solar panel or the solar cell does not produce any noise. It is usually very quiet when it is working.
- This type does not involve too much maintenance. Thus, it saves time and labor.
- There is a low chance of damage since there are no moving parts in the solar system.
- The first thing is that a solar-powered fridge can be quite expensive. The solar panel can be costly, but the running cost of the panel is low.
- The solar-powered fridge uses batteries to operate at night or when there is no sun. So when there is no sun for an entire week, there is a need for an alternative.
- However, these batteries can be heavy and take up space and need replacement from time to time.
- This refrigerator is solely dependent on sunlight, and due to this, climate can be a great problem.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Solar Powered Refrigerator
Before deciding on the solar fridge you want to buy, several things to look out for. Thus, I will be explaining these factors.
The size of the fridge is an essential factor that you need to consider. This is because it is the size that determines the other elements.
However, the solar fridge ranges in different sizes. This size ranges from as low as 28L to as high as 849L.
Also, there are different models of this type of fridge. For example, there are the lightweight mini-fridges and the larger model.
The lightweight mini-fridges are suitable for drinks or food storage when traveling in a recreational vehicle or off-grid area. In contrast, the larger type is ideal for household and even commercial use.
Another important thing to consider is the cost of the fridge or the whole installation process. Although, if you have an already installed panel, you only need to worry about the cost of the fridge.
The cost of a solar fridge depends on its size and the model. For instance, if you want to buy a 280L fridge and install the entire system, you tend to spend more.
You need to worry about the cost of the unit, solar panel, battery, charger controller, and installation and connection charges. Hence, you need to choose the one that best suits your budget.
Also, you can compare various brands and their prices. Then you can select the units that fit into your budget.
The insulation type of the fridge is another thing to consider. What insulation does is that it makes sure there is no exchange of cold air and hot air between the inside and outside of the unit.
Thus, the thicker the insulation, the more energy-efficient the fridge is. However, there are different types of insulation materials that the refrigerator makes use of.
These include; rigid polyurethane foam, fiberglass, fumed silica vacuum insulated panel, and extruded polystyrene. Hence, any of these materials will serve the aim of proper insulation.
Type of storage
Depending on the solar fridge that will suit the buyer, there are different options for the type of storage. For example, compartments, trays, wire racks, and drawers to shelves with doors.
However, the storage type also depends on the taste of the buyer.
In terms of energy efficiency, the solar-powered fridge is outstanding. However, there are some things to consider.
The first thing to consider is selecting a fridge with an energy consumption of below 360KWh per year or 1KWh per day. This would be able to cater to your cooling needs.
Also, avoid those types with an energy efficiency of 250KWh and below. Again, this is because it offers a low cooling capacity.
Therefore, you can make your refrigerator more energy efficient by setting up the right panel. Not only that, but you can also install the proper charger controller and use them appropriately.
My Recommendation; 5 Best Pick Solar Powered Refrigerator
This type has a multi-opening lid. This lid allows you to change the opening direction without assembling, and also access to cold storage is easy even in a tight space.
It has convenient plugs. The 12/24 DC ports are on both sides of the fridge. Also, it has two USB outlet that enables you to charge your mobile device only when on DC power.
This fridge has a built-in AC that can allow you to pre-cool the refrigerator from your home socket. Also, it has a drain hole, waterproof baffle, LED light, and removable handle.
It comes with a replacement handle, removable basket, corner protector, and drain plugs. And has a SECOP compressor with a cooling range to meet your refrigeration needs.
This type has a dual-zone with independent control. It allows you to use freezing or refrigeration in any combination, like freezer and refrigeration, both freezing or both refrigeration.
Also, you can turn off one zone for energy saving. And it has a SECOP compressor with a cooling range to meet your refrigeration needs.
Not only that, it is convenient for car and home use. Each of the refrigerators has a DC cord and an AC cable.
It has a 12/24V DC and 110-240 AC output cord. Also, it is user-friendly.
This fridge has a metal shell, thickened inner wall, and foldable pull-down locks for better insulation. It also has convenient interior light for easy access in the dark and two removable wire baskets.
This type uses a VMSO3 Compressor cooling technology with a cooling range that can suit your needs. It has a heavy-duty, lightweight ExoFrame construction and an aluminum alloy hand that can stand any condition.
Also, it has an ultra-low power consumption. It powers via AC, DC, or solar. It also has a built-in 3 stage dynamic battery protection system.
Not only that, the CFX3 app allows you to control temperature via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and also provides its performance history. Also, it has a high-resolution color display and soft-touch buttons that enable seamless control and monitor the cooler performance.
It has dual compartments with independent temperature controls.
This type has 8 feet AC power cord and 10 feet DC power cord. It also has two removable wire baskets, an insulated lid and walls, and a power low indicator.
Also, it has a rigid and solid outer powder-coated steel housing, drain plug, stainless steel side handles, and an LED temperature display.
Not only that, this fridge is suitable for cars, recreational vehicles, and home use. However, if both the AC and DC are plugged in simultaneously, the unit will operate on AC.
When the AC fails, the DC will now be the primary supply source. In addition, it has a reversible door hinge that has a stainless steel material.
This type has an LG compressor that can make a cooling temperature to 32 degrees (F) in 20 minutes by max mode. It also has an energy saver that you can continually use for 10 hours to that same degree.
It has a 173Wh removable lithium battery. This battery can charge via a 120v AC, 12/24v DC, or a 12v solar panel.
It has a large capacity to store a large number of can drinks, bottled waters, and wine bottles. Also, it can store meat, snacks, seafood, and beverages.
Thus, it is suitable mainly for campers, RV or Truck drives, and even boat owners. Not only that, the refrigerator app makes it easy to manage and control via Bluetooth.
It has a digital smart control panel with electronic temperature control. In addition, it has three levels of battery protection mechanism- low, medium, and high that can protect the vehicle’s battery from running out.
Also, it has a luggage-style design with a stretchable handle that does not require you to lift it. It also has large tires of about six feet, which increases its portability.
Most times, people like to spend their time in off-grid areas, mainly for leisure, camping, etc. The solar fridge keeps you assured that they can still enjoy chilled drinks and preserve their food even without electricity.
Also, it does not only limit its usage to off-grid areas but even to areas with a power supply that can make use of it. Finally, although this fridge also has its downside, it is really energy efficient.
The medical personnel also enjoy using the solar fridge to preserve some medical supplies like vaccines. However, regardless of its use, this fridge still proves itself with its high performance.
Hence, I have given several recommendations for buyers to pick from that best suit their needs.
I hope you found this PowerVersity pick helpful?
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