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By Jeffrey Yago, P. I also mentioned there are several refrigerators and freezers now available that can be powered directly from a volt DC battery. In this issue, I will review several different brands and models of refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerator-freezers that will make any rural retreat more like home.
Yes, you can drag an ice chest back and forth on your weekend visits, which is still the most economical way to have ice and refrigerated fresh foods. But for extended or long-term stays, a portable cooler cannot keep ice much longer than a three-day weekend.
If your retreat already includes a large propane storage tank to power a cook stove and water heater, then by all means shop for a propane-powered freezer or refrigerator. However, many remote locations are difficult, if not impossible, to access by a propane refueling truck, and electric utility lines may not reach the area, either.
For these applications, there are several quality low-voltage refrigerators and freezers that will operate directly from a volt DC battery. However, I am limiting this review to models in the 4 to 12 cubic feet capacity range, since I assume the refrigeration needs and kitchen wall space are limited in a second home or remote cabin.
For size comparison, 4 cubic feet is slightly larger than a very large portable ice chest, and 12 cubic feet is in the size range of an apartment-size refrigerator.
Many of the smaller volt DC models were actually developed for the boating and over-the-road trucking applications. Since both applications have deep-cycle Pe 102 1 DC batteries that are constantly being recharged by diesel engines, energy efficiency is not a primary goal in their design.
To minimize space requirements, many of these mobile refrigerators will have thin walls, which reduces the insulation. This type refrigerator has a higher heat gain, which in turn requires more battery power.
If your cabin includes a generator that will be operating every few days, then a less expensive and less efficient model may be your best choice, as regular operation of the generator should keep the battery recharged. However, if you will not have a generator, or only plan to use a generator during an occasional week of bad weather, then keeping the battery recharged using the sun may be your best solution.
For solar charging only, you will want a refrigerator having a very efficient cooling system and very thick wall insulation. Many models I have reviewed have walls with up to four inches of insulation, which can keep food cold for days without power.
Refrigeration system Many dual-fuel refrigerators are actually modern versions of the old gas absorption refrigerators and use a small gas flame to heat refrigerant gas, which generates the refrigeration process.
This means that a unit having both a small propane burner and an electric heating element can separately generate the refrigeration process. Although an absorption-cycle cooling system is fairly simple and does not require any electric motor-driven compressors or a pump, using electrical power to heat anything requires lots of energy.
Using an electric heater for generating the refrigeration cycle will require a much larger battery and solar array than the same size refrigerator with a motor-driven compressor. Another low-cost volt DC refrigerator design uses a solid-state electronic device mounted on a finned-metal heat sink.
One side of the heat sink is exposed to the air outside the refrigerated compartment, and the other side is exposed to the inside.
These are very low-cost and can be found at almost every truck stop. When connected to a volt DC power source usually a cigarette lighter outletthe interior side of the heat sink gets cold while the exterior side gets hot.
By reversing the plug, the effect reverses and the interior side heats. I installed one of these units in my truck that has a watt solar module on the roof, and it ran down the battery any day the engine was not running.
I do not recommend using any refrigerator with this type of cooling system for any off-grid application.
When matched up with a well-insulated cabinet, this low-energy compressor usually only operates five to six hours per day to maintain below-zero freezer temperatures. Since many of the high-efficiency 12 and 24 volt DC refrigerators reviewed in this article use the same Danfoss compressor, their main marketing differences will be cubic feet capacity, thermal insulation thickness, and construction quality.
Usually the most energy-efficient models are top-load models, but these are not available in two-door. You can buy a top-load super-efficient freezer or refrigerator, but not both in the same cabinet.
Upright door models are usually less efficient than top-load models, but many upright brands offer two-door units that are more useful when you need to keep ice frozen and drinks cold at the same time.
Model comparisons Since all models reviewed are similar in size, a major cost difference is related to the amp-hour per-day drain on the battery.Summerside is a Canadian city in Prince County, Prince Edward Island It is the second largest city in the province and the principal municipality for the western part of the islandSummerside was officially incorporated as a town on April 1, , and reincorporated as a city on April 1, Read more about Summerside real estate.
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