Off Grid Refrigeration
We recently bought an off-grid property and are wondering what our best options are for long term options for refrigeration. For the time being we are only using the property on weekends but are prepping it for long-term full-time living.
The place came with a very old propane fridge but it doesn’t seem to work. I would like to repair it but we can’t find anyone that knows much about them (at least the old one like we have). Anybody around here know much about them? It seems to be a problem with the pilot light and how it really works. We think the bleeder/pilot is out of place. We had the main burner working one day but made a lot of smoke and now we can’t seem to get it going.
We are considering a new/used one and are weighing the options between another propane version or an electric one. The problem with electric is that we would also be stuck having to buy more solar/wind infrastructure.
Despite the cost of more solar/wind we are leaning towards electric. What are thoughts on AC vs DC models regarding efficiency, cost and reliability?
I’m also thinking of building an ice house but not sure if I’ve got the drive to do so.
I don’t know if I could live with warm beer.
Also, if you want the info I have collected on solar shoot me an email [email protected] We are planning on building a few panels this summer to see how they work. Our well is 900′ deep and is 3.5 3 phase ac sooooo our electric is well over average for a 3br 1800 sq foot house heated with wood and cooled by mountain air (we don’t use ac but 3 days a year.)
Congrads on the secluded location!!!
I saw a ice house design on MyBackAchers.com (they zero energy farm . . guess that’s why their back achers!)
They made an insulated room and filled it with tanks of water & anti-freeze and chill them down in the winter, then close it all up. The number of freezing 55 gal tanks depends on the size of your room and your climate. . . or how cold can you get it in mid-winter? I’m wondering how you would power a propane refrig if that disappeared too.
Save your energy needs for lights, tv/stero/video games, computer and communications. . . . or spa!
This is one of my long term projects, you know, when I run out of doing everything else…! Making one from scratch would be a big ask, but obviously, he’s done it. Fortunately for me, I had the foresight to acquire a non functioning solar water heater off someone’s roof….. I knew it didn’t work, and I just knocked on the door and offered to take the ugly non working contraption off their roof for free, and they said yes!! BTW, I don’t believe for one second that the collector has to be remotely as large as you see here… every m2 of collection is a whole 1000W of power, and that sucker must be all of 8m2 = 8kW…. and I’ve never seen a freezer that uses THAT much power. My collectors are more like 2.5m2….
Does anyone here (whilst I hopefully have your attention) know how easily acquired that blck steel pipe they specify in this design is, and how does one bend it into a spiral? Is it soft metal or something?
Actually, here’s a better link you can download and save the file from…
I bought plans for an ethonal still, never built it after doing the cost analysis I realized that our elected officials picked the stupidest thing to offset fuel consumption. But a still is a still, one day maybe.
The only black pipe I am familiar with is lead. If there is a flexible black pipe, or if it is like the copper pipe in the still plans they just wrapped the coil around a black 3" or wider diameter pipe then slid the coil off of it.
There’s some high-level info about gas/propane refrigerators on HowStuffWorks and some more detailed info at WarehouseAppliance that may help you debug the problem. However, if your beast is really old, you might be better off purchasing a new propane refrigerator since they aren’t as efficient as the new ones (less insulation, burn more fuel). You can convert the old fridge box into a food dehydrator or solar cooker.
Living off the grid, I’d say that a propane fridge is the way to go — maintenance is much simpler (no moving parts) and you don’t need to beef up your collection system. Another benefit of getting a propane fridge is that you can later convert it to run on biogas from an anaerobic digester.
Now, the question remains whether a gas freezer is better than a 12v DC freezer, and I think the jury is still out on that one. Summit makes some darned efficient DC chest freezers, and other manufacturers even have models that include a dedicated panel just for the freezer. I’d say to go with a DC model (freezer or fridge) so you don’t lose that tiny bit of juice going through the inverter to turn it AC. Plus a lot of AC models void their warranty if they are used on an off-grid system (check the fine print!), while DC models are expected to be run off-grid.
One thing the jury isn’t out on is that chest freezers are way more efficient than fridge/freezer combos. So you’re much better off getting a smaller fridge and a large freezer. If you have a root cellar (or icehouse) that stays around or below 40F year round, most of the stuff we refrigerate would work just fine down there. There are lots of food that really just needs to be kept cool, not cold — fruit, veg, butter, cheese, condiments, etc — so you really don’t need to waste space in a fridge for them, and just need one big enough for leftovers, milk and other highly perishable items.
Edited to add: if you can afford a little extra, there are models that are "multi-fuel" — propane/AC, propane/DC, and propane/AC/DC (which might be the best way to go for "insurance" against possible shortage of one fuel//power supply).
A word of warning about gas powered fridges….. in my experience they are HIGHLY inefficient and burn through gas like there’s no tomorrow. And as we know, there is no tomorrow, so I wouldn’t go that way if you can afford it, you’d be better off going PV + DC fridge, unless you live somewhere really cloudy….
Gas powered fridges are inefficient, but have the advantage that with a bit of tinkering can run off wood,coal…..or the sun
A classmate of mine had a masters project involving a fridge run off a hot water type solar panel, targeting reiterating vaccines in third world tropical conditions.
If anyone serious I could possibly chase down the supervising professor involved for details.
I don’t think this product is currently in production yet, but it sounds promising. I’m hoping they can bring it to market before TSHTF.