The utilities of a mini fridge are enormous – they look more aesthetic, take up less space, can be fitted in patios to provide with all the ice you need for your parties and is just what you need for the hassle-free hospitality of your sudden guests! And if the thought of electricity consumption is a bother, why not give solar power a chance?
How does a mini fridge consume less electricity?
If you are in the habit of opening your fridge very often, you will lose more cold air when you open a regular fridge than a mini fridge. This is so because your mini fridge being mini has a lesser capacity and thus holds less air as compared to the regular fridge.
What is the power consumption of a mini refrigerator?
The power consumption of a small fridge depends on the features, size and manufacturer essentially. But you should also consider the age of the unit. The temperature at which you set the item is important too. As for the features, whether it is the manual defrost type or the auto-defrost kind counts. Also it is always preferable to keep your mini fridge away from any clutter or heat sources otherwise it will spend more energy to keep its contents cool.
If the size of the unit ranges from 1.7 to 4.4 cubic feet and the model has an Energy star rating, it will consume 239.42 kWh every year at the maximum if it is of the manual defrost kind; but if it’s of the partial automatic defrost version, with the same features, it will consume 318.4 kWh yearly.
If you want to calculate the power consumption of your mini fridge, look for the nameplate ratings which are usually found on the inside of the fridge. If it says 4.5A current and 115V (or VAC), then multiply these two quantities and the product, i.e. 517.5W, is the power demand of the appliance.
How many solar panels does your mini fridge need?
Refrigerators do require a lot of power, but with mini fridges and solar power all that is taken care off. The power need depends on quite a lot of factors. The lifestyle of a family is a controlling factor. The amount of food you keep in your fridge, the age of your appliance and the duration for which you keep it open, largely controls the power consumption of your mini fridge. The place you keep your mini fridge is important. It should be far away from sunlight or other heat sources like ovens. The fridge should be kept ¾ full so that it does not have to work extra to keep the empty space cool. Avoid keeping your fridge doors open for long and only place your food inside it once the food has attained room temperature or is cool. It is better to place the fridge in the open than in a cupboard.
The climatic condition of your locality has a say in the amount of energy generated in the solar panels. Though the amount of solar energy produced by a solar panel is highly variable, a singular, extremely efficient solar panel produces 265 watts of solar power on an average. That means the same panel will produce roughly 30 kWh of power every month.
Now that you know the amount of power your mini fridge requires and the amount of solar power an efficient solar panel can generate on an average, you can fairly well calculate the number of solar panels that you would need to power your mini fridge.
But always take into account some wastage that is so common with electrical appliances. A professional solar installer may help you with the calculations to arrive at a more accurate data.
What are the things needed to set up the solar powered mini fridge?
The solar power set up for a mini fridge would require quite a few devices in addition to the solar panels. Firstly you would need batteries which would store the solar power so that you can use it on cloudy days or during nighttime. The next device is the charge controller that will make the flow of current from the panels to the battery smooth and will also protect the batteries from sudden power fluctuations. As a consequence, the batteries receive proper current and voltage. Also, an inverter is needed to change the direct current (DC) power of the battery to the alternating current (AC) power for use of the mini fridge.
You may require certain approvals and certifications typical of your area to satisfy the power utility mandate and electrical code requirements of that place.
What are the specifications of the batteries and the inverter?
A common solar battery for a certain amount of amp-hours usually provides 12 volts of electrical energy. A battery is normally rated taking into account a 20-hour cycle. This means that theoretically one 160 amp-hour battery would provide 8 amps every hour for 20 hours.
Inverters which convert DC battery power to AC power for the usage of the appliances are never 100% efficient. Power is lost during conversions and this power loss can escalate to 50%. So while purchasing an inverter, take note of its efficiency rating. This measure should also be taken into account while deciding the power requirement of your mini fridge.
With so much of information regarding running a mini fridge on solar power at your fingertips, why not learn something about the best solar fridge?
Dometic CFX 40W 12v Electric Powered Portable Cooler, Fridge Freezer
This solar fridge option from the house of Dometic is highly flexible and can refrigerate or freeze upto -7oF (-22oC). There is no need for ice, except making ice for drinks. It is extremely durable coming with reinforced corners, a robust lid lining, stainless steel hinges and a strong closing mechanism enabling it to endure huge loads. The durability does not come in the way of its mobility since this model is extremely lightweight. The power consumption is very low. It uses DC or AC and is thus perfect for solar setups or any other off-grid applications. The energy consumption (DC@5/32oC) is 0.665kWh per day.
The cooling temperature in the compartment may be monitored and controlled by the WiFi app (except the CFX28 and CFX65D). It comes with a 2 year warranty and 3 stage battery protection. The fridge has an outstanding cooling performance even at very ambient temperatures and using minimal power. This model is equally efficient both in freezing and refrigeration. It can operate on 120V AC or 12/24V DC and the appliance comes with both the requisite AC and DC cords. It is perfect for solar operation, operates with minimal noise and comes with digital temperature display and energy-efficient LED interior light. The drain plug makes cleaning easy and the USB port is perfect for charging small electronic devices or smartphones. The cooling compartment is equipped with wire basket that is removable. The memory is able to maintain the preset temperatures even when the system is put off.
At the time of writing, the product was priced around $800.00. Want to check the current price or the customer reviews before you make your final choice?