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Thread: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

  1. #1

    Default Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    I'm looking for a small refrigerator for a small cabin in the mountains. It's a weekend cabin so the fridge doesn't have to run for more than 4-7 days at a time.

    Is it truly worth going with a SunFrost refrigerator or are there similar ones for less money?

    thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    SF Bay Area (California)
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    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    Typically, the answer is not--they are not worth the money.

    From years ago, our host's take on off-grid solar electric refrigerators:

    We first published this editorial in early 2001, and have revised it several times. The last revision was August 2008.
    We no longer carry SunFrost - We quit carrying them about 10 years ago, after selling them for over 15 years. For several reasons. Read below to see why a SunFrost may not be the solution that they claim:
    "Refrigeration is typically the largest consumer of electrical energy in an energy efficient home. However, the energy efficient SUN FROST refrigerator makes powering a home with photovoltaics, wind, or other low output energy sources both feasible and affordable. In a home using utility power, energy consumption for refrigeration is typically cut by a factor of 5 (80%). Along with energy efficiency, the Sun Frost offers other amenities not found in conventional refrigerators, such as food-saving, high humidity storage, quiet operation, and an easy-to-clean interior.

    The Sun Frost refrigerator typically reduces refrigerator energy consumption by a factor of five. The accompanying cost of the solar power system is similarly reduced. The SUN FROST RF-16 12 volt DC model consumes 20 KWH per month, or an average of 53 amp hours per day. By contrast, conventional refrigerators typically consume about 110 KWH per month or 305 amp hours per day. Producing the 110 KWH needed to run this refrigerator on a solar power system would require an investment of around $12,000 in hardware, batteries, and inverter. A Sun Frost will reduce this cost by a factor of at least six because of its increased efficiency and the elimination of inverter losses. Inverters convert DC battery power to 120V AC."

    And it goes beyond what they put in print - at an RE show a few years ago, I heard a Sunfrost rep claim that the RF16 used only 8% as much power as a standard refrigerator. That is obviously ridiculous, but it was being sold as gospel. (in fact it is from 55% to 110% as much).

    Even now (April 2007), they still make claims like "Producing the 110 KWH ( per month) needed to run the typical refrigerator..." and "A Sun Frost RF16 will reduce this cost by a factor of at least six..".

    Both statements are plainly and obviously false, yet the same mantra keeps getting repeated. And if you do an internet search for "SunFrost", you will see the same statement time after time repeated on hundreds of websites (none of who have actually bothered to check the facts, apparently). A check in August of 2007 of the energy star website for refrigerators shows that many in the 18-21 CF range come in at under 400 KWH per year - which is a far cry from the 13,200 claimed by Sunfrost. And a typical one, like one Kenmore model rated 367 KWH per year costs over $2000 less than the Sunfrost RF19.
    And on design/quality:

    And we are not alone - below are some quotes from Sunfrost owners from our own email and discussion groups:
    • I have a Sunfrost RF-19, and it has always had water condensing in the fridge section. It's especially bad in the Summer. I purchased it 5 years ago, and would never buy another one. Recently the latch broke and we held it shut with a bungie cord. I don't think this condensation is an inevitable trade off for efficiency. I attribute it to poor design, with the ineffective door seals.
    • Do you ever have any problems with water collecting in the bottom of the fridge? Mine has done it from day one. I have an RF-16. I just didn't know if this is a trade off for the efficiency!
    • They specifically state in their literature that they are quiet. From my conversation with them and your additional input I really don't expect any service from them. The two year warrantee is garbage. Their recommendation on the phone to stack acoustical ceiling tiles around the compressor was the first clue I was talking to a Bozo. I would recommend any body considering purchasing a DC fridge to seriously consider the new alternatives that are cropping up. The (Sunfrost) has been the only real game in town until the last couple of years and I think they have developed a "Were the only game in town" attitude. I wish I had known this before. I was seriously considering another manufacturer and bought Sunfrost because I thought I'd be getting the best and would have trouble free operation and great service. Fool me once.... Never again.
    • I'm thoroughly DISAPPOINTED with our SunFrosts. I've replace the gaskets 2 (some 3) times. And still we don't get a good seal. One of the Freezers runs incessantly. There is always a build up of frost. (Indicative of air leakage). Half of the catches have broken. I've used the things less than 2 years. I quit replacing the gaskets with what SunFrost provides. They are just not temperature stable. SunFrost's gaskets shrink too much in cold, and then leak @ the corners.

    --- Obviously not everyone will agree with the comments above, but we felt they should be included.
    Read the whole thing...

    Two options--If the cabin is not used for the better part of 9+ months of the year, look at a propane powered refrigerator/freezer. You only pay for propane when you are there. Sometimes you can get a good deal on a used fridge from an RV wrecker.

    If you really want a solar powered refrigerator--take a look at a chest freezer conversion... Uses much less power (down to ~25% of a standard refrigerator) than any of the small refrigerators out there.

    -Bill
    Last edited by BB.; June 23rd, 2010 at 17:04 PDT.
    20x BP 4175B panels (replacement) + Xantrex GT 3.3 inverter for 3kW Grid Tied system + Honda eu2000i Inverter/Generator for emergency backup.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Quetico, Ontario
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    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    It is a conversation we have had many times on this forum. In general, the more a fridge is used, the smarter it is to use the most efficient fridge. From a PV perspective, I am a fan of LP fridges for part time use, (weekends, holiday weeks etc) as they allow the Pv system to be much smaller.

    As for Sun Frost specifically I think you have to look carefully at real world performance numbers. Basic, simple Energystar fridges come at a much smaller cost, and perhaps nearly as good energy use numbers.


    Tony

    Ps You got me by a minute! I knew that there was some controversy about SunFrost.
    Last edited by icarus; June 22nd, 2010 at 12:56 PDT.
    Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    you know i never bothered to check, but do you guys know if they make any of those small refrigs as energy star?
    NIEL

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    You can use the Energy Star Search Tool. You will get 3 brands of E.S. listed refrigerators smaller than 8 cu.ft.

    Most use around 250 to 350 kWhrs per year... Even the 1.7 cu.ft. rated for 278 kWH per year...

    Compare that with a 18.7 cu.ft. Kenmore that rated at 407 kWH per year--Ten times the volume using only 2x the amount of power.

    -Bill
    20x BP 4175B panels (replacement) + Xantrex GT 3.3 inverter for 3kW Grid Tied system + Honda eu2000i Inverter/Generator for emergency backup.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    thanks bb as i was being lazy. i was the one who first placed the estar link here on the forum and only asked if anyone knew off-hand. i did look and it seems there are plenty of them listed as long as the numbers weren't fudged which was in another thread.
    NIEL

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by niel View Post
    thanks bb as i was being lazy. i was the one who first placed the estar link here on the forum and only asked if anyone knew off-hand. i did look and it seems there are plenty of them listed as long as the numbers weren't fudged which was in another thread.
    I'll have to get the kill-a-watt plugged into the fridge, and verify what I'm burning.
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
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    Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph # 214505 ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    Yea, I'd say go with LP. My camper has a frame mounted horizontal 5 gallon propane tank. The little Norcold 323 in my camper will run for 3 weeks on high, and 4 weeks on low from that tank. I usually leave it on low because on high it tends to freeze things.

    It's also dead simple - no thermostat or sensitive control board (the part that normally goes bad on an RV fridge).

    http://www.thetford.com/HOME/Product...9/Default.aspx

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    Thanks for the info. My client is h*ll bent on a SunFrost so I guess they will have to pay the price.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is a Sunfrost Fridge worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by nepalm View Post
    Thanks for the info. My client is h*ll bent on a SunFrost so I guess they will have to pay the price.
    Been there, done that.

    -Bill
    20x BP 4175B panels (replacement) + Xantrex GT 3.3 inverter for 3kW Grid Tied system + Honda eu2000i Inverter/Generator for emergency backup.

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