Gas refrigerator?

nu2solarnu2solar Solar Expert Posts: 28
My husband and I are building a semi-underground house with solar, wind, and propane for all power. We won't have electric. We are new to the whole solar thing and I wanted to know your opinions on refrigerators. Would I be better off with a smaller residential refrigerator and how much solar power or wind would I need just to run that? Or, would you recommend a propane refrigerator? The one I was looking uses @1.7 gallons per 7 days. Also which brands do you suggest? I was leaning towards the EZ Freeze 1850 ss.

We are in the east TN mountains and we just closed on 40 beautiful acres. We can't wait to start building. First we have to get the bridge in.

Thanks
Lisa

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,204 admin
    Re: Gas refrigerator?

    Hmmm,

    Looks to be a pretty close call... Either will cost you around $32 or so per month (based on $4 per gallon propane or $1 per kWhr for solar electricity).

    My two cents, if I had a choice and you have the money to build a big enough off grid solar system (and enough sun--assuming you are going to install an off-grid power system in the first place) to power the refrigerator, I would probably tend towards purchasing an Energy Star electric fridge.

    The electric fridge will be cheaper to purchase (1/2 the price of propane) plus you will have frost free, ice maker, and other options available. Also, an electric fridge will be easier to find locally, and may last longer with less maintenance issues associated with propane. Also, you should vent the propane fridge to the outside (venting propane in a well sealed home will add humidity from the burning propane--roughly 1.5 gallons of water for every gallon of propane burned, plus it uses oxygen from the home's air--usually not helpful in a well sealed/insulated home).

    You can also do other types of fridge conversions--like using a chest freezer converted to be a refrigerator (new thermostat, add a drip channel around the sides to channel condensation to the drain). These conversions can use 1/2 the electricity of the typical energy star rated fridge.

    In the end, this choice may hinge on your preferences between the refrigerators brand/models themselves--all else being equal.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,459 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Gas refrigerator?
    BB. wrote: »
    Also, you should vent the propane fridge to the outside (venting propane in a well sealed home will add humidity from the burning propane--roughly 1.5 gallons of water for every gallon of propane burned, plus it uses oxygen from the home's air--usually not helpful in a well sealed/insulated home).

    2 gal propane in 7 days will hardly be noticed. 1 human transpires that much in a day. You will likely "smell" a bit of the byproduct from the gas, but I doubt it's an issue.

    I'll second the motion for More Solar, and get a conventional energy star fridge.

    Unless you are in a very windy area (treetops have a permanent curve in them from the wind) I would not count on a lot of the wind gen for your power.

    I'd consider a propane or diesel backup generator too. (not gasoline)
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
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  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Gas refrigerator?

    The single biggest problem we have seen with gas powered refrigerators is that they generally have a fairly short lifespan and reliability is not the best.

    For all of our installations we just use a standard off the shelf Energy Star rated.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Gas refrigerator?

    When we look at the future, cost of solar electricity, after it has been installed, we can be pretty sure there won't be a big jump in that cost. After all the panels are installed and can be expected to last 25 years.
    Now think about it, where will the price of propane be in 10, or 20 years?
    Will it even be available? Probably at some cost, to a few.
    I'm extremely happy with my converted chest fridge, but that's me, and not everyone is like me. LOL Would I go back to a regular upright fridge if my PV system could handle it? I really don't know - but probably not.
    Wayne
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,204 admin
    Re: Gas refrigerator?

    I will add one caveat (since I am "Mr. Darkness" here :roll: )--the price of batteries for off-grid systems will probably continue to climb too (probably more than 1/2 the total cost of an off grid system if you include battery replacement over 25+ years)...

    So, "conservation" and minimizing energy use is still key to a cost effective system.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,204 admin
    Re: Gas refrigerator?

    Wayne,

    Since you have one of the Chest Freezer conversions--was my guesstimate of using 1/2 (or less) the power of an upright fridge accurate?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nu2solarnu2solar Solar Expert Posts: 28
    Re: Gas refrigerator?

    Thank you everyone. I think we will try the most energy efficient one we can find at Lowe's. We are far away from things and I want something fairly reliable.

    Lisa
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Gas refrigerator?
    BB. wrote: »
    Wayne,

    Since you have one of the Chest Freezer conversions--was my guesstimate of using 1/2 (or less) the power of an upright fridge accurate?

    -Bill
    I would say yes Bill. What I'm using as a 5 cu ft unit running at an average of one degree above freezing. I love ice water and things last many times longer than in a regular fridge because of the low temps. It uses no more than 1/3 kwh per 24 hours. That's only about 300 watt hours!
    Others I'm sure will get different mileage.

    Cheers
    Wayne
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,204 admin
    Re: Gas refrigerator?

    Wayne,

    The low power of the small (5cuft) "freezer-rator" conversion always amazes me... I look at the small "dorm" sized fridges and they use almost as much power as a 17-20 cuft fridge (using the Yellow Energy Tag numbers).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Gas refrigerator?
    BB. wrote: »
    Wayne,

    The low power of the small (5cuft) "freezer-rator" conversion always amazes me... I look at the small "dorm" sized fridges and they use almost as much power as a 17-20 cuft fridge (using the Yellow Energy Tag numbers).

    -Bill

    That's exactly what shocks me man. I often find myself checking the tags of those smaller fridges to see what they consume and am always both shocked and disgusted. There really is NO need for them to be such energy pigs. It's a crime really, and if buyers don't check those tags, it would only be natural for them to expect low consumption. After all, it's only a little thing.
    I find it very frustrating that all regular fridges are that hard on power, because I know from experience that it's unnecessary.
    Cheers
    Wayne
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Gas refrigerator?
    nu2solar wrote: »
    Thank you everyone. I think we will try the most energy efficient one we can find at Lowe's. We are far away from things and I want something fairly reliable.

    Lisa

    We just took our two propane fridges out (pictured) and installed an energy star Kenmore. The yellow tag said 417 KwH/yr. We haven't hit the summer months yet but my Kill-a-watt shows it consistantly less than 1 KwHr/day (typically .75 - .85). Having a fridge that's frost free is an improvement and it's been 30 years since I've had an icemaker.

    When we put the propane RV fridges in it cost maybe $20/month for propane to run them. I guestimated that at ~$50/month now but I won't have an accurate figure until the next propane fill, which is gonna be awhile because the gauge on our propane tank is barely dropping. I'm suspecting we were spending a lot more, probably because the cooling fins didn't get defrosted more than 4 times per year and that's gotta hurt performance.

    Twice per year I had to pull them out (they were mounted together with rollers underneath) and clean the burners. If I went 7 or 8 months the buildup would signal the ignitor that something was wrong and that unit would shut off.

    We did have them vented through the roof, and now the waste heat from the new electric fridge is exhausting through that vent. Bad for the home heat loss in the winter but very good in summer to help keep the house cooler. In our climate there's way more hot weather than cold so I'm not messing with installation of any device to close the vent in the winter yet.

    When the new fridge runs, it starts at about 150 watts and within a minute or two is down to about 110 watts. And it runs much less than half the time (I haven't done a "stopwatch test" yet).

    I looked for a fridge for about 6 months, after determining that we finally had enough solar panels, new batteries, and a better inverter. I wanted QUIET (the propane ones only generated a solanoid 'click' when they cycled on and off so we didn't want the noise equivilant of an air conditioner running in the kitchen). We checked Lowes, Best Buy, online, appliance stores, etc. I also checked repair history and reliability online. I did buy the 5 year extended warranty (I rarely buy these) since we too live 'way out' and didn't want ANY hassles if repairs were needed. Crewzer's reports on his fridge helped.

    What we got is here: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_04677929000P?vName=Appliances&cName=Refrigerators&keyword=refridgerator

    It IS quiet. The "acceler-ice" feature is a little squirrel cage fan that, if turned on, blows freezer air across the bottom of the icemake and seems to double the ice production.

    Phil
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Gas refrigerator?

    Just adding a photo of the new fridge.

    Phil
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