Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
We are completing the inside of our offgrid cabin and we realized this past weekend that the converted chest freezer as a refrigerator, using an external electric thermometer, will not fit in our space. Because we want both a fridge and a freezer having two chest freezers in our kitchen, or really even one chest freezer, would take up too much space. We are thinking we need to switch our game plan to a vertical fridge/freezer combo. I am avoiding paying ~$2700 or so...I would rather put the money into additional solar and batteries.

What do you all use for refrigerators? I found this one from Fridgidaire using the energy star website. It uses 355 KWH a year and costs $365. It is 14.8 Cu feet... which is the largest I have seen with the lowest energy rating. A SunFrost RF16, which is roughly the same size, uses 254 KWH a year but costs near $3k with shipping.

Linked here.

What would you all go with?

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Comments

  • SCharlesSCharles Solar Expert Posts: 123 ✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    Well, we have the Sunfrost DC units. We have a 'fridge, a small one of 10 cu. ft. that has a small freezer compartment inside at the top [that size combo no longer made, I think]. We also have a 10 cu. ft. freezer.

    Both are great, I think. They are, as you mentioned, pricey. When we bought the 'fridge, way back in the 80s, they were one of the few brands suited for offgrid DC appliances of the type. Now there are good things being said about "normal" fridges and freezers as to their efficiency, though I have had no experience with them. A neighbor of mine opted for one of these, I don't recall the brand but it does not matter as this was ten years ago, and no doubt there are even better ones now that would work for you. I do not have any numbers for his electrical use, etc., though his is, of course, a 120-volt model and runs via inverter off his 24 v. PV system. He is happy with it is all I can say.

    The Sunfrost 'fridge we have has been running since the 80s, as I said, and we've had no problems with it other than the door catch needing replacement twice. Both times, they sent me new catches [no charge] and now they've begun using a very good magnetic catch system, which our 3-yr. old freezer has and it is great. The magnetic catch is not visible, and I cannot imagine it could go bad. The Sunfrost stuff is a lot of money, though in our experience it is very long lasting and reliable.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,009 admin
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    Had several experiences with Frigidaire lately... Basically did not last more than a few years.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,361 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    I've got an 18cf Fridigare, 2 years old, and OK. Not much more power than yours.
    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
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    I certainly would not be happy with something that only lasted a few years. However in this case with such a price difference and the local availability, if it died in 3 years you could then buy an even more efficient unit and still be $2300 ahead (excluding the cost to enlarge your system slightly to cover the additional 100 kwh load).
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    BB. wrote: »
    Had several experiences with Frigidaire lately... Basically did not last more than a few years.

    -Bill

    I too have read some bad reviews of Frigidaire. There are other types of fridges in this size with similar power ratings.
    techntrek wrote: »
    I certainly would not be happy with something that only lasted a few years. However in this case with such a price difference and the local availability, if it died in 3 years you could then buy an even more efficient unit and still be $2300 ahead (excluding the cost to enlarge your system slightly to cover the additional 100 kwh load).

    How much do these eat per day? I am wondering if this is on par with my Biolet composting toilet or if this is on a whole new level of power usage.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    BB. wrote: »
    Had several experiences with Frigidaire lately... Basically did not last more than a few years.

    -Bill

    Well, there goes any ideas I had of trying a Frigidaire mini-split! Sanyo mini-split not available here.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,009 admin
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    My experience was with Frigidaire refrigerators. I have no idea how this would apply to their other products.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,382 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    Well, there goes any ideas I had of trying a Frigidaire mini-split! Sanyo mini-split not available here.

    Several different mini split systems around based on inverter technology, mine are friedrich.
    http://www.friedrich.com/products/commercial/ductless-split-systems
  • SevenSeven Solar Expert Posts: 292 ✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    The repairman that I have used for a couple of decades says the only fridge built to last is Whirlpool.
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    Seven wrote: »
    The repairman that I have used for a couple of decades says the only fridge built to last is Whirlpool.

    There are Whirlpool ones with near identical specs, although they are harder to find that the Frigidaire ones, at least near me, in stock. Looks like it is a wash.

    Here are some values from Energy Star:
    Whirlpool

    W5TXDWFX*0*

    14.64

    Top Freezer

    No

    354

    443

    20%

    I am starting to think I should go with one of these, buy new batteries and if money is left over look for a few additional panels.
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,060 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    You might look at sears. They have refrigerators that are made by whirlpool. Sometimes you can catch a good sale. When I needed a fridge in an emergency about 4 years ago I went to lowes and looked at a whirlpool and went to Sears and got the identical kenmore model about $175.00 less. :Dsolarvic:D
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 3,112 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    Bought a Whirlpool refer/top freezer in 2005 for the off-grid cabin. Uses less than 1 Kwh/day. So far so good ... no problems yet.

    Good Luck, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • petertearaipetertearai Solar Expert Posts: 463 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    Got a Samsung 2.5 energy star using 339 kw per year around $550 nz dollar on special. Working great and i have checked it with a watt meter and it would seem the rated spec to correct..
    Leaves money for more pv!
    2225 wattts pv . Outback 2kw  fxr pure sine inverter . fm80 charge controller . Mate 3. victron battery monitor . 24 volts  in 2 volt Shoto lead carbon extreme batterys. off grid  holiday home 
  • silvertopsilvertop Solar Expert Posts: 155 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    Hi,

    We just purchased a Samsung 17.8 cu.ft. french door fridge with freezer on the bottom. The first 24 hour period running the kilowatt meter, it pulled .9 kw. The starting surge is around 300 watts. This fridge has 2 seperate compressors; one for the freezer and one for the fridge portion. When cycling, starts out around 110watts and drops down into the 80 watts or so. We are so far, extremely pleased with it's performance. We wanted to go with a conventional fridge. This one has LED lights in both fridge and freezer. A really nice unit. This is the smallest french door unit that Samsung makes. This replaced an 11 year old Frigidaire that pulled almost 1.9 kw per day.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    the first 24hrs it will run nearly constant to reach operating temperatures so a new reading is in order to show what it's doing under normal everyday conditions. .9kwh (if that's what you meant) is quite good even under normal conditions.

    1.9kwh (again if that's what you meant) per day is terrible and is even worse than my 14yr 21cf old roper/whirlpool.
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    Thanks for all of the feedback. A fridge in this size/price/efficiency range looks like it is the way to go. Thank you for the help!
  • silvertopsilvertop Solar Expert Posts: 155 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    The .9KWH was taken on the second day that the fridge was up and running, and yes the old pulled 1.9KWH!!! I was soooooo- happy to unplug it! We're still small for now so it's still a balancing act with the loads/battery bank, but we're heading in the right direction.:D
  • DerikDerik Solar Expert Posts: 82 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    I think your on the right page with such miserly energy use the regular (non propane non converted freezer) fridge is the way to go. Mine is a Kenmore and it uses about the same as the one your looking at.

    Once it's full and all items inside are cool it will run much less. The ambient temperature has a lot to do with it also, mine hardly runs in the winter but in the summers It kicks on a lot.
  • sundownrsundownr Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    My RV, propane refrigerator works outstandingly well on very little propane... so for energy conservations sake propane can be a very good choice.

    Also note most propane refrigerators can run on both propane and electric power and switch energy sources automatically. This provides a degree of backup over using solar alone.
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    sundownr wrote: »
    My RV, propane refrigerator works outstandingly well on very little propane... so for energy conservations sake propane can be a very good choice.

    Also note most propane refrigerators can run on both propane and electric power and switch energy sources automatically. This provides a degree of backup over using solar alone.

    "Very little propane" would be good, but our's weren't that frugal.

    We lived with propane refrigerators for many years (two RV models installed side-by-side in our kitchen). They were ok, much better than the propane Siber they replaced which we could best describe as "luke-cold").

    However, propane prices have risen dramatically this last decade. I guesstimated that the fridges were costing $50/month in propane. That would be about 9 gallons per month each at $2.65/gallon, which I think is a reasonable estimate. I've seen it said that a 6 or 8 cu ft propane fridge should use about 2 gallons of propane per week.

    That I had to pull them out twice a year to clean the burners was ok. No icemaker, still ok. Having to manually defrost them both a couple of time per year was still allright. 12 cu ft via two fridges, still ok. $50 per month, not ok.

    I'd figured on eventually having enough solar that I could power the fridges on electric and only rely on propane during the "no sun" days. That was until Dometic started acknowledging problems and initiating recalls when their units were used on electricity. I started visualizing my home burnt to the ground because of Dometic's design deficiencies. (details in this forum's thread: http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/18592867.cfm)

    And even using them on electric meant there was a heater in each unit and most members here will confirm that heating anything with solar electric isn't efficient.

    We added some more solar panels with a controller and installed an electric fridge. I then had more accurate data and learned we'd been spending almost $75/mo on propane for the two refrigerators. (Yeah, some of which was due to my lax defrost schedules).

    I've no complaints about the past. When we first started using propane to refrigerate our foods, regular friges weren't very efficient. Thankfully, that has changed.

    Propane refrigeration is great for a weekend cabin or an RV but for full time use, I believe a new electric is better.

    Phil
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    Thanks for the advice. I think I am going to go with an energy star fridge in the 14 cu ft size or so straight from Lowes. The price is good and the delivery will be free. While I am at it, I think I am going to get an energy star washer and gas/propane dryer to boot.
  • ThomThom Solar Expert Posts: 196 ✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    I to hope to be off the propane soon. With cooking and refrigerator We spend $ 60. A month.

    Thom
    Off grid since 1984. 430w of panel, 300w suresine , 4 gc batteries 12v system, Rogue mpt3024 charge controller , air breeze windmill, Mikita 2400w generator . Added [email protected] 100w panel with a midnight brat 
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refrigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    Thanks for the advice. I think I am going to go with an energy star fridge in the 14 cu ft size or so straight from Lowes. The price is good and the delivery will be free. While I am at it, I think I am going to get an energy star washer and gas/propane dryer to boot.

    You've already done some checking, but a few years ago there wasn't much difference in energy usage between a 14cf and an 18cf. There also wasn't alot of difference on the price. We got the 18. Jumping up to the 21 meant quite a bit more money and more power usage.

    I did opt for nothing delivered "through the door" (ice or water) because enough people had posted on the decreased energy efficiency of those models.

    I even opted for the extended warranty (a rarity for me!) so that IF something happened, Sears would not only come all the way out to our rural home in a timely manner, but either fix it or replace it at no charge.

    Phil
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refrigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    PhilS wrote: »
    You've already done some checking, but a few years ago there wasn't much difference in energy usage between a 14cf and an 18cf. There also wasn't alot of difference on the price. We got the 18. Jumping up to the 21 meant quite a bit more money and more power usage.

    I did opt for nothing delivered "through the door" (ice or water) because enough people had posted on the decreased energy efficiency of those models.

    I even opted for the extended warranty (a rarity for me!) so that IF something happened, Sears would not only come all the way out to our rural home in a timely manner, but either fix it or replace it at no charge.

    Phil

    Good point. I need to show my wife an 18 cu footer and see what she thinks. We have rented and lived in a big city for so long that we are used to smaller appliances. I will show her both and get her opinion.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,361 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    I got some firm #'s last week with my Eng. Star Fridgare - I'll post later tonight, right about 1KWh per day, 18cf top freezer.
    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
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    mike90045 wrote: »
    I got some firm #'s last week with my Eng. Star Fridgare - I'll post later tonight, right about 1KWh per day, 18cf top freezer.

    Great, thank you. I visited Lowe's with my wife and she prefers the 18 cu ft size. Whirlpool has a Tier 3 Energy Start fridge for ~$600 -- looks like that will be what I go with.

    http://www.lowes.com/pd_355480-46-WRT3L9SZYW_4294789497+4294867585+4294791478_116_?productId=3436404&Ns=p_product_price|0&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl_CEE%2BTier%2BIII_4294789497%2B4294867585%2B4294791478_116_%3FVa%3Dtrue%26Ns%3Dp_product_price|0&facetInfo=CEE%20Tier%20III|Yes


    883049230429lg.jpg
  • offgrid meoffgrid me Solar Expert Posts: 119 ✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    I have basically that same fridge. I have had it plugged into the kill o watt for about a week and it averages .96kwh per day. It has been using less power the last few days because the temps have been dropping and I refuse to use any heat in my house. ;)
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer
    offgrid me wrote: »
    I have basically that same fridge. I have had it plugged into the kill o watt for about a week and it averages .96kwh per day. It has been using less power the last few days because the temps have been dropping and I refuse to use any heat in my house. ;)

    Great to hear! Thank you for confirming.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,361 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    I found the scrap of paper with my K-A-watt #'s on it:
    18 cf Frigidaire top freezer, 125 hours, 4.36Kwh which I think works out
    to .838KWh daily, with 88F daytime temps,
    and average use, with cooling about 1 gallon of water bottles a day, and many openings daily to retrieve them. Pics later.
    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
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Shane JacksonShane Jackson Solar Expert Posts: 49
    Re: Looking for best offgrid refigerator -- and not a converted chest freezer

    FYI Lowes has their fridges on sale for 10% off (ends tomorrow night). If anyone is looking for one, now would be a good time.

    If anyone does want to buy one, I can email you a 10% off coupon as well..... every little bit helps.....

    I just bought:

    http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&fromStore=true&partNumber=8899-2251-LFFN15M5HW

    $363.69 + tax.

    That will replace the power hog Roper Fridge/Freezer in the garage (dont even use the fridge part...). So I will have about 2x the storage space and use 1/2 the power.

    Shane
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