Can You Run A Fridge On Solar Power?

Short Answer Is Yes You Can Run A Fridge On Solar Power

The short answer is yes because the energy requirements of almost any fridge fits into the output power of even small solar energy systems. There are exceptions and fine print in that statement.

Let’s take a look. There are two situations where you would want to have a fridge run off solar power.

The first is the fridge at home, running on-grid or off-grid power. The second is a portable fridge which stays cool being powered by the sun.

In this post, we will discuss how solar-powered fridges work and some of the benefits of using them. We will also provide tips on choosing the best fridge for your home that runs on solar power.

1. Can You Run A Home Fridge On Solar Power?

First, lets get answer out of the way. As we alluded to above: yes absolutely a home fridge energy use fits into a house’s solar energy production.

A fridge is one of the more energy-hungry appliances in the home, so it’s no surprise that many people are curious about running their fridge with solar energy.

Check out our analysis of what uses the most electricity at home.

Refrigerators come in at number 5, using 8% of a house’s electricity. In fact, we know that a house in the US uses 11,000 kWh of electricity a year.

At 8%, a refrigerator would be drawing 880 kWh per year. That translates to 2.4 kWh per day, or a power draw of 100 watts per hour.

There are more efficient fridges so that number will change as everyone upgrades to newer tech and greater efficiencies.

Below we list the top 10 most efficient fridges in terms of power per unit volume cooled. For each one of them, we list the average power consumption.

Note every single one is specified to run at half the power of our estimates – that is, every one is using about 50 watts instead of the 100 watts we estimated.

Brand NameModel NumberAnnual Energy Use (kWh/yr)Avg Running Power (W)
InsigniaNS-RTM21SS7 VER C39545
SANKEYRF 2363 SS39645
Arctic WindATMB212E39645

At 100 watts per hour, the fridge is using the same power as an old style light bulb. Day-in and day-out continuously the fridge uses 100 watts per hour translating to the hefty 8% or 880 kWh per year.

A single average solar panel in the US, considering all the locations with differing amounts of sunlight, generates anywhere from 0.5 kWh (500 watt hours in winter) per day to 1.5 kWh (1500 watt hours in summer) per day depending on the season.

Heavy snow, long stretches of cloud weather, these factors will diminish the lower end of production.

Since a fridge uses 1-2 kWh to 2.4 kWh per day, that is comfortably supplied by a single solar panel in the summer, or at worst 5 solar panels in winter. Therefore on average, 1-5 solar panels are able to power a refrigerator day-in and day-out.

Inverter Efficiency

The final factor to consider is that appliances like home fridges run on AC power. This is ok if you’re powering the fridge off a home’s solar power supply that will be supplying AC.

However if you’re using a portable solar power supply such as Jackery, the power will need to go through an inverter to convert from DC to AC.

The conversion process can result in loss of power so effectively you will need to go as high as doubling the power draw.

Inverter capacity

When the fridge is turned on and the compressor motor starts running, there is “surge wattage” which is higher than the running wattage.

The surge typically lasts just a few seconds, but during this time, the appliance needs more power than usual.

If your refrigerator has a surge wattage of, say, 500 watts, then you would need an inverter that can handle at least that much power.

It’s generally a good idea to choose an inverter that can handle more than the appliance’s surge wattage to avoid potential damage or inefficiency.

The running wattage of the refrigerator is the power it requires to keep running after the initial surge, and this will generally be much lower than the surge wattage.

Reader Experience

Now, the best data point is a person who runs his or her home fridge on solar power.

One of our readers sent in an experience indicating that he was able to run it off a battery that drew power from solar panels during the day.

The fridge is rated to consume 800 kWh per year which is 2.2 kWh per day, which is a bit higher than the average power consumption for a regular fridge.

There needs to be sufficient power accumulated so that it would work through the night.

In order to accumulate enough energy, let’s say there’s at the worst there’s 3 solar hours equivalent which is effectively 3 hours of full sun.

In the winter, the sun might be shining at half power due to cover and as long as it totals up to 3 hours of full sun that would be 3 “solar hours”.

To hit 2.2 kWh with 3 solar hours, the panels would need to be rated more than 730W given inefficiencies.

This is achievable with roof and also non-roof systems, though not trivial with the latter and best done in full sun.

2. Can You Run A Portable Fridge On Solar Power?

Again, lets get the answer out of the way. Yes, a portable fridge can be powered by solar power. There’s more nuance in a successful set-up. Portable fridges are much smaller than home fridges.

Their dimensions get only so big beyond which it becomes impossible to move around in a car, SUV, van etc.

For concreteness let’s consider the Dometic CFX345 which is a 12 gallon (46 liters) cooler style that takes 12V, 24V and 120V power.

The specifications on this device for DC power are 12V operating at 8amps, which translates to 0.10 kV, or equivalently 100 watts.

The question now is whether this power can be supplied by a mobile solar source. Its no good to have a portable fridge that stays on the home solar grid.

In the past, portable fridges have been powered by propane and gas portable generators. Recently, as solar panel prices have dropped, more portable solar powered generators have become available.

Now, if you use a cell phone battery charging solar panels, the output is like 20 watts, then no you can’t power your fridge with this tiny, low energy output. You need a bigger power source.

The Jackery 1000 is an example of a portable electricity generator that is recharged by solar panels. At 1000 watt output, the Dometic would comfortably be powered by the Jackery.

It turns out that the solar panel option for the Jackery 1000 is also exactly 100 watts. This means that the recharge rate of the solar panels exactly matches the power draw of the portable fridge.

There will be power loss due to inefficiencies so we suggest adding a little buffer either by reducing the size of the fridge or increasing the solar output.

As we discussed above, a portable AC fridge will need more power than stated due to power losses from the inverter. On the other hand, a DC fridge would be ok.

Extra Considerations For A Fridge On Solar Power

1. Go For A High-Efficiency Refrigerator

Make sure the fridge has a high cooling-to-power consumption ratio. This basically means cooling a “high volume” to 40 F (fridge) or 0 F (freezer) with as little energy as possible.

Part of that of course means a fridge needs to be well insulated. A fridge with poor insulation will require more energy to keep cool, which means it will be less efficient when running on solar power.

Make sure that your fridge has proper insulation by checking the seals around the door and ensuring that there are no gaps or leaks.

2. You’ll Need To Make Sure That You Have A Backup Power Source For Times When The Sun Isn’t Shining.

While solar power on a fridge is a renewable and sustainable energy source, there will be times when the sun isn’t shining.

When this happens, you’ll need to have a backup power source to keep your fridge running. Many people use a backup generator, but you could also consider using a battery backup system.

If you follow these tips, you can run your fridge without any problems.

fridge on solar power
Use our tips to make your solar-powered fridge more efficient

Questions To Ask On Choosing The Best Fridge For Your Home That Runs On Solar Power. 

If you’re looking for solar panels to run a refrigerator, there are a few questions you’ll need to ask before making your purchase.

1. How Much Solar Power Do I Need To Run A Refrigerator?

People often ask themselves “how many solar panels do I need to power a fridge?” It is important to ask since the amount of power you’ll need depends on the size and efficiency of the fridge.

A larger fridge or one with poor insulation will require more solar power to run than a smaller fridge with good insulation. In the US, just look at the yellow label about the energy requirements.

Our example above looked at a 100 watt fridge. Likely nowadays fridges are more efficient and the power needs will be below 100 watts even for a big fridge.

2. What Is the Size And Capacity Of The Fridge?

The size and capacity of the fridge are important factors to consider when choosing a fridge that will run on solar power. A larger fridge will require more solar power to run than a smaller fridge.

You’ll also want to consider the capacity of the fridge, as this will determine how much food you can store inside.

3. How Much Sun Does The Location Of The House Get?

Since solar panels need direct sunlight to generate electricity, you’ll want to place your fridge in a house where the house will receive sufficient sunlight all around the year.

Snow, clouds, winter daylight hours, these conspire to reduce the kWh your solar system is able to produce. If you’re mobile then you will need to position the panels where they get max solar input.

By asking yourself these questions, you can be sure that you choose the best fridge for your needs and that you have enough solar power to run it.

Solar Power Is Increasingly Prevalent

Solar energy is the use of the sun’s light. To that end, consumers have a choice of a variety of technologies. This includes photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity, and synthetic photosynthesis.

At 174 petawatts (PW) or one-twentieth of the planet’s total human generated energy output, solar energy plays a significant role.

The water cycle and photosynthesis are powered by this energy, which also maintains Earth’s warm climate. In many places of the world, solar technology has emerged as a competitive source of electricity.

Desalinating water and supplying rural areas with energy are two applications.

Other Appliances On Solar Power

Appliances and other electrical devices that use solar power are becoming increasingly popular. Solar power is a renewable energy source that can be used to generate electricity.

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, which can then be used to power appliances and other devices. Solar-powered appliances have several advantages over traditional appliances.

They are more environmentally friendly since they do not produce emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Additionally, being off-grid solar-powered appliances are less expensive to operate than traditional appliances.

As the world increasingly looks for ways to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, solar-powered appliances are likely to become even more popular in the years to come.

Conclusion – Fridge On Solar Power

Solar power is a renewable and sustainable energy source that use includes appliances such as fridges.

If you’re looking to run your fridge on solar power, you’ll need to make sure that your fridge is in an area where it will receive direct sunlight for most of the day.

You’ll also need to have a backup power source for times when the sun isn’t shining. By following these tips, you can run your fridge on solar power without any problems.

Staff Writer
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