Tuesday, March 29, 2011

fridge upgrade...

Picking up 2 new 130W solar panels this week from my buddy Bennett in Alpine.  Going to bump up my overall electrical systems to accommodate the greenhouse and soon to be new container house.  Been thinking awhile about a refrigerator upgrade although cold is free in the desert about 4 months each year.  My icebox works pretty well but since I am spending about $160 per 8 warm months on block ice to keep things cool - it is about time to get free of the iceman.

Sundanzer's off grid refrigeration has been around for years but is way over priced IMHO.  Been investigating the chest freezer-to-refrigerator conversion  for some time now and I am ready to take the leap.  My genius friend Mikey Sklar has been working on his own version of a digital temperature controller that is quite elegant.  Check the store on Mikey and Wendy's blog of super achievement.  http://blog.holyscraphotsprings.com/ Of course he can probably control it with the RFID chip he implanted in his hand.

Just checking the web today....a Sundanzer 12 / 24 VDC  5.8 cu.ft. chest refrigerator/freezer is $1100....OR....A Haier 7 cu.ft. freezer is $199.  Mikey's temperature controller for the conversion is $60 for the kit...$80 assembled.  Yes, you have to run it off 110AC with an inverter but by converting a chest style freezer to a refrigerator, the power consumption is very doable for most any off grid system.
My rock star buddy Trevor Reichman found a close contender - the new units by Edgestar....they run on 12 / 24VDC  or 110AC.  http://www.edgestar.com/products/fridgefreeze/fp430.asp  Don't have the noggin tonight to cypher out the wattage comparisons - you do the math.  Keep in mind it's gonna take a lot less power to just keep food cold than it is to freeze your stuff.


Quixote Kid said...

I'm very interested in refrigeration. That will be our next addition to our little cabin just south of the Corazones. Ice is getting to be too much of a hassle for vacation trips. What are your thoughts on propane? Thanks for the great blog.

tffnguy said...

My neighbor is running a medium sized chest freezer and a full sized refrigerator on 800 watts of solar. He has them cycle and they do pretty good. On cloudy days he has to run a generator some though. They are both standard 120 volt for residential use.

The cost of ice has been eating my lunch and I hope the new OLD propane fridge will cut most of that. I'm figuring around $120 a month for ice versus about $20 a month for propane.

ezrablu said...

JW...I can't thank you enough for today's post! You've answered my problem for what to use on my bus which has solar power/ac/dc. It's going to save me a lot of cash...THANKS :o)

Dani said...

JW - we're running a variable setting 210 lt (7.4 cu.ft) 123 watt chest freezer on 3 X 75 watt panels. Admittedly, it is one of only two items being used, apart from a 12 volt car radio, and a couple of 12 volt lights. We have only two batteries at the moment - we're going to increase that to 4. But it seems to be working a treat.

Why not keep it as a freezer, and freeze bottles of water to use in a cooler box - then use that cooler box as a fridge? Works a treat for us :-)

LarryLilly said...

As I have been reading your blog for some time now it seems that you have traded dependence electric freedom for petroleum/water. What you generate for relatively free (electricity via solar/wind) you more than pay for drinking water with petroleum dollars for the gasoline needed to obtain it.

It that a fair assessment?

Is that living off the grid?

It seems that you are way more into the grid than the casual look made out to believe.

Grant Wagner said...

I've seen these conversions before. I wonder how efficient the compressor really is, when you compare them. What good is a DC freezer, if the compressor is only half as efficient. I which they put duty cycles in these adds.

Even more so, I would like to build my own fridge. I can make a super insulated box just as good if not better than the Sundanzer. I wonder if I can just buy the 12V compressor.

John Wells said...

LL...I see your point - which is why I am building the greenhouse so ultimately I can provide all my own food and water and rely far less on petroleum. As it is, I drive about 15,000 miles per year with my present rate of supply runs and water hauling - that being only slightly above the national average. It's a work in progress.

Richard said...

Have you explored the possibility of finding an operational 3 way unit (propane, 110 volt, or 12 volt) from a RV, either out of a wrecking yard or another used source? New they would be prohibitively expensive, but from a junked RV, might be affordable. The larger units are sized right as well.

Deane said...

Another thought, what about buying a good used RV without air, and converting the bathroom to storage? You could park the RV with the door facing south, and build a super insulated box around it, and keep all the windows, (for the swamp cooler) and the 3 way fridge! Sounds like a super deal to me!

alam0tx said...

Well! John..You sure got reaction to your frig. plans..but that is what you do best..
Keep all of us reading and thinking..

Any special plans for the Benita Birthday Bash?

Quixote Kid said...

I've been doing a little research on the 3 way RV refrig's and on the 12V or 120V option they are a power drain. They are simply using electricity to heat the elements that the propane would normally heat. As a propane refrig they are ok, if you have unlimited ways of charging the 12V/120V power source, i.e. driving the RV, they are ok, at least that is what I have found.

Extremely interested in this topic and continued findings.

Cindy said...

You certainly do keep us all thinking, and wishing, and hoping...not to mention, looking forward to the next post and pictures. I mailed the birthday card to Benita today and threw a little something in there for you as well...

Ches said...

Another option is to buy a 12 volt marine refrigerator/freezer and use the freeze mode to make ice (during the day) and use that in your existing ice box. The chest style marine units are very efficient and work on 12 volt making them even more efficient and come in different sizes. They are also great for van/rv living.

trevor.reichman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
trevor.reichman said...

Living out of a fridge instead of a cooler, I DO feel like a rock star, or at least privileged. 

The Edgestar has been working great for me so far, above expectation. Here is the original post I wrote about it:


Casey and Sarah on the ranch make fridge conversions from freezers as well. They'll be at the Green Scene powering the music stage with solar power. You should talk to them about it.

Just Me said...

While I enjoyed reading through Mikey & Wendy's postings, I'd have to go with the commercial temperature controller. Aside from being less expensive, the two main advantages are that the electronics are protected by a NEMA enclosure and the heat vs cool are programmable instead of defaulting to heating if the temp is set above 65F. This enables it to do summer duty as a freezer/fridge controller and winter duty as a freeze protector by powering a heater at near freezing temps.

Remote Sensing Temp Controller

If you just want a separate heater controller and don't need the remote sensor, this one is MUCH less expensive for that use.

Gavin said...

Mikey Sklar's youtube series on papercrete etc are great to watch.


Tom said...

Hey All, I did some research on building my own frig after seeing the Sundazer pricing and found they use a Danfoss compressor and everything else is just insulated box. Found this company that sells a compressor kit: http://www.novakool.com/products/conversion_units.htm
You'll find more info if you query the marine/sailing industry as they mostly have to build custom boxes for their vessels. Not cheap though, $800-1000.

I like the idea of the chest freezer as a fridge, but i'd like both, freezer and fridge. I know in the marine fridges all they do is isolate the evaporation plate from the the rest of the compartment (freezer) but let the very cold air flow out to the
(fridge) section.

Will said...

I've used this type of controller for years on a chest freezer I use for homebrewing.


ebacherville said...

here is a link to a kegerator from a freezer conversion , same principle use a freezer as a refrigerator.. I have a temp controller just like the one used here, its a honey well model and it uses no phantom power and simple switches the 110v power on and off according the the temp sensor thats placed inside the freezer.


m said...

simple and free is best
Swap out the cold control from an old fridge for the one in the freezer.
Also could you clue me in on what are the pipes in the floor of your house for?

granadaman said...

Just read about refer options. How about kerosene?

Allen Hare said...

There's and amazing amount of information here. I hope to put some of it to use some day soon. Thanks for the post. Best of luck with all.

Stephan Scoot said...

Awesome work! That is quite appreciated. I hope you’ll get more success.ice cooler blog

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