Refrigerators for off grid

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Kingfish, Dec 25, 2010.

  1. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    We did a search for energy efficient refrigerators last night for fun . Most Kenmore and other name brand appliances only got down to about 416 kwh per year . So we are still looking and found this site for Sun Frost. Does anyone have one of these?

    Sun Frost energy efficient refrigerators

    They seem to be the lowest energy use refrigerator on the planet. Are there any others ? what about service on this product? Ill be calling them next week to check prices and availablility. Kingfish
  2. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Kingfish, I just answered this for you on your other post. Look into the LG before anything else. Also, don't be looking for kwh stickers, instead, open the door and look at the amp draw. THAT is what you will need to look for on everything you buy from this point on.

    There is a little device that I was recently turned on to that is really great You need to buy a "Kill a Watt" meter. They can be had on ebay for around $20.00 and it will do several jobs for you all at once. You simply plug it into the wall and plug any appliance into it and you can read the actual amps , watts, voltage and even the Hertz your equip. is running on and so far after about 3 months seems extremely accurate all the time. It will even keep a running record of Amp hours.
  3. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    In our Beach Cabin, 5 miles down the Inlet, we have a "Domestic" RV type Refer/Freezer, that is 3Way powered. (LP/12Vdc/120Vac) These can be had fairly cheap, at an RV Junkyard. We have found these are big enough for a smaller family of maybe 3-4, and large enough for a couple with no problems at all. We put an RV type LP fueled Stove/Oven in there, to cook on, and a nice little free-standing, pedestal, wood stove for primary heat.
  4. fireplaceguy

    fireplaceguy Monkey+

    Kingfish -

    When it comes to energy use by refrigerators, I would only add this: While the amps drawn are important (particularly with PV where motor starting loads can dictate bigger inverters) the annual KWh rating is at least equally important. That tells you how much the refrigerator is expected to run with typical use. That's largely a function of insulation, and Sun Frosts are extremely well insulated.

    Two refrigerators with a 5 amp draw are not necessarily equal in actual performance. If one runs twice as much as the other due to poorer design and insulation, you'll see a huge difference in your power usage over time. That, too, dictates the size and cost of a PV system...

    What Sun Frost says about higher humidity and things staying fresh longer is gospel, too! I no longer throw our produce, ever. It stays fresh for weeks! When I first got mine, I put away several steaks vacuum sealed in Food Saver bags. I dated them, and ate one every six months, just to test the freezer burn claim they make. The last one - 2 1/2 years old - was fine

    My Sun Frost is 11 years old. It was used when I got it and has required nothing in the way of service. I'm told they typically last 20 or 25 years. I do know someone who had to replace an electrical component - a little board, I believe - but everything is quite accessible. Sun Frost sent him the part and he put it in himself. His refrigerator is considerably older than mine and that's the only issue he's ever had. (He's off grid and I sold him his last set of batteries - that's the only reason I know anything about his fridge.)

    I know every manufacturer has made strides with efficiency lately, but I remain wary. I don't know enough to say this with certainty, but I'm suspicious that most brands are still made to be thrown away when trouble starts. I also don't like all the unnecessary electronics found in most of them, either - particularly after hearing about a couple of electronic repairs in the $500 range.

    The Sun Frost is a proven, simple design that's been around for decades. It's expensive up front, but extremely economical over time. You won't just save electricity - you'll save a lot on food too.
    hank2222 likes this.
  5. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Thanks Fireplaceguy. I have heard a lot of good about them but have never even seen one in person. When I last priced them about 15 years ago, along with their mates the freezers, I don't think I ever healed from the heart attack it caused. But they may have come down in price or everything else has caught up with them. Thanks for the imput
  6. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    What really surprised me was my wifes reaction to them. She loves the wood faced ones and we can match our oak kitchen cabinates. The one we are looking at is 120 volt ac and uses under 200 kwh per year. Thats over half of the best rated Kenmore energy star at 416 . Ill be impressed if they are under 2000.00 dollars. Im also looking at a double freezer from them as well. We put up a lot of deer,rabbit,chicken and fish every year. We are going to can all the veggies starting next fall. Kingfish
  7. fireplaceguy

    fireplaceguy Monkey+

    A cool feature of the large Sun Frost double compartment fridges and freezers is that they have one compressor per compartment. When you empty one compartment, you can shut that compressor off, saving even more energy.

    And no, they're not under $2000...
  8. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Yes we just looked at the prices, Ouch!!! Still not as bad as my wife predicted. But again we may not buy as big a unit as we have now. Kingfish
  9. fireplaceguy

    fireplaceguy Monkey+

    Remember, what you spend now on an efficient refrigerator now you save later when you buy PV modules and batteries!
  10. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    I too looked up their prices. Just as high as ever. The extra 2500 for this refer would buy you about 4 120 watt or 7.2 am ea kyrocera solar panels. That is another 480 watts incoming or almost 29 amps total.
  11. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Personally I'm going with an LP ( propane ) fridge with freezer unit. A bit high for a moderate one about: $1,600.
    But here's the "catch"
    You can actually run one of these things with just a candle!
    I saw it in person and I have to tell you, I am totally impessed!
    Amazing things you'll see and hear of from people out in the middle of nowhere!
  12. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    DragonFly I have lived in the past off of several over the years on propane. I can tell you that not one of them ever did well in the summer during the 'soons' season when it gets really muggy and also , that candle as you call it is misleading. It cut my propane bill by a min. of about 1/3 to even more the minute I got an elect. refer. I know when you look at the little flame you think to yourself it doesn't use much, but let me tell you something, it does. Also , if the shtf, and you could no longer obtain propane , what would you do then. ? By going with an elec and pv to power it, even a small pv system could run it pretty well if on a timer. Off at night, and on in the morning. Not the best, but still better in the long run then nothing.
  13. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    At this time we are considering using a gassifier to provide gas in the long run, in the event that propane becomes defunct! I'm not sure, it may or may not work. I do know that the smaller fridge is the pits in the summer, but we were told to keep it function in thr hotter months, to make sure and have a floor as well as a ceiling vent. It's all new to me! I did look at a diesel fired one, now that's just WRONG! You have to clean them buggers about once a week to keep that soot from building up! Yikes! I have a smal electric and a full size electric fridge up there, and I had been using the small one, but it really uses the generators gas up fast! Supposedly we can get a month or more from a small lp tank...we will see! I have my doubts!
  14. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Well we begin the long haul to get there this winter. W e decided to sell a bunch of extra toys that we no longer need. Two boats and a camping van will hit the trail real soon. It looks like we will be going with the sunfrost Rf-12 fridge . Its really not that much smaller then the one we have but the ratings go through the roof compared to the best Kenmore we could find. Selling our camping van which sat the last two years will buy that. Next on the sale block is our 24.5 foot cabin cruiser (4 Winns Vista) . We should be able to get about 3500 clear for that and that will buy our new double freezer. Those two appliances will cut our light bill in half. W e are going to trade in our almost new Kenmore range for a smaller Propane range. I am going to buy not rent a 500 gallon propane tank(if I can) and also buy two extra 100 pound tanks. The back up genny and range will be on Propane. Hot water will be the next energy eater after these are solved. Then we will match our Inverters to the biggest draw which is our pump and layer in the rest.

    Question, once you combine two outback inverters to make 240 can you still take 120 from each one? For instance could I use two 3600 watt vented models and power everything? Kingfish
  15. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Look very carefully at buying the pig vs. renting. Your supplier might not like delivering to a privately owned pig, and the liability shifts to you for testing and maintenance. My supplier will not deliver to a tank they don't own (nor will the others I called) and the rent is included in the price of gas. (Meaning the tank doesn't show up as a line item on the bills.)
  16. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Yes. You get two legs of 120v power @ 3600w max. In order to get 240v, you either need a transformer, OR the "HUB" which will allow the inverters to be set up in a master/slave arrangement and produce poly phase 240v. ( that the way I have mine set up as the power company requires that for backfeeding the grid.....I have nothing in the auxiliary house sub panel that requires 240v. )

    Here's my house setup:

    White panel to left is regular, 200amp service panel.

    Small panel in center is 100amp panel that contains circuits we would use off grid.

    Manual transfer switch is on the right.....up for grid, down for solar only.

    hank2222 likes this.
  17. Maxflax

    Maxflax Lightning in a bottle

    Much good info in this thread. It's a real education

    We're definitely going electric for the fridge/freezer. I think for night time use (like for beer dispensing) we'll buy an efficient mini fridge or cooler and turn off the main unit, as needed. We'll need one for the mini pool hall/wet bar I am going to build into one of the tower's bases, right off from the Great Hall

    As we add hydro and maybe additional wind generation it may be a lot less of an issue. I'm taking the advice here about having enough control system for way more than I will be initially installing. That way I can simply add on power generation devices as the budget allows

    The pig rental thing is another surprise for me. I was hoping to install several very large underground tanks and keep them pretty full. Now I'll have to do research before I go there. I REALLY do not want an above ground tank, I consider them an extreme liability. I assume a single bullet will blow them, and then that might burn my forest down. I have heard of these things flying hundreds of feet into the air when they blow
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Max, you do NOT want underground storage for fuels. Aside the permitting, the containment requirements are kinda hard to meet with liquids, much less gaseous fuels. From your posts, you want to do this right against the future, and underground gets you nothing but troubles if the tanks leak. I've designed vault storage for diesel to ease meeting some requirements, but that does not help a lot for non-commercial setups. A couple pigs in a buried vault with the safety requirements will cost the price of the house, and that doesn't guarantee that the supplier will buy into it.

    Maybe a separate, well ventilated log cabin to conceal? Dunno how well that will fit your landscaping, nor even if it would meet a code.
  19. Maxflax

    Maxflax Lightning in a bottle

    Thanks, will have to research this further. Maybe we can just build an ICF housing for the tanks, off a bit away from the home but inside the curtain wall. What I want is safety from attack. I try to think ahead and I don't think it's paranoia [winkthumb]
  20. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Most, if not ALL of the Propane powered, or Bi and Tri-Powered (LP/12Vdc/120Vac) Refer/Freezers are "Hydrogen over Ammonia" type systems. They work on a Thermalsyphan principal, where the Hydrogen is boiled by a Heat source, and carries the ammonia (the refrigerant) with it thru the Cooling Loop, and then as the hydrogen gets cooled by the system re-compresses back and carries the ammonia thru the heat exchanger out in the air, and back to the Heating Pot. The Heat source can be ANYTHING. Back in the early days these were run on Kerosene. On modern units, they use Propane, and have Heater Coils, also on the Heating Pot for 12 Vdc and or 120 Vac. That is how they get Tri-Powered systems. You could use wood fired heat to drive this type of system, or any other heat source. They basically have NO Moving Parts, and as long as you don't break the plumbing, and let the Magic Stuff leak out, they just work. Not quite as efficient as the modern Refrigerants, but very simple system and not all that bad if you have a solid heat source. .....

    ghrit, My brother (The Engineer) is, as we type, building his Bug In addition to his living structure. He will have both an underground 1000USG Propane tank, and an underground Propane/NG bi-fueled 20Kw genset. Yes, He had to jump thru a few Governmental Hoops, to get the permits, but since he has a PE Stamp in his State, he can do his own engineering. Most of these type Statutes are local or State things, and vary from place to place.
    hank2222 likes this.
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