One of the biggest issues when the world goes haywire is stopping fresh food from spoiling. Refrigeration is a luxury that many of us take for
granted, but when the power goes out the clock starts ticking on all that food you have stored away in there.
In this thread, I will present the three main versions of offgrid refrigeration (also used in camping) and their advantages / disadvantages in order
to help you decide what is most suited to you.
There are a few things that need to be taken into consideration before deciding what type of fridge will suit you best
A) The climate you live in. For example if you live in a place that rarely gets above 25degrees you are spoiled for choice, whereas if you live in the
hottest city in the world like I do, you need a seriously heavy duty unit to keep those beers ice cold.
B) Availability of alternative power / gas supply. Some fridges are wonderfully cheap to buy, but hog electric current, so you will need a really good
battery pack to keep it going or a generator etc.
c) Where you want to keep this unit. i.e. do you want a backup for home, do you want it to be stationed in your vehicle in case of a situation where
you need to flee your immediate surroundings etc.
So, bearing all of that in mind, on to the types of fridges available;
Cheap and plentiful. You can even make your own one if you cannibalise the cooler off the CPU off an old computer and put it in an ice box. The good
ones (high efficiency models) can cool up to 30 degrees below ambient temperature.
They run all of the time and therefore need a constant supply of electricity. The average one will draw around 45 watts (just under 4 amps)
constantly. Relatively low ambient cooling capacity (usually around 20 - 25 degrees below ambient temperature) this can be an issue in warmer
climates. Take a long time to cool down, so food / beverages are best pre-cooled before putting them in. Unable to be used as a freezer.
Most suited to
Cars on the move / hooked up to a generator. As they need a constant supply of electricity, they are great for in the back of the car on a long trip
because the alternator will power it, alternatively they are fairly economical if a generator is already in use.
Three way coolers
Multiple power options. Come in all sizes, from small portable fridges to regular home sizes ones. Economical on gas and when installed correctly good
ambient temperature cooling ability (up to approx 40 degrees below ambient). Can also freeze and have the extra option of being powered by propane
Not really suited for vehicles on the move due to the fact they need to be kept level in order to operate at 100% efficiency. 12v power consumption is
extremely high (usually starting at around 120w or 10 amps) Like thermoelectric coolers, they take a long time to cool down and primarily rely on
insulation to retain the cold when it starts to get warm.
Most suited to
Semi / permanent situations i.e. mounted in a caravan / RV / offgrid home / base camp.
These are basically re-engineered versions of the fridge sitting in your kitchen. Available in a large range of sizes like three way models. They
feature small a small compressor that is optimised for 12v, are very forgiving of inclines when driving and are by far the most popular choice where I
work. They have by far the best ambient cooling capacities, with some managing up to 50 degrees below ambient temperature. As a result they make
Like thermoelectric coolers they need an uninterrupted power supply, however they are thermostatically controlled and do shut off in lower
temperatures (just like your regular home fridge) Most expensive of the three options.
Most suited to
Solar set ups, high ambient temperature situations, pretty much any situation so long as you can get power to it.
edit on 8-3-2014 by markosity1973 because: (no reason given)