1. Why should I use a Solar System?
Solar technology has come a long way in recent years. With consumer demand increasing world wide, the resulting economies of scale has brought down the manufacturing costs of both solar panels and solar controllers. The increasing efficiency of the solar systems has made it possible to generate substantial amounts of power from just a single inexpensive solar panel. This power is not generated on demand when we want it, rather the energy is generated slowly over time, at natures pace. As long as you have a good system to harvest and store all that energy, then you have a fantastic, largely untapped, renewable resource. This energy source is available to you anywhere, including where contemporary power sources have not yet been connected.
2. What appliance works best with Off Grid Solar Power?
A fridge uses the most energy in the summer, and summer days are longer and brighter, delivering more solar energy over 24 hours than in winter. The winter ambient temperature is only marginally higher than a fridge/freezer, so minimal energy is required during winter times. A good quality solar generator (solar panel + controller + batteries) will run a solar fridge during the day whilst also charging the battery at the same time. The fully charged battery then keeps the fridge going during the night and maintains the temperature inside the freezer. That is why fridges are an excellence choice of appliance to run on solar power, because energy demand and supply work hand in hand.
3. What is one of the most energy-consuming appliances in the home?
You have guessed it! The fridge needs to be left on 24/7. Even though it is left on, the compressor is not running all the time. The thermostat monitors the temperature and starts up the compressor when required. Which only uses a small amount of energy whenever it is running. However, this tiny consumption becomes substantial over time. Costing approximately $1500 per year when we are linked to the grid, but it is free if you are connected to an Off Grid Solar System. This makes a solar fridge an excellent investment.
4. Why can't I just run a 240 volt fridge through a solar system using an inverter?
This works fine if you have a very robust and expensive solar system. However, since the inverter has to be left on standby 24/7, smaller solar systems will struggle to keep up with the energy required from the inverter, because even on standby inverters use energy converting 12 volt DC to 240 volt AC. The energy consumed by the inverter, in most cases, is greater than the energy consumed by a 12 volt compressor fridge, which does not require an inverter. Therefore, if you want an inverter to run appliances it must only be left switched on whilst the appliance is being used, or else the inverter would drain the batteries just sitting on stand by. Most appliances are available in DC 12 or 24 volt anyway. They are produced for boats, motor-homes and caravans, and to a very high standard. See link 12/24 volt TV's
5. Who uses solar fridges?
Solar fridges are very popular among those who have Off Grid homes, hunting lodges, bach's, farm sheds, motor-homes, caravans, boats, remote medical labs, hiking lodges, and those living in remote island communities. Some small portable fridges are also available for whitebait fisherman, or as beer fridges and portable picnic fridges.
6. What is so different about a solar fridge?
- Quality insulation around the cooler box.
- An efficient compressor that gets rid of heat fast due to it's large heat exchange.
- An efficient DC 12 or 24 volt operating system that taps into the Solar DC power source.
- No auto defrost feature, as auto defrost uses large amounts of energy.
- See link to solar fridges
7. What is required from a Solar Generator for a Solar fridge?
When we buy a normal 240 volt house fridge, we can be confident that the house sockets we plug into will produce the correct voltage and amperage for the appliance. However, with solar fridges the power generated by the solar system can vary from totally inadequate to way over capacity. Therefore you require:
- Good quality, maintenance free batteries that have enough capacity to store the energy used on a daily basis, even in overcast weather.
- A solar panel, large enough to keep up with the energy demand of the fridge and other appliances.
- A MPPT type solar controller, that still harvests energy from the panel even when the weather conditions are not ideal.
- A digital display to monitor what is harvested and what is being consumed accurately, thereby informing the user of the systems performance. This can be especially helpful when the system is in deficit.
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