Off-Grid, Solar-Powered, Zero-Battery Refrigerator

Joey Hess has designed, built and tested an off-grid, solar powered fridge, with no battery bank. Using an inexpensive chest freezer with a few modifications, the fridge retains cold overnight and through rainy periods. The set-up consists of a standard chest freezer, an added thermal mass, an inverter, and computer control. He writes:

The battery bank is a large part of the cost of a typical off-grid fridge installation. It needs to be sized to run the fridge overnight, as well as for several days of poor weather. Cheaper batteries only last 3-5 years, and longer lasting batteries are correspondingly expensive; either way a battery bank for an off-grid fridge is extremely expensive over the lifetime of the fridge. By storing solar power in the form of cold, I can avoid the battery bank expense and environmental footprint. The only battery power it needs is enough to turn it off cleanly when the solar panels stop producing — a few minutes of power instead of days — and a small amount for its computer control.

Joey’s off-grid, solar powered, zero-battery-use fridge has successfully made it through spring, summer, fall, and winter:

I’ve proven that it works. I’ve not gotten food poisoning, though I did lose half a gallon of milk on one super rainy week. I have piles of data, and a whole wiki documenting how I built it. I’ve developed 3 thousand lines of control software. It purrs along without any assistance.

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Thanks to Roel Roscam Abbing.