Evolution of Off Grid Refrigeration

Off grid refrigeration seems to be an elusive topic online.  Many people give up on the idea altogether or try to incorporate a standard refrigerator/freezer and find their stored battery energy gone before the next day begins.  Refrigerators are just inefficient.


When purchasing our DC refrigerator and freezer, we thought we were making the logical choice for our off grid situation.  It was much better than staying with an ice chest outside and saved us money on ice during the warm months.  We love having a DC refrigeration system because it can function straight off the battery bank without need of an inverter.  If the inverter ever failed us, we would have refrigeration until the new parts to fix it could arrive.

SunDanzer DC Refrigerator and Freezer

Keeping cool… Our SunDanzer DC freezer is still working after 4 years of use.  We enjoy the low power requirement for our freezer.

However, from the video we share our disappointment and unfortunate discovery that was unbeknownst to us when we bought our refrigerator.  To save on power a moisture control system was not included in the refrigerator.  Unfortunately, the moisture build up eventually corroded our refrigerator’s temperature control shutoff and left us with a refrigerator that would freeze our food.  We had to manually guess when to shut it off and how long to leave it off before turning it back on to prevent the constant freezing and thawing of our food.  Not useful when taking a vacation.  So, we decided to purchase an energy saving AC freezer and convert it to a refrigerator.  It was a far cheaper solution than to purchase a Sundanzer and have to repeat the process again in another 4 years.  Our Sundanzer freezer still operates correctly because the moisture inside it just freezes instead of corroding it.

I guess through our negative experience we may help educate others on understanding and choosing their off grid refrigeration project.  This system could also be used in an on grid application and save the homeowner quite a bit on their electric bill each month. In combination with LED lights, a tankless on demand water heater, a natural gas over/stove, and eliminating phantom loads, a person could live relatively inexpensively in their on grid home and transfer their saved dollars to a debt they have desired to pay off early.

Having a laugh... We love our refrigerator and enjoy a good laugh after filming.

Having a laugh… We love our refrigerator and enjoy a good laugh after filming.

We love our refrigeration system currently and will share any pitfalls if they happen as we did with our last refrigerator.  The only disappointment I have is the inverter needs to be running to keep the refrigeration going.  The inverter itself is about a  1.6 amp hours, a phantom load on our off grid electrical system.  I still shut the inverter off at night, which shuts the refrigerator off, but since the house temperature drops and we don’t open the fridge at night while we are sleeping, it hasn’t been much of an issue.  But, when we take a vacation, I will have to leave the house powered up with the inverter running, so the fridge can keep our food from spoiling.

I know a lot of off gridders out there recommend by-passing refrigeration altogether and eat canned food and prepare only enough food for one sitting.  However, that is not our lifestyle choice.  I for one love left-overs.  I love a stew that comes out of the fridge and is heated up, day old cold home-made pizza, and even the quiche I make for my wife on special occasions.  To each their own.  I just wanted to share a system that doesn’t take too much power and money so that if a person wanted to benefit from off grid refrigeration, they could without worrying about their batteries or bank account running dry.

4 thoughts on “Evolution of Off Grid Refrigeration

  1. I am sorry to hear that your old fridge stopped working properly!
    We are way behind you guys right now in starting our off grid life and all of your tips from your acquired experiences are really valuable to us for when we finally can start that lifestyle, considering our shoestring budget. Thank you so much for writing and sharing these things!

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    • We have been climbing the mountains for the past 7 years. from clearing the land to building a structure, to camping in the shell of our home, to finally getting running water. One thing for sure is carving out a homestead takes time. You young ones are far ahead of us at your age. Hang in there.

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  2. My story about refrigeration is a bit different than yours because of my income. During my 14 years living off grid I researched many times a DC or propane refrigerator but the initial cost stopped me from purchasing one. I managed to survive with two ice chests resupplied every week with block ice from town. Even adding in the cost of gas to get back and forth to town with the cost of the ice I would not have saved enough in those 14 years to buy a ‘real’ refrigerator. But it did help that living in Alaska warm weather barely lasts three months.

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    • Pete, we thought our initial purchased would sustain our situation for the next 20 years. We have a Roper AC refrigerator which still runs after 22 years. I was very angry when I found out the DC refrigerator failed within 4 years. What people say something will do and what it does is quite different these days.

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