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What Is a Solar-Powered Refrigerator?

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  • Written By: Jay Leone
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 30 June 2014
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Certain foods and medical supplies must be kept refrigerated at all times. Solar-powered refrigerators are ideal for storing such supplies because they provide constant, uninterrupted refrigeration. While certain remote areas have access to electricity or propane refueling stations, others must rely on alternative sources to provide electricity. Solar-powered refrigerator systems are perfect for these remote applications. Traditional solar panels provide the power needed to operate a solar-powered refrigerator.

An average portable cooler, which relies simply on insulation rather than a cooling element to keep food chilled, can only keep ice cold for up to a couple days maximum. Most solar-powered refrigerator models feature a battery that can store electricity derived from a solar panel system, which increases the overall cooling capacity of the refrigerator. A lot of the batteries used for solar refrigeration system applications are 12-volt batteries. Many of the solar refrigerator models available offer over 19 cubic feet (0.54 cubic meters) of storage space. These models are equivalent to most conventional refrigerators and freezers found in many residential homes.

Cabins, residential homes, farms, vacation homes, and even medical clinics can benefit from employing solar-powered refrigerators. While less efficient solar refrigerators are ideal where generators are easily available, more efficient models should be employed for applications where generators and direct sun exposure are limited. Refrigerators with efficient cooling systems, large batteries and thick insulation are more appropriate for these applications.

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Solar-powered refrigerator manufacturers make both top-load as well upright refrigerator models. The most energy-efficient solar-powered refrigerators and freezers are traditionally top-load models that feature one single door. Upright models are less efficient than top-load models but unlike top-load models, they can be designed with two doors, allowing for a freezer and a refrigerator to be housed within the same cabinet.

Certain models feature hanging baskets that can slide from side to side across the refrigerator. These baskets make it much easier to access goods at different levels within the unit. The internal bladder system designed into many models reduces the overall amount of humid room air that reaches into the refrigerator, which contributes to a decrease in the average amount of ice buildup within the unit.

These refrigerators contribute to a reduction in power bills because they require no outside electricity to operate. Models that feature larger batteries can keep items inside the unit cold for up to several days without directly connecting to a power source. Battery systems also allow solar refrigerators to stay cool even during a power outage.

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